Buying a new suit can be difficult when you need to know what you’re searching for. There are numerous selections to make and multiple materials, colors, fits, and styles to select from. Yet the wrong suit can cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars!
This post will save you time, money, and a lot of headaches. We go over exactly what to look for when purchasing a suit.
Ready to get started? Let’s suit up! We’ll assume you’re beginning from scratch. This may be your first suit, or it’s been years since you bought a case, but you need one for a two-week wedding.
So let’s begin; a man’s suit is a jacket and pants made of the same materials. That states “the same” – not just comparable. Many men must correct their mistake of mistaking a pair of trousers and a matching jacket for a suit. Could you not do it? Those in the know will notice.
Online or Offline Suit Purchase?
The first stage is to decide whether you will purchase your suit online or offline. Which is better? That depends on what YOU value.
Online Purchase of a Suit
If you want options, the most excellent place to look is always online.
Nothing compares to shopping online for ease. You may buy a tailored suit at 2 a.m. while wearing your undies and drinking a beer.
Purchasing a Suit Offline
If you need a suit urgently, you must go to a store.
If you want good customer service, go to a higher-end menswear store where you can spend 30 minutes with a specialist to determine your body type and which styles and colors suit you best.
Establish Your Budget
For your first suit – you want to spend between $200 and $2000.
Suits have a much more extensive price range. You can spend $10 at a thrift store or $5,000 on Savile Row. However, $200-2000 is the happy medium range where most males can get a great-looking suit.
Want a more exact number? Allocate half your monthly wage for the suit and everything else that goes with it. This includes the shoes, shirt, and belt, which we’ll discuss later.
The terms’ off the shelf,’ ‘custom,’ and ‘bespoke’ will be used.
- ‘Off the rack’ refers to ready-made items. That suit is simply hanging on a rack, waiting for you to purchase it. Most folks will be happy with this – and you’ll find the best deals here.
- ‘Custom’ or ‘made to measure’ means it fits your measurements from different pre-cut components. If you need help to do so, this is an attractive option.
- ‘Bespoke’ means it was created from the ground up to your requirements. You speak, and your tailor listens. Ignore bespoke for your first suit. Custom suits are works of art, but they are significantly more expensive.
Choose Your Fabric
If you have the money, go for a suit made entirely of wool; it’s a good quality indicator. Because the yarn is pricey, you’ll frequently see blends – 70%, 50%, 0r 30% wool.
Blends are sometimes terrible; they can save you a lot of money. But they are a hallmark of a lower-end suit – a maker that utilizes mixes is presumably cutting cuts elsewhere too.
If you spend $500-$1000, you’ll get 100% wool and start seeing super threads – Super 80, Super 100, Super 120, and so on.
There needs to be a consistent system for these numbers. Every company’s’supers are unique. A higher number, in general, indicates a tighter yarn and, as a result, a more opulent drape.
There is no one solution to the question of what constitutes high-quality suit material. Any material with the word super is high quality; therefore, only pay for a Super 220 instead of a Super 100.
What about color now? Choose from three colors: navy, charcoal, or grey. No light grey and no blue — those are too casual. And no black – that’s reserved for a black tie.
A subtle, unnoticeable pattern is good, but avoid visible marks until your third, fourth, or fifth suit.
Fit Is King
Fitness reigns supreme. A $50 suit fits you much better than a $2000 suit that doesn’t. If a case doesn’t provide you, only buy it if you know it can be altered.
If you must pay more for the suit that fits, do so. You may have to go custom if you are exceptionally tall, short, thin, heavy, or firm.
For the rest of you, these are the key areas to concentrate on to get a well-fitted suit off the rack.
Suit jacket shoulders
If the shoulders don’t fit, don’t buy them. Adjusting jacket shoulders are as complex and expensive as heart surgery!
Suit jacket – chest size
If you can fit two fists in the front of the jacket, it’s way too big. A tailor can make it smaller, but more than two inches will ruin the proportions and make the pockets and jacket seem terrible.
What if the chest is too tight? High-end suits should have some extra fabric in the seams so that a tailor can let it out by roughly an inch.
The length of a suit jacket
Place your arms by your sides. The jacket should reach your knuckles, plus or minus an inch.
Your jacket should cover your buttocks in the back. It shouldn’t be any longer or any shorter than that.
Sleeve length for a suit jacket
Place your arms by your sides again; the sleeve should reach your wrist bone and expose a half-inch of your shirt cuff.
Don’t worry if the sleeves are too short. They can be adjusted by up to an inch and a half or two inches on more giant suits.
Suit pants are comfortable.
Make sure the waist fits you correctly. If it’s a little too big – or even a little too tight – a tailor can help.
Pay special attention to the hip area. Your tailor may protest about changing this – but if it’s too loose, bring it in.
Suit trouser length
When your pants are longer than your legs, the excess fabric forms a ‘break’ or folds immediately over your shoes.
You can select trousers with no break, a quarter break, a half break, or a complete break.
Fit is king once more. If you purchase a suit off the shelf, the store should have a tailor to adjust it. ‘Free’ tailor service is most likely included in the price of the case.
