The Perfect Suit
For some reason buying a suit is different to buying any other set of clothes. It can be a little intimidating, what with all the lingo, rules and facade that surround it.
Here we’ll cover the things to look out for to make sure you buy the best suit for you.
What’s it all for?
Let’s start with the reason you’re buying your suit.
Is it for a specific event? A wedding, a party, or just general day to day suit wearing?
Unless you have a specific event and hence colour scheme that best suits that situation, then stick with greys and blues.
Tip: Black are generally reserved for funerals, the MIB and formal evening / black tie events and tend not to be the most appropriate for day to day, business or otherwise.
Greys and Blues
So, greys and blues, there is a large spectrum to choose from, here you want to choose a colour and tone that you feel comfortable in and that you feel expresses you.
Greys; as a rule of thumb, the darker the better. Remember, you can't mix greys!
Tip: One thing to remember is that very light grey is often associated with weddings so that’s something to keep in mind.
Blues, the darker the more formal it looks, the lighter the more casual.
Keep this in mind...
The right tone
Tip: If you’re on a tighter budget then go for the darker tones, the reason here is that cheaper materials often look, well, cheaper. Darker tones do a better job of hiding imperfections, wear and anything else that might make a less expensive suit look cheap.
This is because darker colours don’t reflect as much light as lighter ones, therefore you have a harder time picking anything out.
This is the same reason why the darker tones look more formal, because on the whole they look more expensive and hence are saved for more formal events.
Playing the long game
The colour will define what you wear to complete your suit.
Think of it as painting a room, if you start with painting the walls, that’s going to narrow the choice of furniture and decoration that you then fill the room with.
It’s the same with your jacket and trousers. This is your backdrop. You’re then going to really make it come alive with the shirt and tie you accompany it with.
The good thing about blues and greys is that most colours go well with them. Greys will give you a huge choice of colour to accompany the jacket and trousers with, and are a must have in the wardrobe.
They give you a neutral back drop that you can dress up for both a formal and a more casual look.
Made of the right stuff...
The next thing you want to look out for is the material. You want to think about the ‘weight’ of your suit. Essentially what this means is how thick the cloth it’s cut from is, and therefore how good the material is.
Never mind the quality, feel the width.
There are seasonal implications here, you may not want a heavy suit for the summer for instance, but if you’re buying from the high street, you won’t really need to worry about this.
Tip: You want to avoid the synthetic cloths if possible, they often have a shiny look which again makes the cloth look cheap, they’re often not very good at holding their shape and the creases you iron in AND they’ll wrinkle easily.
Wool is the best and what you want to be aiming for. Wool is a natural fabric, it hold creases, doesn’t wrinkle easily and definitely doesn’t have that shiny look.
Moreover, when you hang up your trousers and jacket after wearing them, the wrinkles that may appear will drop out, due to the wool being naturally springy. On the high street you need to keep your eye out.
Tip: If it is dry clean only, this is often a sign that the material is more wool than synthetic, however this isn’t a definitive rule.
If the suit fits
There are two aspects to fit.
1 - is the fact that you can get it on your body and still function as a human with full range of movement and all appendages adequately covered to their full extent - known as size.
2 - is how well it follows the contour and shape of your body - known as cut.
Everybody has different body shapes, you need to understand yours:
The length of the your legs, arms, the width of your back, shoulders, how tall you are will all affect how a garment fits you.
You can have the finest cloth in the most desirable colour, but if your trousers are at half-mast and you can’t move your arms, it’s going to count for nothing. You’re going to be uncomfortable and you’re going to look like you’re borrowing your suit from a younger sibling; which means you’re not going to be at your best.
Tip: Don’t buy a suit with the aim of showing off the size of your arms and the fact you’re muscular. There is no such thing as a ‘tight fitting suit’, it’s known as too small.
There is 1 fit for everyone, and that’s the right fit.
The fact that you’re a guy who looks after himself, is athletic and leads a generally healthy lifestyle will shine through by the way you stand up, hold yourself, your posture, your attitude as well as the fact your suit will hang nicely on you. So no need to buy anything that's tight.
