Fashion Advice for the Gentleman Rocker
September 30, 2010 11:34 AM   Subscribe

I am helping to dress my man for an upcoming rock show. He will be performing in front of an amazing assortment of VIP's, including artists, tastemakers, and fashion icons. I don't know much about menswear, and he pretty much hates dealing with clothes, so I need some advice.

Given the history and context of his career, and after talking with bandmates, we've decided that Gentleman Rocker is the way to go. Think current Leonard Cohen. So, we want to get a black suit. That will give him the versatility of wearing just the pants or the jacket in the future, and he can look polished, yet understated for the show (which is late fall early winter).

Problem: I have no idea about what type of suit to buy or where to buy it.

Considerations: he is ~50 years old, 5'8" and of fairly average build, except for a poochy tummy. His current sizes are 16" neck 32/33" sleeve in shirts, and 35-36" waist with a 30" inseam. He will be playing guitar.

So, fashionistas, what would be flattering, cool, but not look like he's trying too hard? I know that we probably want a flat front pant and a single-breast jacket, but other than that I'm clueless. Cut? Fabric? And where to buy this in New York City for not much more than $500. I would prefer a place that can do any tailoring in house. Links to specific suits and/or pictures would be great.

Anonymous because he can be linked to my username.
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you have $500 to spend on this, and you're in New York, I think you could do a lot worse than just heading to a JCrew. Their men's suiting is very nice, and on the fashion/evening side without being too cheap or trendy, and their staff are generally pretty helpful and should be able to recommend a nearby tailor (I don't think they do it in house, but going to a tailor shouldn't be too much of a hassle). With more time and research you might find a better deal, but I think a slim black wool J Crew suit and $50 of tailoring is going to get you the look you're going for.
posted by crabintheocean at 11:46 AM on September 30, 2010


The "cool" part of a suit comes not from the suit itself but from the accessories. The shirt and tie choice, shoes, the question of pocket square or no pocket square - that's what takes a suit from business attire to cool to sexy date on through funeral and back again.

Depending on who your guy is, I'd suggest a darker colored shirt with a black tie for elegant but slick, or a crisp white shirt and a solid, brightly colored tie for more of a cheerful classiness. I love a good pocket square - the trick is not to make it match the shirt and tie, just be in the same color family, and fold it simply so there's just a little edge of color peeping out - but it's not a required thing. Shoes are another key to coolness factor, but if he's never going to need "cool" shoes again, just go for understated and simple so they blend in with the rest of the look.

Once you no longer need to worry about the suit being the cool part of the outfit, you can concentrate on fit and construction quality. Unfortunately I know nothing about this bit and am not close to NYC, but I'm sure there will be plenty of advice about that here shortly.
posted by Mizu at 11:55 AM on September 30, 2010


In this case, it might be better to spring for a good ~$400 jacket plus $50 worth of tailoring than an off-the-rack $500 suit. You can pair a good jacket with just about anything, including some nice jeans, to hit the Gentleman Rocker look. But its going to be tough to stretch $500 into a well-fitting, good-looking, comfortable suit (yes, don't forget comfort - if he doesn't feel good and is constrained in his movement, that will impact his performance).
posted by googly at 11:55 AM on September 30, 2010


J Crew! Egads! :)

No that's probably true, because you know: you want a pretty standard black suit probably! One that fits!

One place I would send him also in that price range--BUT you have to go with him, and he has to try stuff on--is Tokyo 7. You can sometimes pick up a pretty awesome previously owned suit for cheeaaap. And he's a pretty average size too which helps, though you'll need tailoring.


You know, being our age, it might be good for him to invest a bit in a black suit. I mean, we do have to go to funerals now and stuff. ALSO there are bargains these days. For instance, Ungaro suits were going for cheap as they were sliding into financial disaster. And that would suit him (har har) well.

Really, in an ideal world, he will go to Bergdorf Men's. Back in the real world, since he hates clothes, he probably won't enjoy it. But at least it's a good place for him to look at things.

What else? Well it's fall. Hmm. He still might be happiest in a cotton suit this time of year, if it'll be hot onstage. Otherwise it is after Labor Day so no.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 11:59 AM on September 30, 2010


(yes, don't forget comfort - if he doesn't feel good and is constrained in his movement, that will impact his performance).

