You might say that I’m making a baseless generalisation in the title.
Certainly, there are other things that factor into well-defined, coherent, and genuine style.
But fit is the element that trumps them all. Fit is the foundation of any style that any person adheres to.
And fit deserves such a place of importance in the discussion of style for one simple reason: it’s the only element of style that is partial to no one.
Fit doesn’t discriminate between a five-figure salary and a six-figure one. It doesn’t care whether the latter will allow you to buy more expensive clothes and shoes than the former.
Indeed, a person who wears a well-fitted suit bought at a second-hand store will look much better than another wearing an expensive designer suit that’s two sizes too big.
In other words, fit is the great equaliser of style. It prevents people from cheating their way to stylishness by just throwing enough money at their closet.
And this value of fit is the same across all styles. Whether you’re into street style, Italian chic, classic Americana, or any other subculture of style, fit will benefit you the same way.
“But Joseph, street style is loose! It’s about baggy tracksuit bottoms and oversized jerseys!”
You’re referring to silhouette, my friend. And that is an entirely distinct thing from fit.
Imagine a basketball jersey. Street style dictates that it must be larger than your usual size to convey the classic street style look.
But if you buy a jersey that’s two or three sizes too large for you in order to achieve that effect, one of its shoulders will slip off you at all times because the neckline is too wide.
You would still need to buy the correct size of jersey. But it must also be the correct silhouette – it must be cut in a way that makes it loose in the body without sacrificing fit.
For a more extreme example, consider a clown’s shoes. They’re big, yes, but why do they stay on the clown’s feet?
It’s because they fit properly in the places that matter – the ankle, the heel, the instep. But they’re cut larger near the end to create that recognisable goofy silhouette.
A useful thing to remember about fit and silhouette is this: fit helps your clothes stay comfortably on you, and silhouette helps you look the way you want to while wearing them.
This article published on Permanent Style many years ago is still an accurate briefer on the difference between fit and silhouette, and on why awareness of that distinction is critical to looking good in your chosen style.
It’s timeless advice, and for good reason. Fit (and its related concepts) has always been – and will continue to be – the most valuable way to determine whether you’ve nailed the style you want, or need to go back to square one.
And if you never learn that importance of fit, you’ll be going back to square one for the rest of your life.