Earlier this week, I had multiple conversations with various male friends of mine about suits. Seeing as though I wear a suit every day, and I share style advice on my Instagram page, they asked me for some advice. And being the Southern Gentleman that I am, I figured I would share some of that advice with you.
Let me give you a little background. I wear a suit every day to work, and have done so for the past 10-plus years. When I first started wearing suits on a regular basis, I came across certain elements that I liked and disliked about all my suits. The shoulders didn’t fit right, the armholes were too high, the notch lapels were too wide, the pants were too tight, and so on.
So I began my quest to find the perfect suit. Now, my wife can attest to the fact that I have way too many suits. Matter of fact, she went to see my tailor a few weeks ago to get something fixed, and when she told my tailor who she was, my tailor responded in her Korean accent with, “Oh yes, he has a lotta suits!”. All I could do was smile…
But back to the story at hand, purchasing a suit can be a daunting task if you don’t know what you’re looking for. The average man is comfortable with buying a suit off of its name brand alone. The average man makes his decisions based on what he’s done in the past, even if he wasn’t fully satisfied. I put together a list of six things to look for in your next suit purchase. So whether you are the average man out shopping, or a woman shopping for a man, these tips will help you in the process.
- The thread count. Forget searching for name brand suits. In this present day of innovation and technology, you can find a quality suit without the name brand pricing. The quality of any suit is in the material, and you can tell that by the thread count. The optimal thread count is 100 to 120. You have commonly seen suits listed as Super 120’s, 130’s or 140’s, right? Well, that would suggest it is a good suit. And remember, the higher the thread count, the more expensive the suit.
- Check your shoulders. One of the first things you should do when you put on a suit jacket, is to make a jumping jack motion. You should be able to move freely without the jacket getting hung up on your shoulder, chest or back areas. You should also cross your arms to make sure that the jacket is not pulling too tight across your back. The most expensive part of tailoring a jacket is the shoulders, as they can be taken in, but they cannot be extended – so you definitely want to get this right.
- Opt for the two-button. I know some men are comfortable wearing three-button suits, and that’s quite alright. The average man looks better in a two-button suit because of the silhouette it portrays. Three-button suits look better on tall and slender built men, so if you’re under 6’ 4” or have a stocky build, I’d go two-button. It will keep you from looking too boxy.
- Go with vents. Vents on a suit add a bit of flair and style. No vent jackets look good, but they actually hug your hips, and when you reach into your pockets it bunches up your jacket. Having vents allows the jacket to drape you more comfortably and decreases the chances of your jacket bunching up. Personally, I prefer suits with double vents for the comfort and functionality.
- Find a good tailor. While this is listed as number 5, it’s actually the most important. A good tailor can make any off-the-rack suit look custom. You can purchase a cheaper suit in the $299 range and have alterations done for less than $100, and still come out looking like you spent $1,000.
- Purchase one custom suit. Suits have a lifespan of about 5 years. With years of every day wear and dry cleaning your suit will start to wither away. And after about 5 years, styles start to change, so it’s a perfect time to update your suits. With that said, having at least one custom suit in your closet is a great investment. And as I mentioned earlier, in this day of innovation and technology, you can get a custom suit cheaper than a name brand suit at a department store. Custom suit prices vary, where you can go the web-based route and have one produced for around $500, or you can visit a local clothier and pay closer to $1,500 or more.
Hopefully these tips will help you in the pursuit of finding a great suit. If you would add anything to this list, what would it be?