If he isn't used to playing in a suit, he is going to want to try it out before the big show. For instance, I need to use a different guitar strap when I play with a suit jacket because my leather one hangs up on the fabric, which doesn't happen with a cotton shirt. You also need to be careful about sleeve length on the jacket and the shirt, if they are too long it interferes with your playing. It can be really bad on your picking hand, because the sleeve hangs down and can deaden the strings, or interfere with your ability to do palm mutes.
posted by InfidelZombie at 12:10 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Three piece. three piece. three piece.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:23 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


If he isn't used to playing in a suit, he is going to want to try it out before the big show. For instance, I need to use a different guitar strap when I play with a suit jacket because my leather one hangs up on the fabric, which doesn't happen with a cotton shirt. You also need to be careful about sleeve length on the jacket and the shirt, if they are too long it interferes with your playing. It can be really bad on your picking hand, because the sleeve hangs down and can deaden the strings, or interfere with your ability to do palm mutes.

I'd consider pinning the inside of the jacket to the shirt on his picking hand.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:24 PM on September 30, 2010


They're not high quality but H&M has some decent separates that you can put together for a hip fit. I'd go with black and a black skinny tie. If he's relatively slim there's a ton of "slim fit" shirts and suits right now that are both hip and won't make him worry as much about sleeves getting caught in the strings.

I (personally) only go with the 3 piece if he knows he's taking the jacket off in which case the vest helps.
posted by bitdamaged at 12:38 PM on September 30, 2010


There's a custom suit maker in Portland OR called Duchess. They have a number of nice pictures of their different styles of suit, which evoke different fashion eras - you might take a look and see if it helps you to narrow down the type of suit/era you're going for. Eg, if he wants a jacket that evokes London in the 1960s, take a look at the one that Duchess has and look at what the lapels are like - how wide, how pointy; is the jacket a one, two or three button jacket; etc. Then you'll have a rough set of things to look for when you hit the stores.

Here's a PDF of the Duchess custom men's suits brochure.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:21 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I really like a slim black single-breasted suit with either a crisp white shirt with top two or three buttons open or a quality white t-shirt. Black lace-up oxfords. He could keep the whole thing classical with knee-high black socks (he won't want the shorter ones as his leg hair will be exposed when he sits down), or he could make a statement with bright coloured socks (red is great).

Note that on a three-button suit jacket, the bottom button must always remain undone. When seated, the jacket can stay open or only the top button closed.

I'd take inspiration from the Dior Homme runway looks (you need to navigate through the site to get to the shows), the brand is all about different flavours of rock'n'roll.
posted by Dragonness at 1:23 PM on September 30, 2010


Their website is worth a look too, beyond that PDF - Duchess clothes - they have pics of eg Nick Cave and other musicians wearing their suits, so you might be able to pick up clues there.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:30 PM on September 30, 2010


I've always thought Peter Hughes, bassist for The Mountain Goats, does "gentleman rocker" very well. Some examples here, here, and here.

Put This On also has some good advice on suits.
posted by MsMolly at 1:59 PM on September 30, 2010


He needs a fab drapey scarf. Kinda like a pashmina with fringed ends.
posted by pised at 2:29 PM on September 30, 2010


i think there is really nothing cooler than a merc suit. so fresh! but, you'd have to order from europe and all...

that being said, i think Tom Ford suits have a beautiful and very cool cut. although, you're looking at about 10 times what you want to pay.

HOWEVER, taking all that into consideration, why not find a great used suit that is too large and have it tailored to your man? when thinking "gentleman rocker" i would say for sure:

slim waist
slim leg
no cuff
no pleat
2 button jacket
lean shoulder
slash pockets

then go for the gusto with shirt/ tie/ jewelry. good luck! this sounds really fun!
posted by photoboothsupermodel at 2:30 PM on September 30, 2010


Here's why I say three piece.

He's A Whore.

Note that you aren't going 1977 pink, like Mr. Zander, but you gotta admit it gives you a lot more options during the show. It is a glammier version of the "gentleman rocker" you are looking for. Playing out involves having a different look for different songs/moods/sets having the vest allows for you to drop the coat during a slow number, etc.

Of course depends on his set up, if he's running wireless, you might wanna keep the jacket on.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:41 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


the trick is not to make it match the shirt and tie, just be in the same color family, and fold it simply so there's just a little edge of color peeping out

This is the best advice on the pocket square, ever.

Again, tie needs to be solid, nobody can see that marvelous print far off.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:48 PM on September 30, 2010


Suave older dude: stagger out on stage in mechanic overalls clutching a bottle of champagne.
posted by ovvl at 6:36 PM on September 30, 2010


I think this is probably out of your budget, but in my experience of 2 years working in the fashion industry - A suite with simple blend of natural fabric such as Merino Wool or Cashmere in dark brown or black will look chic on most people. Its an understated yet elegant look without having to try hard or look like as if you did.
posted by olia02 at 4:51 PM on October 29, 2010


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