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Reader question: Suit for work and play

20 May 2009

Hsin Qin Tang: I have been following your blog for over two years now. I have learned many things and I would like to know your opinion on what to wear for an upcoming occasion. My eldest sister is getting married this August and the wedding dinner is going to be held in Singapore.

I am looking to purchase my first suit and I was hoping you’d be able to help me out. I will also be going to Brighton, UK this September to study. I was hoping the suit might be able to come in handy there as well. I would appreciate it if you are able to get into the details, down to the smallest one. I realise I have not included my budget. I’d like to hear what you say first.

This question from Hsin Qin was far longer in the original, and requested information on everything from material for buttons to belt loops versus braces.

Hsin Qin, I will try to be brief and so fit in as much advice as possible – but as a regular reader of the blog I’m sure you realise many of the things I leave out are questions of personal taste. And there is more extensive advice elsewhere on the site (use that search function until it breaks!).

Broadly, there are two options for a wedding as a member of the general party: traditional and summer. Today, most men wear linen suits, checked suits, loud suits. They wear suits that used to be worn for leisure – except that no one wears a suit on the weekend any more.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but traditionally a wedding would be a lot smarter than the working week, not less. So the lounge suit would be swapped for tails or a three-piece suit, perhaps a nice peaked-lapel stroller with a buff waistcoat. If these were not available, a man would wear the single smartest thing he had from his work attire. This would probably be a dark navy, single-breasted suit, with a crisp white shirt and a satin tie in silver or bronze. Top it off with a white linen pocket square and a boutonnière.

If I were you, Hsin Qin, I would go for this last option. Then you will also have a navy suit to wear when you move to these great British Isles. With a blue shirt and dark, striped tie, it will be perfect for interviews and such.

As to the other details, have it made bespoke in Singapore if you know somewhere good. Go for two vents, two navy horn buttons, notch lapels, dark lining, medium weight, side tabs, uncuffed, slanted pockets, one break, matching socks and no tie bar. These choices are all for versatility and the maximum in time-proof style.