How To Buy A Stylish Suit

Buying a new suit can be confusing when you don’t know what you’re looking for. 

There are so many decisions involved and so many materials, colors, fits and styles to choose from. 

And choosing the wrong suit can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars!

In this article, we’re saving you time, money whole lot of headache. We explain exactly what to look for when buying a suit.

We’ll assume you’re starting at Ground Zero. Maybe this is your first suit – or it’s been a decade since you bought a suit but you need one in two weeks for a wedding.

Let’s start things off by defining what a suit is

What Does A Suit Consist Of?

A man’s suit is a jacket and a pair of trousers made of the same material.

Notice it says ‘the same’ – not just similar. Many guys make the mistake of trying to palm off a pair of trousers and a similar jacket as a suit.

Don’t do it. Those in the know will notice.

Suit Buying Rule #1 Buy A Suit Online Or Offline?

Your first step is to make a decision: will you buy your suit online or offline? Which is better? That depends on what YOU value.

Buying a suit online

If you want options, the best selection is always going to be online.

For convenience, nothing beats buying online. You can buy a custom suit at 2 AM in your underwear while drinking a beer.

Buying a suit offline

If you need a suit quickly – you’re going to need to walk into a store.

If you want customer service, go to a higher-end menswear store – you can spend 30 minutes with an expert who can identify your body type and which styles and colors will look best on you.

Suit Buying Rule #2 Set Your Budget

If you’ve got the money, look for a suit in 100% wool – it’s a great indicator of quality. Because wool is an expensive material, you’ll also see blends – 70%, 50% 0r 30% wool.

Blends aren’t necessarily bad – they’ll save you a lot of money. But they are a sign of a lower-end suit – a manufacturer who uses blends is probably cutting corners elsewhere too.

If you’re spending over $500-$1000, you’re going to be getting 100% wool, and you’re also going to start seeing ‘super’ wools – Super 80, Super 100, Super 120, and so on.

There’s not a uniform system to these numbers. Every company’s ‘supers’ are different. In general, a higher number means a tighter yarn and, therefore, a more luxurious drape.

What makes a quality suit material is a question with no single answer. Any material with ‘super’ in it will be great quality – so don’t pay extra to get a Super 220 instead of a Super 100.

Now, what about color? Pick one of three – navy, charcoal, or gray. No light gray and no blue – those are too casual. And no black – that’s for black tie.

A small pattern that’s not noticeable is perfectly fine, but avoid noticeable patterns until you’re on your third, fourth, or fifth suit.

Suit Buying Rule #4 Fit Is King

Fit is king. A $50 suit that fits you will look better than a $2000 suit that doesn’t. Do not buy a suit that doesn’t fit you unless you know it can be adjusted.

If you have to pay more to get something that fits – go ahead. If you’re unusually tall, short, thin, stout, or muscular, you may have to go custom.

For the rest of you – here are the specific areas to focus on to get a well-fitted suit off the rack.

Suit jacket shoulders

Don’t buy it if the shoulders don’t fit. Adjusting jacket shoulders is like heart surgery – it’s very complicated and costly!

Suit jacket chest size

If you can fit two fists in the front of the jacket, it’s way too big. A tailor can bring it in a bit – but more than two inches will change the proportions, and the position of the pockets and the jacket will look bad.

What if it’s too tight in the chest? Higher-end suits should have some extra fabric in the seams so a tailor can let it out by about an inch.

Suit jacket length

Put your arms by your sides. The jacket should reach down to your knuckles, give or take an inch.

At the back – your jacket should cover your buttocks. It shouldn’t be much longer or shorter than that.

Suit jacket sleeve length

Put your arms by your sides again – the sleeve should go to about your wrist bone and show a quarter to a half-inch of your shirt cuff.

If the sleeves are way off, don’t worry. They’re one of the easiest things to adjust – up to an inch and a half, or even two inches on bigger suits.

Suit trousers fit

Make sure the waist fits you well. If it’s slightly too big – or even slightly too tight – a tailor can fix that.

Also, pay attention to the hip area. Your tailor may complain about adjusting this – but if it’s way too loose, get it brought in.

Suit trouser length

When your trousers are longer than your legs, the extra fabric creates a ‘break’ or fold just above your shoes.

You can choose trousers with no break, a quarter break, a half break, or a full break.

Again – fit is king. When you’re buying a suit off the rack, the store should have a tailor who’ll adjust it for you.

If they charge for this, it’s not a bad thing – you’ll often find you get better service because you’re paying for it. ‘Free’ tailor service is probably built into the price of the suit.

Suit Buying Rule #5 Function Over Fashion

You want to create a timeless suit that will serve you six months from now and six years from now – not a fashion trend that’ll be out of style in a year.

Suit buttons

When buying a suit you’ll notice there are one, two, three, four, and even five-button suits. Stay away from the ones, fours, and fives.

For 95% of you, the two-button suit will be the best choice. It’s a great classic look. If you’re taller and want to look a little more formal you can go with three.

Or pick something between the two – yes, you can actually get a ‘two and a half button’ suit. This is a three-button suit where the top button is designed to be left undone.

Suit lapels

Your options are notch, peak, and shawl lapels.

Don’t touch the shawl lapel – that’s for formal wear.

Peak lapels are more formal than notch lapels. They’re fine if you really like the look – but be aware that they’ll grab attention.

Your best bet is the notch lapel. It’s not going to win any awards for creativity – but it’s timeless and will still be in style in a decade.

Suit jacket pockets

Do you want your pockets sewn into your jacket, or on top of your jacket?

The ones sewn on top are known as patch pockets. They’re very casual. For a versatile suit, you should go for pockets that are sewn in and have a flap.

Suit jacket vents

Vents are the slits in the back of your jacket that give you more room to move. You can choose a single vent, double vent, or no vent.

No vent is rare – mostly found in custom and Italian suits. It looks fine if you don’t put your hands in your pockets and if you want to create a slimmer profile.

The single vent is the most common and WORST looking of all the vents. Try putting your hand in your pocket with this one – everyone can see your backside.

The double vent is the best. When you’re walking it creates a more streamlined look – and it’s designed not to show your backside even if you’re riding a horse.

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