Men's Fashion Basics - Part 16 - Buying a Suit
How To Buy A Suit

So with casual basics done and dusted, let’s move onto more important things – Suits. If you thought people were getting casual fashion all wrong, then you haven’t seen anything yet. On my regular morning walks to the office it’s unbelievable the amount of baggy, oversized suits I see slowly drowning the ‘business’ men that are wearing them. It’s this awful look and the stigma associated with ‘knotting up’ for the workplace that give suits such a bad reputation and have men sighing with relief when dress down Friday and the weekend finally arrive. That is such a tragedy because suits are fantastic items of clothing. Well, the right suit is. There is nothing more unique and essentially ‘male’ than the suit and the options that are available to you when it comes to colour, patterns and what to pair them with are never ending; you’re life could never get boring.

However, before you do start going out and buying yourself a suit, know why you’re purchasing one in the first place. Is it for the office? So it’s going to be worn a lot during the week so it’ll need to be versatile and you’ll probably need another one to alternate with. Or is it for just those rare formal occasions? So weddings, funerals and the random ‘dressed to the nines’ events. In which case I would suggest something in black or navy.

Fit Basics

Once you’ve got that figured out next is (as always guys) the FIT! Yes, that old chestnut again. It’s important that when buying your suit to know your way around one and what you should be looking for. This is as follows:

  • Shoulders – the suit should be hugging them, not tight in any way. Also, the pads should not be sticking out further than your own shoulders do.
  • Chest – here you should be able to button it with ease but with no more than a fists width between your shirt and the jacket.
  • Length – with your arms straight down by your sides you should be able to cup your fingers inside your suit jacket, if you can’t it’s too short, if you can but have lots of material in your hand then it’s too long! You should be able to see 3/4 to an inch of your shirt cuff out of the sleeves as well.
  • Trouser – these, ultimately, should be comfortable for you because you’ll be wearing them regularly but with a rise that isn’t too high or low below your hips and with little to no break of the trouser hem when they reach your shoes.
Other Considerations

With fit sorted there are only two other things to decide on. The first is buttons and the second is what kind of lapel you want on your jacket. With a lapel you have two options; notch or peaked. Notch is standard for most business suits and is the kind of lapel that comes to mind when most people think a traditional suit. Peak equals old money and elegance. Popular throughout most of 80′s and Tom Ford is a big fan of having them on his suits, it is for a bold man wanting to make a bold statement. If you’re unsure stick with an notch lapel for the moment. A good rule go by when it comes to lapels is that if it’s a thinner lapel then make sure you have a slim tie and shirt collar to match.

Buttons on the other hand are all about personal preference. Three is classic 90′s and the go to look for a lot of business men in America that I saw. Just never button the bottom or top one so as not to restrict your movement and create stretch lines on the jacket. Two buttons are for the David Cameron’s amongst us; conservative and safe. Again no bottom button for maximum movement and style. My personal favourite is the one button and the European standard. Sleek, debonair and very ‘high style’ but it isn’t for everyone and may not be appropriate for the office in some instances.

Finally, always remember to try your suit on with a good fitting work shirt and a pair of shoes so that you can get the full picture when you see yourself in the shops mirror. I also find that a trusted and reliably blunt friend coming with you always helps and means that if you do happen to make some bad choices you’re going to be called on it. It is a big plus, believe me.

Conclusion

Other than the above points, buying a suit becomes massively about personal preference. Colour, material, patterns, shirt and tie combos, shoes, the list goes on. Obviously, these will all be covered shortly but hold off on buying a new suit just yet because I do still have a few tips on what suit to get to match your body shape and what a tailor can and can’t do for you.

But that will wait for next week, so until then guys…

Matt Allinson