Suits, like wedding dresses, are one of the clothing apparels that are best being tailor-made for you rather than bought off the rack. Nonetheless, if you’re short on time with a last minute event to attend, then buy a suit you must! First and foremost, buying a suit requires that you know what you’re looking for. If you don't know what you're looking for, shopping for a new suit can be confusing. There are numerous options for fabrics, colours, fits, and styles to choose from. Also, bear in mind that an incorrect suit purchase could potentially end up costing you thousands of dollars! So, better to get it right once and for all.
Although our first recommendation is still for you to invest in a custom-made bespoke suit, in this article we will help you save time, money, and a tonne of headaches with an in-depth guideline on how to shop for a good quality suit.
1. Should you buy online or offline?
If you want more options, then the best solution is to shop online. Nothing compares to online shopping for convenience. Bear in mind that shopping online would also require that you know how to get the best measurements on yourself for the best possible fit. Also, remember that how the suit looks on the model in the picture may not always be how it will look on you. If this doesn’t bother you, you may proceed.
However, if you have no time for the possible two-week delivery time and aren’t sure about what to look for measurements-wise, it’s best for you to head over to the nearest high-end menswear store for a quick consultation. The salesperson at the store is likely able to help you choose the right suit for your body type and help suggest the styles and colours that would complement you best.
2. Set your budget
As the price range of suits can vary greatly, it helps to set yourself a budget to narrow down your options. You can spend anywhere from $10 in a thrift store or $5,000 from an exclusive boutique. However, the happy middle price range of between $200 to $2,000 is how much you can expect to pay for a nice suit. Bear in mind that when you’re shopping for a suit, you should also budget in the matching accessories to go with it. That includes the belt, shirt, and shoes.
3. Choose your fabric wisely
If you have the money, look for a suit made entirely of wool; this is a terrific sign of high quality. Wool is a pricey material, so you may also encounter blends that contain 70 per cent, 50 per cent, or 30 per cent wool.
Blends aren't too shabby either because they will cost you less. However, they are an indicator of a less expensive suit because a maker who utilises blends is generally making other compromises as well. If you’re planning to spend $500 to $1,000 or more, you’ll be able to afford a 100 per cent wool suit.
For colours, choose between the colours grey, charcoal, or navy. Blue and light grey are off-limits as they are too casual. Also, no black; that's reserved for a black tie event. Small patterns that are barely perceptible are also acceptable, but wait until your third, fourth, or fifth suit to invest in visible patterns.
4. Choose the best fit
Fit is king – this is why it’s worth getting your suit custom-made. This is especially true if you are taller, thinner, shorter, stouter or more muscularly-built than average. However, if you’re looking for the next best thing, here are what to look out for in a fit: a) Shoulder fit If the shoulders don't fit, don't buy it. The process of altering a jacket's shoulders is incredibly difficult and expensive, much like heart surgery. b) Chest fit If you can fit two fists in the front of the jacket, it is too big. Sure, a tailor can make small alterations, but anything more than two inches would throw off the proportions and make the pockets and jacket look out of place.
What if the chest area is too tight? The seams of more expensive suits usually have some surplus cloth so that a tailor can take them in by roughly an inch. But better still, choose the best fit! c) Jacket length
With your arms by your side, the jacket should come down to your knuckles; an inch give or take, never more or less. Your jacket should also extend past your buttocks at the back. No more or less should be allowed than that.
d) Sleeve length With your arms by your side, the sleeve should reach your wrist bone, with a quarter to a half-inch of your shirt cuff visible. Don't worry if the sleeves are drastically off. They are one of the simplest parts to alter, as they can be shortened or lengthened by up to 1.5 inches, or even 2 inches on larger suits. e) Trousers fit When your pants are longer than your legs, the extra fabric creates a ‘break' or fold right above your shoes.
You can select pants with a full break, a half break, a quarter break, or no break. Fit is again king. When you purchase a suit off the rack, the store ought to have a tailor who can make the necessary alterations. If they charge for this extra service, that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, you will discover that because you're paying for it, you get better service.
5. Function over style
Instead of following a fashion trend that will go out of style in a year, you want to get a timeless suit that will look good on you in six months and six years.
a) Suit buttons
There are one, two, three, four, and even five-button suits available on the market. Avoid choosing the ones, fours, and fives. The two-button suit will be the best option for most people – it has a fantastic vintage style. You can also choose three if you're taller and want to appear a little more formal.
b) Suit lapels
You get to choose between notch, peak and shawl lapels. Shawl lapels are generally for formal wear and peak lapels are more formal than notch lapels. Your best bet, in our opinion, is still the notch lapel. Nothing fancy, but rest assured that this timeless lapel style will still look good 10 years in the future.
c) Jacket pockets
Do you prefer having pockets on top of or inside of your jacket? Patch pockets are those that are sewed on top, they are pretty laid back. Choose pockets with a flap that are sewn into a suit for a versatile look.
d) Jacket vents
The slots in the rear of your jacket called vents provide you with more movement space. A single vent, a twin vent, or no vent are your options when choosing a jacket. The best vent, in our opinion, is the double vent. It gives you a more streamlined appearance when you're walking, and it's made so that even when you're riding a horse, your bottom won't be visible.
A well-made suit is a long-term investment and is worth getting custom-made for the best overall appearance. However, if you’re crunched on time the next best thing would be to go to a reliable boutique and get yourself fitted for an off the rack suit. Should you change your mind and decide to get a custom-made bespoke suit, our doors are always open!