Esquire Malaysia + Esquire Singapore, September 2012
Sharp tailoring make more than the man in TV land.
By Sophia Goh
How does a suit make the man? Let me count the ways. The simply and aptly christened Suits may be a drama about litigation, but in it also lies the answer to that question. Gabriel Macht is Harvey Specter, one of New York’s finest legal eagles, and the owner of some of the world’s finest suits. The plot is engaging, the lines witty, but what viewers are really registering half the time is how good Harvey looks. In fact, they’d probably pay more attention to the storyline if it weren’t for his perfectly tailored threads.
At 40, Gabriel is hardly the new boy in (Tinsel)town. He’s appeared in movies including Behind Enemy Lines, The Recruit, Whiteout, and Love and Other Drugs – but not many people remember him. He’s always been good-looking, he’s definitely talented, and he’s had prominent roles. All it took for a breakthrough, it seems, was slicked-back hair and a wardrobe of damn near perfect Tom Ford suits. The suit doesn’t just make the man. In Gabriel’s case, it makes the star.
Then there’s Harvey’s protégé, Mike Ross, which is played by Patrick J. Adams. When we first meet him, he’s a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy. Not a boy, not yet a man, to paraphrase Ms. Spears. Then he gets the job – and more importantly, the suits – and in a shrug of the shoulders, he’s a man. Instantly, he seems funnier, more attractive, charming… oh, right, he’s a genius too. The effect that a shirt, coat and tie have on him is remarkable. Suit off: boy. Suit on: man. Does the suit make the man? The question’s rhetorical.
An important lesson comes early in the first season of the show. When Mike asks, “What does it matter how much I spend on suits?” Harvey says, “People respond to how you dress so like it or not, this is what you have to do.”
A suit says charisma, ambition and success (a handsome face never hurts.) But on television, where the voice of reason oft gives way to simple, superficial aesthetics, the power of the suit is limitless. For too long, men in suits have stolen our hearts and elevated their onscreen characters to something truly lust-worthy. Wardrobe isn’t everything, but it certainly helps. The suit does make the man – more attractive, that is.
As much as we envy the sight of a chiselled and unclothed male specimen, there will always be a special place atop the pedestals of society for a handsome man in an even handsomer suit. It’s not just women who aren’t supposed to show everything. Sometimes, a man all covered up does the job, especially when it means a three-piece bespoke suit. Leave the stripping to women, Matthew McConaughey and the cast of True Blood.