Whether it is for a wedding, a funeral, a job interview, or just because, buying a suit can be a daunting task. From style to sizing, you are inundated with too many options for your brain to process, let alone imagine on your body. It is OK if you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of pinstripes and plaid; I’m here to break it down for you. One glance at any wedding party, bar mitzvah, or office building will tell you the obvious: When it comes to dressing up, most guys do the bare minimum. While the sloppy, baggy style found on most men isn’t easy on the eyes, with a little effort it makes it easy for you to look like Don Draper in a room full of Dilberts.
Fit: The First Step
First thing’s first, let go of any and all vanity when it comes to suit sizing. Only you can see the size on the tag, but everyone can see your poorly-sized suit. The rule of thumb is to find your usual suit size, and then try on one size smaller. If you are under 5’8”, consider buying a short version. Your pride might take a hit, but a suit that is too long will only accentuate your height, or lack thereof. While most men wear suits that are too big, fit is a two way street: if your winter weight came on a little early this year, it is ok to size up. No one will know if your jacket is slightly larger, and having your stomach turn the buttons on your suit into projectiles is unsafe as well as unstylish.
Make Friends With Your Tailor
The odds of an off-the-rack suit fitting you perfectly are literally one in a thousand. Sure, in all the ads the suit fits the model like a second skin, but those models strutting down the runway are usually wearing cutom-made pieces, not the standard 42R you just pulled off the rack. Whoever you’re shopping with might say “oh it looks great,” but they just want to get out of the store as quickly as possible so they can go to Cinnabon. Take the time to find the correct size now, and that cinnamon roll will taste so much sweeter. Many suits come with unfinished hems, so a trip to the tailor is mandatory. While you’re there, put the suit on in front of the tailor and ask them how it looks. If you find yourself stuck deciding between suits, go with the cheaper one and put the extra money towards tailoring. While few people can spot a $100 difference in fabric, everyone can see that it looks like your sleeves are eating your hands.
All in Proportion
While skinny ties and slim suits with narrow lapels may be all the rage, they aren’t for everyone. Your lapels should be proportionate to your chest and shoulders. If you’re model-thin, go skinny, but if you used to be a linebacker, go a little wider. If you were a lineman (or in the navy) consider a double-breasted suit. The same goes for your tie. A skinny tie looks just as ridiculous on a large man in a wide-lapeled suit as a giant power tie does on a skinny man in a slim suit.
Keep it Simple
While that loud and funky shirt and tie combo might have looked great at the store, you might have some regrets when your father-in-law stares your fluorescent self down at grandma’s wake. Understated is the key here. Your clothes should play send fiddle to your sparkling personality. Between your shirt, tie, and suit, you should have a maximum of two patterns. That means if you are wearing a striped tie with a patterned shirt, you should reach for the solid suit.
Pocket squares take a standard suit and turn it up a notch. A simple white linen square shows you care about the details, while a silk paisley piece lets everyone know you like to party. A pocket square is a great way to inject some personality into your suit and cap off a polished, sophisticated look. Your pocket square should compliment your shirt and/or tie. I cannot stress this next point enough: Under no circumstances should your pocket square match your tie. I know what your tie looks like. It’s right in front of me. I don’t need to see its ugly pattern again six inches to the left.
This might be a lot to take in, but put in the effort now, and you’ll be glad you did when you walk up to the prettiest bridesmaid at the reception and ask her to dance.
- License: Image author owned
The author of this article is Dylan Jones. If you enjoyed this piece you can follow me on Twitter @JakabokBotch. When i’m not helping others understand how to dress, im generally trying to find the best deals on cheap suits to keep me looking sharp.
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