Choosing a suit can be a daunting task, especially when it's your first time. The stakes are higher than when picking an everyday T-shirt, as the cost of trial and error can be significant. To help you navigate this process, we've put together an easy-to-follow, comprehensive guide based on over 20 years of experience in menswear. With these tips, you'll be able to confidently choose a suit you won't regret.
Custom-Made or Ready-to-Wear
When buying your first suit, consider whether you want a custom-made or ready-to-wear option. Custom-made suits typically fit better and offer a more sophisticated look, while ready-to-wear suits can be more affordable and quicker to obtain. If you decide to go for a custom-made suit and want to order it online, make sure to follow a tutorial on how to take accurate body measurements. Evaluate your priorities before making a decision.
Choose the Right Fabric
Opt for a dark-colored fabric like black, charcoal gray, navy blue, or even brown to ensure versatility. Although dark colors may seem dull, the right accessories can easily dress them up or down.
Stick to solid or herringbone patterns for a more conservative look that can be dressed up or down with accessories. Checkered suits can also work in a workplace setting, but not everyone will consider them formal enough.
Wool is a safe choice for suit fabric, as it's both comfortable and versatile. Aim for a fabric with a GSM (grams per square meter) between 250 and 300 for year-round wear. Other common materials include cotton, man-made fibers, silk, and linen, each with its own unique characteristics and suitability for different occasions.
Suit Details to Consider
Opt for a notch lapel for a versatile, timeless look that suits most occasions. Peak lapels can also work, depending on your frame and face shape. Avoid shawl lapels, which are more suitable for formal events like galas and award ceremonies.
The width of the lapel should complement your frame. Avoid overly narrow or wide lapels, and consult with store support if you're unsure which width is best for you.
Jacket Front (Closure)
Choose a single-breasted suit for a more versatile, classic look. Double-breasted suits can be stylish, but they're not as adaptable to different occasions as single-breasted options.
Flap pockets strike the right balance between casual and formal, making them a great choice for a first suit. Patch pockets are more casual, while piped (jetted) pockets are more formal. An additional ticket pocket, found on some jackets, is considered casual and not recommended for your first suit.
Double vents offer both style and comfort, making them an ideal choice for your first suit. Single vents, originating from horseback riding, are more casual, while no vent is the most formal and traditional option but may restrict movement.
Flat-front trousers are more modern, but if you prefer the vintage look or have larger thighs, pleated trousers may be a better option.
Cuffed or non-cuffed trousers are both acceptable, so choose based on your personal preference. Keep in mind that cuffs can't be added or removed once you've made your choice.
Accessories and Styling
Pair your suit with a necktie that complements the overall outfit. Darker suits can be dressed up with a pop of color or patterned neckties, while lighter suits can benefit from more subdued tie options. Don't forget that the width of your tie should correspond to the width of your lapel.
Add a pocket square for an extra touch of sophistication. Coordinate the pocket square with your tie, but avoid being too matchy-matchy. Choose complementary colors or patterns for a more polished look.
Opt for socks that coordinate with your suit color or add a touch of personality with fun patterns and designs. Just remember to keep the overall formality of the occasion in mind when choosing your socks.
Your choice of shoes can make or break your outfit. For your first suit, invest in a quality pair of leather dress shoes in a versatile color like black or brown. Oxfords, derbies, and loafers are all suitable options, depending on the formality of the event.
Proper Care and Maintenance
To keep your suit looking its best, follow these care and maintenance tips:
Dry clean sparingly
Frequent dry cleaning can shorten the lifespan of your suit. Instead, dry clean your suit only when necessary, and use a clothes brush to remove dust and dirt between cleanings.
Invest in a quality suit hanger
A suit hanger with a wide shoulder support will help maintain the shape of your jacket and prevent stretching or creasing.
Finally, observe proper suit-wearing etiquette to ensure you make the best impression possible:
By following these guidelines, you'll be well-equipped to choose your first suit with confidence. Remember that first impressions matter, whether it's for a job interview, a business event, or a date at a fancy restaurant. Investing time and effort into selecting the perfect suit will pay off in the long run.