Choosing a men's suit just got easier, thanks to Season 4 of Project Runway's Jack Mackenroth. The Parsons School of Design graduate opened his own menswear store in New York right after school, then moved on to work with Tommy Hilfiger (men's and women's fashion), and then focused exclusively on menswear again for Slates.
Choosing a Men's Suit 101
Flattering Go-To Suits
LoveToKnow (LTK): If a man is just starting to create his business wardrobe, what is the first type of suit he should buy? What will be his go-to suit for years to come?
Jack Mackenroth (JM): I would buy a basic black suit in middleweight wool. It can be casual and dressed up with a black tie and tux shirt. Flat front pants, PLEASE! Take the suit and have it tailored for your body. It's very inexpensive and it makes a huge difference.
LTK: What's your favorite suit style? What about the style that's most universally flattering?
JM: Right now, I like the 2-button notched collar suit with a slimmer fit. The same suit that is not so fitted is flattering on every body type.
LTK: Any tips on creating the most versatile business wardrobe possible without breaking the bank and requiring an extra closet?
JM: Buy a couple of basic suits and have them well tailored to fit. Change them up with dress shirts and ties. Also, discount stores like Daffy's and Century 21 have Italian suits that are marked down from $800+ down to $150 or so.
The Right Suit for You
JM: Are There any "rules" men should follow when choosing the right suit for their body types?
If you have short legs, make sure the jacket isn't too long. If you are broad, you don't need a lot of shoulder padding. Never underestimate the power of a good tailor to alter your suit and fit your body type.
LTK: How should a man choose suits to best match his coloring? Do you have any tips on accessorizing those suits?
JM: Well, dark colors like black, charcoal or navy work on everyone. I shy away from "colored" suits because they look clownish.
You can do a lot with a beautiful shirt and tie. I also like pocket squares, tiepins and lapel pins - just not altogether.
LTK: Other types of clothing tend to change with the seasons and trends. How would you say business attire adapts to the changing times? For example, are certain shirt colors in style more one season vs. another, or are they stable over the seasons/years?
JM: Everything changes every season. Silhouettes, colors, textures. One season pinstripes are in and out the next. If you stay basic then you don't have to worry about looking "last season"
Make a Statement
LTK: What is the best thing a man can wear to make the following statements:
- Hire me. Well-fitted suit but in a conservative style.
- I'm capable, dependable, and deserve a promotion. Same as above but with a bit more flare.
- I'm the guy of your dreams. A fitted tee and a worn out pair of jeans.
LTK: What can a man look for in a suit before purchasing to assure himself that the suit is high quality and will last for years?
JM: Check the fabrication and the thread count. The thread count should be as close to 150 as possible. Check lining and details to assure quality. Look to see where the suit is made as well. Pick Italy over countries like China or Bangladesh where they are just looking to save money.
The Bottom Line
Everyone could use a few tips when it comes to choosing a men's suit. Here's a summary:
- Go for dark, neutral colors like black, charcoal, or navy.
- Choose quality. Even if it costs more today, it'll last you longer than the "deal." You can find a great price on a desirable suit; just make sure to shop around.
- Choose simple, flat-front styles and get them tailored.
About Jack Mackenroth
Jack Mackenroth knew he wanted to be a designer since the age of 15. The Parsons School of Design graduate appeared on Project Runway and says of the experience: "The show itself was one of the most amazing and grueling experiences of my life. We never had a day off but I really learned what I was capable of." In addition to fashion design, Jack is also a fashion editor, radio show co-host, and is involved in numerous other fashion, athletic, and advocacy projects. View his complete bio on his website, www.jackmackenroth.com.