Get it right and your suit can be one of the most versatile pieces in your wardrobe. But shopping for tailoring can be a tricky prospect. Keep these fundamentals in mind and everything will fall (sharply) into place.
1. What’s the Suit For?
Your first (and most crucial) decision: function. It’s what you need to know before setting foot in a store. Are you looking for a hard-working Monday-to-Friday specialist? A bolder suit for weddings? Something with a punch of pattern and interest?
2. The Colour
First things first: every wardrobe needs one navy and one charcoal suit. From there, you can work in bolder blues, a contemporary black suit and summer-ready tones of khaki and stone.
3. The Buttons
A two-button suit is versatile while a one-button structure is forward-thinking and contemporary. As for the three-button suit? Forget about it.
4. The Lapels
They’re more important than you might think. Opt for a notch-lapel for everyday wear. Invest in a peak lapel to channel serious boardroom clout.
5. The Fabric
For the cooler months, pure wool is your best bet – it will keep the cold out and hold its shape exceptionally well. Cotton and linen come to the fore in summer.
6. The Shoulder
A perfect suit starts with the fall of the shoulder. It’s one thing your tailor absolutely can’t fix. A suit jacket needs to fit snug and end right at the shoulder. Most men tend to go a size too large – try sizing down and seeing how it fits. (Hint: if a suit is making you stand a little taller and straighter, you’re onto a good thing.)
7. The Chest
Button-up the jacket – you should be able to do so easily, without any strain or bunching of the suit. But if you can fit a fist under the buttoned jacket, you’ve gone too large. The lapels, meanwhile, should fall flat and neat. Take a look at the break (where the lapel meets the top button): it should have a soft, gentle roll.
8. The Pants
Plan on wearing the suit more than once a week? Buying two pairs of pants is a smart way to extend the life of your tailoring.
9. The Details
Check for little things that make a suit feel like your suit. Do you like little pops of personality, or a clean, modern finish? Peek inside: look at internal detailing like pick-stitching or piping. Be sure to ask about the lining – natural fibres will breathe better and help hold your jacket’s structure.
10. The Expert
Ignore the spin. No suit in the world will fit you perfectly off the rack – it needs to be crafted to your body. At the very least, a tailor needs to hem your pants (an inch of break is perfect). Many men opt to shorten – even slim – their sleeves, and nip their jacket at the waist to cut a sharper silhouette.
Find your next suit – plus styling tips and perfect pairings – on The Suit Store.