Buying your first suit is a time where you come of age and distinguish yourself as a man. Every man should own at least one suit since it will be the cornerstone of your formal wear. Since suits are rarely cheap, it’s important that you do the groundwork so that you end up with one that you like and most importantly, fits you well. Fortunately, you won’t have to do too much painstaking research. Here’s a step-by-step guide that you can follow when shopping for your first suit.
Since this suit will be the first addition to your wardrobe, it’s essential that you choose a fabric type and cut that you can wear for a long time. Let’s start with the color: it’s best to stick with a classic navy or charcoal here as these are the most versatile. Grey is in at the moment too and looks fantastic in a number of shades and color tones.
When it comes to the fabric of your first suit, keep it simple. You can’t go wrong with a 100% wool suit – it’ll look extremely stylish and is very comfortable. However, if you’re frequently on the move, this may not be the best choice since they are more prone to wrinkles. Since this is your first suit, stay clear of tweed: this is usually worn by older gentlemen and we’re going to assume you’re not quite there yet. Worsted wool is your ideal choice.
Perhaps more important than the color and fabric is the fit. It’s essential that you get a correct fit that complements your body shape. Too tight and you run the risk of rips – too big and the suit will look borrowed. We’ll break it down for you step by step, starting with the jacket.
It’s all about the shoulders. Well, not quite but if you conjure up an image of a man in a suit, it’s the shoulders that create the broad silhouette. The first thing that you should look out for is to see how it fits around them – you’ll want a snug fit and ensure that it doesn’t strain or crease. The lapels should lie flat to your chest and never buckle.
Secondly, pay attention to how the jacket fits across your chest. You shouldn’t have more than a fists’ gap between your chest and the button. Get this right and the jacket will naturally taper at the waist. While we’re on the topic of buttons, let us recommend two-button jackets. Three button jackets are on the formal side and if you want a safe, flexible choice, go with the two-button. Tip: if you’re going with a tailor-made suits, choose horn buttons. James Bond has them – they’re the mark of a quality suit.
Pay attention to the length of the jacket next. The old rule of thumb had it that the length of the jacket should be slightly longer or of the same length as the sleeves. If you’re a younger fellow, you can push the boat out here a little. A shorter, tighter fit would be entirely appropriate for casual rather than formal wear.
The vents are the flap of cloth below the waist at the back of the jacket. If you’re getting your suit tailor-made, you can choose between one, two or no vents. This will depend on your body type. Larger men should opt for two vents while slimmer types can opt for single or no vents.
Lastly, ensure that you have the right sleeve length. Ideally, the jacket sleeves should meet the base of your thumb. Allow for quarter of an inch to half an inch of shirt cuff to show. More or less, and you will look sloppy. Whether you’re buying off-the-rack or getting a tailor-made, don’t fret: these are nuances that can be easily altered.
It might sound obvious, but make sure your trousers fit properly around the waist. A good rule of thumb (or finger) is that you should be able to slip your index finger between the waist and the hem comfortably.
When it comes to cuts, this is down to personal preference. You can opt for a classic straight legged fitting or embrace the contemporary with slimmer-fits.
The break is the crease line where your trouser meets your shoe. It should sit on top of your shoe, just above your ankles.
It is advisable to adhere to dark solid colors such as gray, charcoal, black or navy blue for your very first suit. If you’re looking for versatility, we recommend subtle patterns such as pinstripes and herringbone which won’t look out of place in either the boardroom or on a date. Consider the setting in which you will wear the suit and this will go a long way to helping you choose the right pattern. When it comes to patterns, avoid bold pinstripes and floral patterns: unless you’re buying your inaugural suit for a job as a bank manager or cruise-ship performer, stick to the basics here. The classic plaid or Prince of Wales is recommended.
Since this is your first suit and you’re likely on the fence on what you’d like, it’s always best to shop at a reputable store that can provide you with seasoned advice. We also recommend going with a friend or family member with some experience for guidance and to critique your selections
These are the basics. The jackets and trousers are the meat and potatoes of your suit. But it doesn’t stop there. A suit is the perfect way to showcase your personality and dapper taste. Bring these out with your selection of ties, shirts, pocket squares, watches, neckerchiefs, shoes and much more. Think of your suit as an ensemble and these accessories as the little nuances that come together to create a fantastic piece. Ready to dress your first suit up in exquisite style? Check out this guide on everything you need to know on accessorizing suits.