1. Beware of the suit salesman.
Wherever you get your suit, the guy selling it to you will tell you that everything looks great on you and that the store’s tailor can alter any suit. And you can almost be certain his sense of class will be unlike yours. For all these motives, you need to know as much as possible about how a suit should fit and what kind of suit you’re looking for before you walk through the door. Remember, you’re the boss, not him.
2. Know why you’re getting a new suit.
Are you pursuing a suit that you’re going to wear to the office once or more a week? (If so, keep it opaque and standard.) Or are you looking for a suit you’ll wear a few times a year to weddings and funerals? (Black or navy is a safe bet.) Is it a suit you’ll wear to job interviews? (If so, you want to be well dressed but not better dressed than the guy interviewing you, so nothing too expensive.) Or is it the kind you’d wear with sneakers and a T-shirt, or wear just the jacket with a pair of jeans? (Think chic).
3. Begin at a department store.
When you’re equipped to start shopping, grab a friend who won’t waver and provide you with a direct attitude, and head to a store like Barneys or Saks or Bloomingdale’s. You’ll be able to view an assortment of brands versus just one. Once you’re inside, do a lap of the suit floor by yourself. See what styles are offered—what grasps your attention. Look at prices. Ask for a salesman when you’re ready to begin.
4. Know your true size.
It sounds apparent but unfortunately, it’s not. The most fundamental component of a suit is its fit, and not many sales guys comprehend how a suit should fit or, more precisely, how you want yours to fit. Before you step into a dressing room, get a grip on the various factors of a suit and what your real size is, but just want you’re comfortable in.
5. Shoulder fit
The suit’s shoulders should enfold yours; shoulder pads should not bulge beyond your own shoulders. If you stand sideways against a wall and the shoulder pad touches the wall before your arm does, the suit is too large.
You should be able to effortlessly button the jacket without it stretching. Equally, there shouldn’t be too much space amongst the button and your chest—no more than a fist’s worth.
When your arms are flaccid straight down, you should be able to cup your fingers under the sides of your suit jacket. However, these days, with smaller suits in style, some jackets reach only about an inch past the cuff of your suit sleeve.
Think about the style of the suit itself. The first thing you need to contemplate is the number of buttons on the suit. This will define a good deal about the cut and fit. Here are some basic pointers:
The three-button suit became the principal look in the 1990s; it now seems to be the ordinary young man’s choice. Instead of selecting one of those high-cut styles, look for one with a roll-over lapel—one in which you button the middle button, moving the soft lapel to roll over the top button.
For years the two-button suit was the go-to conventional, Capitol Hill getup. Now every fashion label conceivable is designing two-button suits, except they’re making them more modernized and contemporary. This cut is what’s most in style today.
If you’re looking for something casual, a bit more high-style, try a one-button suit. It’s not for everyone, but if you can pull it off, it’s a lustrous look.
A center vent is all-purpose; it is both current and old-fashioned. You can’t go wrong.
Side vents are more European; a bit urbane.
A ventless jacket is just plain criminal. It says you think it’s still 1986.
A notch lapel—what you see on most business suits—is ordinary. You’re always safe with a notch lapel.
A peak lapel is more old-school and sophisticated. And now it’s experiencing a revival with the high-fashion crowd. It makes a declaration.
11. Try it on!
If you’re not wearing a dress shirt and dress shoes, ask for them; a respectable store should be able to hook you up. Then, find the three-way mirror and size up your suit. And not just the jacket. Contemplate the pants, too: They should be contented, and the rise (where the pants sit on your waist) shouldn’t be too high or too low for your taste. If you don’t think the pants fit well, try on another suit.
12. Consult with a tailor.
Here are the areas you should direct your tailor’s attention to:
Shoulders- If your suit doesn’t fit in the shoulders, it’s not going to fit anywhere else. Salesmen will tell you they can decrease or redesign the shoulder pads—don’t listen to them.
Pants: If the pants are an inch or so too taut or too big in the waist, a tailor can generally fix them. But if it’s more than an inch, you’re asking for a problem.
Jacket: A tailor usually will need to alter the span of the sleeves. Demand that you’d like a quarter inch of shirt cuff to show. The sides of a jacket often need narrowing, so they silhouette to your torso. And check out the collar: Many times, there is a roll in the back of the suit jacket, up near your neck. A good tailor can fix this.
13. Try it on… again!
When you return to get your suit after it’s been improved, always try it on again. Often, it will need another correction or two, so it fits as flawlessly as you want it to. Congratulations, you’ve bought a new suit!