The Olive Suit

Working in the industry and being unbound by traditional parameters has allowed me to engage in some creative endeavours that I'd perhaps shy away from otherwise. It's an artistic privilege that I both cherish yet harbour concern for, as deviation from the blueprint yields no sure positives. A project may easily end up regrettable without due foresight.

I've long shied away from the colour green in my wardrobe until only recently; I'd somehow associated the hue with an unflattering remark about looking ill, whether the observation be apt or not. (I'm sure, in retrospect, that the overzealous social life of my youth paid no small toll on my complexion, to say the least.) Blue, black, and grey had been my staple wardrobe palette for far too long.

Green is a brilliant family of colours - often earthy, natural, and a subtle complement to other hues. Rich forest and emerald, summer mint, British khaki, vibrant kelly, and my personal favourite (amongst many others), olive. What started with a lieutenant coat for the winter quickly became a cotton trucker jacket for the spring. A few ties have entered the rotation in the form of an Argyll & Sutherland repp and an ancient madder foulard. An olive-and-grey linen scarf that matches with every outfit shed light on the colour's usefulness. A suit or sport jacket was only a matter of time.

Paring Down the Options

The major obstacle between the idea and the reality of a project is the fabric itself. Despite having several hundred fabrics available for my perusal, I'd still need to find the "right" fabric - significantly more challenging when the concept involves a narrow scope (in this case, the colour). A good tact is to have a few ideas in the hopper, as such parameters are more constraining than our own whims. Fortunately, I'd found a dark olive worsted fabric from Samuelsohn that was just about perfect - deep, rich colour; an appropriate weight (8.5 oz); and just the right burnt cognac horn button to foil the green of the fabric.

I'd based the design of my suit after a well-executed three-piece I'd seen online - subtlety, it seemed, was going to be key. Flapped jetted pockets, notch lapels, double vent, pick stitching, single-breasted waistcoat; the atypical colour would speak for the character of the garment.

One curiosity I opted for was to add side adjusters to the trousers (pictured) - short tabs of fabric on the sides of the waistband levered around double D-rings. These buckles act in lieu of suspenders or belts to keep the pants on the waist.

Perfectly Practical

The suit, in practice, is far more versatile than I'd anticipated. The understated olive comes across as charcoal grey under certain lighting, allowing the suit to masquerade as traditional. Beyond canonical whites and greys, I was surprised at how colour took to the fabric: browns, light and dark, bring about the natural outdoors scheme, perfect for autumn colouring; burgundy, plum, and red scale hues the natural complement; light blues to lay the canvas for additional accents. Coordinating shoes has been effortless: black, oxblood, cognac, mid- and dark-browns all pair immaculately. I've no shortage of permutations to exercise.

Three-Piece FTW

Far greater than having another three-piece option, the waistcoat is another great mix-and-match garment that lends itself to yet more iterations with my existing wardrobe. Navy, grey, brown and tan all respond well to the subtle earthiness of the best, exponentially expanding my possibilities at hand.

Practically Perfect

This Samuelsohn turned out better than I could have hoped for. A true three-season suit than need not hide away in the summer with versatility in spades, the venture off the beaten path paid off handsomely, at least in this case.

Ryan W.A. Clark

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