Buying a suit can be a traumatic or an exhilarating experience depending on how much you know about what you want. This guide to buying a good suit will ensure that you enjoy the process of finding one that will make you want to keep glancing in the mirror.
Color Code it Right
Looking for a suit for professional work? Opt for dark, classic colors like black, gray, and brown. Wondering what colors work best for weddings and funerals? While black is generally the traditionally acceptable color, you can also opt for a gray or a dark navy. If you are looking for something a little more casual, then it is acceptable to wear suits in lighter shades.
Every man needs a good suit. Even the ones who will probably tell us that they would never be slaves to the corporate conspiracy of making a man wear dull colors and a classier version of a straitjacket. Put your exaggerated claims/pleas aside, because there is going to be at least one occasion in your life when you will need to don a suit. And when you do go to buy that wonder suit, remember that the goodness of it lies in the details.
You could depend on the salesperson. But more often than not, he’ll tell you what you want to be told. The suit will always look great, and if there are any problems, it can always be fixed. Don’t be convinced by that. When you go to buy a suit, you need to know what things you should be paying attention to. Because going by the idiom, ignorance is bliss, will only lead to a traumatic experience later. In this MenWit article, we tell you about the different things you need to pay attention to when buying a suit. From the right fabric, to the details of the jacket, to the importance of a well-fitting pant, there are tips dealing with every aspect.
How to Choose the Correct Fabric
Most suits are made of wool. If you look at the more expensive suits, you will find that they are cashmere-blended. But you will find less expensive options as well. A wool suit is a good option as it is a natural fabric, is breathable, and looks extremely stylish.
If it is your first suit, then we suggest that you opt for one that is made of worsted wool as it is durable and hard-wearing, which can be worn in pretty much any weather. Tropical wool is suitable for summers as it is more lightweight. But this fabric tends to wrinkle easily. Flannel is the fabric to opt for if you are looking for a winter suit. Tweed is commonly used by older men. It can be unflattering on men who are on the heavier side.
You will also find suits in the market made of other fabrics like linen (which tends to wrinkle easily, but is extremely suitable for summers), polyester (which we don’t suggest, but tends to be inexpensive and wrinkle-free), Lycra-blended (which allows for a certain amount of stretch factor), and Teflon-blended (frankly, we are just as clueless about these as you).
The quality of the fabric you opt for will dictate how much the suit will cost you. A high-twist number (the number of twists in an inch of yarn which helps define its style) will cost you more than a suit with a lower twist number. This number, which is also known as the super number, determines how thin, fine, and smooth your cloth, and consequently, your suit will be.
What to Look for in a Suit Jacket
Single-Breasted vs. Double-Breasted
This is the most noticeable element of any suit. If you are looking for a more widely-used and acceptable option, then we suggest that you opt for the single-breasted jacket which has a single column of buttons. If you are looking for something more formal though, you should opt for the double-breasted suit that has two columns of buttons. If you are tall and slim, then the latter is a good option for you, but men with a heavy mid-section should avoid this option completely.
Number of Buttons
Most men are unaware that the number of buttons on a suit determines whether or not you can wear a suit to a certain event or not. Also, the number of buttons can determine the cut and fit of the suit, so you should choose wisely.
- One-button Suits: These suits are most suitable for casual gatherings and dinners with friends. It is considered unprofessional and is not a good option for a man who wants a suit that can work for multiple events.
- Two-button Suits: This is the classic and most appropriate choice to make as it works for any occasion and on any body type. If you are wearing a two-button suit, ensure that you fasten only the top button.
- Three-button Suits: These suits are considered more old-fashioned and are not very popular any more. With this style you should always button the middle button. Never fasten the last button.
When trying on a suit, fasten the buttons to check if you are comfortable. It shouldn’t stretch over the abdominal area, as that will make you look like you are wearing a suit one size too small. Also, ensure that the top button of a two-button suit does not fall below your navel. This ensures that you are wearing a well-cut suit.
- Notch lapels (which have a cut V on the lapels’ sides) are the style that are most commonly worn. These are perfect for business suits.
