My modus operandi on suits hasn’t been particularly clever these past few years. I tend to wear my suits hard, I walk to work for a lot of the year and it’s a 4 mile round trip, so I’ve recently gone for cheap & cheerful and replaced them often. Very often in fact. I can get through a pair of trousers in under 6 months, which isn’t great. And when I’m through with them, they’re genuinely unusable as I’ve worn the material across the crotch so thin that you can pretty much see right through it. So when M&S threw down the gauntlet of testing their new Performance Suits to destruction, or as close to it as I could manage, I thought I’d take them up on it and then some.
It’s nice to see that M&S cater for bigger people in their mainstream suits. I’m 6ft 4 inches, with a long arm and a 35-37 inch inside leg, which means I’m quite restricted in what I can get off the peg in store. I popped up to our local M&S at London Colney and got measured up by one of their knowledgeable staff. He got me to try off various different trousers and jackets until we were sure of the sizing, and then we popped over to one of their instore website terminals where he printed me out an order list of what I should get. I passed this on to M&S and the next day it appeared in the post. The suit I’ve got is from the M&S big and tall range.
M&S have this to say about their performance suits:
“Boasting water-repellent finishes, comfortable active waistbands and technology that keeps buttons, hems and creases all safely in place, our range of smart performance suits works just as hard as you do.”
Oh yeah? Well I bet they’re not designed to keep my and my thunderous thighs in check. What I decided to do to check out the durability of the suit was to deck myself out in it, walk the two miles to work, go about my daily business, walk a mile to the gym, cram the suit into a 25 litre rucksack, sweat myself half to death, and then walk home AND see if the suit was wearable the next morning. If the creases could drop out of it and I didn’t look (any more than normal) like I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards, M&S would be on to a clear winner.
Here’s a video of me walking to work in the suit- note how the 65/35 wool/polyester trousers don’t look like they’re about to catch fire through friction- that’s important:
Here is some clandestine photos of me shoving my gear in my rucksack at the gym. Don’t tell anyone I was taking pictures in the male changing rooms, they’ll get cross. Still, it’s better than the male changing rooms at the local golf club- they make me wonder if old men actually spend more time wondering around with their balls hanging round their knees butt naked in the changing rooms than they do playing golf.
Yuck, any way, here is a selfie showing how incredibly hard I work at the gym. Yes, I’m wearing a sweatband, no, I realise it isn’t a good look but if I don’t the sweat runs into my eyes and distracts me from the manly process of burning up the excessive number of calories I always seem to accidentally consume on a daily basis.
And finally, here’s a picture of me wearing the suit the next morning. It’s not been pressed but I did extricate it from my rucksack and hang it up overnight. Believe me, for me that constitutes a lot of TLC.
Not bad eh? I was surprised how well the creases had dropped out and I think I look as smart as a somewhat plump 40 year old with a bad haircut possibly can. The suit itself is comfortable to wear; the sneakily hidden elasticated waistband takes a little getting used to but it does ensure that if I wear a shirt that isn’t from the 2 inch longer range, it does stay tucked in and I don’t expose acres of pale white flesh, which can only be a good thing. At £64 a pop, the trousers are both comfortable and appear (from a week of hard wearing one pair at least) to be durable. There is no sign of the button loosening and the crotch seems resolute in it’s integrity. The jacket (£86) is a good fit and seems to hang nicely on me. I always have the trouble with suit jackets that to get anything remotely long enough in the arm, I have to get a huge chest size which invariably sees the shoulder seams sort of at bicep level but thankfully I can report back that the extra long body and sleeves in this M&S Performance Suit ameliorate this problem almost entirely, so I don’t look like some deformed 1980’s shoulder pad monster.
I always buy multiple pairs of trousers to go with any suit I get, so in this instance I priced up a jacket and three(!) pairs of trousers and it came to under £280. I’d consider this pretty good value for money; the seams seem strong, the material thick, the construction solid and the overall design complementing my 40 year old professional demeanour perfectly. By jinkies, M&S, you appear to have beaten me, there’s nothing left to do but let the children loose at me with the high powered pressure hose….