a Classic Silhouette Infused With Comfort Properties – WWD

The power suit has had many iterations over the years, from Beau Brummel and John F. Kennedy to Gordon Gekko. Those looks — Beau Brummel’s bespoke fitted garments with long pants, Kennedy’s No. 1 Sack Suit from Brooks Brothers and Michael Douglas’s gray peak lapel suit as the quintessential ‘80s corporate raider in “Wall Street” — were all pretty buttoned up. They pre-dated the ’90s business casual craze where khakis and golf shirts became the new uniform for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and their wannabe followers. But thanks to Hedi Slimane and Thom Browne and their super-skinny suits and cropped pants that emerged in the early 2000s, the suit had a resurgence.

Of course, that was before COVID-19 hit, closed offices worldwide and forced everyone to work from home, often in sweatpants and polos. But now that the health crisis is largely in the rearview mirror, there’s been a major post-pandemic reset. Men are going back to the office — maybe not every day, but at least several times a week — and rescheduled weddings and events have prompted guys to refresh their wardrobes and get dressed up again.

However, the pandemic has had a lasting effect on the market, with comfort being the big buzzword in the industry today. Designers on the European runways showed softly constructed baggy suits with exaggerated proportions while more mainstream brands are infusing their garments with stretch and technical properties borrowed from the activewear market.

So what will the power suit of 2023 look like?

“Our designers are embracing the trend of relaxed and loose silhouettes by skillfully incorporating subtly roomier fits and and softer constructions into our collections,” said Dan Orwig, president of Peerless Clothing, the U.S.’ top tailored clothing manufacturer for designers ranging from Kenneth Cole and Tommy Hilfiger to Michael Kors. “These contemporary elements artfully blend with the essence of classic men’s tailored fashion, ensuring that the ‘dressed-up’ aesthetic remains uncompromised. The key lies in striking the balance between the relaxed fit trend and our core customer’s preferences, creating styles that are both timeless and wearable. For example, we are currently designing into higher waisted pleated pants and wide shouldered suit separates as a fashion feature to some of our lines. By understanding and relating to the current fashion climate of embracing looser cuts, we’re able to evolve our offerings without forsaking our signature elegance and appeal.”

Jian DeLeon, men’s fashion director for Nordstrom, believes that for fall, “We are seeing a return to a more classic silhouette. Trousers and jackets are a bit more voluminous, but not necessarily runway baggy. Men are catching onto the idea that tailoring that ‘fits’ isn’t necessarily a slim cut that follows the contour of the body, but rather expertly cut proportions that accentuate it in the right places.”

He believes that traditional patterns such as glen plaid, houndstooth and herringbone will connect with consumers, who are also “embracing color in a new way — and this season’s textured tweeds also reflect that.”

So while the radically oversize silhouettes from the runways may not prompt a run to the registers for most stores, DeLeon believes a classic fit jacket with a single pleat, straight-leg trouser will work for most guys, while “for the adventurous, a double-breasted suit certainly channels that heritage menswear comeback we saw a decade or so ago, but in newer fits and patterns, it feels totally fresh.”

Justin Berkowitz, men’s fashion director for Bloomingdale’s, believes that “the point of the power suit today doesn’t lie in the suit itself, but in one’s choice to wear a suit at all. For the most part, men are no longer required to wear a suit to the office, and are not necessarily going to an office every day. So when they’re putting on a suit, they’re making a very specific statement about how they want to be seen in the world.”

The biggest trend for the fall season is about relaxed silhouettes, he said, both in jackets and pants. The “big suits” embraced by the trend-setting European designers “are not commercially viable as they were shown exactly on the runway,” he added, but “the idea certainly plays through in less extreme versions that are less about a super-oversize silhouette and a big lapel, and more about ease.”

There’s also another trend that is a big message of the season, he continued — “suits comprised of different kinds of jackets that pair back to a matching pant. It could be an overshirt, a bomber or a chore coat, but it forms a different idea of a ‘suit,’ one that feels modern, cool and relaxed. Both concepts, in my mind, really point back to a designer that introduced the idea of the softer shoulder as a counterpoint to strong shouldered tailoring that was so popular the first time one spoke of the power suit — Giorgio Armani.” 

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