Ask Alan - Fall 2005

Can I wear a patterned dress shirt or tie with a striped navy-blue suit?

Yes, definitely, as long as you keep the two patterns different in scale, such as a narrow-striped suit and a spaced-figured necktie, or wide-striped suit with a small-patterned check or plaid dress shirt. I recommend my latest book, Dressing The Man, which devotes an entire chapter to just such a subject.

Will my closetful of wide ties go with these new narrow-lapel suits?

Probably not. The more pertinent sartorial question would be what width n ecktie is the most flattering for your physique? Thin men require narrower lapels, broader specimens demand wider lapels, and therefore, wider-width neckties: Any meaningful deviation from such guidelines invites premature fashion obsolescence.

What’s the secret of packing a suit for a trip so it doesn’t wrinkle?

The first principle of packing to minimizing wrinkles is to fit the contents snugly enough to prevent shifting. To avoid wrinkling, the suit should be the last layer packed; trousers are packed first, since they lie flat, folded in half with the bottoms stopping just short of the waistband. The jacket is folded lengthwise in half, inside out; take care to push the shoulders through while making sure the sleeves meet each other inside, hanging down without wrinkling. If still too long, fold over a second time between the button nearest the waistline and the top of the inside chest pocket, a line where a fold will easily come out. For protection, a moisture proof layer should sit between suit jacket and outer shell.  A hanging garment bag produces fewer wrinkles than a conventional suitcase but involves more effort, and the probability of loss while carrying it around airports and on and off planes.

What do you think of the new, shorter jackets?

It depends on what you mean by “shorter” –compared with the generally too-long jackets of recent fashion? Assuming the goal is to learn how to dress well and not fashionably, the more relevant question would be, “What is the most flattering jacket length for each individual, and why?” The answer is that length that gives the wearer the longest leg line and still covers his buttocks.


–Taken from Menswear Magazine Fall 2005