How to Buy Tailored Garments That Last

Here’s what you need to know to invest in sartorial apparel that will maintain perennial appeal.

In Back to the Future parts I and II, protagonist Marty McFly faces major costuming challenges hopping from the 1980s to the ’50s before leaping his DeLorean forward into 2015. In reality, McFly wouldn’t have needed midcentury hipster get-up or futuristic self-lacing sneakers to blend into these different eras. One outfit could’ve carried him through the entire seven-decade timespan: a classic suit.

Fashions may have fluctuated wildly over that period, but a classic suit, sportscoat or blazer of the sort trafficked by most traditional tailors has hardly changed since the end of World War II. And the look has decades of life in it yet. If you’re out to invest in tailored garments that will stand the test of time, providing incredible per-wear value, there are certain matters of styling you’ll need to keep front of mind.

The always impeccably turned-out Cary Grant gave a great TL;DR summary in the 1960s. All the tailored garments in his wardrobe, he wrote, “have one attribute in common: they are in the middle of fashion. By that I mean they’re not self-consciously fashionable or far out, nor are they overly conservative or dated. In other words, the lapels are neither too wide nor too narrow, the trousers neither too tight nor too loose, the coats neither too short nor too long… simplicity, to me, has always been the essence of good taste.”

The iconic grey suit worn by Cary Grant in 1959 Hitchcock classic North by Northwest would look utterly contemporary today, six decades later.

Published

February 2020

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