Knowing about fashion is like being a doctor. Complete strangers collar you and off-load their problems, with "I've had this bad back for ages" and "What's happening to the NHS?" being replaced by: "Why are models so thin?" and "Why do they run swimwear stories in March?" The question men always ask (other than "Cor, what's it like backstage - do all the models get their kit off?") is, "Where can I find a good suit for pounds 300?"

How this magical figure was arrived at is a mystery but one thing is certain: these men haven't really looked. They seem to think - quite wrongly - that there is no middle ground between Mr Byrite and Armani and that to get a good suit will cost upwards of pounds 700. While it is true that you get what you pay for - nothing can compare with the cut of a Yohji Yamamoto or Nigel Curtiss suit - there are some excellent alternatives available for pounds 350 or less, as these pictures show. Last summer Austin Reed's stone linen suit (pounds 160) kept selling out and led to a waiting list. This summer the same suit sold out again as soon as it hit the racks. Its secret was simple, it was great value and well made. Generally, when buying a suit, go for a simple design, avoid fleck patterns and remember that black can look cheap; so go for charcoal or dark navy. ANNALISA BARBIERI

Left: Bruce wears shiny viscose charcoal suit, pounds 345, William Hunt, 68 Neal Street, London WC2; made to measure service also available, inquiries 0171-836 0809. Striped cotton shirt, pounds 75, Byrne, 21 Tower Street, WC2; Way In at Harrods, SW1; Going Dutch, 7 Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen. Inquiries 0171-240 7220. Knitted tie, pounds 45, Paul Smith, 41-43 Floral Street, London WC2, and 10 Byard Lane, Nottingham; inquiries on 0171-379 7133. Shoes, pounds 89.99, Dexter, from the Natural Shoe Store, 21 Neal Street, WC2, and 22 Princes Square, Buchanan Street, Glasgow; inquiries on 0141-226 3356. Rolls-Royce kindly lent by Roy Bedford of Redhaul Garage (Tel: 01530 222323)

Top right: Bruce wears moleskin three-piece suit, jacket pounds 90, trousers pounds 40, waistcoat pounds 35, all Principles, The Plaza, Oxford Street, W1, and 1-28 Clayton Shopping Centre, Liverpool. Inquiries on 0171-436 1444. Cotton shirt, pounds 50, Louis Feraud, inquiries 0171- 629 5592. Shoes, pounds 89.99, Dexter, from the Natural Shoe Store, 21 Neal Street, WC2 and 22 Princes Square, Buchanan Street, Glasgow; inquiries on 0141-226 3356. Sunglasses, pounds 79, Cutler & Gross, 16 Knightsbridge Green, SW1, inquiries on 0171-823 8445. Carl wears striped wool suit, jacket pounds 156, trousers pounds 80, French Connection branches nationwide, inquiries 0171-580 2507. Cotton shirt, pounds 49.95, Reiss, 114 King's Road, SW3, and King Street, Manchester, inquiries 0171 589 2570. Chocolate lace-ups, pounds 100, Camper, Way In at Harrods, Knightsbridge, SW1; Liberty 210-220 Regent Street, W1, and from selected branches of Russell & Bromley. Inquiries on 0171-379 7500. Sunglasses, pounds 89, Cutler & Gross, as above.

Below: Bruce wears light wool pinstripe suit, jacket pounds 145, trousers pounds 70; white cotton shirt, pounds 48; black knit tie, pounds 15 all by All Saints, from Dickins & Jones, 224 Regent Street, W1, and Brown Thomas, Grafton Street, Dublin. Inquiries on 0171-377 5707. Tie worn over eyes, pounds 49, Fornasetti, from Space NK, 41 Earlham Street, WC2, inquiries and mail order 0171-379 7030. Shoes, pounds 89.99, Dexter, from the Natural Shoe Store, 21 Neal Street, WC2, and 22 Princes Square, Buchanan Street, Glasgow; inquiries 0141-226 3356. Carl wears light wool suit, jacket pounds 175, trousers pounds 69.95, cotton shirt, pounds 49.95 all Jigsaw, 9/10 Floral Street, WC2, and 39-43 King Street, Manchester. Inquiries 0171-240 5651. Chocolate lace-ups, pounds 100, Camper, Way In at Harrods, Knightsbridge, SW1; Liberty 210-220 Regent Street, W1, and from selected branches of Russell &Bromley. Enquiries on 0171- 379 7500.

Below right: Bruce wears shiny brown suit, pounds 345, William Hunt, 68 Neal Street, London WC2; made to measure service also available, inquiries 0171-836 0809. Cotton shirt, pounds 75, Byrne, 21 Tower Street, London WC2; Way In at Harrods, Knightsbridge, London SW1; Going Dutch, 7 Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen. Inquiries on 0171-240 7220. Viscose tie, pounds 40, Paul Smith, 1-43 Floral Street, London WC2 and 10 Byard Lane, Nottingham; enquiries on 0171-379 7133. Monk shoes, pounds 85, Camper, Way In at Harrods, Knightsbridge, SW1; Liberty 210-220 Regent Street, W1, and from selected branches of Russell & Bromley. Inquiries 0171- 379 7500. Snake model's own.

Bottom: Carl wears linen suit, pounds 325, and tank top (just seen), pounds 47.50, all Reiss, 14 King's Road, SW3, and King Street, Manchester, inquiries on 0171-589 2570. Sandals, pounds 49.95, Russell & Bromley branches nationwide, inquiries 0171-629 6903

photographs by gavin harrison

STYLING BY JACQUIE ALLMOND

GROOMING BY PEARSE MOORE FOR BLADE RUNNERS, LONDON W11.

MODELS: BRUCE WOODFORD AT SELECT AND CARL LICKMAN

SHOT AT NEWSTEAD ABBEY, NOTTINGHAM. OPEN FROM 1 APRIL-30 SEPTEMBER, 12-6PM. GROUNDS OPEN ALL YEAR ROUND. INQUIRIES 01623 793557

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