Easing the pain of the suit shopping experience (by Rob M)

September 30, 2015

When it comes to shopping for clothing, most guys dread it. Most don’t even dread, they loathe clothes shopping. They go in, find what they think fits, and leave without even trying the clothes on.

That being said, suit shopping can be particularly daunting. It is, however, something that every guy will have to face at some point in his life. Whether it be needed for a wedding, funeral, black tie affair, etc., every guy should have at least one quality, well-fitting suit. Taking the time to invest in a good suit will not only be worth the money, but you will have a timeless classic look that will never go out of style. Besides, a lady loves a man in a suit.

We've taken a moment to put together some tips to help guide you through the suit shopping experience.

First thing's first, you can’t just go out and buy any suit. You need a suit that fits and flatters, so it's very important to know your size before you start looking. Always keep in mind that it's not about purchasing the most expensive suit on the market, but rather it's the quality and cut of the suit that matters. If you seek out a tailor to get a customized fit, not only will they get your measurements, but they will also help you find the right style that will have you looking sharp. Throughout the decades the style and cut of suits have gone through some changes. But the way it fits has not. We'll be going over the basic things you need to look out for when trying on a suit.

Jacket

Obviously, making sure you can put on the jacket will be the first task. No one wants to look like a fat guy in a little coat (Thank you Chris Farley) or even a kid wearing his dad’s suit jacket. When you have the jacket on, you want to be able to move freely but not swim in it. Ideally, you should have at least an inch of movement.

The length of the jacket is one of the key elements of a good fit. While your arm is at your side, the bottom of the jacket should be even with your knuckles. There are those who wear shorter jackets, but it is an acquired taste and is best when coupled with jeans.

Also of great importance is the sleeve length. Jacket sleeves should fall where the base of your thumb meets your wrist. No one wants their jacket sleeves to be dragged in sauce while having a nice dinner with a lovely lady. While on the subject of sleeves, a quarter to half an inch of your shirt cuff is the perfect amount to show underneath your suit sleeve. This amount of sleeve showing will show off your fancy cuff links that you didn't forget put on.

Now I know what you are asking. What if I can’t decide between a two-button and a three-button? As stated before, if you go to a tailor they will help you which style would look best. So whichever one you decide on, the placement of the buttons is important. The top button of a two-button suit, or the middle button of a three-button suit, should not fall below your navel.

One more "rule of thumb" with regards to jackets is the "sometimes, always, never" rule. For example, if wearing a 3 button jacket, you'd "sometimes" button the top button, "always" button the middle, and "never" button the bottom button. That translates well to a 2 button jacket in that you'd always button the top button (as if it's the "middle"), but never the bottom. As always, all rules are made to be broken. Just be sure that it looks good if you go straying from the straight and narrow.

Pants

Pants are pretty simple. It's important to make sure they're not falling off or acting as a tourniquet. The waist should fit comfortably without the assist of a belt. Belts should serve more as a decorative item than utilitarian.

You don't want to look like you're ready for a flood nor want to be walking on them. Make sure the hem of your pants falls somewhere around your shoelaces. For a better perspective, the back of the hem should fall at the top of the heel of your shoe. Pooling dress pants will make you look shorter.

Finally, you want to be sure that the seat is comfortable, yet flattering. Too tight and you will have a permanent wedgie all day. Too loose and you will hide your assets.

Hopefully this basic information will enable you to get through the suit buying experience with confidence and comfort. And, keep in mind: A well tailored suit is to women what lingerie is to men.



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