There is more than one way to be big.

NickDirty Writes:
 
I'm a 6'3" guy and built. My chest and shoulders fit a 46" jacket, but my waist is 34". I'm going to have to have a suit custom made, for sure.
I'd like to stand out a bit, be bold, but still look classic. Can I pull off a pinstripe with as tall as I am? I've read that pinstripes don't work for tall guys because it appears to lengthen you and make you look lanky. However, I'm not a small guy. Would pinstripes work in my situation?
 
I'd like to have a suit for general purpose, I've read that charcoal is a good way to go, but if I'm spending $800-$1500 to get a custom suit, do you think I should go with black so that I can wear it to funerals and formal events? I'm not sure if/when I'll have the occasion to get another suit. If I try to go with the pinstripes, will that take away from the versatility of the suit? If it's a subtle pinstriping like in the picture I sent to you can I still wear it to a funeral or is that a faux pas?
 
I'm going to talk to a tailor sometime soon, but I'm the type to do some initial research. Thanks for your time!
 
daniel
Hey NickDirty,
 
Thanks for dropping me a line. I gotta admit when I first opened the pictures you sent and saw Daniel Craig I thought maybe someone decided to drop $5 on trolling me and was fully prepared to write a tongue-in-cheek response as if Mr. Bond was a fat guy, but then I got your note and realized why I was looking at Mr. Craig.
 
Buying a first (and possibly only) suit feels like a huge decision because we tend to prioritize value and function over fashion. We want a suit that will work in all foreseeable scenarios, and the most common impulse is to settle on black. I felt that draw, too, when I bought my first suit. I work in the event industry, so I am constantly at other people's functions: weddings, funerals, anniversaries, private parties and I found out quickly that most of the time, the only men in black suits are the food servers and me. While black once was the staple of professionals, lately it's been relegated to the paid staff. It's the color of hotel managers, bank tellers, and tax preparers. It's the color of obligation, as in, "I'm obligated to wear this black suit." It still can be a great look and obviously is the easiest color to coordinate shirts and ties with, but if you are in the market to buy a suit for all occasions, black is quite limited. After I purchased my black suit, I quickly ran through all the looks I envisioned and started pining for a more fashionable suit.
 
I'd encourage you to consider charcoal. The shades available are almost limitless, so it will be much easier for you to stand out from others with a unique shade not likely to be duplicated at any single event. Like black, charcoal is functionally neutral so you can pair it with nearly anything, just being careful to avoid a dreary mishmash of other dark gray and black hues. I'd suggest picking a shade that is light enough not to be confused with black, but not so light that it wouldn't pass as professional or serious if you need to affect more a more conservative look. I love my light gray suit, but it is definitely more appropriate for "date night" and less so for "day in court."
 
I consulted some internet advice for appropriate funeral attire, and my instincts seemed to have been borne out by the articles I came across. Funerals call for subdued, conservative clothing out of respect for the families and the solemnity of the occasion, but wearing solid black, for the most part, isn't a thing anymore. Keep it dark, keep it plain, keep it respectful, and you're good. This can vary regionally, and some families have different expectations so ask around and see if you can gauge the cultural norms near you. I'm from California, and it's casual and warm here thus fashion, including funerals, has moved away from strict formality.
 
For anything that might require something more formal than a bespoke charcoal suit, you might be better served just renting a tuxedo or a black suit at Men's Warehouse when you need it. Spend your budget on a suit that is going to be more versatile and look more fashionable for all the events of your life that happen far more often. If you do need to rent something, call around first to find out which rental shops have access to an inventory that includes athletic cuts as a regular cut would pair 40" slacks with a 46" coat. I assume since they will all insist on measuring you and can rent you a coat and slacks that fit both your chest and waist measurements, that problem will sort itself out, but it's worth asking about in advance.
 
In general, I reject the idea that certain patterns are disallowed for certain body types. Sure, pin stripes can elongate your look, but nothing you wear is going to change the fact that you are a 6'3" guy with an athletic body type. If your suit is custom made to you and fits you perfectly, it's not going to make you look lanky. I'm all for pinstripes, and as a rule, textures and patterns in a suit can transform a simple look, such as a solid shirt and a simple tie into something incredible. I like the subtle, close stripes that are visible in the first Daniel Craig photo. They are evident without being overwhelming, and if they add anything to the perception that he is slimmer and taller, it certainly isn't doing anything to distract from the fact that he's a fit guy in an incredible suit. Remember, as you look for shirt and tie combinations, a pinstripe or texture in a suit adds another dimension that needs to be considered. If you have a pin-striped suit, pass on a striped shirt and instead reach for solids, or a tight Gingham checks. Patterned ties are acceptable, as most stripes on ties are set at a 45-degree angle but more abstract, paisley, and circular patterns can look fantastic. To mix textures, try out a knit tie.
 
STYLEIMAGEDanielCraiggraynotchlapelsuitFinally, a question you didn't ask, but I feel should be answered, is that beyond the color and pattern of your suit, the cut and style you choose will do the most to determine the final look. If you don't want to look lanky, consider a more square-shouldered, American style instead of European styles. Let me just say that European cuts, what Americans might call slim-fit, is in right now. It happens to be what Mr. Craig is wearing in the head-to-toe shot you've submitted. While I've seen some of the boxy, 90's style 3-button suits around, I'd suggest a 2-button and consider pants that don't taper much. As a tall guy, ask the tailor to talk to you about the various option for the break at the bottom of your pant hem to affect certain looks. A slight break, no cuff is my best guess. Cuffs can be a little stuffy ala "English Professor" and much less Van Damme.
 
You have a lot of decisions to make, my friend. Good luck to you and if you feel like being bold, go for it. I'm going to predict that if you feel great about this suit, and you wear it more than you are obliged to, you'll be thinking about your next suit purchase in no time. I'm thinking blue. I'd love to see pics of your purchase when you get it along with what you accepted and rejected from my advice and how much of my advice your tailor thought was nonsense. :)
 
Would you like your very own personalized fashion advice like this? Hit me up on Fiverr.
 
Note: I am not a paid spokesperson for Men's Warehouse or any Big & Tall clothing manufacturer, but I'm open to it.
 
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