Lighter, Looser, and Less Boring: How to Wear the Season’s Coolest Suits

A few years back, as pandemic restrictions were lifted, Bruce Pask, then the men’s fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, was surprised when the storied retailer experienced a run on tuxedos and other eveningwear. Until it dawned on him: Calendars were suddenly filling up with all those postponed weddings, birthdays, and other celebrations.

Despite the assumption that we would never shake off our sweats, whenever special occasions arise (and they always do) most men still reflexively reach for their nearest tailored two-piece in spite of all attempts to render it obsolete, including the cozifying triple whammy of streetwear, athleisure, and yearslong directives to stay home, away from gatherings. The suit, it seems, will outlive us all.

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A three-piece wool-blend evening look in white from Louis Vuitton Men's New Formal collection.
A three-piece wool-blend evening look in white from Louis Vuitton Men’s New Formal collection.

Which isn’t to say that tailoring has stood still—far from it. The suit’s potency lies in its elasticity, its ability to evolve with the times. Today, that means embracing creativity. “It used to be that the bold choice was a navy evening suit,” says Pask, now the senior editorial director at Neiman Marcus. But modern formalwear is a different game entirely. Lately, Pask has been impressed by the “ease of shape” billowing through menswear. While still “elegant and polished,” he says, “the intention is different—it’s very relaxed.” Ilaria Urbinati, the celebrity stylist who keeps Donald Glover, Rami Malek, and this year’s “It” guy, Barry Keoghan, atop everyone’s best-dressed lists, agrees. “I love all the proportion play,” she says. “Cropped jackets, longer jackets, fuller pants—there’s so much fun to be had.”

A quick survey confirms that the suit is indeed loosening up these days, both literally and figuratively. Louis Vuitton recently released a formalwear capsule that features, in addition to more traditional suiting, a double-breasted number subtly patterned with the LV logo as well as a party-ready peak-lapel look adorned with a sprinkle of sequins (the effect is shimmeringly similar to Rolls-Royce’s Starlight headliner, in a good way). At Zegna, the traditional codes have been whittled down to boxy matching linen sets in dove gray, mint green, and tobacco brown, whereas Brioni is all in on insouciant double-breasted jackets. Gucci embraced a swaggering 1970s vibe for spring while Giorgio Armani, who arguably pioneered this languid look some four decades ago, appeared startlingly of the moment with much the same approach.

Pask suggests that a voluminous trouser is the quickest and easiest way to inject a contemporary jolt into your formal dressing—somewhat ironically, since the silhouette is anything but new. “Look at the ’40s and ’50s, with the Hollywood waist, the fuller pant, and the fitted top,” Pask suggests. And while the red carpet is meant for bolder statements—think Donald Glover in a sand-colored Fear of God suit, or Rami Malek in soft layers from Zegna—Urbinati says it’s still a good place for real-world inspiration. She suggests either pleated or straight-cut slacks that sit higher on the waist and countering the fuller leg with a trim jacket. For those still stuck in the skinny-suit phase and unsure where to find looser (but still sophisticated) garb, Urbinati recommends Ami, in Paris, New York’s Stòffa, and Amiri, in Los Angeles.

A dramatic black wool formal coat from Gucci.
A dramatic black wool formal coat from Gucci.

The rest of the look matters, too. In lieu of the starched white button-downs of yore, try a shirt in the same color family as the rest of what you’re wearing. “I love a tonal look,” Urbinati says. “Take a beautiful blue suit and pair it with a shirt that’s a different shade of blue. Or brown—I love an autumn color.” Even better: Ditch the tie altogether and swap in a fine-gauge crewneck knit or polo. Finish it off not with sneakers (long the easy way to dress down tailoring, now tired) but with classic loafers. “I love the rounder, curvier, thicker options,” Urbinati says, citing examples from Tod’s and Adieu as standouts. Leather slip-ons, too, have been gaining traction.

“What I like about the current moment is that there’s no one sartorial path,” Pask says. “It’s about what makes you feel great, what makes you feel comfortable, and what you want to present. There are just so many ways men can explore suiting.”

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