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For 16 years and counting, Willem Baars has been in charge of JFK. In his monthly column for Modefabriek.nl, the editor-in-chief of the internationally acclaimed men’s magazine invites you into his world.
One thing’s for sure, 2020 will not enter the history books as the year of the men’s suit. With months of working from home, and the fact that our lives became more sedentary than ever, tracksuits probably win this year’s award for ‘Most Worn Suit’. And I’m no different. But still: you sometimes simply cannot beat wearing a nice suit. It has an immediate effect on you, makes you feel like a new person. And even more so with a comfortable tuxedo: it boosts your confidence, and often makes you look more stylish and attractive (if the fit is up to scratch). Unfortunately, I can’t remember wearing a suit even once this year. A real shame. But on the other hand, it will make it even more special to release one from the confines of the wardrobe next year.
Right, the men’s suit. Although it already made an entrance in 1800, albeit in a slightly different incarnation to how we know it today, the characteristic men’s three-piece suit – jacket, trousers and waistcoat in the same fabric and colour – dates to circa 1900. Often in dark colours and very heavy fabric, with jackets buttoned up high. A hat or newsboy cap was a regular feature of this sensational style. Think Peaky Blinders.
From then on, the men’s suit pretty much came to symbolise the ultimate men’s look. And it never stopped doing so – even though suits took on many guises (loose trousers, tight trousers, wide lapel, narrow lapel, three-button jackets, two-button jackets, double breasted, single breasted, etc.). But the fact is that if far future generations, in 1,000 years’ time from now, check out old photos of us – strange folk from the year 2000 – chances are they’ll come to the conclusion that the suit was the ultimate men’s outfit of our age. A fine thought, and in any case better than it being the memory of a scruffy casual outfit that stands the test of time.
While suits were invariably accompanied by shirts until well into the ‘80s, nowadays things have – thankfully – somewhat loosened up. Nobody will bat an eyelid if you turn up at a party wearing a T-shirt under your jacket or sneakers below your trousers. Suits can take it, and remain stylish no matter the look. Suits are – for the time being – here to stay, and they have survived the remarkable year 2020.
At a recent photo shoot with a Dutch celebrity, it was even the most common item: a gorgeous, somewhat trendier light-grey/blue suit by Off/White, with flared trousers. Spring/summer 2021 collection. Despite the rising popularity of streetwear, I predict a comeback for suits as soon as – hopefully early in 2021 – parties and gatherings are back on the menu.
Partly thanks to the series Mad Men, the popularity of suits soared in the past decade, and you’d currently be hard pushed to find a fashion brand without a suit in their collection. Whether it be a less formal suit in lightweight cotton, or something more formal in wool.
Selected Homme, for one, has a few stunning suits in their collection this season: formal but fashionable. Sister brands Only & Sons and Jack & Jones have the perfect blazers and trousers, which are an ideal match. And the same goes for No Excess and Serge Blanco. Because that is what’s great about these times: a jacket, combined with a quality pair of trousers or chinos in a different fabric or colour can also create a stylish men’s look. And it’s the blazer that wins the day, in every conceivable combination. If you’re after a more formal look with your suit, a decent shirt is a must: Lavendi, Lerros and HV Society have plenty. And however great your suit is, without the right shoes, you’re nowhere: with shoes from Rehab Footwear you’ll always hit the mark.
And while on the subject of (not) hitting the mark: I know a renowned lawyer and a publisher of well-known magazines who both wear tuxedos that look like they’ve been passed down from their dads. Trouser legs too long, too loose, pleated and much too baggy around the thighs and backs of the knees. If your name’s Brad Pitt or you’re heading to a ‘back in the day’ party, you might get away with it, but in all other cases, my advice would be: fork out for a new one. In 2021, you’re certainly going to need it.