by Eve Hulbert
Photography by Kerry Raftis
How many suits do you have? Let me guess, they’re gray, light gray, navy blue, and black—then you have the daring one, the one for nights out and special occasions. If you’re a bit adventurous it’s got a cheeky pinstripe or a bit of a check doesn’t it?
Let me ask another question: when did your suit become your uniform? Let’s face it, you’re in Japan, you’re working hard, I bet you’re still wearing the same suit from two years ago. Most people in Tokyo don’t have the time or inclination to seek out the suit that defines their style, and fits both body shape and the intended occasion. But, as I found out after a little research, you both can and should do exactly that.
What’s the Occasion?
Dressing for occasions is always a good rule to remember. To illustrate this point, when I met Frédéric Dormeuil (Vice President of Dormeuil Japon K.K., the Japanese branch of the renowned cloth and clothing company with almost two centuries of family history), he looked me in the eye and offered the following:
“Where are you going? Who with? Who’s there? Royalty? Is it definitely a suit and tie job? For any event that requires a little prethought, it’s often invaluable to spend a miniscule of time asking these questions. As the design of an invitation sets the scene for the party that lies ahead, so the choosing of the correct attire sets the scene for which you are about to enter and play a role in. There’s nothing worse than walking into the right chapter with inappropriate clothes, unless it’s New Year’s Eve of course!” So, remember the golden rule: always dress for the occasion.
. . . a man can be judged on four
things: “His watch, his suit, his
wife, and his shoes.”
Men, left to their own devices, can produce very scary results (like wearing khakis). My friend Jud for example just turned 40 years old, and while he is fabulous in his own way, his style is lacking the self-expression that really gets across his personality.
Searching for Judness, or for anyone’s personal style is a tough job. So I enlisted the help of Frédéric Dormeuil. We talked about the various options available and apparently it’s pretty simple. There are three: ready-to-wear, made-to-measure, and personally tailored. The thing to be aware of with ready-to-wear, is that you will be spending a decent amount of money on something that is primarily cut for the local market average size and may not fit you exactly. Nonetheless, well-known brands such as Burberry, Mila Schon, Aquascutum, Ermenegildo Zegna, Dormeuil, Hilton, Hugo Boss, Hickey Freeman, Chester Barrie, Lanvin, Dunhill, Brioni, and Kiton should have no problems accomodating.
Ready to Wear?
If you are ready for something a little more customized, you fit into the next bracket—made-to-measure. You may think this isn’t within your clothing budget, but you would be surprised. If you are buying the brands listed above, it’s not much of a jump to move to the next level, and the difference in fit is outstanding. Why? Because the measurements are about you. At the made-to-measure level, as well as the brands above that offer both, you’d be best to try the following: Beams, Ships, Edifice, United Arrows, Stras Burgo, Tomorrow Land, Azabu Tailor, or Ginza Yamagataya.
If you do get a taste of made-to-measure, you might want to try the tailored suits, and again, you’d be surprised how close the price leap is. If you are going to invest in the tailor here in Japan—and a suit purchase is an investment in yourself, your job and your future the following come highly recommended: Ichiban-kan, Eikokuya, Pecora Ginza, Ginza Tailor, Takahashi Youfukuten, Kin Youfukuten, Batack, or Katsura.
Another thing to remember when you are making the purchase, according to Frédéric Dormeuil, is a man can be judged on four things: “His watch, his suit, his wife, and his shoes.” I am not sure how relevant this is to us single folk, but it’s something to consider— anybody can choose to look after themselves by having clean shoes, a nice watch, and a tidy suit. The option of going beyond that is very simple. It’s what women do on a daily basis—we accessorize. I’m not saying you have to wear earrings, but take your look and add a personal touch. It’s fall, do you need a nice pair of leather gloves instead of stuffing your hands inside your pockets? If you went wild you could have the scarf too. The idea is to dress classically, but with a twist.
So get yourself a nice suit, not a uniform. You’ll look and feel so much better. And no more khakis, please.
The Makeover Makes the Man
My friend Jud is the perfect candidate for a makeover. A hard worker that lives in his suit, he somehow still manages to look a little scruffy. He’s just begun a new role within his company, so I thought this would be the perfect time for a makeover.
I dragged Jud, the “victim,” to the Dormeuil showroom in his baggy brown slacks, old leather belt, ill-fitting collar shirt unbuttoned at the top, and (the worst crime of all) old, ugly loafers.
So, Frédéric, what can you do to bring out the wonderful Judness hiding inside?
The team at Dormeuil chose two looks for Jud, one more casual, the other very formal. For the casual, Jud wore navy tones giving him a relaxed, if still very sharp, look.
The biggest difference must have been with the shoes. His old loafers really did nothing for him. But these shoes really put a spring in his step (besides the moment when Jud almost tripped on the stairs, saying “I’m not used to wearing nice shoes!”).
Changed into his formal attire, he really looked good. The blue in the shirt really brought out his blue eyes (who knew Jud’s eyes were so nice?). I never thought I’d see the day when Jud wore anything pink, but the tie was indeed pink, and that was a definite smile on his face.
All it took for Jud, was finding the right colors, cuts, fabrics, and advice from Frédéric. The smile and the confidence came from inside.
By Laura Fumiko Keehn
Frédéric’s fashion tips for Jud
The T-shirt Issue
“T-shirts under the shirt is a good idea in this humid country. But don’t wear a t-shirt with a pattern that shows through. It all goes back to functionality. If the t-shirt is to absorb sweat, you don’t really want to draw attention to it.”
“His shirt is not bad, but it’s not saying “hi, how are you?” When sitting, the sleeves are a bit too short, and I’m sure Jud couldn’t wear a tie comfortably with that collar. That’s probably why he is leaving it unbuttoned,
with the t-shirt peeking through.”
Sleeves or Collar?
“Often, if the collar fits, there is a little sacrifice being made on the sleeves and vice versa. If you have to make the choice between sleeves or collar, ask yourself what the function is. In the summer with no jacket, the sleeves can be elegantly rolled, therefore make sure your collar is in proportion. In Jud’s case, he should go for made-to-measure or tailor to ensure the perfect fit.”