Double-Breasted Suits in the ‘90s?

My friend and I are wondering if the Italian double-breasted wool suit is still accepted as a formal working suit. We are IT professionals who usually wear khakis and a nice shirt at best, but must do a high-end sales presentation to several very formal VP's in the financial world. We currently own classic well-made teal, navy and a navy pinstripe suits (all double breasted that fit well).

We also have white, light blue and white collar and cuff, as well as red and white

striped all-cotton shirts. Finally, what tie styles to give suits some extra polish? We have tons of ties (Italians silks, in mostly the peacock colors and gold about five years old but rarely worn). For shoes, we only have black or wine wing tips (more comfortable than the black). We look forward to your advice with much thanks.

Jack & G
Toronto, Canada

SharpThreads Guy: If you really have entered the "formal" financial world, then lose the Italian double-breasted suit. While great in the ‘80s, the four-button trend of the ‘90s coupled with today's classic backlash has pretty much rendered that look to the wannabes of success (used URL salesmen). Go with a well-tailored single-breasted suit, and you won't lose. That's notch lapel, two buttons only. Since you’re dealing with financiers, stick with navy or charcoal in conservative fabrics and patterns (like a pinstripe or windowpane). Forget the teal with these guys. They may wish they were IT guys like you, but they’re really just conservative bankers who tend to trust their own. Hey, cheer up, at least we're not recommending a matching vest. As for the Scarface look (double-breasted), save it. It'll come back. Didn't hip huggers?

For formal meetings, it's best to leave the striped shirts at home. The dress white shirt remains the constant in the banking profession and collar, shirt and cuffs should be consistent. Remember, you need financing, so leave the Brioni at home. As to ties, any Italian tie from five years ago -- unless its a Ferragamo -- will be obviously outdated, and frankly, too "creative" for this brave new business world. Sink a few dollars into a high quality tie from Talbot (see SharpMan’s "Redefining Business Casual" for ties, and "Ties 101" for additional knotting and care tips) or Ferragamo, and the impression you make will be the right one. Black wing tips are always acceptable, but stay away from any color, including wine. They're your feet after all, and should draw less attention than your suit.



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