"Fit is king." We've all heard that menswear cliche, and heck, I've said that more than a few times myself. But guess what: the king is dead.
Blasphemy! Heresy! Dishonor! How FUCKING dare you, Kin?
The first and possibly best style advice most of us have gotten is to "make sure your clothes fit!"
When beginning our style journey, the perfect fit is what we feverishly chase and aspire toward. Fit is the raft will lift us from slovenly squalor; the savior that will emancipate us from pooling rags which slander our poise! Fit is the king that we prostrate ourselves before, and worship as the sole beacon of light in a dark, dark world.
Now don't get me wrong: I still assert that fit is the most important element of looking good. I still insist on getting all of my garments and my clients' garments tailored or custom-fitted. But at the end of the day, "fit" as we know it is dead. Has died. Will die again.
Those of us who have been in the menswear game for a while have been introduced to an iteration of "perfect fit" that was "too trendy" back then and is "too dated" now. The image we held as a "perfectly fitted suit" was critiqued by our fathers for being too skinny, as theirs had been critiqued by our grandfathers as being over-sized. Menswear veterans of decades have witnessed multiple cycles of change.
While fashion shuffles with each season, what's deemed as perfect menswear proportions shifts over the course of years. Change is more subtle and more gradual in that realm, but it happens nonetheless. Timelessness is a myth and the concept of "fit" that we based our sense of style upon is a false idol.
Why? Because it'll change? Because it's arbitrary and subjective to the times?
No. Because it's arbitrary now -- right now -- and it can change according to the audience receiving you.
Davidson Petit-Frere, Simon Crompton, and Mark Cho
Each of these men are wearing tailored high-end suits or even bespoke suits. Every detail of fit has been calculated and deliberately selected. As far as each of them is concerned, they are wearing a perfectly fitted suit. Yet for us looking in, we each have a strong opinion about whose suit "fits well" or doesn't.
But you know what's wild? All three of them are hailed as paragons in their own sub-communities of menswear enthusiasts, which are in turn, a sub-community of men's style enthusiasts. In my admittedly biased opinion, I think that Hypebeast, Normcore, and Techwear look REALLY stupid. But there are countless enthusiasts of those styles, who find genuine joy in dressing like randomized create-a-characters, ironically homeless dads, or futuristic ninjas respectively. And if I find myself at an event catered towards one of those style subcultures, my sense of fit and proportions will probably go unappreciated.
Hypebeast, Normcore, and Techwear outfits
Whatever I wear, there are going to be audiences who won't care for the cut of my garments and the contours they create. There are people who will insist that my clothes don't fit well; if they're in positions of power within that context, then that makes them correct. Style doesn't exist in a vacuum.
So what? "It's all subjective?" "There's no right or wrong?"
Don't worry, this isn't an argument for relativism. Or worse yet, lazy non-advice like "it doesn't matter what you wear if you wear it with confidence." We may have determined that there's no such thing as the perfect fit because perfection is in the eye of the beholder, but don't worry, you can still achieve a sharp silhouette!
There is cut which appeals to the vast majority of people, as has been propagated by a combination of standing tradition, pop culture, and social media. (The modern style zeitgeist, if you will.) That is where you should lay your foundation. Over time, you can build atop that base; you can tweak and specialize your style to best represent your personal brand to your intended audience.
You will never please everyone at once, and the further you stray from the status quo, the more feathers you will ruffle. Too sleek and you'll displease classical sartorialists. Too full and you'll get scoffed at by the cool kids. Too suity and you'll get shunned by the streetwear crowd. The more specialized your style is, the more appreciated it will be in one niche, and the more reviled it will be by all others.
At the end of the day, style is the language through which we describe ourselves. The most effective messaging is catered to the audience receiving it. That is why the socially apt do not wear tuxedos to BBQ's, pajamas to job interviews, or fur-suits to funerals. And that is also why the audience you're trying to reach -- in conjunction with the message you're trying to convey -- should determine the entirety of your style. Fit included.
For the stylistically literate, context is the one true king. And now that you know this, the old king is dead.