The fashionisto: Suitin’ up

The fashionisto found out how to be a Dapper Dan.

Top Shelf co-owner John Meegan helps a costumer with measurements on Saturday in Uptown.

Bridget Bennett

Top Shelf co-owner John Meegan helps a costumer with measurements on Saturday in Uptown.

Spencer Doar

 

Looking fly in a stellar suit is a helluva feeling — the crispness, the perfect knot on that gifted tie (thanks, Dad!), the sheen of polished shoes and, most importantly, a tailored fit that complements your body and face.

While suits are expensive, they are an investment that should not end in a scrimpy decision. Which isn’t to say you must dole out GQ money, but rather that you just need to make the proper decisions.

Luckily, John Meegan, a 38-year veteran of the tailoring and custom clothing industry and president of Uptown’s Top Shelf, is here to help us guppies looking to transform into slick, corporate sharks.

 

Biggest chunk of change

While there are gents like Meegan who can hook you up fast with an outfit cut from a bolt of England’s finest wool, he says the best bet for most of us greenhorns is going to a place like Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th. There you’ll find quality merchandise for around 30 to 40 cents on the dollar. Spending $350 there on a discounted $900 suit is much better than the same expense at a Men’s Wearhouse, where you are simply getting a $350 suit.

 

Use your noggin

Once you’ve got that sexy ensemble bagged up, waste no time taking it to the tailor. Sometimes people make assumptions about what can be altered. A bit of lollygagging later, and you might find yourself stuck with a non-returnable, ill-fitting garment that has no saving grace.

Besides, tailors “like to work on garments that aren’t stinky,” Meegan said, so don’t wear your new suit, discover a problem and then haul it off to a professional.

When you do go to the tailor, wear a dress shirt and the shoes that will be the most frequent accompaniment to the suit. Tailors want to work with the full picture.    

 

The all-important neck

The dress shirt is frequently more problematic than the suit itself, and is equally, if not more, important because the collar is what frames the face.

“I think 90 percent of American men don’t buy the right neck size, and the neck size is the most critical,” Meegan said.  “When you buy a new shirt, whatever it says it is, it’s not that size when it’s brand new, it’s bigger. All good shirts are built to shrink to become the size that they’re supposed to be. If you put on a new shirt and it fits perfect — you bought the wrong size!”

So, much like the “Seinfeld” episode, come to terms with shrinkage ‘cause it’s a real thing.

Screwing up the neck size also has serious ramifications for the body of the shirt. People might buy a smaller neck simply because the body of the shirt fits better, ending up with something that will choke them if buttoned to the top.

Meegan attributes the recent no-tie trend to men buying shirts with necks that are too small.

 

TLC

A tremendous part of keeping your suit in good shape is simple: Hang it properly. A nice wooden hanger coupled with our friend gravity handles most of the de-wrinkling required. The same goes for the pants — hang by the trouser bottom so that the weight of the waist “pulls” the wrinkles out.

It might be surprising, but Meegan cites over-cleaning as a common culprit in decreasing the life of a suit. Know that hanging, airing out and brushing your suit can do wonders. If odors aren’t being removed, then that is the true time for cleaning.

 

Show some respect

If there’s one thing I realized in the suit trenches, it’s that tailoring is a dying art that deserves the utmost appreciation. It’s technical, physical, trying work that takes years to master. According to Meegan, becoming a “master tailor” requires some 20 years of work (and with fewer and fewer people entering the industry …)   

To all those toiling pins in mouth to keep us lookin’ good: Thanks a bundle!