The New Rules of Suits
Rule No. 1: There is no crisis of sartorial indecision so confounding that it cannot be solved by simply going with the blue suit.
Rule No. 2: "Blue" need not mean dark navy. Brighter and bolder blue suits can work wonders, provided you go neither too bright nor too bold.
Two-button wool-mohair-and-silk suit ($1,250) and cotton shirt ($225) by Calvin Klein Collection; silk-and-cotton tie ($205) and leather bag ($2,240) by Louis Vuitton; leather shoes ($695) by Santoni; steel Carson automatic watch ($795) by Tissot; silk pocket square ($55) by Hugo Boss; leather belt ($180) by Church's.
Rule No. 3: In descending order of versatility: bird's eye, pinstripe, chalk stripe, herringbone, windowpane, houndstooth, glen plaid, seersucker, madras.
Rule No. 4: It is impossible to look pulled together when your jacket isn't buttoned. (Three-button jackets: middle button only; two-button jackets: top button only; one-button jacket: that one button.)
Rule No. 5: Working buttonholes : suit jackets :: seat warmers : cars. Not wholly necessary, but real easy to get used to.
Two-button wool-and-linen suit ($3,250) by Versace; cotton shirt ($245) by Luciano Moresco; silk tie ($225) by Ports 1961; steel Jazzmaster Maestro watch ($1,745) by Hamilton; silk pocket square ($100) by Brioni.
Rule No. 6: The darker the cloth and the more restrained the pattern of the suit, the more whimsy you are permitted in your choice of shirt and accessories.
Rule No. 7: That said, easy on the whimsy, pal.
Rule No. 8: The collar of your jacket should never stand away from or conceal your shirt collar. A half inch of shirt collar should be visible at the back.
Two-button wool suit ($2,100), cotton shirt ($395), and silk tie ($175) by Dolce & Gabbana; steel Datron chronograph ($2,495) by Movado; leather iPad case ($495) by Tod's.
Rule No. 9: There is a variety of suit that squeezes a man's torso and legs and tightens his profile. It is called a wet suit, and unless you intend on catching some tasty waves, we recommend a suit with some ease in the legs, arms, and chest.
Rule No. 10: The wider the lapels on a man's jacket, the better he is at ordering dinner in Italian restaurants.
Rule No. 11: You'll have what he's having.
Rule No. 12: Never underestimate the value of that half inch of shirt cuff jutting out under your jacket.
Two-button mohair-and-cotton suit ($3,940) by Gucci; cotton shirt ($275) by Canali; silk-and-wool tie ($135) by John Varvatos; crocodile loafers ($2,650) by Cesare Paciotti; steel Column-Wheel chronograph ($3,300) by Longines; cotton pocket square ($40) by Paul Stuart; leather bag ($468) by Coach.
Rule No. 13: The jigger, i.e., the single button inside a double-breasted jacket, is the male equivalent of the bra. It should always be fastened in order to hold everything in place.
Rule No. 14: The six on two, in which only the center and bottom right-hand side buttons are functional (and only the center button used), is the most versatile of all double-breasted suits.
Rule No. 15: Leave the wearing of look-at-me cuff links to Russian oligarchs and rappers. Let subtlety be your distinction.
Double-breasted wool suit ($4,695) by Ralph Lauren Purple Label; cotton shirt ($340) by Ascot Chang; silk knit tie ($200) by Brioni; leather shoes ($1,620) by John Lobb; steel Star automatic watch ($2,955) by Montblanc; cotton pocket square ($10) by Thomas Pink; silver cuff links ($525) by David Yurman; leather briefcase ($2,500) by Ralph Lauren.
Rule No. 17: The difference between a white cotton pocket square tucked neatly in the breast pocket and a blue silk pocket square stuffed insouciantly in the breast pocket is the difference between The Beatles and The Stones. One's not intrinsically better than the other — it's simply a matter of taste.
Two-button wool suit ($3,000) and silk tie ($205) by Louis Vuitton; cotton shirt ($365) by Hamilton Shirts; steel Sportura Alarm chronograph ($650) by Seiko; silk pocket square ($29) by J. Press.
Rule No. 18: Though the tides of fashion lift it ever upward, the bottom hem of your jacket should still be just about level with your knuckles. (Or, failing that, just long enough to cover your ass.)
Rule No. 19: The old and traditional, and the young and trendy, are the best equipped to enjoy the unpredictable pleasures of pleats. The rest of us should stick to flat fronts.
Two-button wool suit ($1,927) by Etro; cotton shirt ($585), leather belt ($770), and pebbled-leather weekend bag ($3,280) by Brunello Cucinelli; silk tie ($60) by Calvin Klein Collection; leather monk-straps ($295) by Allen Edmonds; silk pocket square ($95) by Ermenegildo Zegna.
Rule No. 21: The wearing of dress boots with suits is as old and august a sartorial tradition as men have, and provided the boots have a slim sol and an elegant shape, there are few instances which one cannot — nay, should not — be both suited and booted.
Rule No. 22: That "suited and booted" is not the name of the style blog of a well-dressed teenager in Kansas is a wonder in this or any age.
Double-breasted wool-and-silk suit ($2,750) and cotton shirt ($460) by Prada; silk tie ($145) and silk pocket square ($115) by Burberry London; leather ankle boots ($750) by Fratelli Rossetti; cotton socks ($29) by Bresciani; leather tote ($1,950) by Ralph Lauren.