Oli's Guide to Suits & Tailoring

For many of us, the prospect of wearing a suit is pretty unappealing. Perhaps it conjures up memories of drab, itchy garments, at least a size too big ('he'll grow into it') which we had to wear as children -- or the facelessness of the corporate 'uniform' suit, worn simply to blend in with the rest.

What's more, men's tailoring is an area often congested with nitpicking rules and impenetrable jargon: fusty old gentlemen telling you the 'right way' of dressing.

Forget that.

In my opinion there are few menswear garments as full of myths and outdated rules as the suit. Here are three I'd like to debunk right away.

Myth 1: Suits are always uncomfortable

It’s easy to see how this one took hold: we’ve all experienced the horror of a heavy, constricting, uncomfortable straitjacket of a suit. It needn’t be this way.

The Oliver Spencer suit is designed to be as easy to wear as your favourite bomber jacket or jeans. Our construction style is what’s known as 'unstructured' -- meaning that the suit doesn’t incorporate a rigid framework.

Oliver Spencer Osterley tailoring The Osterley fabric is light and easy to wear. Shop this look

Many of our jackets have more in common with a soft overshirt in the way they are constructed. They are designed to follow and adapt to the natural shapes of your body rather than to produce a hard silhouette. This kind of tailoring is often associated with Italy, where unstructured jackets are much more common. Here in England, the default suit is much more structured, often fully lined and padded. When done well, this can result in a beautiful garment -- but when cheaply mass-produced, the result is something which gives tailoring a bad name. If you’ve had such suits in your past, I humbly suggest an Oliver Spencer garment as an antidote... As soon as you put on something like our Portland Jacket, you'll feel the fundamental difference in philosophy and construction.

Detail of neck fastening on Oliver Spencer Portland Indigo blazer The Portland Jacket in Kildale Indigo, detail of neck fastening

Myth 2: The suit is a corporate uniform

Listen: you don't have to be a Suit to wear a suit. Get the right one and it can be worn in so many ways. All ours are sold as separates, so you can buy and wear the full two-piece (or three-piece if you add a waistcoat) together, or combine just the jacket or the trousers with other garments. Most of our customers choose to mix up their tailoring in this way (perhaps reserving the full suit for smarter occasions). Because of the soft and unstructured style of the jackets, they look great with more casual clothes (our worker trousers). Pop the collar up if you like.

Smart-casual Oliver Spencer tailoring Smart-casual tailoring - shop this look

You’ll also notice that much of our tailoring incorporates non-traditional elements. Many of our blazers have a single-button cuff for instance, or a contrast-colour button loop at the lapel allowing the jacket to be done up to the neck. Details that set them apart from the usual, and let you wear the garment differently. They can take the formality down a notch, which is useful if you want jackets you can take from office to bar.

Myth 3: Suits are boring

This is probably the most dismal myth of all. Because I think the suit -- done properly -- is one of the most exciting, interesting and eye-catching weapons in a man’s arsenal.

If you’ve browsed our collections, you’ll have noticed that I love unusual and interesting fabrics. And some of my absolute favourites are the ones we use are in our tailoring -- it’s a category that really benefits from quality materials and interesting textures. I love our Osterley cloth, for instance, which is fashioned from a silk yarn into a superb crossweave using contrasting yarn colours:

Oliver Spencer Osterley Silk Jacket Detail of the Osterley fabric in our Brookes Jacket

...Or the Harland Navy. A blue blazer is a wardrobe classic, but look at the detail of this fabric: a real rich, deep blue. We mix cotton with linen to give that extra dose of texture and sheen.

Both the above are perfect for spring/summer, as they’re cool and breathable. Your best bet for styling out the stuffy office or rush hour train, I’d say.

I could go on -- but you’ve got better things to do than read any more prosthelytizing; I think I’ve made my feelings clear. A suit can express as much personality as your casual garb. Wearing one should be the opposite of a chore. If you’ve suffered a bad suit in the past, I'd love to efface that trauma. If you'd like to know more, I encourage you to contact us or drop into one of our shops for a chat.

Shop tailoring or browse the SS16 tailoring lookbook

From our earliest days, we’ve adopted a business model that incorporates environmental and social responsibility at every step. Each season, we increase the proportion of ecological, organic and recycled fabrics and will continue to do so until they represent the entirety of our collections. We also ring-fence a proportion of our revenue to put towards planting trees with the Woodland Trust.


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