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
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.
|Up to 5’7″
|5’8″ – 5’11”
|6’0″ – 6’3″
|6’4″ and up
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
Measure under your arms around the fullest part of your chest.
How to measure your waist
Measure around your natural waistline, keeping the tape comfortably loose.
How to measure your inseam
Measure from the crotch seam to the hemline by your feet.
How to measure your arm length
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.
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.
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 consider a few things: 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).
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 and fits your body.
Extra Slim Fit Suit
An Extra-Slim suit is sleek and fashion-forward with the following attributes:
- 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
Slim Fit Suit
A Slim-Fit suit is closely-tailored and modern with the following attributes:
- 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: Perry Ellis, Bonobos, Suit Supply
Classic Fit Suit
A Classic-Fit suit offers a polished, traditional cut with the following attributes:
- 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, Jos. A. Bank
Suit Fabrics and Weights
When choosing a suit, you must determine what type of fabric will work best for you. Factors such as breathability, softness, and durability must be taken into consideration. Here are a few of the most common suit fabrics.
Wool is the most popular suit fabric and comes in various weights, styles, and patterns. Since wool is a natural material, it breathes well and can be worn year-round.
Cotton is also a popular suit fabric because of its weight, breathability, and versatility.
Cotton suits are typically less formal and are good for casual events or everyday wear.
Linen is a lightweight fabric that keeps you cool in blistering temperatures, therefore, linen suits are a good choice for summertime.
One downside to linen is that it wrinkles easily and can look sloppy after extended wear.
Polyester is a man-made fiber produced from synthetic materials.
Suits made out of polyester are less expensive than suits made out of natural fibers such as wool or cotton.
Polyester is wrinkle-resistant, strong, durable, and dries quickly.
However, it does not breathe well and can produce fabric shine which can make the suit look low-quality.
Polyester can be blended with other fabrics to increase the quality of the suit.
Silk is a luxurious fabric that is used for high-end suits. It is lightweight, breathable, and feels good to the touch.
7oz – 9oz: Lightweight. Ideal for the summertime.
9.5oz – 11oz: Light to mid-weight. Good for transitioning from spring to summer.
11oz – 12oz: Mid-weight. The go-to fabric weight and a good choice for your first suit purchase.
12oz – 13oz: Heavier mid-weight. Good for transitioning from summer to fall.
14oz – 19oz: Heavy. Ideal for winter.
Should You Buy a Suit Online or In-Store
Whether you buy a suit online or in-store is entirely up to you.
The internet has made shopping for suits online easy and convenient. Brands such as Indochino and Suit Supply have great selections. All you need are your measurements and you can find the perfect suit delivered right to your door.
However, if you prefer to touch the fabrics and try on the suit, then in-store is the way to go. You also get the added benefit of having a knowledgeable salesperson help you select the right suit.
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, and lining (whether it’s glued or sewn).
On average, you should expect to spend at least $300 -$1,000 for a good suit.
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 suit.
Keep in mind that professional tailing can be expensive. You could end up paying over $100 for tailoring if you make several adjustments to the pants and jacket.
How to Buy a Suit: Final Thoughts
Buying a suit should not be complicated. These tips should give you the information to find a suit that is perfect for you.
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Frederick J. Goodall is the Editor-in-Chief of Mocha Man Style, media spokesperson, event host, photographer, and a top social media influencer in Houston, TX. He likes to write about fashion, cars, travel, and health.