So how is a suit supposed to fit?
Let’s start with the trousers, these are easy.
The two main things you’re going to be looking at is the leg length and the waist length.
Firstly, your waist. Find the top of your hips and then draw a ring around your body, that’s where your waistband will sit. Any higher, and you’ll start looking like a throwback to the high waisted trousers of the 40s, any lower, and you’ll look like you’re going through a teenage rebellion.
The reason you want to wear them there, is because that’s where they have been designed to be worn. Which means the shape of the trousers will follow the shape of your body in the right places.
What you really don’t want is your bum to look saggy.
Also, you’ll need to keep adjusting them and pulling them up, so if they sit just above your hips, the natural shape of your body keeps them in place.
Ideally what you want is for them to stay up without the need for a belt, that way you won’t get any bunching or creasing if you have to make them tight with a belt.
Tip: If you’re buying off the peg and are stuck between a choice of tight or loose, always opt for loose.
You can always have them tailored and you can even get away with a little bit of bunching up with a belt. If they’re too tight then you’ll be uncomfortable, they’ll have a tendency to ride up as the waistline nestles into a narrower circumference and they’ll also wear quicker as the material and stitching will be working harder.
Walk the Walk
Tip: You want to be trying them on with the shoes you’d be wearing with them, or if you haven’t bought them yet, wear some shoes that will resemble what you have in mind [the shop should have something for you to try, after all they are try to sell you a suit].
This will show you how the cuffs are going to sit on your shoe. The leg should come fully into contact with your shoe and have one break just above your ankle. Any more breaks and you’ll look as though you’re wearing leg warmers, and you’ll start treading on the back of your trouser leg.
Tip: Try them on without the jacket first and with a dress shirt tucked in. This way you can see all of them, you can get a good look at the waist, the posterior and all of the leg. Wear your shoes to make sure everything looks and fits as it should.
Tip: Remember, a suit is a single entity, if one part isn’t right, the whole thing isn’t right.
At this point you can put on your belt or a similar belt to check the colour, size and buckle and be sure you’re happy with it.
Tip: Move, walk, sit and just general use your suit as you would if you owned it. You’ll be spending prolonged periods of time in in so it has to be right.
Now, the jacket.
Keep your on trousers when trying this. In fact keep them on trying most things...
Jackets are sold by chest size, the number associated with a jacket is the length around your chest. There are a couple of things to look out for when trying on your jacket.
Shoulders - make sure your shoulders aren’t pushing out the side of the sleeves, and the shoulder pads aren’t riding up because of that, be sure that the arms aren’t pushing up into your armpits making you shrug.
Now look at the sleeves, they should stop just around where the radius bone in your wrist stops, which then leaves about an inch for your shirt and cufflink to be exposed.
Next try lifting your arms in front of you. Can you do it? If you can, you’re winning, now how far do your sleeves pull back when you’re doing it? You want it just about 2-3 inches back from where it is when your arm is down, this is just a proof that there’s enough slack in the back to give you room to move.
The length of your jacket should come to around your pockets which is roughly around where your hands hang when stood up.
Tip: We’re saying roughly because everyone’s proportions differ slightly, and if you’re having your suit tailored, your tailor will have this covered.
The shape should complement the natural curve of your body. Everyone have a different shape so this comes down to what is comfortable and what you think complements your body the best.
Tip: Do up your top button only when you’re stood up, this will bring in the waist of the jacket giving it that natural flow, leave the bottom one undone as it’ll flatten out the nice curves the top one creates.
How many vents (slits) you have in the back is up to you. 2, 1 or none, is completely down to preference. They’re originally there to make it easier to ride a horse so it's actually a style thing nowadays, they’re not compulsory.
Tip: Keep in mind that no slits is more on the formal side, as you wouldn’t tend to wear your best jacket whilst riding.
Colour, Material, Fit and Comfort
Tick all of these boxes and you’ll have a winning suit and win the jackpot.
Enjoy your suit!