Owning a great suit that fits your body like a glove is basically a rite of passage into adulthood.
Not only will the right suit make you look and feel like a million bucks, but it’s a proven fact that it will change other people’s perception of you. A man in a sharp, sophisticated suit turns heads and demands respect far more than a man in an old band t-shirt and a pair of ripped and ratty jeans.
That said, an ill fitting suit may have an even worse effect than no suit at all. We’ve all seen those guys that look like they’ve been dressed by their mother. The suit jacket and trousers are too baggy, the color washes them out, and it’s clear that they’re wearing some kind of hand-me-down from their big brother. It looks bad. Period.
We know that buying a suit can be overwhelming, especially when you aren’t familiar with the process and don’t know what you should be looking for. That is why we’re here to help.
Our guide will not only help you find a suit style that you’re guaranteed to look great in, but we’ll help you navigate the tricky world of cuts, sizes, and accessories. You’ll be looking like Don Draper in no time.
A Suit That Fits
It isn’t enough to try a suit on off the rack and decide that it fits “enough”. You are going to want to get your suit tailored to your body, as this is a major investment that is meant to last you years to come.
Even more than the color and style of your suit, the fit is absolutely essential. Just about any suit can look good on a person as long as it is properly fit to their body. Remember that your clothes are often the first thing that people are going to base their impressions of you on, long before you ever even open your mouth. A comfortable, natural fit is of the utmost importance.
Here are a few very necessary spots to measure when searching for the suit that best fits you:
Grab a tape measure and measure the thickest part of your chest. Typically, as a simple rule of thumb, you are going to want to get either the size of the inches you measure or one size above just to be safe. For example, if you measure 38 inches, you are going to either want to get a 38 or 40 shirt.
When the shoulders of your suit jacket are too wide, you will look bulkier than necessary. If they are too small, you’ll look like you’re trying to fit into a suit that is several sizes too small, even if it fits you perfectly everywhere else. When fitting your shoulders, keep in mind that the seam attaching the sleeve to the rest of the jacket needs to be sitting upon your shoulder; not too high or too low.
Even if you are a size 38, that doesn’t at all dictate the length of your arms. This is why tailoring is so very important. You may be one of those people that finds a suit to fit you perfectly everywhere — except the arms are too snug or far too long for your height. If this is the case, you have two options: A tailor or a dry cleaner. It is important to keep in mind that a suit is never going to perfectly fit everyone. It is not Cinderella’s glass slipper; you’re not going to slip it on and find the perfect fit.
A proper sleeve should hit on the wrist bone exactly, reaching no higher or lower. You should also be able to see just a hint of the sleeve underneath.
These are tricky. Suit trousers are typically measured by your inside leg and waist. They are usually provided to you in sizes like jeans (36R, for example), which means that these pants are likely to fit someone who is 36 inches around the waist and of R (Regular) height. Sizes come in Short (S), Regular (R), and Long (L).
Remember that these are just a starting point. If you find that you are between lengths, I highly recommend that you choose the longer length and get them tailored to fit you.
The material of your suit can either dramatically dress your look up or down. It is also extremely important to note that some materials only work for certain times of year. Obviously you wouldn’t want to be wearing a velvet suit in the dead of summer, nor would you want to sit around in a linen suit when it’s freezing cold outside. We’re going to take you through some of the most popular suit materials so you know when to wear them and what they’re best suited for.
Typically, most suits are made from cotton. It is best known for its breathable, durable material. It is quite heavy, best suited for cold months, and cheap to use, which makes it a favorite among suit makers.
Best known for its thick heaviness, tweed is a material that is made from cotton and wool. Tweed suits are often very expensive, especially when you are seeking out soft tweeds. The rougher the suit, the cheaper it is. Soft tweed suits can be extremely costly, so this is definitely something to keep in mind.
Think about those days you spent on vacation. Remember those suits you so often see men wearing? Chances are, those are linen. It is a natural, very breathable material that is great for warm summer months. It is lightweight, but can be very expensive depending on the suit. It is also worth noting that it can be difficult to wash, so I highly recommend sending your linen suits to the dry cleaners instead of trying to do it yourself.
There are so many different types of suits that it can sometimes be overwhelming to try and decide what to go for. We’re going to map out the different types of suits and what events they go best with in order to help you out a little bit.
As a general rule, if you are unsure about what color to go for, you should either a charcoal gray or navy blue. These are your tried and true “neutral” suits that are guaranteed to work with just about every shirt, tie, and pair of shoes in your closet.
If you’re looking to be a little more adventurous, however, read on:
If you’re looking to introduce a little detail into an otherwise simple suit, you may want to consider a pinstripe. They most often come in black and navy, and are meant for men who don’t want to wear bland, colorless suits. Pair it up with a simple white shirt and a pair of dark shoes for a stylish, strong look.
Personally, I love tan suits on a warm summer day. That said, many people see a tan suit and automatically think of their stuffy college professors. I’m here to tell you that off white, taupe suits are great for spring and summer weddings and outdoor cocktail parties.
You may think that black suits are foolproof and, in many ways, you’re right. Black suits can be pretty tricky to wear right though. It can be a real downer to get to a wedding and realize that you’re wearing the same thing as the hired caterers, the security, and the valet guys. My best recommendation for a black suit is to make sure to keep everything else skinny. Skinny pant legs, skinny ties – This will definitely set you apart.
If you want to make a real statement, go for a plaid suit. One thing that I have to mention is that you should be wearing a plaid that goes along with those neutrals (gray, navy, etc.) and keeps in that color palate. This will make you stand out in a crowd without the overkill of making people dizzy with your suit.
Now that we’ve got our suit all picked out, it’s time to choose accessories.
A pocket square is a great way to add a spark of color and style to your jacket. They’re also my favorite way to add color and patterns to an otherwise very neutral suit, so you can showcase your individuality without going overboard.
Lapel pins add a subtle little detail to your outfit. It’s totally up to you as to what you want to go for, as lapel pins can be anything from wild and crazy and colorful to subdued and modest.
Probably the most popular way to spice up a suit, cufflinks are an awesome addition to any outfit. It’s up to you how crazy you want to go, though you should keep in mind that they are intended to serve as an accessory to your outfit and definitely shouldn’t become a distraction.