Function Over Fashion
You want to develop a timeless suit that will serve you six months and six years from now – not a fashion fad that’ll be out of style in a year.
Buttons for suits
One to five-button suits is available when purchasing a case. Avoid the numbers one, four, and five.
The two-button suit is the best option for 95% of you. It’s a lovely traditional appearance. If you’re taller and want to appear more formal, go for three.
Or pick anything between the two — yep, you can indeed have a ‘two and a half button’ suit. The top button on this three-button suit is intended to be left undone.
Lapels of a suit
You can choose between notch, peak, or shawl lapels.
Peak lapels are more sophisticated than notch lapels. They’re acceptable if you enjoy the look, but remember, they’ll draw attention.
Your best bet is the notch lapel. It won’t win any innovation awards, but it’s timeless and will be in trend in a decade.
Suit jacket pockets
Do you want your pockets stitched inside or on top of your jacket?
Patch pockets are those that are sewn on top. They’re relaxed. Use bags with a flap that are sewn in for a multipurpose suit.
Vents on Suit Jacket
Vents are slits on the rear of your garment that allow you to move more freely. You can select a single, double, or no vent at all.
No vent is uncommon and is mainly found in custom and Italian suits. It looks fine if you don’t put your hands in your pockets and want to create a thinner profile.
The single vent is the most common and unsightly of all vents. Try putting your hand in your pocket with this one – everyone can see your rear.
The double vent is the greatest. Walking gives you a more streamlined appearance, and it’s designed to keep your backside hidden, even if you’re riding a horse.
Choose the Correct Dress Shirt
A suit is a jacket and pants made of the same material. But everything else also goes into making you a well-dressed man. Because a chain is just as strong as its weakest link, minor details like your shirt can detract from your overall impression.
Light blue, pink, and lavender are acceptable for dress shirts, but traditional white is preferable. It’s the most formal, creates the highest contrast, and matches practically anything.
Because you’ll be buttoning it up and wearing it with a necktie, a proper fit in the neck area is essential.
Additionally, ensure it has a turn-down collar in a medium spread or a point. Point is the standard collar that works with most necktie knots. You can go for a medium spread if you prefer a wider knot.
Avoid a widespread; it is a more relaxed look. And indeed, avoid button-down collars – they’re way too casual for a suit.
A single button should be on the shirt cuff. You can also choose a two-button if you get something custom-made. Cufflinks are not suggested for your first suit because they are more formal and require a certain amount of attitude.
Moreover, while it may seem obvious, your dress shirt must always be tucked in.
Do you want to know more? Read more about how a dress shirt should fit.
Match Your Shoes to Your Suit
A black Balmoral Oxford is the traditional shoe for purchasing a suit.
Because of the sleek simplicity of their closed lacing mechanism, Oxfords are the most formal shoe design. Fast lacing implies the front section of the shoe (the vamp) covers the back part (the quarters) – providing a clean, smooth look.
If you want to switch things up, a dark brown or burgundy Oxford is OK – just a little less formal.
A brown Derby is still more casual due to the open lacing technique (with the quarters on top of the vamp), but it may still be worn with a suit.
Sneakers with a suit are best saved for men with a rock-star attitude.
Loafers are far too casual for all but the most casual suit. But you can get away with them, especially in the United States, with a simple function.
Read my article How To Match Your Dress Shoes And Suit for a more extensive breakdown of exactly what color shoes to go with your suit.
Select Your Neckwear
A suit is traditionally worn with neckwear. It ties the outfit together.
Red is always a safe hue (unless it’s a blazing neon red). You might also choose dark blue, dark green, or purple, the color of monarchs.
Adhere to simple colors and subtle repeating patterns like pin, dot, or regimental stripes. These diagonal stripes were designed by the British to signify various clubs and military units, and while being a solid pattern, they are formal enough to wear with a suit.
Bold patterns, bright colors, and knit fabrics generally make a tie appear too informal to be worn with a suit.
Bow ties are as formal as a long necktie. A bow tie in a solid color will not contravene the suit guidelines, but it will set you out. It’s appropriate for a wedding but a tad overpowering for a funeral.
Watches, rings, necklaces, nose piercings, and earrings should all be kept to a minimum when wearing a suit.
The finest watch to wear with a suit is a simple dress watch that tells you the time, possibly the date, and nothing else. You want to avoid many complications.
A black or dark brown leather strap is traditional for dress watches, but a plain metal band would do.
Avoid diving watches designed to be worn as sports watches – nothing flashy or big, and no rubber straps.
What about belts? Can you wear a belt with a suit? It depends on your trousers. Do your pants have belt loops? Then put on a belt. Match the leather of your belt to your shoes and the metal to your other metals.
Improve Your Grooming
Remember that the strength of a chain is only as muscular as its weakest link. Therefore, keep your nails clean and trimmed. Take care of your skin. Make sure that you shave or groom your facial hair.
You should not bother buying a suit if you don’t shower and your nails are filthy. Nobody will think you look good.
Make sure your hair is also well-cut and manicured. If you want to look like Harvey Specter, use a hair product with some shine because you’re wearing it sharply. It looks fantastic in a suit. But do what works for you as long as you care for your grooming.