Fall is notably the season for fashion; as we dawn the end of another Jewish year, why not think of exciting ways to welcome the New Year with style and pizzaz?
Sitting across from me during a Yom Tov meal, a wise man once told me: “I want to act like a Rabbi, not look like one”. It got me thinking of the tried and true, black and white, often ill-fitting suits littering synagogues during high-holiday services. I know everyone hears the “new year, new you” schmaltz often enough, but what better way to ring in 5778 than with a formal fall wardrobe that best reflects your unique personality and style? Here are some ways any ol’ mensch can take their shatnez free suit to the next level. We’d like to think of it as kosher fashion with a contemporary twist.
Make Mottel the Tailor Your Best Friend
Your chances of finding a suit that fits are slim to none without a great tailor by your side. You don’t have to shell out the shekels for a bespoke suit, but you and your tailor can take measures (haha, get it?) to make sure that old Yom Tov attire is given a new life.
From short and stocky to tall and trim
If a suit is not fitting you properly, chances are it’s either because it’s too roomy, the suit jacket is too long, or there is excess fabric throughout the whole suit. This can often give one the appearance that you have eaten too much at Bubby’s behest, or that you are shorter and wider than you really are. Add an eye-catching pocket square; it brings attention to the chest, not the belly.
Having your tailor taper your jacket and shorten it will make you look slimmer and taller. A pant leg with a flat-front, cut slim, with little to no break in the ankle is extremely elongating. The pants should just clip the top of the shoe with no bunching, creating a longer, trimmer frame. Add shoes with a substantial sole (leather-free of course), to add height and anchor your weight so you can walk into the New Year washed clean of all your fashion mistakes.
How Many Buttons?
Having a lower button stance on a jacket elongates the frame, but how many buttons should there be to look chic for shul? One can definitely do no wrong with a two-button suit; it’s modern with just the right amount of Orthodox. If however, you want to show some vintage flair, a double-breasted jacket will work just fine as long as your tailor keeps it short and trim and it remains buttoned. Steer clear of the boxy, three-button model, unless you want to walk into synagogue looking like you are a Wall Street broker in a 1980s time warp.
Do not shrug away the shoulders
Conventional suit wisdom 101- the shoulders are the one thing on a suit that cannot be tailored. It has to fit right and almost have a snug, uniform fit in order to look flattering on the frame. Structured, English silhouettes focus on giving the chest and shoulders a stronger looking appearance. Trimming the sleeves of excess fabric can be a good way to make the arms and shoulders look broader and stronger. For an Italian, more relaxed look, opt for a suit with soft shoulders. The classic American Brooks Brothers look draws attention to a strong shoulder, with the fabric hanging straight down, creating a relaxed fit throughout the suit with a broad shoulder emphasis. A bold European fit that is tight and fitted throughout works for slimmer frames who have enough willpower not to devour the whole challah at once.
It’s all in the details
Your bubby fusses over stains on the Shabbos tablecloth for a reason- it’s all in the details. Fit and structure in a suit are paramount, but those seemingly minute details and finishing touches will spice up your look. For starters, never underestimate the power of a nicely-done, three-piece suit. A snugly fitted vest hitting right at the belt buckle will work wonders for that post-Yom Kippur meal paunch. Ditch the jacket if it gets too stuffy in the synagogue and look stylish yet functional if you have to embarrassingly chase the kids around the tabernacle.
Trimming the sleeves a little shorter and showing some cuff is a classic look that will frame you like a painting. Jacket lining is a great way to tastefully express one’s personality; it can be customized any way you like, as long as it’s fitted with a natural, more breathable material. For the jacket, we prefer a double vent as the most flattering option; it allows you to keep your hands in your pockets and look fly; plus, it’s allot easier to fast if your hands are out of sight and can’t reach for lekach. A loud, printed tie is a great addition to any look as long as the suit and shirt are solid and in more subdued tones to balance it out. Adding a ticket pocket (a secondary, smaller pocket above your side jacket pockets), is a nice vintage touch to any suit. Flap or slit pockets? Up to you although slant pockets do make for a sportier, more English look.
Prints, textures, and fabrics….Oy vey!
For the cooler, fall weather, we suggest opting in for heavier warmer fabrics to make the walk to shul more bearable. Camel or rust-coloured corduroy is a Fall staple; make sure the wale is not too fine to compromise the integrity of the fabric, and not too wide so that you do not end up looking like that one relative who comes each year to drink all the Manischewitz and drunkenly tell the most humiliating family stories. Tweed is a great transitional fabric; grab a scarf and you’re good to ditch the heavy black overcoat. A soft-coloured flannel dress shirt works well with any solid-coloured suit and is a quintessential Fall print that makes a bold comeback every year.
The best way to do a printed suit without looking like the magician who comes to the synagogue to entertain the kids? Keep it understated. Opt for a shadow plaid suit that shows personality in a subtle way. Or opt for a fine line pin stripe, with tightly spaced, super thin stripes. Of course, nothing can overshadow the classic, grey, two-button suit. Pair it with any of this season’s earthy tones; navy blue, hunter green, or plum. Your staple fall suit should be just the right shade of gray; too light will give off too much of a summery vibe while too dark may make you look too dull and somber.
Most importantly, keep it you– the upcoming Fall season gives us tons of exciting options for high-holiday fashion. Getting sealed into the book of life is a serious matter, but your wardrobe doesn’t have to be. Follow these tips and you can guarantee yourself a sweet, and stylish, New Year.
The best part is that I can come to you, let’s book an appointment and take a peek at your wardrobe.