Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ask Tamara: Splitting a Suit

I recently hosted a private shopping night and fashion show for the alumni of the University of Waterloo, that focused on creating a fun & functional wardrobe that is well-edited, with few items that could be worn in multiple ways. It was really fun night with lots of opportunities to ask questions and have some one-on-one time with me and some of the fantastic staff at Banana Republic Flagship Store on Bloor Street.

I received this question from one of the attendees:

I was at the [event] and wanted to ask a question about one of the looks. You had one of the models wearing a full suit, and the other one wearing only the jacket. I was always under the impression that you shouldn't split a suit, and that suit jackets are to be worn as suit jackets only and not as sports jackets. Are there any 'rules' for breaking up a suit?

Great presentation, by the way. My wife and I really enjoyed it.


If one person had this question, many must have the same question. So it has become the inspiration for a new blog feature called, ever so originally,: 'Ask Tamara'.

The question you've asked is a good one. While some may feel awkward splitting a suit, it is actually ok to do so, as long as you're choosing fabrics that go together.

When splitting a suit to use the jacket with a different dress pant, aim for a dress pant in a fabric that corresponds to the jacket in terms of fabric weight and composition. For example: a refined, smooth wool jacket with a herringbone or stripe in the weave would work well with a pant of equal fabric weight and in a colour that picks up on the main colour, or a colour within the pattern of the jacket. (let's say our jacket is grey with a black herringbone. you could safely choose a solid black or solid grey pant, if the grey is similar to that of the jacket). The modern way to do this centres on choosing plainer jackets rather than a larger pattern like a glen plaid, which would look dated split up.

Splitting a suit to wear the jacket with jeans can become trickier as many suit fabrics do not naturally relate in terms of level of refinement/formality. If you want to try this look, choose a suit jacket that is more casual and on the trendier side, with a slimmer fit and either a more casual fabrication or a more novel fabrication - like a 'sharkskin,' corduroy, moleskin, or twill - to go with a darker, dressy denim. Both Banana Republic and JCrew have great examples on their sites.

Here are some examples from JCrew:
As a suit:
Just a Jacket and Jeans:
What fashion question have you been dying to ask? Write to me and I'll put it up on the blog!