It is a simple concept really. There are certain aspects of a suit that are derived from sport and country pursuits (think tweed, ticket pockets, hacking pockets, center vents, throat latches etc.) and then there are those details that are traditionally suited for ‘city’ or ‘business’ suits (peak lapels, pinstripes, worsteds, double breasted closure etc). So these things should be kept apart, right?
Well, no, not really. I cannot think of any ‘rules’ that forbid city and country details and fabrics being mixed together in a suit. But even if there was some rule…
I suppose you could argue along the lines of a separation of church and state and that city and country details be left apart from each other. But what fun is that?
Since I got into this whole ‘menswear’ thing a few years back I haven’t really given much thought to this mixing I speak of, at least not in the sense that it should not be done. It just seemed to be what was par for the course; a ticket pocket on a pinstripe suit, peak lapels on a tweed suit – stuff like that. They are a few of the things that brands and designers play with to create their signature looks, which means that you can do the same. They are also details that you can use to help you look better in your suits.
Personally, I am a big fan of mixing city and country details. I think it is a great way to have fun when designing your suits and also to throw a little curve ball to onlookers. Take, for instance, the one buttoned, peak lapeled pinstripe suit above (from the MySuit review). I suppose straight flapped of besom pockets would have been a more traditional pocket choice, but instead I went for flapped hacking pockets. Why? Because I think the slanted lines of the hacking pockets better complement the slanted lines of the peak lapels, they also help draw the eye upward because of their slight slant. The look is also a bit more sporty and less expected.
As a second example. Let’s take a look at the double breasted tweed vest below (from MyTailor). The fabric is unquestionably a ‘country’ fabric. The cut of the vest is decidedly ‘city.’ It is a nice contradiction to my eyes and it looks damn good when worn.
Next time you are in the market for a suit, whether it be off the rack, made to measure or bespoke; think of details like these. What are some of your favored combinations? Think how can you play one detail off of another in a tasteful manner that will not only look good on the first wear but that you also won’t be sick of after the 100th wear.