Ask A Stylist: Tips For Finding The Perfect Suit

December 19, 2013 8:00 AM

(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

A man who cannot look good in a suit has only himself, and his tailor, to blame. Sadly, most men these days just grab a suit off the rack – and with predictable results. Fortunately, there are still men like Enzo Valentino at hand to rescue such rumpled fellows. A gentleman’s tailor par excellence of the old school – yet with a fresh, modern eye – this Hamden-based treasure knows what it takes to find that “perfect suit.”

Enzo Valentino
Valentino Tailors
1422 Dixwell Ave.
Hamden, CT 06514
(203) 248-2037

The Sharp Dressed Man: A Strong Sense of Style – And The Perfect Fit

“Having an impeccable look requires not only a strong sense of style,” explains Enzo Valentino of the tailor shop in Hamden that has borne the family name for 44 years, but that is not enough. Getting “the perfect fit” is every bit as important – and that can mean not only a getting a custom-made suit but also custom-made shirts and the right choice of accoutrements. As the classic ZZ Top song “Sharp Dressed Man” notes, there is more to looking good than just a black suit and a silk tie – there’s the “gold watch, diamond ring” and “cufflinks, stick pin” to consider, along with a pocket handkerchief and perhaps a vest, not to mention a good belt and, as the ZZ Top boys note, “clean shirt, new shoes” and maybe even a “top coat, top hat” or “black shades, white gloves” to complete the package.

A Suit For A Wedding: If You Don’t Decide For Yourself – She’ll Decide For You

Like any good tailor (and Enzo is a very good tailor, with awards from local magazines and newspapers to attest to that), Enzo Valentino believes that a man must decide for himself what kind of a look he wants and what kind of a statement he wants to make. This is especially true if instead of renting a tux or morning coat, a man will be wearing a suit for his wedding. “If you don’t decide what you want to wear, then she’ll decide for you,” says this old married man, “and we all know how that can end up.”

Related: Top Personal Stylists And Shoppers In Connecticut

Take Your Time – And Give Your Tailor Two Months

Valentino Tailors does stock suits and tuxedos, both for rentals and for purchase with custom tailoring, but it also custom makes such classic garments – although Enzo recommends giving his crew or any good tailor two months to do it right. Whether it is a suit for a wedding or for work, he says the process needs about two months. That gives the tailors time to measure, order the right fabric, cut, fit and tailor the suit properly, plus a little extra time for those final “finishing touches” that a truly unique, custom-made suit requires.

Be A Peacock, Not A Peahen (“Grey and Brown are Boring!”)

“Most people have never heard the name ‘peahen,’” says Enzo, “because their feathers are typically grey or brown, and grey and brown are boring!” Enzo firmly believes that men who want to be “memorable” should take their cue not from the peahen but from her mate, the peacock.

“Colorful blazers” and even suits in brighter, sharper colors than the staid and tired old greys and browns are very stylish right now, says Enzo. “If you feel overwhelmed” by the new colors, he adds, “do not fret. Start with something in a muted shade” and then gradually brighten your look. “There is a thing as too much color,” he notes, and “there is no need to go all Christmas tree!” A softer, neutral color shirt can help tone things down while still keeping the look colorful.

However, the boring grey suit, Enzo notes, still has its purpose. “If you are interviewing for an accounting position with a conservative firm,” says Enzo, by all means “wear a boring grey suit.”

“Once you go custom, you don’t go back”

For most men, shopping off the rack is a confusing challenge – but with an expert tailor as a guide, that often woeful chore can be turned around into an exercise in both freedom and creativity. “Custom suiting,” explains Enzo, “offers endless options for fabric, color, design details and fit.” With a good tailor to guide them, men can design the look that best suits their body shape, manner and character. After all, “why should the jetsetters and A-listers have all the fun designing their own clothes,” quips Enzo. Gentlemen – and by that he means men of quality and standing – have throughout history taken a keen interest in finding the perfect look, and great commanders and famous politicians as well as successful businessmen have sought out as well as confided in their tailors. A good tailor can hide many flaws, and as Enzo says, there is a reason why “once you go custom, you don’t go back.”

Related: Dress For Success: Top Spots In Connecticut For Office Wear

Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at

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