- Peak lapels (which look like an upside down V at the lapels’ tops) are more traditional and the more elegant option.
- Shawl lapels (which have a continuous curve) are most common on dinner jackets or tuxedos.
- Shoulder Pads: All suits have a bit of padding at the shoulder to ensure that the suit has proper shape. But you should be comfortable with the thickness and shape of the pads. We suggest you opt for rounded pads instead of square, boxy shoulder pads. If you have broad shoulders, then avoid too much padding.
Arms and Sleeves
Uncomfortable sleeves can ruin a suit. It is important that you are able to move in them freely and feel comfortable. You should ideally be able to stretch your arms in front of you when you wear the jacket. The armholes should be cut high enough, and should not be too boxy. The sleeves should end where the base of your thumb meets your hand. The length should be such that at least quarter to half inch of your shirt is visible from under the jacket. When your arm falls at your side, your knuckles should be level with the bottom of the jacket.
If the waist of your jacket is not fitted properly, then the suit will not button well. You need to ensure that the jacket has proper darts which are at the same level as its main button. You can opt from two different fits.
- American Fit: This suit style tends to fall straight from the armhole and does not have a defined shape. This makes it more comfortable for heavy-set men.
- Suppressed Fit: This is a European style and tends to fit closely around the waist, making the jacket look tailored and fitted. This style is more appropriate for thinner men.
- Double vent: Also known as side vents, these are located at the sides of the jacket and allow for freer movement. This is a style that suits most body types.
- Single vent: A suit with a single vent has it located right at the center at the back. While not too restrictive, it is not as comfortable as a double vent suit.
- No vent: A suit with no vents is extremely restrictive and was primarily a Hollywood invention as it allowed actors to look slimmer and fitter.
A vent should always cover your bottom, and unless you are bending or sitting, these flaps of cloth should be never separated.
What to Look for in the Pants
Often we get so concerned with the fit of the jacket, that we ignore how well the pants fit. If the waist size is perfect, then rest all is put aside. A good pair of pants will not only be comfortable, but will fit right, be tailored, and not sit too high or too low.
- Waist: When you try on the trousers, ensure that you can stick one finger into the waist of the pants while wearing them and still feel comfortable. This should allow for a good fit.
- Pleated vs. Flat-fronts: While traditionally pleated trousers were all the rage, today flat-front is considered universally appropriate. Opt for these.
- Rise: The distance between the waistband and the crotch area is known as the rise. Ensure that this is neither too low nor too high. The pants should sit snug at your waist.
- Break: This is the point at which the hem of your pants falls on your shoes. You should opt for what is known as the half break or medium break, where the pants are hemmed to reach halfway down your shoes. This is the most traditional look. You could also choose from a full break where the pants are hemmed to reach the top of your shoes’ heels or the no break where the hems end before the shoes. The latter look is extremely casual though and should be chosen with care.
Buying a suit is not that difficult a process as long as you pay attention to the minute details that can help you choose one that fits you well. There are some other details that will be present in a well-stitched suit.
- Flower Loop: Created under the lapel, it is a loop used to hold a flower. While this may seem unimportant, a good tailor will include this because it is traditional, and these are the things that make a good suit a great suit.
- Hand-stitched Sleeve Lining: If there are almost minimal creases and pleats where the arm meets the body of the suit, you can rest assured that the stitching is done by hand.
- Interior Pocket: The interior of the left breast pocket, if set off by patches of external fabric, means that the pocket has been hand-finished and reinforced to give the pocket proper shape.
- Secret Pocket: A good suit will have a hidden compartment the size of a credit card to hold valuable possessions. Check for this pocket.
Nick Cave, Australian musician, songwriter, author, screenwriter, composer, and actor endorsed his preference for this garment when he said, “I’ve always worn suits. To me they’re a very practical kind of thing to wear. You put one on and don’t really have to think about what you’re going to wear.” And that is precisely what makes getting a good suit worth the exercise. It is appropriate for most occasions, it is classy, and for some reason, every guy looks ten times better than he already does in a suit.