Friday, August 13, 2010

Man Style: Tips for Buying Your Next Suit

Suits come in a variety of styles, fabrics, fits, and patterns. When choosing a suit, it is important to go with a style that looks good on your body type, a fabric that breathes, moves, and matches your lifestyle, a fit that flatters your body, and patterns that don't age the suit. With proper care and maintenance, a really good suit can last for years.

Invest in the proper style...
Maybe I shouldn't have written "proper style," but a man should be aware of the two basic styles - the single-breasted suit and the double-breasted suit. The single-breasted suit, which you can find with 4 buttons, 3 buttons, or 2 buttons, is the more flexible of the two styles. It can be dressed up to have a more formal look or dressed down to look more casual. The double-breasted suit, on the other hand, is a formal look. However, it can be dressed down with a mock turtle neck.

The way to choose your style depends on your personality as well as your body type. If you are a larger man or have a gut, a 2 button suit is a flattering choice. Not that you can't wear a 3 button suit, but what you are looking for is coverage (over the stomach), room (ability to reach without bulging in the back), and drape (how the suit falls on the stomach and overall fit). If you are a medium-sized guy or smaller, the 4 or 3 or 2 button suit will work. Each option works well with your size. The one you choose is a matter of personal style. As for the double-breasted suit, I say don't bother. It really isn't a style that every man can pull off well.

Your pant selection again is a matter of your personal style and your body type. If you are a bigger dude or a bigger dude, go with the pleated pant. They provide the extra room you need in the front and are a lot more comfortable. If you are average, athletic, or a little on the thin side, the plain or flat-front pant works very well with your body type. Of course, there is nothing stopping you from wearing a pleated pant if that is your preference. I personally think the pleated pant is more classic.

Lastly, you can go with a cuff or without one. Go without one if you are 5.9" or shorter. It elongates the leg. If you are taller, your choice again is a matter of your personal style. That said, an average or shorter man can still look great in a cuff.

Invest in 100% wool suits with a lining to the knee...
Don't let the word wool scare you. It can be worn in all climates. The fabric breathes well, looks amazing, and feels good on the skin. Most importantly, wool doesn't get that shine look after a few dry cleanings. It is the only fabric I recommend for a traditional suit.

Avoid busy patterns and colors...
Dramatic patterns and bold colors are an easy way to date your suit. They will also limit the number of times you can wear the suit. So go with solids, thin stripes or subtle window panes. Also, stick to black, grey, and navy blue - which are timeless and never go out of style.

Invest in a tailor...
A majority of men simply can't afford to get a custom made suit. But, all men can get a suit tailored to fit them properly. Some stores like my favorite, Men's Wearhouse, have a tailor on-site. The reason you want to get the suit tailored is because most of the times a suit off the rack wears you. It can be too long in the arms, too big in the shoulders, or too wide in the body. And, more than likely, the pants are going to be too big in the waist, too long in the length, and can be too baggy in the crotch area. A good tailor will fix all of it - making the suit look like it was made for you.

Care and maintenance...
Unless your suits have stains, don't dry clean them more that 4 to 5 times a year. Repeatedly dry cleaning a suit eats away at the fabric. In addition, don't just let them lay on the back of a chair or pile up somewhere. When you take off your suit, hang it up - either using a pant hanger or clips with a regular cedar hanger. If you don't have any cedar hangers, use a wooden hanger and put cedar blocks in the corner of your closet. Why cedar? Cedar keeps the moths out.

If there is anything you would like to add, please leave a comment.

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