The style lessons to learn from Suits’ Harvey Specter

Let New York's best fictional lawyer cross-examine your wardrobe

Of all the hidden gems on Netflix, legal drama Suits is undoubtedly one of the smartest – in both style and substance.

Having wrapped its ninth and final season in 2019, the show cannily plays on the homonymity of its title by both inviting the viewer to watch many high-stakes lawsuits unfold while also parading impeccably-tailored formalwear across the screen. The glamorous Manhattan setting and eminent guest stars may be arresting but, have no doubt, the wardrobe is the real star of the show.

And no character wears that wardrobe better than Harvey Specter – Gabriel Macht’s sharp-shooting, movie-quoting, lady-killing lawyer with a penchant for whisky and a passion for waistcoats. Since 2011, Specter has commanded our screens with his charm – but what can we learn from the man who, in his very first appearance, sagely said: “We’re in the business of convincing people to do what we want. And like it or not, people respond to how you’re dressed.”

1. The business suit is a classic for a reason

harvey specter suits

Specter may be a character, but the costume department know exactly who he is as a person, and how to convey that through his clothing.

The business suit, like Specter, is no nonsense – a classic for a reason. Avoid loud patterns (the lawyer even eschews pinstripes for a subtler robe stripe), tweed or bright colours. Stick with a silk-wool blend in a charcoal, grey or navy and make your statement with the cut rather than the colour.

2. Get your lapels on point

harvey specter

Specter’s peaked lapels have become as much an icon of the show as Ima Robot’s catchy opening theme. As sharp as the man who wears them, the lapels are wide, elegant and make Specter appear broader and more intimidating. So, if you’re in the business of dominating boardrooms, it would be wise to – quite literally – follow suit…

3. Don't ignore your suit's lesser features

harvey specter

Those peaked lapels may grab you by the, well, lapels – but it’s important to give adequate attention to every single aspect of your suit.

Specter opts for flapped pockets (an odd choice with peaked lapels, but one the attorney pulls off), side vents (as all men should), and the Milanese buttonhole (an iconic, raised buttonhole generally only found on bespoke jackets). These additions afford Specter’s garments – and by extension Specter himself – individuality.

4. Keep your shirting simple

harvey specter

Despite wearing subtle checks or stripes in earlier seasons, Specter’s shirting settled down and matured in later episodes.

Tending to stick with a pale blue or crisp white colour, Specter sports barrel cuffs – with largely nondescript cufflinks. The one notable feature of his shirts? The collars, which are wide-cut Italian affairs that sit extremely high. But that is all to accommodate for the lawyer’s taste in ties…

5. Supersize your neckwear

harvey specter

To further his sartorial attempts to bulk up, Specter has adopted a huge Windsor knot that necessitates those wide-cut Italian collars.

Perhaps steer clear of such a big knot, as it takes a big personality to get away with it, but Specter’s choice of tie is second to none. Go for fine quality silk in a dark blue, black or even purple, and never settle for anything below 8 or 9cm in width.

6. Brave the waistcoat

harvey specter

Commonly avoided in the modern business world, the waistcoat is a garment that Harvey Specter definitely doesn’t shy away from.

Following the lawyer’s example, go single-breasted with a simple V-cut and always match the material with your suit itself. It may sound average, but elevate it with a slick tie and perfect tailoring and you’ll look every inch the hotshot attorney.

7. Lose the belt

harvey specter

Traditionally, you should never wear a belt with a three-piece suit. And, as Harvey Specter has a soft spot for his waistcoats, the lawyer tends to find other ways to keep his trousers up.

Follow Specter’s example by either investing in a reliable pair of four-clasp braces, or by buying trousers that have side adjusters built in.

8. Choose a watch and stick with it

harvey specter

Harvey Specter may have money to burn, but the producers of the show have clearly decided that – despite his hedonism in some areas (hello, Macallan 18) – he has but one watch. The model in question is the $350,000 Patek Philippe 5004P Chronograph – a statement if ever there was one.

Looking for more style advice? Step inside Dermot O’Leary’s wardrobe…

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