I’m of the opinion that every man should wear a suit at least twice a month. Sadly, most of us won’t have the opportunity to wear a suit twice a year, not to mention twice a month. Suits are one of the few articles of clothing that once worn can change not only your outwardly appearance, but it’ll shape your inner man as well. The love affair men have with suits isn’t limited to the run of the mill jacket, slacks combo; it reaches into the depths of bespoke, tailor-made. The fanfare, the attention to detail and the peerless final product are undoubtedly on every man’s list of what constitutes “fine living.”  Unfortunately that’s something only a precious few can constitute as reality.

Most of us are one-suit multifunctional type of guys. We’ll wear it to a funeral as well as a wedding. With times changing and men’s fashion becoming more elevated into the mainstream, we’ve been conditioned to be wary of the big-box men’s stores offering deals like “buy one sock, get 80 suits free.” Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve purchased suits everywhere from those aforementioned liquidators to nicer retail outlets to the newer online made-to-measure shops, and no matter where you go, you can come out looking good. It’s all in the details.

Know Your Measurements 

When it comes to how to buy a suit, the first and most important step is to know your measurements. If you don’t, any good men’s store will be happy to measure you. This is important because of something called the drop, which is the difference between the jacket measurement and the pants waistband. The standard drop on an off-the-rack suit is six inches, meaning that if the jacket is a 42”, the waist will be a 36″. That may work for some men, but if you’re athletically built it could be a problem.

The big retailers who offer those incredible suit deals are able to do so because their production process is carefully managed and occurs on a grand scale, and that means they’re often unwilling to separate a complete suit to find the size you need. That means unless you can find a tailor who can adjust a drop of six inches on the waistband, you’ll be relegated to the “separates” section, which will be a lot smaller in terms of selection. You won’t run into the same problem at a place like J. Crew, where they will break up matched pairs to find the right fit. Alternatively, you’ll pay a little more per suit, and I’ve never seen that type of sale at a store like that.

Suit Construction 

Not all cheap suits are created equal. Well, they are in the sense that they’re all created by industrial machines and cheaply paid employees, but that doesn’t make them necessarily bad. If you’re in a warehouse retailer’s suit section looking to hit the jackpot on multiple suits, find the most expensive model in your budget. Check the shoulder, if your puffed up and look like the first lieutenant from fleet command, PUT IT BACK! You want a jacket where the line from the shoulder to the sleeve is as smooth and uniform as possible with no puckering. I doubt you’ll find a perfect line like you would on a hand-sewn garment, but you’d be surprised.

Next, when figuring out what suit to buy, look at the buttons. Do they feel securely attached? Do they fit snugly into the buttonholes? When buttoned, does the jacket hang evenly? Now look at the collar to see that it lays flat without puckering and has a bit of stiffness to it. Put your arms in the sleeves. Are they fully lined all the way to the cuff? Inferior jackets skip this step. Next, check the pattern. Patterns should transition through all parts of the jacket perfectly without any gaps or breaks, including the sleeves. Honestly, this is a difficult detail for a machine to get consistently duplicate correctly, but again, you may be surprised. Finally, explore the front panel of the jacket while bending it back and forth in your hands. Does it have some heft? That means the jacket has an interlining, which for your purposes means it won’t turn into a wrinkly ball of paper when handled a bit roughly.

As for pants, just make sure you go with non-pleated. The only time pleats are acceptable is on an Old Hollywood-style double-breasted suit, and if you’re shopping for your suits, that kind of garment shouldn’t be part of the conversation.





2017-09-25T19:12:35+00:00 January 11th, 2016|Fashion|

Leave A Comment