You can say a lot about a man when you look at his suits. The color he wears, the way they are cut, the fabric used. All those things matter and will make it or break it.
There are different types of jackets, but overall, a part if you look precisely, you will see that most recoup in one general style.
First of all, the fit. When you look at most men, they will buy one size to big, because they want to be comfortable… and that is your first mistake. Your suit jacket needs to be perfectly fitted and that means that it starts at the shoulders. We will focus on elements like if you purchase a semi tailored suit.
The edge of your shoulder has to be right on the seam where the sleeve starts, not 1/2″ in, and not 1/2″ out. That can be taken in from the rear of your jacket by your tailor. Not every alterations person has tailoring experience, these are two different things. This will define your size, goes from 36 to around 54 in US sizes.
The sleeves have to be right below the protruding bon on your wrist, so you leave yourself a little bit a room for your shirt cuff to show. This as well can be adjusted by your tailor, as there is usually 1″ extra of fabric on the inside of your sleeves that can be altered.
Semi tailor suits come with sizes, like listed on the shoulder section, but also in three length. S, R and L. Small, Regular and Long will be your cue. If you are around 5’8″, look into getting a S length, around 5’11” or 6’0″ get a R and if you are over 6’2 or 6’3″, start getting into L. That also applies to the length of your sleeves, so if you and a R and have really long arms, might need to look into a L as well.
You will see the vents on the back of your jacket…or not. Three types of vents: No Vent, One Vent or Two Vents. Italian style has no vent, American style has one center vent, and British style has two vents. The French most likely have two vents daytime. The vents are there to provide relief and flexibility, this is why I favor the double vented jackets. You can be like 80% of the men and choose a double vent as it suits most of the body types. If you are very thin and your jacket is very fitted, you could go for “no vent”.
The buttons on a suit… The numbers have changed throughout the years. Now there is one option to go for, Two Buttons. Now, keep in mind, that there is two buttons, but you cannot close both. It’s a very big style blunder to close both your jacket buttons, only close the top one and let the second one opened. Also, when you are sitting down, open both your jacket buttons, and make sure to button the top button when you get back up. It’s a lot of work, I know, but so worth it. After some time, you will not even have to think about it anymore. On the sleeve buttons, they will most likely be fake buttons, a part if you get your suit completely tailored to you and ask for real buttons. Definitely a nice touch, don’t get me wrong.
Suit pants, is Pleats, Cuffs, Break and Taper… Is that a lot to handle in one serving, let’s break it down.
Hard to make its mind on pleats, you can either go for pleated pants or no pleats. I personally like no pleats but that’s personal, it makes for a slimmer fit pant.
That’s a given, No cuffs. Even though they had a little bit of weight to the garment and help your pant leg to stay down… you don’t want to have those, as they look dated. Seriously dated, like you got a suit from the eighties at a thrift store. Your tailor will add fabric inside the hem of your pants to give that extra weight.
That’s how long your pants are, and for many years people wore “full break” meaning that the pant leg would be hemmed low enough so it would break fully on the shoe. Nowadays, I would recommend a “light break” so your pants don’t look too short, but you can still showcase a little bit of sock. Simple, if you see someone who never wear suits, you will see that the bottom of his pants look like an accordion… and that’s definitely not French.
Ok, that’s personal preference, but I like to taper down the legs of my pants. I happen to like slimmer fit clothing as I’m a slender person. Don’t hesitate to ask your tailor to take in the legs of your pants, it will give you a very clean look throughout.
Remember that you are not wearing jeans, you do not “low rise” (or low ride) suit pants, you will be wearing them a little higher than your pelvic bone, while jeans will sit below the pelvic bone, right on your hips. Make sure your pants sit properly when you get your alterations done, so it will look good down the road. A tighter seat will also get you compliments if someone checks you out… So worth it 🙂
If you live somewhere where it gets chilly, definitely look into vests. Vests are very elegant and will also keep you warm, therefore will provide you an extra layer during winter months. I live in Southern California, so I usually don’t wear vests. But definitely would if living in New York, Seattle or even San Francisco. Same as for the jacket, never button the bottom button of your vest.
Fabrics for Suits
Wool is your number one choice, and from far. You have different thicknesses. Thickness is measured in Microns and will be labelled Super 120, Super 150, Super 180… As stated below, I like thinner fabrics as I live in quite warm weather. So Super 120 is the choice for me. It’s not as expensive as other wools, so that works as well.
Origin of the fabric is key as well. England will have thicker wools as it’s cold up there. The Italian mills will focus on thinner fabrics because of the Mediterranean climate. The French, a little bit of both. I would not recommend fabrics from south east Asia, as the quality of the wool is not up to par with European counterparts. When you look at the two mills my tailors gets my suit fabrics from: Vitale Barberis Canonico, started in 1663. Reda started in 1865, they have had the time to perfect their craft, trust me.
Now you can go for some wool and mohair blends, tweeds, wool and cashmere blends, and linen for summer (be careful with wrinkles). I also heard that bamboo fiber is a new thing in the past couple years and actually behaves really well, so why not.
All natural fabrics, and the reason behind this is that you want to breathe in your suit, and mad made fabrics won’t let you do that whatsoever, they will also have a shine/sheen to them that you want to stay very far from.
Colors for Suits
Ok, the main colors for a suit are grey and navy/blue. You have different shades of grey from light to charcoal and different shades of blue from a dark navy to a medium blue. Then you can have different textures, Prince of Wales, Windowpane, Caviar, Pinstripes of different thicknesses, different color combos in stripes. That’s totally fine, be as creative as you want. I personally have six blue/navy suits, and you can tell the difference between them all. You never have enough suits. You just need a bigger closet.
When it comes to black suits, only for funerals. Brown suits, tough to wear, Dark Green are a no… and any bright color is to stay away from. You want to shine by your elegance, not by looking like a beacon.
That gives you a good good outlook to complete our business looks series.
If you are wondering where I get my suits. There is this tailor shop in Paris called Bennavita, they provide very elegant suits in quality fabrics for a reasonable rate. Will they soon convert to E-Commerce so they can sell their suits worldwide? We will see…