An immaculately tailored suit from Savile Row's finest isn't within the reach of every punter. Our fantasy suit may make us look like a young and rougeish James Bond in our mind's eye, but in reality, our off the shelf alternative doesn't always measure up.
But whether you've spent just a few bob on your formal wear or an arm and a leg, there's no reason you can't look as dashing and debonair as the handsome devil you know you are. A few smart styling tricks can elevate even the most basic suit to the level of seriously suave, spot on for dazzling on a shoestring this festive season. Here's how it's done...
1. Buy conservativelyIf you haven't yet invested in a low cost suit, you're starting from a position of strength, style-wise. The “base” suit you style to achieve formal perfection is all important. Remember – go for conservative, classic style, not anything “on trend” or outlandish. Trends and dapper features may look on the money as part of a well-made, costlier suit, but on budget options they can draw attention to poor fit and less-than-exquisite craftsmanship. Stick to something simple and try on lots of options until you find one which fits your frame as closely as possible for a tailored look.
2. Fake a tailored fitStraight off the rack, no suit is going to fit you flawlessly. When it comes to a great suit, fit is everything. Too tight, too short, too long, too roomy – all of these problems are a tell-tale giveaway of your suit's origins and will detract from the suave style you're aiming for. There are, however, a few “DIY” ways to fake the perfect fit if you're not prepared to spend a few extra bob on alterations (although these can work out pretty cheap - ask around!). To “fake” perfect tailoring why not try...
- Cuffing trousers with fabric tape?
Too long trousers are a serious suit faux pas, giving you that “first day at secondary school” look which doesn't exactly scream sophistication. But there's an easy fix. Fabric tape can be ironed on in a matter of minutes. Simply turn your cuffs to the perfect level (one horizontal crease as your trouser reaches your shoe is a good measure), turn up evenly, insert fabric tape and iron over the area to secure your perfect cuff.
3. Curate your accessoriesCufflinks, your watch, your shoes, your belt, your neck wear – the little extras which go into your formal look will make a huge difference to the feel of your suit. A few well-chosen accessories will help create an expensive-looking finish on a budget. Opt for co-ordinated (but not “too” co-ordinated) accessories which sit well together – sticking to the same colour palette can help. If you're wearing accessories with a hint of silver, don't plump for a belt with a gold coloured buckle – stick to one metallic shade to ensure your look appears well put together. Brown leather shoes and a brown belt, or an all black ensemble will again create coherence, consistency and class. And, as always, if you're hitting the tiles, don't forget to give your shoes a good polish.
Do you wear cheaper “off the shelf” suits? How do you style yours to look a million dollars? Take a step in the right direction with a pair of affordable, beautiful formal shoes from Base London & share your styling tips in the Base London Facebook group.