The Country Suit

Okay, I am well aware that many men today do not wear suits. I do see that our sartorial median has declined a bit in the last 30 years. Well never abandoned in Europe or the United Kingdom, it has receded from many mens wardrobes here in North America. Now, I am not talking about the navy and charcoal business suits of those employed in the professions of banking, law, politics and other such sectors. Those places of employment have stuck more stringently to their guidelines for dress. However, North America has been steadily dressing better, even if only in a small segment. My thoughts? Many, especially the younger chaps, see it as a form of rebellion now. Something that challenges their Fathers practice of 'casual Fridays' and the polo and khaki uniform of business casual.

The real problem for those of us like myself whom wish to wear suits in more casual settings have the issue of looking overdressed. The real purpose of dressing is to dress according to your surroundings while being presentable and since the suit has become an endangered species in the past few decades, wearing a suit can make one stick out like a sore thumb. This is especially true of the overly 'citified' business suits in the traditional charcoal, black, and navy maybe with a pinstripe thrown in. These garments have a time and place, and have stated that they should be the backbone of any mens wardrobe as he gets older. They are great for interviews, solemn occasions, big presentations, and so on. Why navy and charcoal excel for business and other such occasions is that they perfectly match their surroundings of skyscrapers, concrete, boardrooms, stark office enviroments...you get the idea, basically, somber and subdued enviroments. That is why they can be so jolting to a person when seen outside of the context of where they are supposed to be. Country suits are the best remedy and can be a great addition to ones wardrobe.

Now, I am probably misapplying the term country suit, but it is what I use to refer to suits that tend to be 'softer' and more casual in appearance - something that would stick out in a board meeting. These suits tend to be seasonal by their very nature and made of cloth that better suits the environment they are in. Usually made in colours of lighter blue, tan, light grey, brown and even olive, they relate to the surroundings they are most likely to be seen in art galleries, social outings that require and elevated level of dress and especially the suburbs. They are usually highlighted by more casual fabrics as cotton khaki, flannel, & linen, more boisterous designs such as Prince of Wales (the best, and safest, one to start with), large black & white houndstooths and herringbones, and details such as hacking, patch, & ticket pockets, pick stitching and colourful buttons. They also have the added benefit of being able to be broken up and wore as a separate pair of trousers or an odd jacket (blazer) without looking orphaned.

Depending on your needs & wants, location, and employment, a country suit can actually add a lot of depth to ones wardrobe. Try one for each season winter & summer to start and see where it takes you.

Jason Byron Reynolds

Photo Courtesy of GQ


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