The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who find fashion interesting, and those who don’t. We, needless to say, sit firmly in the first camp. Acknowledging that we and our campmates are, on the whole, regarded by those in the second camp as vacuous airheads who care only about adding to their plumage, we would like to put forward the alternative notion that we are simply more aware of our tendency to do this than others.
Such is our accounting for the fact that, for over a century now, so many of us have returned endlessly to The Suit. You know the one I’m talking about – what other suit is there? A paradoxical concoction of extreme minimalism and inessential detailing, this outfit is a study in aesthetic clarity for the sake of itself.
There are three key features of The Suit that demonstrate this.
First is the lapel design. Have you ever thought about what functional purpose lapels serve? If so, you might have already arrived at the conclusion that they don’t really have one. They are a finishing technique that completes the construction of the suit front in the sharpest possible manner. Aside from that aesthetic purpose, they are completely unnecessary, but they fulfil it to a tee.
Second is The Suit’s inexorable association with a shirt and tie. Rarely seen without these accoutrements, they can be considered part of the package. As with lapels, ties bring into question functionality. They at least appear to serve the purpose of holding closed a shirt, but then isn’t that what buttons are for? Upon close inspection, the tie is nothing more (and certainly nothing less) than a rather dandy accessory – a pared-back cravat.
Third is the colouration, the default choice for which is black. This is an exercise in starkness, sharply delineating the lines of the outfit to form an imposing block. Could you get any more flamboyant than this matching top and bottom business? And in the most dramatic dye tone known to man, to boot. And yet, there is something about it that makes it utterly easy to wear.
The thing about these three features is that, were you to suggest to the suited guy on the street – the one who finds fashion uninteresting – the idea of incorporating such things into an outfit, he would likely reject it as being over the top. Statement seam finishes? Needless accessories? Head to toe colour blocking? Check, check, check – The Suit has them all, and yet it’s so ubiquitous that it manages to sneak the whole package under the radar.
Truly, it’s the outfit that bridges worlds.