The classic suit has been reinvented. Sartorial rules have been bent and broken and the average man loves it, says Eda Kuloglu, buying manager, Harvey Nichols, Dubai.

In the plush men's lounge of a renowned men's clothing store in Dubai, a gentleman rifles through what seems a tome of fabric swatches and suit styles.

Standing by his side, the store assistant, a dapper gentleman with an affable disposition, is all set to be of help.

But the buyer, whom we'll call Mr Smith, seems terribly indecisive. Turning the swatches this way and that, he keeps saying, "I don't think so" "This is not my style" ... His ballooning indecisiveness however is expertly handled by the store assistant.

Mr Smith, apparently, is also running late for an appointment. I overhear him say, "I've been here for more than an hour and cannot decide. Perhaps my brother would be of help; I'll bring him along tomorrow around lunchtime."


To an innocent bystander, this kind of time being spent on selecting a suit would seem like an awfully big fuss.

Of course, you may quibble and say, women take far longer to select a simple headband and you may be right in that.

In fact, people such as Eda Kuloglu, the buying manager at Harvey Nichols, Dubai, will also happily join the group of people who have an issue with those blaming the gentleman for deliberating so long on a suit.

"Opting for a made-to-measure suit is a time-consuming process," she says.

"To state it simply: it demands time and effort. The process of a man shopping for a suit can be compared to that of a woman shopping for a perfect evening dress.

"Every detail - from the selection of fabric to the style - is important. If you want an exclusive suit, ensure you visit a good designer and specialist tailor.

"In this sartorially egalitarian age, one need not be born into a royal family to have access the finest bespoke tailors or labels. At Harvey Nichols, we have more than three bespoke brands."

Arguably, the jury is still out on the subject of suits and their real importance for the look of a man.

After all, how many men really would give up their afternoon round of golf to know the difference between a pinstripe and a chalkstripe; a Wedgewood blue and an Oxford blue; or a French-styled and an Italian cut?

You would?!!!

Then you are probably thinking the finer details of dressing. You are thinking snapshots of impeccably dressed actors such as Cary Grant, Fred Astaire and Pierce Brosnan. These men epitomised sartorial splendour.

You are thinking elegance, sophistication, incomparable class.

Now think reality. What do you see all around you? An overwhelming return to casual dressing.

Though the suit continues to hold its place as a status symbol in the fashion stakes, it has also cleverly made a move towards the unorthodox in such a smart, smooth way that it has left no clumsy evidence behind.

"Suits," says Kuloglu, "are an expression of individual style. More so today. A conservative person is likely to select a conservative style, whereas a bold person is bound to select a flamboyant colour and an edgy style.

"There have been other changes too. For instance, men have altered the parameters for buying a suit today. Even the occasions on which a suit can be worn have been redesignated.

"They can vary from a board meetings to business lunches to weddings or gala dinners; and the styles range from the traditional to the trendy to the flashy."

Variations on the classic suit

Sometimes, to know how far we have come we need to know where we started off from. So let's start with the classic suit.

"It is usually a single-breasted black or navy suit with a slight sheen. It can be a two- or three-buttoned suit. It is paired with a white, cream or pale blue shirt with French cuffs. The ensemble is tastefully coordinated with a patterned or plain woollen tie," she says.

Variations on this look are what most men prefer nowadays.

"A pinstripe suit, either single- or double-breasted in navy, black or charcoal is paired with a shirt in colours varying from white to pastel and coordinated with a tie - plain, neat or striped - in a contrasting colour.

"The suit fabric can vary from wool to cotton and linen," says Kuloglu.

"An Italian suit is a single-breasted, three-button suit with fully-lined notch lapels. It has sewn-on sleeve buttons, a full cut and lightly padded shoulders. The pants are double-pleated with the bottom unaltered and unhemmed."

Kuloglu is quite certain that a suit today need not necessarily reveal the wearer's background or pronounce a judgement on the wearer to the extent it once did.

So for those who want to break the rules, now is a better time than ever.

"For instance, linen suits are far more acceptable today than they were in the past. Linen is comfortable and twice as strong as cotton. Plus it is easy to clean; it tailors well and looks causal yet elegant."

Seasonal suits

Picture this: it is a balmy day in Dubai. You are wearing your cashmere-blend suit and walking from the car park to the building where your 2 pm meeting is about to take place. Beads of sweat dot your brow. Your heavy suit is making it even more difficult to bear the elements.

And you realise that you should have chosen a different suit, perhaps in a different fabric. Something that looks dapper yet guarantees comfort.

"The concept of seasonal suits is self-explanatory. It is a practical approach to formal dressing," says Kuloglu.

"Linen and natural fabrics in light colours work well in summer. Cotton is probably the most acceptable choice. Opt for cotton suits with Lycra; this will ensure your suit keeps its shape. In winter you can bring out the wool blends in dark colours. Winter accessories like a cashmere or vicuna scarf work well."

Business casuals

Casual doesn't always translate as t-shirt and jeans. Even with a suit, you can dress down by playing with fabrics and styles.

"Leave the t-shirt for hanging out with the boys at football games," says Kuloglu. "Instead, wear a knit pullover or an open-collared shirt with a sport jacket or blazer in a textured fabric. But, always wear a long-sleeved shirt.

"Opt for semi-casual slacks with a pressed crease and choose lightweight fabrics in soft colours. Remember, patch pockets add a nice casual touch. Keep accessories understated (read minimum jewellery). And do select appropriate footwear."

Judging quality

The sine qua non of any suit is the fabric. One sure-fire way to tell a good suit from a poorly-constructed one is by its fabric.

"The S-system, the numbering system to describe the new breed of super lightweight, high-twist wool, is a system used to grade different fabrics," says Kuloglu.

"These grades are referred to as Super 100s, Super 120s, Super 150s up to Super 200s. Theoretically, the higher the number, the better the fabric.

"But fabric is just one leg of the perfect-suit tripod. The other legs are quality manufacturing (so find out how the garment is stitched inside out) and superior styling.

"A suit with exceptional fabric, good manufacturing and perfect styling turns out a sartorial gem. If any one of these elements is absent, it is just another suit."