What’s that I hear? You finally understood the importance of fit and you just realized your old suit is too baggy? Maybe, even made of polyester?
If you have a quality suit and it’s made of natural fabrics, you’re probably in possession of a valuable asset. But let’s assume you really want to start clean and buy a new suit. Where do you start?
In my Be Stylish ™ Package I talk a lot about suits. It would be impossible to discuss all aspects in a single article so let’s focus on the basics.
My goal here is to give you enough info to buy your next suit. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be able to walk into a store and either walk out with the right fitting suit or empty handed. Buying something that’s not right for you is not an option.
I’ve done this in real life with my clients but don’t worry – the info I’m about to present to you is gold.
Step 1: Fabric
The most important aspect of a suit is fabric, no doubt about it.
Even if it fits you perfectly but it’s 50% or 80% or (God forbid) 100% polyester, you should NEVER spend your money on it. Period.
Suits are a long-term investment (you’ve probably heard this already) but here’s where most people go wrong:
They walk into a couple of stores, they only find a couple of suits that fit them and they buy one, without even looking at the label.
If they do check the label before they buy, they see it’ 30% or 40% synthetic fiber yet STILL buy it. Guys have a phobia of buying clothes and the though of spending 2 more hours searching for one is too much to bear. They buy the polyester one right on the spot.
So lesson one is: stick with natural fibers.
Cotton, wool and even linen are great examples. Blends of cotton and wool (in various percentages) are also acceptable. Natural fibers allow your skin to breathe, which is important both in summers and winters.
Don’t be scared of wool as some suits made of this fabric can be worn without problems in every season. However, cotton is the most popular all-season suit fabric choice (and it’s a little cheaper too).
Step 2: Fit
Before we begin, here’s the thought for the day: fit is what makes you cool. Forget flashy suits or going with the latest trend. The way a suit follows your body lines is what gives you that sharp look.
A good fitting suit will also hide some of your body flaws… if you know how to choose it.
For instance, if you have lowered shoulders, an Italian style with padded shoulder will give you that extra height and make you appear.
There’s a huge misconception when it comes to a suit’s fit. Most people think that good is good enough. The fact of the matter is that the difference between a regular-fitting suit and a slim fit one is HUGE.
Compare this suit:
to this one:
Huge difference, right?
Even if you don’t get the colors and patterns right, a good fitting suit will still flatter you. Fit is king and I cannot stress this enough.
Pay special attention to the way pants fall down on your shoes. They shouldn’t have too may breaks down there. If that’s the case, rest assured that any tailor can fix that by making minor adjustments.
The jacket’s length has to fit you right from the get-go. Your good friend the tailor can’t help you there. A right-fitting jacket will only go down about halfway over your behind. That’s the ideal length from which you have a margin of error of about an inch (but no more).
If the sleeves length is a little too big or if the jacket needs adjustments on the sides – that’s not a problem. The tailor can remove any excess fabric wherever there is a sewing line.
Step #3: Colors, Patterns and Style
If you’ve taken care of steps 1 and 2 then all is left is to make an awesome impression. To be the life of the party. The man everyone wants to talk with.
You have a lot of options to mix and match your suit with your shirt and tie or pocket square but, before you think about those, think about the shoes you’re going to be wearing (by the way, shoes is another standalone chapter in my Be Stylish eBook from the package).
Once you have those shoes handled, it’s time you consider on the color and pattern of the suit.
So, here’s my quick color list:
- navy blue
- dark brown
- dark blue
- dark green
- charcoal gray
Those are basic. To take things one step further, try these colors:
- miedium green
- medium blue
Ok, let’s explore some fabrics:
- prince of Wales
- bird’s eye
You may not be familiar with all of these patterns but I can assure you – all of them will make you look very stylish.
Certain patterns are usually seen on suits of a certain fabric. Herringbone, houndstooth and glen check are such examples, usually found on thick wool suits like tweed.
Patterned suits (except pinstripe) are less formal than their solid color counterparts. Therefore, you shouldn’t wear them to any formal dinners but you can wear them to a wedding for instance, where the atmosphere is more relaxed.
Step #4: Choose Your Jacket
While this may be of secondary importance, the choice between a single-breasted suit jacket and a double breasted one may be important.
Double breasted jackets (which have 2 rows of buttons in the front), while they’re more formal than single breasted ones, can be very unflattering for men with narrower shoulders and torso.
If, on the other hand, you’re tall and thin, a double breasted jacket will make you look a tiny bit wider. That’s a small plus but the biggest reason is that they’ll – you guessed it – make you stand out more.
Step #5 It’s all in the Details
You may be surprised but most suits in stores have buttons which are actually sewed to the other side of the sleeve! It’s like they don’t even expect you to unbutton them.
If you’re in a serious meeting then it’s ok. However, there’s a big “roll up” trend which also happens to include suit jackets. You need to be able to unbutton those sleeve buttons on your suit jacket to roll up your shirt’s cuffs over it. It’s a very bold move but – hey – you’re a very bold man.
Another important little detail is the jacket’s lapel. A peak lapel is more formal and less common. However, if all other factors are according to my guidelines (fabric, fit, color) then I strongly recommend you buy the damn thing. A peak lapel is an extremely stylish way of showing that you yourself are bold.
OK, I’ve only touched some of the basics here but it should be enough to make a good purchase that will last you for years to come. Of course, when you get your second and third suit, you should try to be even bolder, but let’s take it one step at a time, shall we?