A suit has been an indispensable piece of clothing for men throughout history. Whether it is for the office, for a party or for a laidback occasion which just needs to you to be comfortable yet exude confidence, donning a well-fitted suit can solve many sartorial problems. Buying one, is however not a trivial task. A suit is often an expensive purchase which many people look at as an investment hoping it would serve them well for next few years. If buying fashion pieces that do not last very long isn’t your goal, and if you are wondering how to buy a suit that looks refined, you need to understand a little about the styles, fit and fabric.
MEN’S SUIT STYLES
First you need to decide the kind of look you want to go for (read more about different suit styles). If the occasion is black-tie, try and choose nothing but a tuxedo or a 3-piece suit; if the occasion is formal or celebratory in nature, a 2-piece suit is a fine option. If you want to start with having just one pair of suit that will meet all your needs, go for a navy blue or charcoal grey 2-piece suit. They have a sharp look suitable for the office and still look youthful enough for other social events. Black is deemed to be a universal color but we recommend against having it as your only suit as it may look too stark. Avoid choosing patterned suits too since they are easy to remember and people will know you are wearing the same suit every time. If you are not going to wear the suit to the office, feel free to make the fit a little snug and appearance fashionable by going with prints and lighter shades.
HOW SHOULD A SUIT FIT
No matter what style you choose and how much you spend for it, a poor-fitted suit will never give you the elegant look that you are striving for. In fact, it only looks tacky and not what a mature man would choose to wear.
Overall, it is about fitting well to the physique and hiding flaws. An off-the-rack suit is built with an average male build of the target market in mind and usually needs many alterations before they shape you up nicely. If you happen to be close to that body shape, then you might be able to save money, but if not and you still care about the finer details then a made-to-measure, or for those who can afford, a bespoke suit is the answer.
Some primary areas where the fit of a suit matters the most are –
- Shoulders – the shoulders of the suit should neither be loose nor tight, but just right for your size. Too loose and it would make you look older, as that’s how suits typically use to be in the grandparents era. Too tight, and not only would it show that you don’t know what you are wearing but it is personally uncomfortable too with its restricted hand movement which would probably make you end up pulling and tearing the stitching someday. In short, the shoulder should lie flat and should follow your shape, i.e. stopping where your arm meets the shoulder.
- Arms – just as shoulders, the width of the arms has to be just right for you or else similar problems would persist. The length must stop a little above the cuff of your shirt so that not more than half an inch of it is visible. To give a visible clue the suit should stop just above the bony protrusion of the wrist.
- Pant length – this is as much about the length of the inseam as it is about the overall length. Too tight a crotch would obviously be uncomfortable and too loose so that the pant droops from the rear isn’t the look we are you’re trying to achieve with a suit. The look should be just about plain from the back and neither wrinkled nor saggy.For where the pant meets the foot, the union should be smooth. No extra length that creates a jerk and no unnecessary show of socks either.
- Jacket length – often neglected and so important. An ideal jacket length should neither end before buttocks nor after it. Keeping it somewhere in the lower half of the hip curve is the way to go. Another easy clue is to hit the length around the middle of your palm while standing. Also, the top button of a 2-button suit or the middle button of a 3-button suit should not fall below the navel.
FABRIC FOR MEN’S SUITS
The fabric of the suit is the next important thing to consider as a cheap fabric can destroy the appearance an expensive suit. The most popular fabric is 100% wool as being a natural fabric it is suitable to wear year round due to its insulating and breathable properties and will keep you warm and dry always. Unless you have some other look in mind, this is a safe choice. If you can have more than one, then go for linen or cotton for summer and cashmere and tweed for winters.
If you don’t want a suit where you care about all the fine details of the appearance, then don’t pay for the craftsmanship. Buying a suit off the shelf and getting it adjusted by a tailor is the perfect option to go for. But do keep in mind that there are limitation to this. A tailor can probably do adjustments at an inch level but more than that might not turn out the desired result. And if the shoulders don’t fit well, then that’s tricky for the tailor without altering the suit at a lot other places as well like the torso and arms. Choosing a made-to-measure suit is going to offer you best bang for your buck here.
There are many small things in the jacket of a suit like the cut, lining, fabric, construction, etc. (read more about the details of the suit jacket) that can all be played with depending on the budget. Once you understand these details you can decide the price you want to pay for a particular output. Want a suit to last years? Don’t choose a jacket constructed with fused material. Want something for the hot weather? Choose natural fabrics or linen and not polyester or silk. You are in control.
And finally, do remember that the salesman will tell what you want to hear. According to them almost everything will look good on you, and often times it will be the costlier option that will look good so they can get more commission out of it. Start at a department store where there are most options instead of going to a brand’s flagship store first. In fact, for those who are bold enough they should go out and try expensive designer brands (think Tom Ford for suits), understand the fit and style and apply that knowledge in buying what they can afford in other less expensive stores. Know your basics well about how to buy a suit, the perfect fitting for a suit, and the design and color you want to go for and most likely you won’t regret the purchase.
People usually think buying suit is a mundane activity with not many options, but it is so much customizable and offers so many varieties once you know what you want. And isn’t seeing something that looks just made for you and gives you a confident look one of the finer feelings in life?