We speak to designers and industry experts to ask: what will follow suits?

Words: Thea Bichard


We speak to designers and industry experts to ask: what will follow suits?

Words: Thea Bichard


Sure, grooms, lawyers and Pitti Uomo peacocks still pull on the cufflinks, ties and high-shine shoes but, beyond that, times (and trends) are changing. Even before the tumult of 2020, slick tailoring was steadily fading out of men’s daily routines: flexible working, freelancing and the fickle old fashion system signalled that the everyday suit was preparing its swan song.

Back in January the catwalks were evidence enough, with Kim Jones at Dior and Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton softening tailoring and sharpening streetwear on their runways, thus blurring the lines between smart and casual. Then came the havoc of lockdown and the start of a working-from-home season that’s still going strong (employees at Twitter, for example, can now work from home permanently) and the signs of a possible demise of Savile Row’s finest export seem to grow stronger.

Eleventy – wool blazer, cotton-blend trousers, T-shirt (coming soon), pocket square (coming soon) / Officine Creative – trainers (coming soon)
Eleventy – wool blazercotton-blend trousers, T-shirt (coming soon), pocket square (coming soon) / Officine Creative – trainers (coming soon)

So, where next for the modern working wardrobe?

The new shapeshifting schedule of client and colleague video calls, family commitments and socially distanced socialising means a need for more malleability. As Milanese brand Eleventy’s Men’s Creative Director, Marco Baldassari, says, “people want their items to be versatile: wear the pants one day with a dressy polo, the blazer the next day with a refined cotton chino.”


The suit was once the uniform of the powerful and a requirement for every man. Nowadays, we’re just not as buttoned up as we once were; the emphasis has moved from fine and formal tailoring to a more relaxed and everyday kind of look.

– Mats Pettersson, Creative Director of Oscar Jacobson


Workwear aficionado Oscar Jacobson is embracing what it calls “soft tailoring” – the Swedish heritage brand’s Creative Director, Mats Pettersson, sums this up as “garments that, through their unique fit, construction and fabrication, are suitable for both a work and a home environment”. Think a textured polo shirt beneath a stretch-cotton blazer.

Sunspel is following a similar route. Its Head of Design, David Telfer, explains the shift. “Outside of our core, our design handwriting is continuing to subtly evolve as the industry trend shifts towards more comfort and easier silhouettes. We have found this particularly for trousers: there is a need for a bit of stretch for comfort, and drawstring designs and relaxed fits have become more relevant in recent seasons.” Starch is out; stretch is in.

Oscar Jacobson – Erik blazer, Marvin polo shirt, trousers (coming soon) / Eton – pocket square (coming soon) / Tod’s – shoes (coming soon)
Oscar Jacobson – Erik blazerMarvin polo shirt, trousers (coming soon) / Eton – pocket square (coming soon) / Tod’s – shoes (coming soon)

Of course, this isn’t about binning your blazers and embracing nothing but elasticated waistbands. Fashion LifeStylist Victoria Hitchcock, who advises tech execs and Fortune 500 leaders from Silicon Valley to Shanghai how to curate their personal brands (and wardrobes), says it’s still important to balance versatility with professionalism during those key “visual bites” of online meetings.

“Nonverbal cues are even more important than before,” she says. “I tell my clients to dress from head to toe – both for their own self-respect and because you never know when something unexpected is going to force you to stand up.” Athleisure does not feature in her signature “deconstructed office” and “deconstructed virtual office” looks, for instance. “It looks like you’re in your pyjamas. On the other extreme, don’t overdo it with the perfectly pulled-together look. My mantra is to be perfectly imperfect. And no hats.”


What you wear, first and foremost, needs to feel good. The boundaries – especially in the workplace – are definitely merging between casual and formal, however, it is still easy to look dressed up without having to wear a shirt and tie.

– David Telfer, Head of Design at Sunspel


Take London label Prévu – a brand usually known for ultra-comfy co-ord sets – which is embracing the trappings of traditional formalwear. “I think things are definitely getting smarter. Formalwear is redefined, with a more modern finish. We’ve enjoyed making suits in lovely pastel colours or a blazer with cuffed sleeves, which really captures what we’ve built with our luxury/leisure message,” says Founder Jake Hall. “We had the twinset, and now we have the (track)suit, which nods towards modern tailoring while still keeping our core, casual feel.…I used to love the old days where everyone wore suits, so this is another version of that. History and spice.”

The final piece in the new formalwear puzzle? Personality. While Facebook Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s anti-fashion formula has become the ultimate tech-bro uniform, Victoria Hitchcock, who has been dressing Silicon Valley’s professionals for decades, advises that “self-expression is key these days,” and encourages clients to “unveil different aspects of themselves…and bring in different experiences, different preferences, different moods, different environments” to their outfits. A closet full of clones may be easy, but it’s not always effective.


Sunspel’s David Telfer agrees – it’s a time to take chances, not hide in a uniform. “It is an exciting time for formal menswear – there is more opportunity to dress in a way that represents your personal style, rather than what you are expected to wear.” With a liberation from office dress codes, the time is ripe to experiment with colours, patterns and textures, such as a mixed-and-matched Prévu twinset or a pair of Sunspel’s towelling shorts with a linen shirt. We’ll take our lead from Oscar Jacobson’s Mats Pettersson: “Try to find your own unique sense of style, mix old and new and dare to stand out in the crowd! Always try to be well dressed rather than dressed up.”



The beauty of many of our twinsets is that you can mix and match colours and designs. I like a shirt-and-trousers combination and would style it with some light jewellery and sneakers. In the summer, a lightweight shirt and fedora are perfect on holiday.

– Jake Hall, Founder of Prévu


Formalwear in the future will be defined by minimalism, quality and fit. It’s more important than ever now to always look your best – it’s your most natural asset.

– Victoria Hitchcock, Fashion LifeStylist, Virtual Image Maker and Founder of Victoria Hitchcock Style



1. Reassess the classics.

Swap silk pocket squares (too dressy) for a 50/50 cotton/wool version. Eleventy’s Marco Baldassari touts them as “smart enough for even the most formal event, yet casual enough to be worn with shorts and a simple crewneck T-shirt under a blazer.”


2. Mix, don’t match.

We’re all for reinterpreting the Italian art of spezzato (splitting out a suit into separate looks). Switch up the colours and patterns of Prévu’s signature twinsets to avoid being too matchy-matchy.


3. Go back to basics.

Victoria Hitchcock recommends having minimalistic style essentials in your arsenal, such as “a white, long-sleeved collared shirt; an easy, lightweight blazer-style layering jacket, something in black or grey with a moderate lapel; and a stealth, leather-banded wristwatch.”


4. Focus on fabrics.

Oscar Jacobson’s merino-wool knits are incredibly soft and look just as put-together as a shirt, while Eleventy’s Giza T-shirts are spun from Egyptian cotton that’s super-strong so stays looking smart for longer than the average tee.


5. Defy the decades.

Invest in a Sunspel Riviera polo shirt – originally designed in the 1950s, it was revamped with a modern, tailored fit for none other than Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale.

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