Every man will need a suit at least once in his life. Whether that be for work, a wedding, a divorce or a court appearance (you naughty boy, you), a hero garment is absolutely necessary in your wardrobe.
With fast fashion making its presence known in the past decade, it’s no surprise that men’s suiting has also made its way onto the digital market with online tailoring services popping up all over the place, asking no more than your measurements to complete a suit in a matter of four weeks.
Be warned though, not everything is as fruitful as it may appear. Fit, construction and material are the cardinal rules of a perfect suit and it’s extremely easy to get these wrong when you’re buying a suit in front of monitor whilst sitting in your underwear.
Follow these handy pointers when buying your next suit online and you’ll saved a lot of heartache, headache and money whilst still being the dapper ruler of your domain.
But First, Measurements
Before you even begin to consider things such as materials it’s imperative you know your own measurements. We’re not talking about your height here. Here’s what you’ll need to measure with a tape measure when buying a suit online:
Chest: From armpit to armpit wrapping the tape around your torso as you would a towel if you had man boobs. It might seem obvious but have the end of the tape facing the front of your body so you can read the exact measurements.
Waist: Take the tape to your waist around the point where your pants normally sit (just below your gut). Have two fingers between the measuring tape and your body to allow for a bit of comfort space. Once you’ve taken the measurement, try on a pair of your most comfortable trousers and compare the size as this will be closer to your actual waist size.
As with most suiting issues, always have a tailor you know on hand who can help with minor alterations. The waist is a lot harder to adjust than the length.
Know Your Fit & Size
Your own personal taste will draw you to a particular style of suit which often falls under three categories: Classic Fit, Modern Fit or Slim Fit.
Choosing the right one is dependent on your body shape hence the stress on taking measurements first. A good suit should conform with the natural lines of a man’s body regardless of if he’s skinny or big.
Here are the general rules for the right fit.
Slim Fit: Chosen by the trendy and dapper men of today, slim fit suits are made to sit close to a man’s body with trimmed down features such as the lapel and leg openings. The blazer length will also tend to be shorter allowing the body to appear taller. As such, slimmer men with lighter builds are best suited to slim fit suits.
Modern Fit: The modern fit suit takes elements of the slim fit cut and adds a bit more room for breathability. The shoulders are still narrower than a classic fit but the arm holes are higher than a slim fit. Medium build men are best suited to this cut.
Classic Fit: The classic fit suit is designed for the more traditional crowd. Usually deemed power suits or corporate suits, the classic fit allows for the most room in the shoulders and torso area. This is best suited to men with bigger frames.
Be Realistic & Alter As Necessary
Remember that buying online is essentially a minor step up from buying ready-to-wear. As such, once you take receivership of the suit, try it on and don’t expect it to fit in all the right places the first time. Alterations are common and these are the areas you should check before bringing it in to get altered:
Shoulders: The shoulders form the framework for the rest of the suit so it’s imperative to get this part to sit perfectly – not too tight, not too broad. If buying online, consider the fact that different brands can offer different cuts. The suit should always sit snug on a man’s shoulder with the shoulder pads never extending beyond the actual shoulders when the jacket is buttoned up.
Chest: A suit blazer should sit comfortably flat and retain its shape on your torso whether it’s buttoned up or left opened. It should also contour around your waist to a degree in order to add to the body’s natural lines.
Lapels: Good lapels should always sit flush against your chest. If the jacket is buttoned up and there’s a gap then you’ve gone too tight across the chest. Another lapel rule is to match the thickness of the lapel to the thickness of your tie. Thin lapels and fat ties have never been a great look.
Sleeves: Suit sleeves should match the fit of your suit. Wide or gaping sleeves will only give you the old man look and make things look baggy. Make sure the length and girth of the sleeves and cuffs are adjusted by your tailor accordingly – not too long and not too short. It should sit just above the wristband to reveal a bit of the dress shirt underneath.
Buttons: they may be a small detail but they can completely ruin a look of they’re done wrong. Buttons should fasten flat on the jacket and not pull at your waist t create unsightly bulges.
Trousers: Trousers should never be neglected just because they’re the bottom half of the suit. The length and cut both attribute to making the suit look right. Slim trousers should go with slim suits and still retain the two finger gap rule in the waist. The length of the trouser can vary depending on the look a man is going for but a general rule is to have the break (trouser crease) sweeping over the top of the shoe with the back hem sitting slightly lower than the front. This will ensure the look isn’t baggy whilst avoiding too much sock show when sitting down.
Waistcoats: Waistcoats can add a dash of class to any suit and they’re a lot easier to wear since they have an adjustable strap on the rear. Still, it’s important to ensure the waistcoat doesn’t tug at the buttons similar to the blazer. And always leave the last button undone.
Fabric & Pattern Choice
This one comes down to climate and personal taste. A solid colour will be the safest bet when buying online since pinstripes and patterns are difficult to gauge from a computer monitor. As such, go for a solid navy, grey and linear check. Window pane patterns can also be winners.
A simple tip – wool for winter and linen for summer. Most online suit retailers won’t offer the choice of fabric weights so know what you’re using the suit for.
Polish It Off
When the base suit is looked after, polish things off with a matching pocket square or knitted tie to add character. Accessories such as tie pins and collar pins can also add wonders to a suit. Just be careful not to go overboard with it.
A dress watch is also mandatory to complete the look whilst belts are optional these days. Dress shoes? We’ve got you covered.