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Look at one of those glamorously lit publicity shots of a great male movie star from the 1930s and chances are he's wearing a single-breasted peaked-lapel suit. That style-the most formal variant of the single-breasted jacket, offering the authority of the traditional double-breasted model in an elegantly pared-down form-largely went into abeyance for five decades. But with the return of classic sartorial dressing in the '90s, it's made a comeback. Here—with a portfolio of contemporary examples—suits that will lend you an aura of peak performance.
There's nothing casual about the single-breasted peaked-lapel suit. It's a sophisticated garment that looks most at home in dressy situations. Two-button multistripe brown Super 120s wool suit ($1,495) by Cantarelli. Pale-blue cotton shirt ($425) by Lorenzini. Silver woven silk tie ($125) by Mickey. Handmade linen pocket square ($110) from Best of Class by Robert Talbott. The three-button jacket, with its high closure and short-roll peaked lapel, gives additional emphasis to the upper chest: often a sought-after effect in these days of body consciousness. Three-button navy wool Salvatore suit ($2,750) with alternating chalk and double-beaded stripes; blue-striped spread-collar cotton shirt ($235) with French cuffs; and gold woven silk tie ($110), all by Oxxford. Brown cap-toe leather lace-ups ($265) by Salvatore Ferragamo.
Where to Buy:
Two-button brown wool suit: At BARNEYS NEW YORK New York; 212-826-8900 • TYRONE Roslyn, New York; 516-484-3330 • PLAIN CLOTHES Birmingham; 205-871-3391.
Pale-blue cotton shirt: At ULTIMO Chicago; 312-787-1171 • LOUIS BOSTON Boston; 800-225-5135.
Tie: At TYRONE.
Linen pocket square: At ROBERT TALBOTT nationwide; 800-747-8778.
It's hard to imagine a more sleekly flattering line than the one achieved by using a bold stripe in combination with the deep V of a long-roll lapel and a nicely judged degree of waist suppression. Two-button double-track stripe gray Super 100s wool suit ($975) by Samuelsohn. White with gray microwindowpane spread-collar cotton shirt ($195) and multicolor woven silk tie ($105) from Best of Class by Robert Talbott.
Where to Buy:
Three-button navy wool suit: At NEIMAN MARCUS select stores; 800-937-9146.
Cotton shirt and silk tie: At BARNEYS NEW YORK.
Shoes: At FERRAGAMO BOUTIQUES nationwide; 800-445-1874.
Where to Buy:
Gray wool suit: At WM. FOX & CO. Washington, D.C.; 202-783-2530 • DANIEL TAYLOR CLOTHIER Dallas; 214-521-0433 • OXFORD SHOP OF NASHVILLE Nashville; 615-383-4442.
Choosing to wear a single-breasted peaked-lapel suit implies a certain sartorial confidence—and a measure of connoisseurship. Equal care should go into the selection of accessories. Here are some beautifully appropriate suggestions. The Sulka suit (about $3,000) is assertive, so don't make the mistake of wearing shoes with it that are too thin-soled or small-scaled. These handsome split-toe lace-ups in brown cordovan leather ($1,600) by Silvano Lattanzi have distinctive welt stitching and are a perfect balance for the suit. Pima cotton socks ($18) by Mountain High.
The formality and added weight of French cuffs worn with enamel and sapphire links are a good match with the Oxxford suit ($2,750). The chronograph watch in white gold completes the strong ensemble. Blue-striped cotton shirt ($235) by Oxxford. Yellow enamel and sapphire cuff links ($1,560) by Asprey & Garrard. Da Vinci watch ($19,995) by IWC. The dressiness of a spread collar makes this shirt the correct choice for Samuelsohn's wool suit ($975); a richly woven silk tie that creates a substantial knot is the becoming finishing touch. Gray-on-white microwindowpane cotton shirt ($195) and multicolor woven silk tie ($105) from Best of Class by Robert Talbott. Even the finest suit—here, the Cantarelli ($1,495)—is enhanced by a fine linen pocket square, its edges rolled and stitched by hand. Handmade 100 percent linen pocket square ($110) from Best of Class by Robert Talbott.
Where to buy:
Split-toe lace-up shoes: At ULTIMO Chicago.
Pima cotton socks: At BERGDORF GOODMAN MEN New York; 800-218-4918 • SAKS FIFTH AVENUE select stores; 212-753-4000 • NORDSTROM nationwide; 800-285-5800.
Enamel and sapphire cuff links: At ASPREY & GARRARD New York; 800-883-2777. White gold chronograph watch: For IWC catalog, call 800-432-9330.
Blue-striped cotton shirt: At BARNEYS NEW YORK.
Spread-collar cotton shirt and multicolor woven silk tie: At ROBERT TALBOTT nationwide.
Handmade linen pocket square: At ROBERT TALBOTT nationwide • BERGDORF GOODMAN MEN • NEIMAN MARCUS select stores.
The ultimate in urbane evening dress: luxurious black silk shantung cut long and lean, the peaked lapels adding just the right seigneurial note. Two-button silk shantung suit ($1,995); white spread-collar broadcloth shirt ($195) with French cuffs; and black miniwindowpane silk tie ($105), all from Ralph Lauren Purple Label.The vest is not only a stylish addition to most single-breasted suits—it gives the outfit a more formal look—but also a practical one: It keeps you warm, even in very lightweight wool. Two-button tan nailhead Super 120s wool suit (about $3,000); white cotton shirt with blue stripes and French cuffs ($225); and solid purple silk tie ($105), all by Sulka.
Where to buy:
Luxurious black two-button silk shantung suit with peaked lapels: At POLO RALPH LAUREN select stores; 800-756-7656.
White spread-collar broadcloth shirt with French cuffs: At POLO RALPH LAUREN select stores • BARNEYS NEW YORK • LOUIS BOSTON.
Black miniwindowpane silk tie: At POLO RALPH LAUREN select stores • SAKS FIFTH AVENUE select stores.
Where to buy:
Single-breasted two-button tan nailhead wool suit with matching vest, white cotton shirt with blue stripes and French cuffs, and purple silk tie: At SULKA nationwide; 800-757-8552.