Suits are great. They can, however, be done badly very easily. You have to make sure you get the right fit for everything. Then there is the colour, although that won’t be covered in today’s post, you have to learn how to match the colours properly. So we are going to look at 3 different items of clothing to start with, nice and simply: The shirt, the trousers and the blazer.
The shirt: The shirt can make the outfit, it’s also just as easy to ruin your outfit with a poorly fitted shirt. There are different types of shirts to consider here, I would always recommend a slim fit/tailored shirt. Even if you are not in shape or are a slightly larger gent, a slim fit or tailored shirt will help you give a slimmer look.
The shoulder seams should fit right above the armpit, it shouldn’t be swayed from side to side, if it’s too far across towards the neck it is too small and if the seam is more over towards the top of the arm it’s too big.
If you are tucking the shirt in, the shirt should be just below the middle of the zipper to about the bottom of the zipper. If you are keeping the shirt untucked it should be at about the top of the zipper and you should be able to easily put your hands in your pockets without having to lift the shirt up first.
The buttons should not be spreading apart, they should be comfortably closed. If you are finding the buttons are splitting and showing your chest, it’s too small. It’s also worth looking for a shirt with buttons high enough so you can have the top button undone if need be without showing too much chest cleavage. This is a nice way to be able to add a bit more of a smart casual style into the outfit.
Generally, if it is a formal top, there won’t be a pocket on the front. You will see this especially true in dress shirts which you would wear in a black tie event, but sometimes a pocket may be nice to have if you are working without a blazer on to add a bit more to your outfit.
The Blazer: Probably the most important part of the suit. There are really only 3 places you really need to look to make sure if a blazer is fitted properly or not.
The shoulders should not bunch at either the neck or over the top of the arm. You see it often where people look like they are wearing shoulder pads because the jacket is slightly too small. It’s also easy to spot when the jacket is too big here because it looks like there is a slight bubble near the neck.
The arms. You should have roughly an inch of the shirt on show below the bottom of the arm. If there is no shirt on show it’s too big. If the entire cuff of the shirt is on show, it’s too small. However, in a black tie/tuxedo, you will often see a slightly shorter arm length if you have cufflinks in. This is just to show off the cufflinks, but generally, if it’s a suit for work or day to day meetings, this won’t be an issue.
Buttons on the blazer are a telltale sign for how it fits. If, when you have the buttons done up there are creases in the blazer, it’s too small. To ensure that the blazer is properly fitted, there should roughly be a fists size of space available between your blazer when it’s done up and your shirt (this should be when you pull the blazer forward and not all the time).
The Trousers: This again, will depend on the formality of the occasion and the fit of the suit. Don’t opt for super skinny, unless you have skinny legs this won’t be a good look as it will most of the time it will be uncomfortable for you and it will look like it’s starting to bunch. Especially near the crotch area as you stand up and sit down, they will rise and bunch. A slim fit or tailored fit will definitely be the best choice.
The waist is what most people will be pretty familiar with. Unfortunately for the more athletic guys, they know it’s difficult to find the right waist size and right quad size. This will be where tailoring the trousers is important as generally you will have to have a larger waisted trouser to ensure you can fit into them comfortably. If you have larger waisted trousers when you do them up with a belt, they will bunch up and cause creases. If the shirt is tucked in these will be easily visible. A slim fit or athletic fit pair of trousers usually take this into account.
Bottom of the trousers will again depend on the look you are going for, it’s more and more common now to see suits with a bit shorter inseam lengths so more of the ankles are on show. This is less formal, however. If you are wearing a suit to work or to a meeting, you want them just at the top of shoes without letting them bunch up as you walk. This will allow you to add a bit of an individual style into the outfit with some different colour socks, as when you sit down these will be on display.
I could write many, many thousands of words on this topic and over the next few weeks, I will go more in depth into how to ensure you are able to find the best suit, best accessories for the suit, the shoes and even the colour. For now, if you want to look into matching the colour a bit more have a look at the chart here.
A suit can either look you’re a CEO of a fortune 500 or like you are due in court. Take your time picking it, find out whether the shop you are buying from has a tailoring option and don’t be afraid to mix and match. If you find a very nice blazer from one suit and then buy another pair of trousers that fit nicely from a different set, that’s most of the time, not a problem!
Any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
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