The man who’s kept menswear sexy for over 25 years explains why tailoring is resurgent—and offers a few smart rules for how to suit up with elegance and poise.
GQ: What do you think about the resurgence of the suit happening today?
Tom Ford: Kids who grew up in an era when there were no suits all of a sudden want to look glamorous and cool and sleek, and then that causes a resurgence of tailoring. And then people wear suits for 10 years, and that causes the resurgence of casual. And the pendulum swings back and forth. But for me personally—and for certain occasions—suits never leave.
young tom ford
Courtesy of Tom Ford
What makes a Tom Ford suit so sexy?
I fit them on myself, and of course I’m sexy. [laughs] I am still an absolute sample size, and I’m very, very conscious. Do I look slim in this? Does it make my shoulders look good? Does it make my arms look good? How does it feel? Do the pants make my butt look good? Does it make me look tall? I’m extremely conscious of those things. Who doesn’t want to look great and sexy?
How do you wear a shirt and tie in 2019 without looking too stiff?
When I wear a tie, I wear a tie pin. It’s that one little fashion detail that makes me not look like a lawyer or agent. It’s just a little style affectation that gives it a spin.
Do you have any advice for people who live in places where suits are rare, like L.A.?
I like wearing a suit in L.A. because you really stand out. I was dropping [my six-year-old son] Jack off at school this morning, and three or four people complimented me. I feel good in a suit. Plus it’s easy. It’s a kind of armor. It gives you a shape. It gives you a shoulder. It gives you a chest and a waist. You look better in a suit. It’s all one color, so you look taller. It’s still, for me, the most flattering thing a man can wear.
We’ve seen a lot of people start to wear tux jackets and tuxedos to non-black-tie events. Are you in favor of this?
No. Never, ever. You look like a fool. And you shouldn’t have on a tuxedo before six o’clock. A tuxedo in the daytime? That’s not right. Not even for a wedding. If you’re going to have a daytime wedding, you should wear a suit and tie. Or if you want to wait until the evening, then you can get married in a tux. But those are old fashion rules. People don’t even know those rules anymore. I’m probably in one of the last generations that will even care about those rules.
What’s the Tom Ford ruling on how much shirt cuff to show?
I like to show a lot of shirt cuff. I probably show a good inch of shirt cuff. It just gives you a kind of pop.
And on cuffing pants?
If you’re wearing a classic jacket, whether it’s a suit jacket or sports jacket, I think you have to have a cuff. I like the weight it gives the bottom of the pant. I like the way it makes the pants break. I like the classic reference. When I see a man with no cuff to his suit, I just sort of think, Aw, poor guy.
When should you get a made-to-measure suit versus one off the rack?
If you don’t find the fabric you want or you want something slightly outlandish, then do a made-to-measure suit for the fabric. If you’re extra-wide or extra-tall, do a made-to-measure suit for your body. Because everybody’s body will look better in a beautifully cut suit. If you’re short, we can make you look taller with the right cut of the suit. If you’re really tall, we can make you look more in proportion by fitting the suit to your body.
What’s your earliest fond memory of wearing a suit?
In the mid-1960s, we still wore a suit on a plane. If we were going somewhere on a plane, you had to put on a suit and a jacket and a tie. That’s just how people traveled then. You tried to look really great when you went into the airport. So often, putting on a suit for me meant getting on a plane and going somewhere.
What do you think about the criticism that suiting up for a party or club is uncomfortable or restricting?
But you can definitely dance in a suit. When I used to go to clubs in the late ’70s and early ’80s, I always had a suit jacket on. And I kept it buttoned. And I could dance with a drink and a cigarette in my hand as well. Look at Bryan Ferry!
Are you a good dancer?
I’m a very good dancer. People are surprised because they think I’m so restrained, but I have to say I’m a very good dancer.
Go-to dance song?
“Stayin’ Alive.” I listen to Studio 54 Radio on Sirius when I drive [my son] Jack to school, because I want him to know those hits. He listens to it now and knows all of them. He’s like, “That’s Donna Summer!”
How’s Jack’s suit game?
He doesn’t wear them a lot. He did the cutest thing the other day. He dressed himself in a black suit, shirt, and tie and some sneakers. He got my gardenia that I had worn the night before for the Met out of the trash and put it in his lapel—he had seen me doing that. He wanted to wear that to go home on the plane.
Jack’s right! The flower-lapel move should come back in general.
If you flip our lapel over, there’s a thread loop. That is meant for the stem of a flower. I hate seeing pictures of people at weddings with boutonnieres with a bunch of silly stuff or a gigantic rose that’s pinned on the lapel with the stem sticking out. You’re supposed to stick the stem through the hole. That’s the whole point. Sometimes people say to me: “I wish I lived in the ’30s”—or “I wish I lived in the ’50s”—“that was such a more elegant era.” But there’s no reason you can’t live in the world you want. All you have to do is dress the way you want and live the way you want.
A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2019 issue.
by MARK ANTHONY GREEN
Source : GQ