Spring Racing is almost upon us and that means every man is in the race for best-dressed trackside. With so much form to flick through, Executive Style spoke to the insiders and asked their top tips to stand out from the crowd.
Here's what you need to know before investing in a new suit this season.
Take your time
Start with the suit jacket and try on a few to see what works for you. There can be differences between brands and fits, so make sure you try a few options to get the style that best suits your body. "Many brands now offer a slim fit, but this doesn't mean you have to be a skinny guy to wear a fitted suit," says Chris Wilson, general manager of menswear at Myer.
Look for length
Going back to basics is a good thing when it comes to jacket length, according to Mebourne-based tailor Carl Navé. "Jacket silhouettes have remained lean and trousers are still nice and tapered, but jacket hemlines are getting a little longer, more in line with where they should be, saying goodbye to the cropped suit jacket once and for all, I hope."
Believe in your build
According to Navé a properly fitted suit will boost any man's confidence. "The right fit tucks you in, pulls your shoulders back and makes you stand an inch taller. It flatters your body shape and shows the right amount of shirt cuff. It gets you noticed and you don't blend in."
Spring racing carnival isn't the time to be shy. "Classic is great for every other day, but Spring Racing is all about colour, so you should have fun with it. Bold checks, stripes and patterns are a great way to brighten up your wardrobe and these pieces will work well as separates."
Dress it up
Topman personal shopper Thai Nguyen says the best way to make a statement is by dressing up your suit. "Accessories can make all the difference and certainly help complete the look," he says. "That perfect combination between the tie and pocket square can be the finishing touch."
Nguyen agrees that a suit lives or dies by its cut. "Without the right fit for the particular body type the suit could go from looking like the ever so dapper George Clooney to your awkward teenager."
While Wilson's all for bold patterns worn the right way, sometimes the classic mono-colour block is unbeatable. "If you're unsure what works best, consider something classic so you can get more wear out of it. Look for subtle windowpane checks instead of bold designs that make a big statement."
Grey for pay
As the sun comes out to play, grey doesn't have to mean dull and you can even spruce up a darker shade with a smart check. "This season the grey suit is certainly taking attention away from the blues that have been the winner for the past few years," Wilson notes.
One size does not fit all
Jared Acquaro, product innovation manager at Oscar Hunt tailors, builds a unique relationship with every gent. "It's about understanding the client's personality and exactly the type of occasion the suit is for," he says. "A well-trained fitter will know what fabrics work best for different occasions, shades of colour, patterns and features, so we help guide them through every step of the process."
Classic suits with colourful accessories are defining the path. "There's definitely a movement away from the bold blue suit with lighter shades of blue, grey and khaki suits becoming a staple through the warmer months," Acquaro adds. "White or bone garments are coming in this year too, with seasonal tones of green and orange."
Mix and match
Acquaro says men shouldn't be afraid of mixing it up, enlivening charcoal and navy suits with the right accessories and throwing in sports jackets and casual pants with formal pieces. "Make the sport jackets in a softer construction to give a more relaxed look and even split your suits up and mix them together or with your sport looks."
Shoes maketh the man, and they can change him too. "Make sure your suit works well with black, brown and tan shoes," Navé tips. "This will give you a lot of flexibility with your shirt and tie combination."
He's digging the resurgent '70s influence. "I'm working with a lot of burgundy, chocolate brown, emerald green and pink at the moment. These colours look great as a bold statement but can also be picked up in a subtle checked suit or pin stripe shirt."
Double or nothing
Luxury retailer Harrolds' head buyer Robert Ferris can't see classic solid blacks, blues and greys ever going away, but there is a definite trend toward windowpane checks, pin stripes, bold prints and the return of the double-breasted suit this season, with the latter look especially sharp when it comes to the races.
Whatever style you plump for, a good suit should fit like a more flattering second skin. "It all comes down to what makes you look and feel confident," he says. "Once you have a wardrobe of classic styles and colours, it's about building up your separates, and embracing key trends, brands and signature styles."
Ferris recommends pairing a charcoal Tom Ford double-breasted pin stripe number with a matching pair of loafers and insists some styles will never go out of fashion.
"There's no substitute for a Tom Ford O'Connor lapel suit, the softness of the tailoring in the shoulder of a Pal Zileri, or Thom Browne's signature shrunken silhouette."
Last year's sea of beige has given way to more intriguing camel and mustard tones, with a dash of pink all the rage, he says. "It's all about pink this season, so boys don't be afraid to use it as finishing touch, whether it be the shirt, tie or a funky sock," says Nguyen.
Any suit can be transformed with the right combination. "You can add black, white and grey accessories and footwear to get a sharp look for social events, such as Derby Day, or add brown shoes and belt with colourful shirt, tie and pocket square to get a totally different look. And don't forget socks; they can add an extra layer of personality to your outfit."
Scroll through the gallery at the top to see 21 of the best suits in stores now.