The New Brooks Brothers Suit

Chris Sturman

A menswear classic takes a new path—the straight and narrow.

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.