Why Skinny Suits are Really No Big Deal

May 29, 2013 BY OBI ANYANWU

Last week, Joseph Abboud “went off” on what he referred to as “the skinny suit” and other menswear trends. I feel like saying that he “went off,” went on a tirade, or went on a rant sounds too negative and will be demonizing Abboud, which he absolutely does not deserve. Abboud is an expert at tailoring, the first menswear designer to win the CFDA award two years in a row for his craft, and now is the chief creative officer for Men’s Wearhouse. His work should not go overlooked, rather it should be taken into account on his opinion of the skinny suit and other present menswear trends.

Abboud’s tried and true, classic gentleman suiting has a focus on fit, comfort, and character as opposed to what’s currently on trend. If his suits were trend driven, they would have a soft shoulder or be unconstructed. Instead, Abboud sticks to a suit cut that will always work in menswear. In his WWD article, Abboud wrote that, “Men’s style, in general, is much more democratic than that, and any suit, no matter how modern or how current, needs to fit the body regardless of age, size or build.” Do we agree with his opinion that a “6’2, well-built young man” will look foolish in a skinny suit? Well of course we do. No man should have to squeeze into expensive clothing. You should be paying rent instead of buying a Dior Homme suit that just won't fit. Your suit should be the number one thing in your wardrobe that fits you impeccably. A suit too big or too small says so much about you, mainly that you’re a fool for walking out of your house looking the way you look.

Abboud hit the nail on the head with this issue. Skinny suits should be left for those that can fit them and make them look visually pleasing. Is it our place to tell someone when he looks like a damn fool? Yes we should if they’re unaware of their mistake. On the other hand, if wearing a skinny suit is a conscious decision then let him wear the skinny suit. If he prefers to have his trousers cuffed above his ankles then so be it. That’s what floats his boat. Fashion gets a bad reputation for “outlandish” and “over-the-top” looks that deem designers unprofitable (even if they’re revered for their vision and craft.) We get critiqued and criticized for what we wear even if we're photographed for GQ’s street style. Fashion is objective. There are no right or wrong answers, there are just outfits that are on par and then ways to make it look better. Placing a big, fat N-O on one’s sartorial decisions should be rule number one of “what not to do in fashion.” Feel free to throw shade, but nothing is gospel here. What is terrible today is a trend tomorrow.

On the topic of trends, Abboud went to town about the shrunken suit, use of several colors, and wearing kilts. His critique of the three is unfair. These are the menswear trends of today where all other trends fall under those umbrellas in some way, shape, form, or aesthetic. These three trends are why menswear is still the hottest growing segment of the fashion industry (well, that and the skinny suit). These are the things that men are sold on, and feel okay about wearing after years of convincing. Abboud’s opinions on the matter set men back. This way of thinking is why men never took an interest in their appearance out of fear of being called a sissy, girly, or just vain. On one hand, caring about your appearance is important, but on the other hand you're forced to dress one way or else you’ll look stupid? How can that mindset motivate a man to updating his style?

Men should not be chastised for being confident enough to make daring style choices. The men’s fashion segment is growing, and it’s growing because the same old, tired, menswear of yesteryear is gone. Today there is progress, something new and fresh, something to look forward to, and men are enjoying themselves. Men are finally having fun playing dress up. Don’t spoil it for us. Abboud joked about how he should not be able to read anAmerican Express card number through one’s trousers. Coincidentally, the same man he'll sneer at for his fit will get photographed and praised by The Sartorialist. To each his own I guess.