IN SEARCH OF MEN IN SUITS

by Karen Alberg Grossman

Photos by Selwyn Tungol

It wasn’t the easiest assignment: finding men wearing suits or sportcoats on a steamy 90-degree day in NYC. But never one to turn down a challenge, I grabbed our talented photographer Selwyn Tungol and headed for Bryant Park at lunch time. I figured that if we hung out near the upscale Bryant Park Grill, we’d discover at least a few well-suited gentlemen dining on expense accounts. And “few” is exactly what we found!

The good news, most of the guys we stopped (sometimes mid-bite) are passionate about tailored clothing, love to dress up, know exactly who designed their sportcoats, trousers and ties (yes, we even found a few ties!), and happily shared their fashion preferences. We spoke to an architect who told us he liked to mix it up a bit: a sportcoat with jeans and sneakers. And to a tech company founder who was dressed up that day to ring the morning bell on Wall Street. And to a very sweet man in a nice hat and suspenders who, inspired by the live music in the park, led me with his walker in a dance!

An international group of guys (Australian, Brazilian, French, Chilean, American) who had just ended a lunch meeting said they were wearing suits specifically for their meeting. A guy wearing a Muji blazer, Charles Tyrwhitt white shirt and modern eyewear, admitted he’s the only one at his firm who wears sportscoats. A business owner who produces a magazine on culture and religion was wearing a mid-blue Paul Smith seersucker sportcoat; he told us that he recently enforced a coat-and-tie company dress code. “I loosen it up a bit in hot weather but come Labor Day through Memorial Day, you can be sure my team looks the part.”

Two well-dressed gentlemen, one a lawyer and one in real estate, told us they wear suits to work every day. “I manage a bunch of 28-year-olds,” said the real estate guy. “If I were to dress casually, these kids would show up in beachwear and football cleats. But since I always wear suits, at least they dress business casual. Other reasons I dress up: it’s respectful to clients, sets the right tone for meetings, and I don’t really know how to dress casually…” (For the record, he told us he used to shop Brooks Brothers when it was Brooks Brothers but more recently discovered Macy’s where he now buys really nice suits at a terrific value…)

The lawyer (wearing a Brooks Brothers suit) shared a cute story. “Coming out of the subway one day and walking to my office near Bryant Park, a young woman stopped me and complimented my suit. It turned out she worked for a clothing company (Tom James) and ended up coming to my office and selling me some suits. As a guy in a suit, you can walk in anywhere. At airports, I’m sometimes mistaken for an airline employee and get pushed right through security…”

“Yes, wearing a suit opens doors,” the real estate guy agreed. “It’s interesting: when I pass a homeless person, they’ll often salute me or greet me with a respectful ‘Hello Governor!’ But when I meet with certain billionaires, they’ll say something like ‘Lose the tie, will you?’, to imply how cool they are by dressing casually. I try to control my anger in those situations, to suggest how cool they’re not.”

3 Replies to “IN SEARCH OF MEN IN SUITS”

  1. Thank you Karen! As always you continue to graciously and elegantly lead us all. Sweating out there on the hottest day in New York City proving Dress Does Matter! You’re the best! Xxo

  2. I TAKE UMBRAGE TO THE WAY MOST MEN IN THESE PICTURES HAVE ILL FITTING CLOTHING. SLEEVES WAY TOO LONG ON THEIR JACKETS, AND GARMENTS DON’T FIT PROPERLY. THE YOUNG GUYS HAVEN’T FOUND OUT THAT THERE IS SOMETHING CALLED AN IRON TO PRESS THEIR SHIRTS. I GUESS I AM OUT OF TOUCH BEING IN THE MENS BUSINESS FOR 55 YEARS AND REMEMBERING WHEN MEN TOOK PRIDE IN THEIR APPEARANCE. IN MY STORE NO ONE WALKS OUT WITHOUT BEING ALTERED AND PRESSED PROPERLY.

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