When celebrity stylist Michael Fisher works with one of his famous clients—like Jonah Hill, Bryan Cranston, or Paul Rudd—he’s not going for an extreme makeover. “It’s really just me trying to make them look like the best version of themselves and still feel like themselves,” says Fisher. “I give them one or two things that I only do for them so they stand out.”
Sure, it’s much easier to stand out with a stylist like Fisher at your side. You probably don’t have the means to employ him to look great for your next job interview, wedding, or black-tie affair. However, there are still principles Fisher uses when he’s getting his clients ready for all the red carpet walking they do during awards season that you can apply to your everyday life. So, with the Oscars coming up, and the fashion police out in full force, we asked Fisher for handy tips to make sure your style brings out the best version of you.
THAT JACKET SHOULD BE MORE SNUG THAN YOU THINK
“For a suit to look presentable it needs to be fitted because [otherwise] you end up looking messy rather than sharp,” Fisher says. Most guys are buying their suits one to two sizes too big. “I think it’s a comfort factor. With jackets, guys wanna be able to tackle somebody in a suit, which is never going to happen. Everyone does that thing where they lift their arms up [over their head].” The shoulder of the suit jacket should fall right on top of your shoulder and you should be able to button the top button without it pulling and causing what Fisher calls “whiskers.” With Jonah Hill, “I always fit him for the shoulder and end up shortening the jacket length and trimming the pants down,” says Fisher.
THE RIGHT TAILOR CAN SAVE YOU A LOT OF CASH
“I feel like you can get a cheap suit or an off-the-rack suit and if you get the tailoring right it’s going to look 100 times better than if you spend $5,000 on a real expensive suit,” says Fisher. While some guys take pride in having a tailor who knows their body as well as their doctor, according to Fisher, “the reality is every dry cleaner has a tailor and you don’t need to have this made-to-measure, Savile Row kind of relationship if you just want to get a suit to fit.” Most suit jackets from American brands have a boxier cut, so a handy rule of thumb is to have a tailor take in half-an-inch on the side seams and the back seam. For guys with a bigger build who aren’t too tall, it’s also a good idea to have the length of the jacket altered. “Imagine where the bottom or your pants pocket is, that’s where the jacket should fall. Anything longer than that will look like you’re wearing your father’s jacket,” says Fisher.
With the pants, having a tailor taper the legs gives them a slimmed down, modern feel. The hem on the pants should either have a little break where it falls on the shoe or no break at all so that it looks cleaner when you’re standing up. If you’re knock kneed or bowlegged there are tricks that a tailor can do to compensate so that people won’t notice.
YOUR SHIRT COULD SCREW UP THE FIT OF YOUR SUIT
Getting the suit to fit well only works if the shirt underneath it fits the same. The two need to work well together. “If there’s space between the shirt and your neck, I always think it looks messy,” Fisher says. The same way the shoulder is the primary fit indicator on the suit jacket, the neck is what you want to make sure fits first and foremost on a shirt. A tailor can always take in the body or put two darts in the back to pull in the excess fabric. It’s a good idea for the sleeves to be trimmed down as well so that they don’t bunch under the jacket.
FIT MATTERS WITH YOUR TIE, TOO
“Tying a good tie makes all the difference,” says Fisher. The bottom of the front of the tie should fall right at your belt buckle and it should be tight enough that you don’t see any of the shirt collar above the knot. “Most guys don’t like to have a tight tie around their neck but it makes the best first impression.”
As far as knots go, Fisher prefers a straightforward four-in-hand knot. Larger, Windsor knots can look a little dated and aren’t really necessary unless you’re going for more of a Wall Street-y vibe. The width of the tie should correspond to your body type. If you’re bigger, go for a bigger tie, but don’t go over three inches. Skinnier guys should stick with skinnier ties in the two-to two-and-a-half-inch range. And if you’re taller, look for longer ties so that they still fall right on your frame.
HOW TO NOT LOOK LIKE YOU’RE GOING TO THE PROM
The first rule of black tie is don’t look like you’re going to the prom. “Definitely stay away from a color cummerbund and tie combo,” says Fisher. A peak or a notch lapel will serve you well in just about any formal occasion. For broad-chested guys, a wider peak lapel balances out the width or your torso. “Jonah [Hill] looks great in a peak lapel,” Fishers says.
If you’re a little bigger, a vest can create the illusion of a cinched-in waist. “Then you can always take the jacket off and still feel like you’re tucked in.” Details like a grosgrain ribbon lapel versus the typical satin really give a tux a younger feel.
“I’m not a huge fan of double-breasted. I think it looks a little dated,” Fisher says. “Someone like Bryan Cranston would look good in a double breasted because he’s a gentleman of a certain sartorial maturity but I would never do that for Paul Rudd because he has a more youthful demeanor.”
And don’t be afraid to rent. “It’s not your typical polyester vintage looking tuxedo anymore,” says Fisher. “There’s a great brand I work called Black Tux. They’re modern takes and cuts and it’s a good quality.”
As important as all this advice is, you still need to bring your own personal style to the table. “Find your niche,” Fisher says. James Corden of Into The Woods, for example, likes to mix suit separates rather than full suits and prefers to incorporate tweeds and plaids that reflect his English sensibility.
“I think everyone wants to feel good and well-fitting and thoughtful clothes can do that,” Fisher says.