March 1, 2003
It’s Not Just The Suit …
For men, when it comes to suiting up for business, there’s a right way and a wrong way, and it has nothing to do with money, little to do with fashion, and everything to do with understanding what best suits your shape, form, and complexion. “That’s what you call style,” says Alan Flusser, president of Alan Flusser Designs and author of three books on men’s attire. His most recent work is Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion (HarperCollins, $49.95). “If you don’t know that, no amount of fashion or money will compensate.” In fact, he adds, designer trends are often irrational and violate the basic principles of good taste. “What looks good on a man is quite logical. Your physique is dependable. It’s not going to change.”
In a business settings, most men will wear either a gray or blue suit. In a sea of monochromatic colors, how do you make a standout impression? Determining your style is based on two important factors—proportion and color. According to Flusser, when you’ve executed successful dress, by employing those elements, your face becomes the focal point. “The basic premise of male dressing is to draw the observer to the wearer’s face. That’s what you communicate with,” he explains. “You don’t want clothes to distract from it; you want them to enhance it.”
BLACK ENTERPRISE Designer Aliatu Burke recently went shopping with Flusser to put these principles to the test. In both photographs, Burke is outfitted in designer clothes. His attire on the left is an example of the mistakes many men make. On the right, Burke is well-suited for business. Flusser explains the distinction between merely dressing and dressing impeccably well.
Tie is not well executed, hanging limp under the collar. The color combination of the jacket, shirt, and tie are monochromatic against Aliatu’s complexion. Nothing about this combination highlights his face.
The jacket is so long, it fully covers his shirtsleeve. The overall length of the jacket is also too long, making Aliatu’s legs appear shorter.
Pant leg, which makes for a lightweight finish, has no cuff. The square toe shoe is a contemporary fashion trend, which makes it obsolescent in nature. “It violates the basic tenet of longevity,” explains Flusser. “Clothes need to follow the line of the body.”
This shirt fits too low around the neck and the collar is too small. As a result, the tie knot is as long as the collar, tugging on the collar points, which should rest on the chest.
This combination of a darker gray suit, richer tie, and blue shirt brings Aliatu’s face into focus, as there is greater contrast between the clothing and his complexion.
A smartly knotted tie is one in which the knot is pulled high into the collar while arching out, giving it more life. There are several knotting methods. Flusser suggests the four-in-hand, which is illustrated in his book. If done correctly, the knot will form a dimple or inverted pleat, which enhances a tie’s staying power.
The jacket sleeve