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Our style columnist Esther Walker talks tailoring and how to work the suit into your everyday wardrobe

 

The suit is back! It’s back and it is mad as hell at being ignored for so long. It was dress-down Friday that killed it off, all those years ago when people decided that suits were restrictive to our creativity and free-thinking, man.

But then it turned out that wearing very relaxed clothes was quite restrictive to your doing any, like, actual work, and some companies abolished dress-down Friday because productivity suffered so much.

But the damage was done and the suit in all its forms was relegated to a fashion back burner. Once upon a time, a loud and snazzy suit meant you were Gordon Gekko, but more recently they’ve tended to turn heads for the wrong reasons.

Suits are definitely back, as I say, but they have yet to shake off their slightly dodgy reputation. Listen, I would take a bullet for Vicky McClure (I wouldn’t, I’m exaggerating) but it is quite easy in a trouser suit (or 'pant suit' as our American

cousins hilariously name it) to look like DI Kate Fleming without having Vicky McClure’s natural star power to carry it off. So, what’s to be done?

For the answer, we need to turn to the bros of Silicon Valley. If you don’t know what a Silicon Valley bro is, it’s a cocky young man working in tech – particularly in California, although no doubt some tech whiz kids in the UK would also refer to themselves as ‘bros’. Think Mark Zuckerberg, but lower down the food chain. Why am I telling you this?

Because bros have been instrumental in bringing back the suit, with new ways to wear it, which apply to women as well. The No 1 thing about your average bro is that they are slobby and don’t like to be uncomfortable – again, think Mark Zuckerberg slopping around in his plastic pool slides.

But occasionally bros need to go and talk to grown-ups, and for that they need to look 95% smarter, which, as we all know, means a suit.

[Continued below]

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“While we don’t want to emulate ‘bro culture’ too much, we can borrow from this dress up/down idea”

 

But this is tricky for bros, as they spend so much time not in a suit that when they wear a suit, they look like they’re going to court. I must once again image reference Mr Mark Zuckerberg, who wore a beautiful handmade suit to give testimony to Congress and simply looked like he was attending his own bar mitzvah.

Many bros choose to resolve this by opting for the hoodie and trainer add-on. The busy bro-about-town will take a suit and wear it with a hoodie and a pair of trainers (usually wildly expensive versions of both). Thus, they are wearing a suit, while not really wearing a suit, and also their feet are comfortable. It’s the dressing equivalent of doing bunny ears behind your headmaster’s head in the school photo.

Silicon Valley bros are so into this look that the American fashion brand Veronica Beard sells suit jackets called ‘dickey jackets’, designed so you can attach or remove a hoodie ‘dickey’ (ie just the front part and neck part of a hoodie or a sweater that you see when wearing it under a jacket). This means you can get the look of layering the two together without the bulk. I know, I wouldn’t buy one

either. But this proves that the look is definitely A Thing.

While we don’t want to emulate ‘bro culture’ too much, we can borrow from this dress up/down idea. After all, in the Nineties, the black trouser suit was the No 1 weapon in any woman’s work wardrobe. Then it got complicated, and the most powerful woman in the room is now more likely to be wearing a floor-length frilly floral gown than trousers.

And yet, put a trouser suit with trainers and a T-shirt – perhaps push up the arms of your jacket – and you really do, unapologetically, look like you mean business.

But, crucially, not the sort of business where you're asking someone for their movements between the hours of 9pm and 10pm last Tuesday, or claiming to have been speeding because you had an acute attack of gout and needed to go home and lie down.

In the first picture, I am, of course, wearing a colourful suit because colour looks better in photos. But don’t be shy to reach for something in black or blue or grey. Just add a white T-shirt and don’t forget your trainers… bro.

 

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Try this oh-so-versatile jacket 
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Keep cosy in a cashmere hoodie
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Side-stripe trousers add a relaxed twist
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Take a walk on the wild side with these
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Photography: Jonty Davies / Styling: Chloe Forde / Make-up: Mary Wiles / Hair: Dayaruci / Nails: Charly Avenell

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