What does the man in the “new” Brooks Brothers suit look like? His jacket conforms like a sweater, with just enough padding to hold its shape. It’s soft like a sweater, too, hugging his body. The jacket is shorter than normal—nothing extreme, like Thom Browne’s experiments for Black Fleece—but the difference is certainly noticeable. The lapels are narrow; there’s still enough room for a flower in the buttonhole as long as it is a small one, and the tie is skinny. His trousers are worn long and lean, tapered and cut close. Obviously, they have no pleats. This man in the Brooks Brothers suit looks a lot like a well-turned-out Neapolitan, part of the nightly parade along the bay, or one of the men on Madison Avenue back when Kennedy set the style. He looks, actually, very little like a man in a Brooks Brothers suit.
For years, the central fact of the brand has been its—and its customers’—resistance to change. This has been celebrated in novels, short stories and pretty much every magazine article ever written about the company. George Plimpton started a piece about the store by mentioning that he, his father and his grandfather all bought their Yankee clothes there. Presumably their wardrobes were all more or less indistinguishable from one another; Plimpton noted with approval that Brooks Brothers’ No. 1 suit has been practically unchanged since the turn of the previous century.
But everything changes, of course, even Brooks Brothers. It has brought Browne into the fold, after all, and the latest additions to the line of suits really are a sort of revolution for a company known for producing little else other than suits named No. 1, No. 222 and No. 3. At the same time, however, even the new designs look back to tradition. The Fitzgerald is a modern version of the suit JFK wore (the name comes from his middle name), the classic with more cool. And the Milano, with its high armholes and body-conscious cut, could be a Neapolitan suit, the kind Marcello Mastroianni might have worn in 8 1/2. No one understands better than Brooks Brothers that cool demands a sense of history.
The Fitzgerald suit starts at $900; the Milano, at $1,000. For store locations, go to brooksbrothers.com.
Brooks Brothers Suits: A Closer Look
The new Brooks Brothers suit is lean and mean. With narrower lapels, it’s a perfect match for a skinny tie and a sharp sliver of a pocket square.
Compared to the relaxed—read slouchy—fit of its predecessors, the Milano and the Fitzgerald feature higher armholes and a shorter jacket. The overall effect is slimming and modern.
Just say no to pleat-front trousers. The Milano and Fitzgerald plain-front pants are a smooth update to the original Madison suit.
The slim trouser line and slightly tapered ankle is inspired by 1960s tailoring trends (think Beatlemania), though referencing a retro style is certainly new territory for Brooks Brothers.