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Fashion

Dubai tailor: “Choosing a suit is emotional – take your time”

Words by Rob Chilton

Client rapport, common mistakes and Michael Jordan - in conversation with Ryan Smith from Dubai luxury bespoke tailors Suited & Booted.  

After EDGAR speaks to Ryan Smith from Dubai tailoring firm Suited & Booted, he plans to dive into the fantastic Michael Jordan Netflix documentary, The Last Dance. Apart from the stunning basketball action and revealing insight into one of the 20th century’s greatest sporting icons, Smith is excited to see the 1990s outfits that have been a popular talking point of the 10-part show. “Those big boxy suits… and the size of the shoulder pads!” he laughs. “Trousers in the 90s were like MC Hammer pants.”

Although popular on the men’s runway shows last year, the oversized suit couldn’t be further than Smith’s own style ethos. “My personal philosophy is more Italian and British, the slim cuts,” he explains. “But we have clients who love that bigger shape, they have their own look and that’s fine.”

Smith, along with his business partner Calvin Smith, set up Suited & Booted in Dubai to help men look good in suits, visiting clients at home, in their office or inviting them to the company’s Dubai showroom. Here’s what he had to say on details, cut and the mistakes men make.

Suited & Booted Dubai tailors

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Dubai tailoring is top notch, believes Smith

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Michael Jordan in 1990s tailoring

We’re guessing that establishing a rapport with a client must be crucial in your work?

Oh yeah, 100 per cent. This job is all about human nature, building relationships and working people out – it takes seconds to figure out what a guy’s looking for. Some tailors just try to sell the most expensive suit they have, but we’re all about giving our clients a psychological boost.

How do you guide men when they’re buying a suit from you?

Some people know what they’re looking for, and some don’t. Maybe they want a suit they’ve seen online. We try to steer them to what we think looks good on them and explore all the options. Choosing a suit is such an emotional thing – it’s not like picking jeans and a t-shirt. It takes time and effort to choose the right one.

Are men getting bolder with their choice of colour?

Definitely, because I think they want to stand out. Classic navy is my favourite, but pink and green suits are huge right now, especially olive green which looks great with a white shirt.

What mistakes are we still making when wearing suits?

Mostly, I see men walking around in suits that are far too big for them; the way it falls on the body is all wrong. If the shoulder pad doesn’t fit properly, it makes the body more bulky. A fitted suit, on the other hand, totally changes your posture.

What’s a little trick for a larger guy to look slimmer in a suit?

A slanted pocket automatically gives a slimmer abdominal area.

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Double-breasted suits are popular in 2020

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Ryan Smith from Suited & Booted

Is the trend for double-breasted suits still flourishing?

They’re massively coming back, yeah. Older gentlemen are asking for them but more quirky, modern two-button styles are also popular. Double-breasted suits are a bit hot for summer but we can make a deconstructed suit that has only half the lining. It doesn’t hold its shape as much but it’s more breathable for Dubai temperatures.

Belt or no belt – what’s your view?

I think social media and Pinterest have led a lot of men to stop wearing belts and instead choose trousers with side adjusters. It’s a bit of modern flair, I like it.

What suit should every man have in his wardrobe?

A navy two-piece that fits well is good for any occasion. Wear it with dark brown shoes and you’re all set.

What’s your favourite suit in your wardrobe?

Well, I’ve put on weight during the lockdown so some don’t fit at the moment [laughs]. I have a traditional navy pinstripe, and a subtle Prince of Wales check that I love.

How important are details on a suit?

They really matter, right down to the buttonhole. Personalisation is a big thing now, especially with wedding suits where men might have their wedding date or the couple’s initials stitched into the lining. Some men coordinate the colour of their suit lining with the bridesmaid’s outfits. Your wedding lasts only one day but the photos last forever so it’s nice to make these special memories.

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Details matter, says Smith

You’re a Scot, so we’re guessing Suited & Booted makes kilts?

Yes we do, mostly for men attending gala dinners. We import heavy wool from Edinburgh and make everything in house here. We work with Indian tailors who are actually quite familiar with Scottish tailoring because there are Scottish schools in India. The craftsmanship here in Dubai is unmatched anywhere in the world in my opinion; some of these guys have dedicated 40 years of their lives to tailoring.

Do you remember when suits first made an impression on you?

I had an uncle who was successful, he drove a Jaguar and wore nice suits so I thought you’d be taken seriously if you wore a suit. When I was about six I had the entrepreneur spirit, selling stuff in the school playground and I remember asking my mum for a suit. It was a classic two-button black suit from Next that I wore with a checked blue shirt – I loved it!

Two-piece suits at Suited & Booted start from around AED 2,500.

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