How To Buy Your First Suit
Overwhelm is a common factor when facing buying your first suit. There are so many choices on the market; it's easy to take a shortcut, like buying the same off-the-rack ensemble your friend did last week, taking advice from your grandfather or older uncles, or (and this can be worse) Googling the "latest trends" in formal menswear.
We've put together a list of our top considerations when selecting your first suit, whether it's for a job interview, family event or any other occasion. Keep these in mind, as much of the knowledge below can be applied when choosing your tenth or hundredth suit, as well as your first.
Firstly, here are some fundamental rules:
- The suit's shoulder line should mirror your natural shoulder, regardless of style or fit.
- The waistband should sit at your actual waist, and not be too tight or too loose.
- Your tie should just reach your belt.
- The backend of a suit jacket should not extend past your buttocks.
- Belt and shoes should match.
Avoid black. Unless the job or event requires you to have a black suit, like if you're in the hospitality industry or attending a funeral, it's best to steer clear of black suits, especially in a solid pattern. Not only are they far less flattering, draining your face of color and appearing too boring, but they can be deemed inappropriate in many settings for a variety of reasons. If black is necessary and rules and restrictions allow then opt for a subtle pattern to break up the void.
Fit is absolutely everything. If the suit doesn't fit well, you'll come across as immature, or just sloppy. Many men choose suits off-the-rack, and this is perfectly fine as long as you ensure the fit is perfect. If you have the time and prefer off-the-rack, then you need to shop around to find the perfect fit. Of course, getting a suit tailored to your own physique is preferable for fit, but may run more expensive. You don't have to get one created from scratch since many seamstresses, and even retail stores offer suit alterations, and the extra few dollars spent will make all the difference.
Colors should be neutral. Solid navy and dark gray can seem boring as heck, but they've been around forever as a reason. They go well with every complexion and can be livened up with coloured accessories for different occasions. If you really can't stand these timeless options, try a muted royal blue, which is slightly lighter than navy, or a light gray.
Avoid trends like the plague. Extremes which play with lengths and proportions are the most problematic. Ankle-grazing trousers, short suits or extra wide lapels will look ridiculous sooner rather than later. That said, be aware your personal attributes will affect how a trend looks on you, since your friend might not be able to pull off the skinny style, while you can. By all means try different styles, but playing it safe when it comes to your very first suit guarantees you'll have a go-to outfit for years to come.
Buy the best you can, but don't splash out. There's no point. Spend wisely, especially when you're new to purchasing suits. Many unwholesome salesmen can sniff out inexperience a mile away, like sharks. Don't get suckered into buying anything you don't want, or spending too much, but similarly, don't expect the world on a small budget.
Have a passable knowledge of fabrics. Worsted wool is the best all-rounder, it can be worn in any season and for almost any occasion. A hot climate means you'll need a wool/silk or a wool/cotton blend but might look less formal. For colder temperatures, look for thicker wool. Going to a wedding? Linen is lightweight and informal.
Trust your gut. If you disagree with what the salesman is saying, or something just doesn't "feel" right, say so! A good retailer will guide you towards the best choice for your needs but beware of those who work on commission or who just don't seem interested in helping you out. Never, ever leave a store making a purchase you might regret.
It's (sometimes) okay to be playful. We've covered rules for job interviews, weddings, and funerals. But what about prom? If the occasion is semi-formal, and one where you're invited to express yourself, then let your imagination run wild. A suit can be a fantastic blank canvas on which to play with bold or subtle styles. Pair your suit with your favourite trainers, throw on a comedy tie (as long as it's the only time you ever wear one), or choose a suit in a vibrant color.
Don't forget the shirt. A shirt should fit perfectly, be made of high quality, breathable material, and be comfortable, just like your suit. A shirt is just as essential, perhaps more so than your suit, as you may have to take off your jacket throughout the course of the event. Shirt cuffs should extend slightly past your jacket cuff, the collar should not be too stiff, the fabric should definitely not be see-through, and you should be able to move your arms comfortably.
Men's formal suit terminology can be confusing to newcomers, so we've included a handy reference to fitting styles. But remember, when you're out shopping for suits there are no dumb questions; it's better to ask the store assistant and make sure you're getting what you want, than getting your suit home and finding out it's not what you expected!
A classic fit suit is comfortably roomy through the chest and waist, perfect for everyday comfort. This style is less constricting than slim or modern fit, but it should never be saggy.
A modern fit suit is tighter than a classic fit, but not as restrictive as a slim fit.
Slim fit suits are cut much closer to the body's natural lines, and subsequently, need a little more attention to ensure they fit perfectly. Movement might be a little restricted, but if your body type can pull it off, they look sleek.
For that extra touch, don't forget to browse our range of formal accessories to give your first suit that extra bit of style.