This past week I was reminded that several men who I respect have many more odd jackets than suits in their wardrobes. They are employed in occupations of medium formality, and perhaps that is the reason, but I had always taken on faith that a man's closets should contain more suits than odd jackets.
The late Duke of Windsor's 1960 autobiography, Windsor Revisited, describes a wardrobe containing about three times as many suits as it did odd jackets, and I have stuck with that ratio over time personally. After all, the Duke most often wore suits that were too casual for business and, free from the "must wear" obligations of the office, they have the look that I like the best: loud tweeds, summer Solaros, patterned flannels like the brown and gray check in the illustration, and black and white houndstooths of the type James Bond once wore to the golf course.
I think it was the Italian ready to wear makers who changed the way men think in this regard as in so many other ways. The culture encourages men to appear more relaxed, and the odd jacket is less formal than the suit. When the Zegnas and Kitons filled their racks with muted odd jackets in slightly aggressive versions of suit patterns that could be worn to many offices without drawing a second look, men bought in.
I think today, when for many men the suit is reserved for Saturday nights and is as formal as they dress generally, it is a good time to re-examine the casual suit as an alternative to the odd jacket. After all, its relative rarity makes it a little sharper and more dandified without resorting to costume.
Next time, try a suit.