Well Suited for Work

Rick writes:
In the photo, I think my 3 button suit is ill-fitting, e.g. too tight, perhaps out of style? It was in bright sunlight so my shirt and tie appear washed out. I think the suit jacket is a 43L. In the next photo, I think the 2 button suit, at size 44L is much better looking in general especially when buttoned. I tend to carry my extra weight through my mid-section, and my shoulders and chest and legs are relatively slender. I am 5 foot 11 in, 205lbs, which is probably 15 lbs over where I look my best. Any ideas for colors? I tend to go for dark suits, light blue and white shirts and conservative ties. The more I weigh, the less I feel comfortable and confident in my suits, but maybe that is because they have gotten too tight. Your candid thoughts much appreciated-thanks!
First, I want to say that your selections look great. It's obvious that you've got a look you prefer and I suspect that your work environment probably dictates a lot of your choices in this matter. If you feel like you are presenting yourself in a way that makes you feel prepared for your day, you are doing a great job at it. Regarding putting together an outfit, a dark suit with a white or light blue shirt is pretty hard to mess up, so if you like that look, stick with it. I was delighted to see that light blue tie has a whimsical animal print, maybe dinosaurs? That's a perfect way to lighten up a suit. A current trend among men who need to keep the decorum of a dark suit is outrageously colored and patterned socks. If you wanted to add a surprise of color, try this out, but as a rule, I'm opposed to gimmicky touches for the sake of novelty. I don't assume clothes need to say anything as long as they are well matched and allow you to conduct business without drawing undue attention; they are doing their job so you can do yours.
With your pin-stripe suit, you might try dress shirts with a faint stripe or a perceptible texture to mix it up. You'll want to avoid any colored shirts that may stray too far into Mafioso territory. I'd stay away from reds and purples and any deep jewel colors. I'd avoid satin or fabrics with a sheen paired with the pin stripe. You can let your tie be your color, and keep the shirts white and light blue, in this matter your instincts serve you well. For your solid suit, if you think this would go over at work, you might choose a dress shirt with a more complex stripe, check, plaid, or pattern and pair it with a solid tie. Be aware that a casual shirt with an overt pattern can dress down a suit. Perhaps stick to solid colored shirts for going to work if you think it's more appropriate. If you are looking for color suggestions, try fall colors: auburn, mustard, rust, and earth tones: slate, coal, tan, chocolate. This might be a good direction for you. Head into a store and hold these shirts up to your face in the mirror and across your bare wrists to see how they look against your complexion.
work1In the first image, the pin-stripe suit, 43L, that shirt could be white or light blue, and it'd be a fine look either way. The obvious issue is, yes, the coat is pulling across your middle. I'd take this suit to a tailor and ask if any adjustments can be made to correct the fit. The coat should hang smoothly down your torso without any obvious pulling or stretching at the buttons. Be prepared to hang this suit up if the tailor does not think he can adjust the sides or move the buttons to effect a more fitting look. One of the problems I have with three-button suits is that the top button is so high that they don't look good unbuttoned, so you need to keep it buttoned when standing to maintain your best look. Three-button suits evoke the 90s in my mind, but I understand they are coming back in style, particularly when paired with a vest, so if you can get the fit corrected, this suit may have life yet. If your weight fluctuates, then, by all means, keep this suit around even if tailoring offers no solutions. An issue I foresee with three button suits and your particular build as you've described it is that the top two buttons of your coat, when buttoned, will always fasten above your paunch, thus making the front flaps fall away from each other at your widest point. The lowest button will always hang apart from its buttonhole on the opposite panel adding eye-drawing movement and spreading, which isn't a good look. Beyond the things I've mentioned, the shoulders and collar of this suit are a great fit. I'd love to know what a good tailor has to say about the pulling; let me know.
work2Your instincts about the suit in the second image, 44L, are spot on. It's a much better fitting suit, and you look great in it. That extra inch around the middle alleviates all the pulling, and the two-button style fastens at a much better spot across your torso. If you were thinking about another suit, I'd fill out your wardrobe with a blue suit, then a charcoal suit, and then a light gray suit. The shoulders and collar are a perfect fit here too.
I noticed that in both pictures, your shirt sleeves don't protrude past your coat sleeve. The pop of color from your dress shirt at your wrist can break up the bulk of a matched suit. On the pin-striped suit, it looks as though your coat sleeves are the proper length, but perhaps the shirt underneath is too short, or your shirt sleeves aren't pulled all the way down. This is an easy fix. You might need to venture into a proper Big & Tall store to find an adequate selection of "tall" shirts which will have longer sleeves. Regular retail will have shirts with longer sleeve dimensions and "tall" designations, but selection may be limited.
Usually, long suits are for guys at least 6' but they seem to look fine on you in the pictures. I can't gauge the length properly without seeing head-to-toe shots of each. You can tell if the coats are too long if the coat tails are below the lowest edge of your pant pocket slit. If you are wearing long suits at 5'11," might I venture a guess that they fit your arm better off the rack? A sleeve adjustment is almost always necessary alteration for each coat purchase. Sleeves can be lengthened on a regular coat that has the proper length coat tails. Next time you are in the market for a suit, try on a regular to see if it might be a better fit. Of course, rules like, "Long suits are for men over 6" are just handy guides. Try everything and keep the stuff that looks great on you.
All I can do is offer a different perspective here and perhaps some suggestions for colors and directions; it's clear you know how to put yourself together and are already well "suited," ha, for your work environment. I hope my take was useful and I gave you a few things to consider as you continue to build your wardrobe.
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