I have an MA in social science from the New School for Social Research in New York City and formally worked as a writing professor.
The romance novelist’s approach to describing men’s luxury fashion is usually to name drop well-known expensive brands like Armani, Gucci, and Tom Ford. Yet, while you may see your average well-to-do person or celebrity wear these brands, real wealth dictates other choices. My aim is to expand this everyday definition as to how wealthy men select their suits and where they get them.
English, French, or Italian
A true gentleman understands that his style will mimic the English, French, or Italian style. I won’t go into detail here because the subject needs its own discussion, but each one of these styles is apparent to the eye. English style is the most conservative, while the Italian style, especially in the south of Italy, is the most flamboyant and expressive.
These distinctions apply to fabrics, the cut, the accessories, and the shirts and ties, and the shoes. Hugo Jacomet, an expert in sartorial fashion, paraphrases and adds to a common adage in his YouTube video about this topic and describes the three styles this way:
- English suits: You’re protecting your wealth. You command respect. It’s understated, with lots of wools and tweeds—timeless, classy, comfortable.
- French suits: You’re showing off your wealth. Commands admiration. It’s sophisticated, haute couture, detailed, and trendy/up to date. It’s elegant and charismatic—a power suit.
- Italian suits: You’re enjoying your wealth. You command attention. It’s edgy, daring, quality. It reflects freedom, at your ease, and bold style.
Where to Purchase Luxury Suits
Fine suits can be purchased in three ways.
- Ready to wear: in a suit store, low end or high end.
- Made-to-measure: self-measured (for online ordering) or a made-to-measure store. Nowadays, we also have roving tailors. For example, tailors from Hong Kong will travel to New York to meet with clients and measure them there, then craft the suit abroad and ship it back.
- Bespoke or (haute couture): The suit is made from scratch to your specifications by expert tailors. It’s not hard to guess which is the cheapest and which is the most luxurious and expensive. Bottom line: Billionaires wear bespoke suits.
A hybrid approach does exist for those that want bespoke but at less cost: Overseas bespoke.
High-End Suit Brands
- Kiton (also bespoke)
- Ermenegildo Zegna
- Brunello Cucinelli
Quality Suit Purveyors
- Suit Supply
- Walker Slater
- Pini Parma
- Saville Row: Westmancott, H. Huntsman and sons, Steed, Gieves & Hawkes, Henry Poole, R. Anderson, Chittleborough & Morgan, Dege & Skinner, Edward Sexton.
- Paris: Francesco Smalto, Camps de Luca, Cifonelli.
- Naples: Attolini, Kiton, Liverano and Liverano, Stephano Ricci, Battistoni, A. Caraceni
Expert bespoke tailors have their own signature style of tailoring. If you create a character that goes bespoke, they will have found a specific tailor, like Sexton for example, for a particular style of tailoring.
Perusing any of the above websites makes authors more fluent in men’s suit styles.
Suit Cuts and Other Details
- The cut of a suit applies to lapels, pockets, buttonholes, shoulders, the armscye, collar, sleeve, and length. Narrative details about any of these will reflect the wealth and style of your male MC or love interest.
- Suit characteristics serve to make it look expensive. These characteristics will apply to how the suit is cut and how it fits, the quality of the fabric and stitching as well as how the suit is constructed, like if it's canvassed, half-canvassed, or fused. Italian suits are cut slimmer than English suits. So you want to decide which style your billionaire MC or love interest prefers.
- Bespoke suits can be made anywhere but you’ll find the most expert and revered tailors on Saville Row in London. Other centers for bespoke expertise are New York City, Paris, Milan, Moscow, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Naples.
- Fabric: a topic in itself. Suit fabric is assessed in grams and has a number assigned to it. The heavier it is, the lower the number. Thick wool suits can be as low as a super 70. Summer suits have high numbers in the super 200s. Suits are most commonly made of wool and the type of wool will affect its price. Vicuna and guanashina are two ultra-expensive wools. A fabric could also include gold thread.
Men’s suit wear is in a bit of a Renaissance these days. Google images from the Pitti Uomo convention in Florence and have fun perusing the latest suit styles. I also wanted to mention which romance authors I believe do a good job in describing their male characters’ formal style.
L.J. Chen and Parker Worthington are two authors who put some thought into men’s style and do well using it in developing and describing their characters. Meaning, they go beyond the usual “Tom Ford suit” and “Rolex” watch and seem to understand the basics of men’s luxury clothes.