Tom Riley is a founding partner and head tailor at P. Johnson, a business dedicated to helping men dress better in Melbourne, Sydney and New York. Its bespoke suits are meticulously constructed using high-end wools and blends. There have been many special moments in Broadsheet’s staff members’ lives that were celebrated in a suit fitted by Riley.
We love him because you can walk into P. Johnson, not knowing much about suits, and leave feeling confident (not overwhelmed) in what suits you and your occasion. It’s his attention to detail in how the fabric hangs or the texture of a particular weave that impresses us every time.
Riley grew up in country Western Australia, so his advice isn’t fussy. It also means he’s adept in looking good in hot weather. Even when the sun is beaming, Riley is keeping it cool. We want to know how he does it.
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Riley says you need to find a versatile suit; one that can be taken from work to play, while remaining fresh. The key is fabrication. “You can get some amazing merino these days,” says Riley. “You can get a weight that is lighter than most shirts, meaning it keeps cool, and it still won’t crease.”
Always sharp, Riley wears business suits during the week and weekend, too. “Business suits are becoming more unstructured, so there is room to wear the jacket separately and dress it up or down depending on the occasion,” says Riley. “We’re getting a lot of guys into lightly structured suits with no shoulder padding, akin to really soft Italian suits.”
Summer-ready cotton and linen suits in beige, sand, off-white and chocolate brown are a favourite of Riley’s. Paired with trainers and a polo or open neck shirt, these looks are his choice for a leisurely weekend setting – when he has a birthday picnic where he may end up kicking the footy with the family.
“There’s an element of street style coming into suiting, actually,” says Riley. “You can get light cottons or merinos with a bit of Lycra or elastane, so they have more stretch in the back and the knees, or a pliable open-leaf cloth, which feels quite meshy, so that the breeze rushes through easily.”
For the snazzier occasions this season – think Polo In The City or a special dinner – Riley will keep it simple. “For events, natural-coloured suits in interesting textures – like wool or silk-linen blends – suggest the freshness of the season without being loud,” he says. “Wearing it with a lightly structured tie can have a lot more charm than going for a fussy intense colour.”
He often goes for a classic look in summer. “Pale sand or beige cotton trousers, with an unstructured dark navy blazer worn over a crisp, clean white or ice-blue shirt,” says Riley, “That with a pair of lace-up shoes or plimsolls is really beautiful and clean.”
We love Riley’s style, but we’re especially impressed that he shares his knowledge of summer suiting with people such as us – people without his innate sense of cool and knowledge of the most breathable merino blends.