I overheard this conversation the other day which has inspired me to share some helpful tips and tricks to lessen your concern about such a big decision!
“It’s time, my fiance told me I need to buy the suit.”
“Wonderful, what kind are you looking for?”
“…wait, you mean there are different kinds? I know nothing about suits man! You’ve got to help me, all I wear are my overalls for work, size large.”
“Haha, what do you do?”
It got me thinking that sometimes things we think are simple are completely deep water for some people, so here are some simple guidelines for buying your first suit.
Pick Your Style
First, you need to know what you’re looking for. The worst is going into a store and feeling so overwhelmed you make no progress. The style suit you need is relevant to the occasion you wish to wear it. Are you getting ready for a formal occasion? Do you require a suit to wear to work? Are you going on summer holiday and just want to look super fine? Go shopping with confidence with these helpful tips.
There are two main types of formal suits, Black or White Tie. Don’t be fooled, they are quite definitely different.
The less formal of the two, black tie usually consists of a black tuxedo jacket, white tuxedo shirt, black tuxedo trousers, most often a black dickie bow tie and a pair of patent leather oxford shoes. For some occasions, you may be required to wear a cummerbund, which is worn around the waist.
A tuxedo, unlike your normal black suit, usually, has a satin lapel, which is a shinier, smoother material giving it a different and more formal look. It certainly makes the suit look more fancy!
White tie is reserved for the most formal of occasions. While it consists of the same tuxedo trousers, white tuxedo shirt and patent leather shoes, the jacket, and tie differ. There is also the addition of a waistcoat. The bow tie is white. The jacket is cut higher at the front and lengthens at the back, separating into two and becoming a fish tail shape. In fact, a white tie suit is often referred to as a fish tail suit!
Casual (Everyday) Suit
A casual suit is any suit not worn for a formal event. You may be wearing this suit to work, or a less formal wedding or party, or even touring a new city while on vacation.
Work suits range from more formal to very casual. If you are unsure what your occasion or job specifically wants, my tip is to go with a classic black suit. A black suit coat and trousers can become your base to which you may later personalize as you wish. Perhaps by layering with a colorful shirt instead of classic white. Change up your tie, or even add more comfortable shoes to fit any occasion!
While summer suits are similar in cut and style to work suits, it is the fabric that is the defining difference. Suits can be hot, heavy and constricting, which is not ideal for the summer heat. Summer suits are made out of lightweight fabrics, such as linen or a light cotton. The color of the suit also differs, opting for lighter colors such as beige, navy or other heat reflecting color to keep you cool.
Speaking of fabric, it is important to know what fabric you will want for your suit.
I will keep it simple for you regarding fabric. The fabric of your suit is dependant on the season you wish to wear the suit.
Look for suits made out of lightweight cotton, seersucker, fresco, or chambray (cambric). Don’t forget to stay away from the dark, heat absorbing suit colors more suitable for colder weather, stick to light gray, baby blue, khaki or even shades of red and maroon.
Keep warm through the cold months by getting a suit made out of wool, cashmere, tweed, flannel, or herringbone.
If you want something other than classic black, try looking for a suit in the color oxblood, hunter green, cognac, or plum.
Last but critically important, how should your suit fit?
You may think it is no big deal, but the fit of your suit is most definitely a big deal!
Suit trousers are measured by your inside leg and your waist. Most men, however, differ from set sizes, so if you’re an in-between size, then always go for the longer length and have them taken up. The correct length of your trousers is measured by how they sit at the bottom. You’ll want to have your trousers sit slightly on your shoe, and you’re going to want to have what’s called a quarter break, meaning that the back of your trousers sit slightly down the back of your shoe, with the front of your trousers hovering over your laces.
Clean lines are key, so if you see the dreaded ‘X’ shape when you button up your jacket then it’s too small for you, so go for the next size up. The ‘X’ shape refers to the bunching of the fabric being pulled too tight across the body.
The length of your sleeve should hit you right on the wrist bone, no lower or higher. You should be able to see a little bit of your shirt underneath, so it’s probably best you wear a shirt underneath when you’re trying on suits, just so you know the right length you need. You can always get a sleeve taken up if it is too long.
Similar to your shirt, the seam attaching the sleeve to the main body of the jacket should sit directly on your shoulder. If the seam is too high, then your jacket is too small, inhibiting movement, too low and the jacket is far too big for your body.
The length of your jacket should sit just below your hip bone, so if it’s above or below, it doesn’t fit I’m afraid.
Now you know the basics of not only buying a suit but of making sure it fits well too! Now you can feel confident going into that store. You will be ready for that event, job interview, or sunshine holiday in no time!
To you, all the best in life and may you find the perfect fit.