In fashion, there are some constants that haven’t changed for generations. One of these is that every man should own at least one suit. The difficulty for many men isn’t in knowing to buy a suit. It is in choosing what kind of suit to buy.
It seems (no pun intended) that there are an overwhelming number of styles and type of suit, but really, there are only a couple of basic styles, with infinite variations on elements within those styles. Many of those variations depend on nothing more than your personal taste and what style looks best on your body type. Some simple guidelines will help you decide on your perfect suit.
The Right Color and Style depends on Your Situation.
1. The most recognizable suit for most people is the tuxedo.
It is the first suit many young men wear, thanks to prom, and it is classic for a reason. While many people need tuxedos for specific situations, they are a bit of a “one trick pony”. A tuxedo will make you overdressed for any but the most formal of situations.
2. Slim fit suits are more modern, and can be more versatile.
For your first suit, stick with a dark (navy, black, or charcoal gray) suit, in a fabric without too much shine. This allows your suit to work for a wedding, a funeral, a job interview, or a first date. Stick with a tapered hemmed pants leg to keep a modern european line, or go with a cuff and pleats to make the suti feel a bit more formal.
3. Double breasted suits typically feel more formal.
A single breasted suit will look very much like a casual blazer with matching pants. A double breasted suit will have a much more structured and traditional feel. It may look almost indistinguishable from some tuxedo jackets. If you are looking for the most formal option possible, pair a double breasted jacket with a matching (or coordinating) vest and pleated cuffed pants.
A more formal set up may make sense if you only own one suit that you plan to use exclusively for weddings, funerals, and professional job interviews. You will likely look overdressed pretty much anywhere else.
4.Color Affects the Style in Surprising Ways.
Imagine a standard single breasted suit, in a medium fit. If that suit were a deep charcoal gray, it would work perfectly in a professional office or at an evening wedding. That same suit in light grey or baby blue is going to feel much more casual and playful. Keep those color considerations in mind when choosing a style- a formal cut suit in a playful color is likely to feel awkward, unless you are very confident in your style.
5. Material is As Important as Color.
Suits can come in any fabric that you can think of, and each of those fabrics conveys specific usages.
- Wool is traditional and versatile. It is also one of the warmest materials for a suit, and requires special care- getting a 100% wool suit wet in the rain can cause it to stretch or shrink if not properly cared for.
- Manmade materials like polyester and nylon are fairly common, easy to care for, and durable. Be careful with sheen and finish on these materials- they can look cheap in some styles. A blend of these with wool and small amounts of spandex can give a clean look.
- Cotton and Linen are traditional for summer style suits like a Seersucker (think about southern detectives on tv at your grandmother’s house). These styles look great in the proper environment, but wrinkle easily and have limited appropriate locations to be worn.
Fit is Vital.
Regardless of which style of suit you choose, if it doesn’t fit well, you will always look like you are in a borrowed suit. Tailored or bespoke suits should fit like a glove, but an off the rack suit can fit just as well, as long as you know your measurements- close enough isn’t close enough.
You need to know your sleeve length, chest measurement, and shoulder width for your jacket. For your pants, you need to know your waist (at the height you actually wear your pants) and your proper inseam pants length. This inseam length will vary depending on what style of pants you choose (hemmed or cuffed), so measure properly for the pants you choose.