The suit is still considered the most elegant garment for a man, as long as its fabric, colour and cut respect the occasion for which it was designed and chosen. From the 1930s onwards, the suit line defined itself and is still considered an international standard respected by every tailor and quality clothing house. A good fit must be natural and able to best enhance the wearer’s figure.
As for colours, traditionally they are dark blue, dark or very light grey and the inevitable black. These are the compulsory colours for independent professionals or, more simply, the all-purpose colours for every occasion.
Last but not least, the suit fabric. Today, in contrast to the last century, fabrics have become much lighter and more refined, embellished by the fineness of the yarn and the precious materials with which they are woven: all characteristics that give character and personality, making them suitable to be defined as fabrics for suits.
In order for the suit to be elegant, you have to start with the fabric
Once we have defined the characteristic features of the costume through its fabric, we can only address the theme of elegance. Although clothing is an accessory and superficial element of a person, it is significant, precisely because of its fabric, for the interpretation of elegance itself.
Elegance and appropriateness, which is a direct component of it, are in fact contextual to the above elements, so that what is elegant in the morning may not be so in the evening. A country style does not have the same value in the city, just as elegant clothing at work does not have the same connotation for leisure.
However, elegance does not mean rigidity of mind. Except, in fact, for certain basic rules, elegance in clothing, in its pure aesthetic sense, admits a minimum of playfulness, which in practice translates into the fact that a man, in order to be elegant, must be measured and not banal, managing to give a personal imprint to his clothing without falling into eccentricity or dandyism.
Once again we return to the suit fabric, its colour and cut, whose choice determines the suitability of the clothing that leads to elegance.
Fabric types for classical costumes
Below you will find a short list of costume fabrics which, depending on their colour/design and possible use for which they were created, lay the foundation for a correct definition of elegance.
Prince of Wales, the characteristic suit fabric, whose cross-over patterns create the famous squares, is a typical winter fabric, even if, more and more, there are new declinations both in terms of weight and types of fabric (flannel or mohair) and variations in colour and squares. This fabric is not really suitable for making a cross-over suit, while it is perfect for making jackets with an Italian cut. It can be defined as a suit fabric with a strong character, to the point of making it sophisticated but not excessively formal, even on the most serious occasions.
Flannel is undoubtedly the most elegant fabric thanks to a series of characteristic wefts and warps. This fabric for suits is more “hairy” than combed fabrics, which gives it a softer touch; in the classic shade of grey, thanks to a light-dark effect, it acquires a marbled effect which is the most obvious feature of flannel itself. Generally used in autumn and winter, it is perfect for making suits, trousers and jackets.
Grisaille is a fabric obtained from the alternation of light and dark threads in the warp, which generates a cross-scale pattern that plays with the shades of grey from which it also takes its name. It is an ideal suiting fabric for the workplace, as it is never showy or banal. It is perfect for making single-breasted suits, available in three pieces and suitable for cross-over suits.
The latest suiting fabric that has the codes of elegance in its DNA is the classic partridge eye, recognisable above all by its classic “dots”, which are lighter than the background and are created by alternating two by two light and dark threads. Suits made with this fabric belong to the business world, in shades of grey rather than blue, in not too deep shades. Thanks to its ductility, this suit fabric is also suitable for making single-breasted three-piece suits (including waistcoat), but it is also suitable for cross-over suits.
For more information, see the special report “Costume fabrics : when the material takes shape” by Ratti, today one of the world’s leading producers of high-quality fabrics and accessories.