Take a walk through any downtown business district today and you’ll see the modern man’s business uniform: a pair of dark suit trousers, a button-up shirt, a shiny tie, and a pair of dull, duck-billed shoes. Many men have given up on suit jackets, and for good reason. Most of them look like Willy Loman in one. Some, however, look tremendous with their jacket on; the difference is in how their jacket fits.
You know you’re on the path to becoming a rightful blogger when brands reach out to you to offer items for review… I feel like I just lost my cherry!
This watershed moment just happened when No Man Walks Alone in New York (nomanwalksalone.tumblr.com) recently offered to send me a Sartoria Formosa suit for review. Here are the first pictures — I will write a more comprehensive review for a much more visible blog than my own, Parisian Gentleman, in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, here’s the quick lowdown for my followers:
The Sartoria Formosa suit is fucking awesome!
Granted, it’ll set you back 2 G’s, but it’s just really really nice. The fabric, the cut, the details, everything about it is what I like.
Some surprises: sleeve width is on the larger side, which is actually quite common with authentic Neapolitan tailors, it’s actually more their traditional style, although the current trend is towards slimmer sleeves. But NSM has larger sleeves as well, I haven’t seen anyone complain about that online yet. Also, the buttoning point is quite low, relative to the overall length of the jacket. The jacket is rather short, in line with current style, but I think that Formosa would do well to raise the button stance a bit, to divide the vertical silhouette roughly into two halves. Here, it’s almost as if they lowered the button stance, while shortening the jacket. Two opposing movements which, if exacerbated, can create an imbalance. This would be a point for them to keep in mind for future styles.
Having said that, Formosa makes a very very very nice suit, which will be haunting me for some time to come — I must absolutely resist the urge to indulge… But you should.
There’s a really nice sale going on at No Man Walks Alone, and included in the sale stock are Sartoria Formosa suits. Sartoria Formosa is a Neapolitan bespoke tailoring house that was once famous for their double breasted cuts. The tailor who founded the company, Mario Formosa, dressed many of Italy’s most famous stars in the mid-20th century. He passed away some years ago, unfortunately, but his son has taken over to both continue and expand the business.
Some of the new things they’ve introduced to their bespoke service are ready-to-wear and made-to-measure lines, such as those carried by No Man Walks Alone. The jackets feature many signature details for Neapolitan tailoring: a hand inserted, shirred sleevehead known as spalla camicia, soft shoulders, and very light constructions. These are also handmade from fabrics that are typically only available to bespoke customers. This navy suit, for example, is made from a very breathable tropical wool known as Fresco – a high twist, open weave cloth that has a bit of a texture to it, so you can wear the jacket and pants separately if you wish (silky, smooth fabrics should only be worn as part of a suit).
Prices aren’t cheap, but with the sale, they’ve been discounted to $1,738 for a suit. That’s a great price for the kind of tailoring and fabrics used, and unheard of for this kind of Neapolitan styling. The only catch? Sizes are limited and sale items aren’t returnable. There is a tailoring credit of $140, however, and if you’re in or near NYC, you can make an appointment to stop by No Man Walks Alone’s offices (so you can try the stuff on in person). You can also see examples of how the silhouette looks here, here, and here.
One concept we consistently champion at Put This On is building personal style. I know we’re all super-jaded postmodernists for whom concepts of authenticity are passe, but despite the fact that everything we wear is costume, what you wear shouldn’t be costume. All that said, wearing essentially the same damn thing every day gets boring. Shlomo in Baltimore has one of the most tasteful modern business wardrobes I’ve even seen–well-tailored, mostly Italian suits and accessories and handsome British shoes, plus he has a good eye for pairing shirts and ties. Not to mention a respectable beard. Over the last year, though, Shlomo has been shifting his focus from obscure Neapolitan tailors to obscure designers who specialize in dark, rough-textured, handmade garments that are pretty far from business formal. He wears both well, as seen in the photos above, shot by a friend in Baltimore.
Outfits like Sartoria Formosa and Individual Sentiments (Shlomo is wearing a Formosa suit above left, and IS pants on the right [Correction: I was 100% wrong on what Shlomo was wearing. He owns Formosa suits but this is actually a Panta ensemble. Plus the pants aren’t even IS. The boots are MA+ though, which IS artisanal and Italian]) share a marketing strategy that emphasizes handwork and Italy, but that’s about all they have in common (OK; they’re also quite expensive). One is rooted in a disappearing tradition of classic, tailored lounge suits, the other loosely draped over concepts of organic design and precise construction (and B.S. mission statements). Not a lot of closets have space for both types of clothing, but Shlomo proves that one needn’t limit oneself to one concept or the other. He told me “I think that being pigeonholed into one style is very constricting. Whatever your work or leisure life may demand you to wear, there is usually time when you are free to wear what you want, and its a lot of fun, and a great challenge for me, to try and branch out and enjoy other styles."
Shlomo said he appreciates what designers like Stephan Schneider and Yoko Ito, behind Individual Sentiments, are doing with interesting fabrics and construction techniques. I agree with him–I wear slightly dressed up business casual 9 to 5 but I like to wear slightly more directional stuff off duty, and enjoy opportunities to take chances on new, or new to me, lines that I discover via word of mouth or sites like Third Looks or Four Pins. Sometimes that means I try on or buy something that’s a little ridiculous, but as often it means a positive tweak to personal style.
The barchetta pocket is often thought to be a tailoring detail exclusively from Italy. The word “barchetta” is Italian for “little boat.” It describes how the pocket floats on the chest, gently angled upwards, like the bow of a sailboat. Most machine-made suits, by contrast, have chest pockets with a more stamped-out, rectangular shape.
Although the barchetta pocket is most famous today in Italian sartorias, it was once found in American suits during the early twentieth century.