How to Buy a Suit That Fits Properly and Looks Good on You

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Post updated June 23, 2022

Are you wondering how to buy a suit?

When it comes to buying a suit, many men feel intimidated.

Sorting through the different styles, sizes, colors, and designers can be overwhelming.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Purchasing a suit can be a pleasant experience if you have the right information.

Below, you will find practical tips on how to buy a suit including how to size a suit, how to pick the right color, and how to select a cut that fits your body type and personal style.

How to Size a Suit

how to buy a suit

Suit sizes include a number (your chest measurement, 42 for example) and a word or letter indicating the jacket length (L or Long). See the chart below for suit jacket sizing.

HeightSuit Length
Up to 5’7″Short (S)
5’8″ – 5’11”Regular (R)
6’0″ – 6’3″Long (L)
6’4″ and upX-Long (XL)

Men’s suits also have a “drop.” The drop is the distance between the jacket size and the pants size, usually six to seven inches.

For example, If your jacket size is 40S, then your pants size is probably 34. While these numbers are usually pretty accurate, you should always measure yourself to be sure.

How to Measure Yourself

You can measure yourself or have someone do it for you (preferably a professional tailor). All you need is a soft tape measure and something to record the measurements (your phone or a notepad).

How to measure your chest

How to measure your chest with a tape measure

Measure under your arms around the fullest part of your chest.

How to measure your waist

How to measure your waist

Measure around your natural waistline, keeping the tape comfortably loose.

How to measure your inseam

how to measure your inseam

Measure from the crotch seam to the hemline by your feet.

How to measure your arm length

How to measure your arms

Measure across the broadest part of your shoulder and upper arm down to your wrist.

These basic measurements will help you find a suit that fits.

Suit Color

For many men, the default suit color is black.

Guys choose this color because they believe it is simple and goes with everything.

While black suits are sleek and functional, Navy Blue and Charcoal Grey suits are better choices for your wardrobe because they are more versatile.

Navy suit Charcoal gray suit

Charcoal Gray goes well with a wide range of colors and patterns. With a Charcoal Gray suit, you can be a bit more adventurous with your shirts, ties, and shoes.

Because of its neutrality, a Charcoal Gray suit is appropriate for work, weddings, funerals, or other semi-formal events.

Navy blue is also a practical, straightforward color for suits. A Navy Blue suit is a staple for any man’s wardrobe.

Light Gray, Dark Brown, and Tan are a few more classic colors that stand the test of time.

If these colors are too conservative for your taste or you want to venture off the beaten path, then there are myriad suit colors available for you to choose from. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try something different.

When selecting a suit color you should take a few things into consideration: The season; your current wardrobe, accessories, and shoes; your skin tone; how, when, and where you plan to wear the suit; and current fashion trends (certain colors go in and out of style).

Suit Cut

After you have determined your proper suit size and color, you must choose a cut. Suit cuts range from Extra-Slim to Classic Fit.

Extra-slim suits work best for tall, slender men while Classic Fit suits work with a range of body types.

However, suit cut is a matter of personal preference. Choose a cut that looks good on you.

Extra Slim Fit

Sleek and fashion-forward

  • Armholes are high and sleeves are narrow
  • Super slim lapels
  • Sits low on the waist
  • Extra-trim fit through hips and thighs
  • Very narrow opening around the bottom hem
  • Popular Brands: Indochino, Bar III

Slim Fit Suit

Closely-tailored and modern

  • Slim lapel and higher button placement
  • Higher armholes create a structured look
  • Fitted through the chest but still allows movement
  • Sits low on the waist
  • Slim cut pants offer a leaner silhouette
  • Popular Brands: TopMan, Perry Ellis, Bonobos, Kenneth Cole

Classic Fit Suit

classic cut suit

A classic fit suit offers a polished, traditional cut.

  • Deeper armholes and a natural shoulder for a more comfortable fit
  • A wider chest allows for plenty of movement
  • Sits at waist
  • Easy fit through hips and thighs
  • Wider opening around the bottom hem
  • Popular Brands: Tommy Hilfiger, Jones New York, Jos. A. Bank

Suit Fabrics and Materials

Cotton, Linen, Wool, Polyester, Blends

Should You Buy a Suit Online or In-Store

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Off-The-Rack Suit, Made-To-Measure Suit, or Custom Suit

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Off-the-rack suit

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Made-to-Measure Suit

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Custom-made Suit

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How Much is a Good Suit

You can find suits for as low as $99 to several thousands of dollars. Price factors include brand, fabric choices, quality of buttons, lining (whether it’s glued or sewn)

Find a Good Tailor

To ensure that the suit fits you like a glove, take it to a tailor for alterations.

The tailor will need to adjust the jacket sleeve length and pants hem (decide if you want a full break, half break, or no break).

You may also need to make slight modifications to the jacket and pants waistline. A skilled tailor will suggest the proper alterations.

If you take his advice, he will make your off-the-rack suit, look like a custom-made one.

Keep in mind that professional tailing can be expensive. You could end up paying over $100 if you make several adjustments to the pants and jacket.

How to Buy a Suit: Final Thoughts

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