Every man needs a good suit – from family events to job interviews there’s no escaping it. And why should you when the right men’s suits can make you look amazing.
But with so much variety in style, material and price, how should one go about choosing a suit?
Budget and Where It Is Best Spent
The vast span of costs when buying a suit can seem confusing. Fabric is naturally the foundation of the suit and can vary from cheap synthetics to quality wools and the finest silk blends. Next the means of construction is a driver, whether the patterns were lazer cut in bulk in an off-the-peg factory or hand cut by a tailor. The same applies to sewing with most tailoring houses offering a staggered range from off-the-peg machine stitched to fully hand-stitched. A good all-rounder can be a semi-hand stitched where details such as lapels are finished by hand while the unseen under structure is left to a perfectly adequate machine. Ideally you should set aside budget for an additional pair of trousers since these will wear out quicker than the jacket.
Off-The-Peg Suit or Bespoke Suit?
Nevertheless when going bespoke the possibilities are endless. You will benefit from quite literally decades of experience in individual pattern cutters and tailors. Generally Savile Row even maintains a tradition of referring clients to potentially rival tailors if that house specialises in a style more suitable. Therefore the guidance one receives not just in terms of fit and fabric but also style, trends, maintenance and capturing your personality is second to none. An experienced tailor will create a piece that enhances your physique and redefines the way you stand, walk and look.
You should always aim for a quality fabric when selecting a suit. Many fashion lines boast extravagant designs for tempting prices but always at the cost of the fabric. Synthetics of course have their place in making a suit hardwearing and moth-proof. Nevertheless, cheap synthetics tend to be lightweight, hot and unsatisfying while good natural fibres conform to your shape with a softness and weight. It goes without saying you should avoid a shiny suit at all costs. The overall investment in fibres tends to be in the source and processing, with natural fibres having to be grown and undergo extensive treatment. Some fabrics are best sourced from certain places. Our socks are the famous Egyptian cotton and Australian Merino while British sheep produce wool that’s too rough for clothing.
With this distinction covered, the basic rule is that you should choose a suit for its cut rather than the fabric it is made from, as a good fit in the plainest fabric will still look outstanding while an ill-fitting suit in good fabric is pointless. The focus should be on you, not the suit. The suit is like a second skin rather than an embellishment.
For your everyday suit, it is fair to assume that you will be facing inclement weather as well as hot offices and transport. Therefore medium-weight wool is advisable. In terms of seasonal fabrics, wool obviously forms most ‘winter’ fabrics like tweed but is just as capable of being spun and woven for a lightweight summer jacket. Linen and cotton are the most lightweight summer fabrics.
For a sample of extreme luxury, blends are available of silk, wool and linen to make the most of the benefits of all three. http://d3gkn8r054bu3w.cloudfront.net/media/catalog/product/cache/1/thumbnail/502×669/022ae8f6f2ea8c7e4b427802913d1fef/3/0/30309211450__2_.jpg
If in any doubt, a dark suit very rarely looks out of place. In semi-formal evening events a dark suit is perfectly appropriate if you are unsure of black tie. Black can be overpowering but generally suits most people. Navy blue can be more elegant but does become a ‘colour’ to be considered when matching accessories. The pink suit that caused such rebuke in The Great Gatsby would still be eye-catching and more acceptable today, but for the all-rounder everyday suit of this article the more conservative colours tend to be more flexible.
For the simple but effective touchstones of an elegant cut, one needs look no further than our video series of collaborations with Cad & the Dandy of Savile Row. To consolidate, the sleeve length of a jacket should end around the width of a finger above the end of the shirt cuff that sits comfortably where a bend of the hand will just touch it. Outside the tailor’s studio bear in mind personal preference always applies here and so one need not be too fastidious. The length of the jacket should cover the seat.
In terms of the shape, every Savile Row tailor has a house style. If your personality and needs suit a particular house style, any worthy Savile Row tailor should tell you which establishment is best for you even if it’s not their own. Bespoke or off-the-peg, the style is largely broken down into various binaries. Would you rather a traditional, 1930s-style fitted three piece or a lighter, modern Italian style? Do you want to look like a powerful businessman or a genteel aristocrat? Do you want a quintessential ‘English’ style or a more international style? These may all seem superficial considerations, but the end result of each can be vastly different.
Considering the wide variety of embellishment details, lapels often form the most commonly debated topic. Notch lapels are more conservative and understated while peak-lapels evoke classic early 20th century tailoring and have a distinct Savile Row quality. The latter also has the effect of broadening the chest. With regard to width, it is generally best to match your figure for a consistent proportion and the tie should correspond to this.
In terms of vents, double vents are generally seen as more European than traditional English, however, they do allow one to place hands in pockets without disrupting the line of the suit. This practicality extends to reaching for keys and travel cards, the latter of which could benefit from the below.
The ticket pocket is a thoroughly modern metropolitan invention. Aesthetically the addition adorns the waist and emphasises the shape of the jacket whilst offsetting perfect symmetry.
There is a general agreement that three buttons is too many. Two is the classic selection that makes a pleasing silhouette. One is a very prominent trend at the moment and is very elegant, but will likely follow through into a distinct past fad. Double breasted has a robust early 20th century style, best with four buttons and the bottom left-side button undone.