One of the most stylish fashion statements a man can make is wearing a suit. Sure, we all love to be casual. But when it’s time to look sharp and put-together, there is nothing like a suit—of course, only when it’s done right! Your suit can make or break you.
Let’s start with the basics for a suit. It can be summed up in one word: quality!
Now, does that mean that you have to go out and spend $2,600 on a Valentino suit? Certainly not! Even if you shell out the hard cash to buy brand-name clothing, a poorly fitting suit won’t do the job. A $500 suit that fits perfectly will always trump a $2,600 designer suit that fits poorly.
If you do have money to spare and want to have your designer suit, keep in mind that for the most part, a vast majority of designers made their name in women’s fashion. A good rule for those of you that want to get a great designer suit: don’t buy from those who are reknown for their red carpet evening gowns. Personally, as a woman with still sore eyes, I don’t look at the price tag nor the brand a man is wearing—the first thing I see is how it looks and fits his body shape.
Let’s just take a simple example: Valentino has the most expensive on the rack “Newman” suit—$2,695, which can also be made to measure and can reach $3,500. Valentino himself is famous for buying his own suits on Savile Row. He gets his suits tailor-made in London. The Row has been the hearthland English bespoke tailoring for 200 years. It is the source of the most beautifully crafted suits in the world. In essence, the key is tailoring—not the label! A label can not cover up an ill-fitted suit. If you are on a tight budget, you can always buy a $200-500 suit and get it properly tailored, jacket and slacks. The jacket needs to fit perfectly too. One of the biggest mistakes most men make is they forget about the jacket when tailoring a suit.
Buying the Right Suit
Nowadays it seems like young men are getting dressed up again and they are definitely buying suits. But not every young guy is five-foot-eight and 140 pounds, and not every guy over 40 is overweight. Buying the right suit has nothing to do with age; it’s about the right fit for the right body type, and any suit, no matter how modern or how current, needs to fit the body regardless of age, size, or build.
The skinny suit
It seems like this suit is a hit among the thirty-somethings, whether it fits them or not. I have seen many suit-offenders, but one of my latest encounters at a party made me wonder if the guy in front of me, who obviously was very proud of his looks and the fact that he was sporting the latest trend, was aware that he was a walking fiasco. What a nightmare, what a catastrophe!
Although the suit was expensive (and I know that because he kept bragging about it, bad manners BTW) and well made, it just fit him terribly. He was short in stature, very muscular, and the shoulders were much too small for his frame, the chest was bowing badly, and the jacket was so short that it looked disproportionate to the rest of his body. The pants were so short, barely reaching his ankles, and way too tight for his short muscular legs. All I could think about looking at his legs was Italy, and not because he was stylish, but simply because his constricted legs reminded me of a Parma Ham.
Obviously, the modern suit is much trimmer and sleeker and should closely trace the body, but I do believe that there should be certain fluidity to a suit, even with all the new contemporary silhouettes. The beauty of the craftsmanship is lost when a suit is too trim—plus, a recent survey of two thousand British men conducted by TENA men (which makes garments for men with bladder problems) showed that one in ten men had discomfort from wearing skinny jeans and other tight garments, the Telegraph reported. Half of those men said they had problems with their groin, while over a quarter of them had bladder trouble. One in five had a twisted testicle…OUCH!
So, just a friendly reminder: Your suit should actually fit you. Your jacket should skim your shoulders, nip in at the waist, and be long enough to cover your backside. Your trousers should be trim and hemmed properly, but not so narrow and short that it looks like they shrunk during cleaning. While looking like a baggy mess is always to be avoided, looking like a saucisson is not better.
Tips for Buying the Right Suit
Tip #1: Never assume your salesperson has good taste. Out of million suit sales people, I would estimate less than 10 percent of them have great taste when it comes to dress clothes. It is easy to train someone how to measure properly, but you can’t train someone to have a good taste in clothing. Just because someone is an expert in getting proper measurements does not mean they are experts in creating the look you are after.
Tip #2: Shoulder pads end with your shoulder. The fit in the shoulders is the most critical aspect, period. If your jacket doesn’t fit, the proportions of the suit will be off. So getting your jacket right is essential. The shoulder is the most important part of the jacket—if the shoulder fits correctly, the rest of the jacket can be altered quite easily to fit your own individual body shape.
Tip #3: Your flat hand should slip easily into your suit under the lapels when the top (or middle) button is fastened. If you put a fist in, the suit should pull at the button.
Tip #5: With your arms at your sides, your knuckles should be even with the bottom of your jacket
Tip #6: Jacket sleeves should fall where the base of your thumb meets your wrist.
Tip #7: Between a quarter and a half inch of shirt cuff should be visible.
Tip #8: How long should your trousers be? Again, it’s a matter of personal preference. The standard is to ask for a one-inch break, which means your pants will end one-inch above the beginning of your shoe’s sole. Honestly, trends come and go—if you don’t have money to waste on suits, stick with the classic one inch. It’s always best to keep things simple, neutral, and classic rather than too trendy.
Tip #9: Your jacket collar should sit flat against your dress shirt collar. It should also reveal one half inch of your dress shirt collar in the back.