There’s a lot that can go wrong when buying your first suit. We’ve taken the time to compile some simple rules to help you evolve for wearing Dad’s suits to becoming the sartorial talk of the town. It’s time to button up and get the low-down on what to look for.
First Suit Rule #1 – Pick The Right Colour and Material
Don’t splurge on that prince of wales check or chalkstripe that you’ve seen at #Pitti. Instead, opt for a colour with a certain air of versatility to it – a French navy or mid-grey will both do this, looking austere enough for formal occasions while being something you can dress down when necessary.
Depending on your needs, wool is the best fabric and will serve you well in most conditions. Cotton is more casual and creases more easily, which does not suit all workplaces.
First Suit Rule #2 – Find One That Fits
This is the golden rule. A fully-canvassed construction or a luxurious spalla camicia (Neapolitan tailoring speak for “shirt shoulder”) will make up for an ill-fitting suit. If you’re buying off the rack, you need to be aware of a few key areas where the garment must fit correctly.
Sleeve and trouser length, in most instances, can be easily adjusted. Shoulders, while not impossible to alter, are one are you really do not want to fret with. If they don’t fit, move along and try on something else. What you are looking for is a jacket that follows the countours of your frame across your shoulders, chest and waist.
An oversized jacket is never a good look, but neither is the aggressively tight magazine look – look for something that drapes with elegance. As for sleeve length, a useful test is to place your arms by your sides and have the sleeves finish at your wrist bone.
First Suit Rule #3 – Don’t Go Too Small
A common mistake is to buy a suit that’s too small. A suit that’s fractionally big can be adjusted, but most RTW suits don’t have enough fabric to let out, and it doesn’t always look right when they are. Either hit the treadmill, Tubby, or buy a jacket that buttons easily leaving at least an inch or so for your phone in your breast pocket.
First Suit Rule #4 – Know Your Shoulders
We all love to think we have the shoulders of an Adonis, but that’s not always the case. Whether the shoulders are heavily constructed (with padding) or completely deconstructed (without padding), the shoulder seam should sit neatly on the corner of where your shoulders end and your arms begin. Fabric shouldn’t be bulging out. If it doesn’t fit here, move along, remember?
First Suit Rule #5 – Pants That Fit
Trousers should fit well around the seat, crotch and thighs. When you’re trying the trousers on, always sit down to test how comfortable they are. If they’re uncomfortable in the store, this isn’t going to change. Don’t rely on “stretch” or fall into the trap set by an eager salesperson by being something that’s not the right size. The waist can be adjusted, either by being taken in or let out, but both within reason.
Get a feel for these basics and your next suit purchase will be as easy as wearing it.
Good luck buying your first suit!
This article was sub-edited by Tarang Chawla – The best dressed man in Melbourne.