Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ode to the British Suit

This post is long overdue. It's been pretty much a constant topic of conversation since I arrived 17 days ago, and it's about time I put it in print (digital print).

About a month before I moved here, I was hanging out in my Brooklyn kitchen with roommates Eric and Theresa when Eric queried us as to the definition of the word "sartorial." Theresa and I looked at each other and agreed it must have something to do with "sarcastic." But I needed a definitive answer, so I hauled out my favorite book: the unabridged Webster's Dictionary, weighing in at about 12 lbs. Imagine my surprise, then, when it turns out that "sartorial" actually means "having to do with tailoring and wardrobe."

Armed with that knowledge, I am here to tell you that only now can I fully appreciate sartorial excellence; I have found it in the British mens suit. Britain has given the world many a notable gift: soccer, Dairy Milk, the theory of evolution, Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones... but by far its greatest gift is that of impeccable tailoring of male businesswear.

It doesn't matter how foul my mood is in the morning, because when I get on the tube and am treated to a car full of attractive men in well-tailored suits I can't help but smile to see them all turned out so well. What makes a British suit so smashing? Here, let me outline it for you.

1. The impeccable attention to fit in the shoulders. Most girls agree that a man's best asset is his shoulders, and nothing looks worse than a suit jacket where the shoulder seams are halfway down his biceps. A British suit is always perfectly cut in the shoulders, and it looks neater, cleaner, and well, hotter.

2. The tapered pant. In America, men insist on wearing pants with enough fabric to upholster a couch - in fact, their suit jackets have enough to do a matching armchair. Here, the pants are cut slim and taper elegantly, making even short and stocky guys look lithe.

3. The pointy-toed shoes. Those tapered pants more often than not end in a pointy-toed shoe that just looks great. No clunkers or ugly round-toed loafers for British men; these shoes are usually amazingly neat, polished, and sophisticated.

4. The wide-collar/Windsor knot combo. So hot. Plus, on the tube in the morning, some men keep the tie undone, to knot at the office, and its quite nice to see the casual open collar. Yum.

5. Last but not least, the butt flap. I'm sure there is a more appropriate term for this essential suit element, but I call it the butt flap because that is what it is. Instead of one pleat a the bottom of the suit jacket back, good British suits do a double flap that makes EVERY guy's ass look great. LE SIGH.

In order to illustrate this wonderment of fashion, I've posted a picture of the Chelsea football team in their Armani suits. It's not Jermyn Street or Savile Row tailoring, but you get the gist. Even footballers wear good suits, and it's a travesty that American men haven't learned better. For the sake of womankind in America, boys! Find your passports - the dollar is gaining strength - and get your asses over here to get fitted for some suits! You'll thank me!


  1. I whole-heartedly agree. Stateside suits, specifically (jeeebus, try saying that out loud 3x fast!) the DC area are abysmal.

    also, a blogger boyfriend of mine!

  2. Update: Katastrophe's well-suited boyfriend has informed me that the "butt-flap" is actually termed "double vent."

  3. you do realize that we will be discussing and commenting on hot british guys in suits riding the tube for the next two years :)