We Know: All About How To Buy A Man's Suit

How Much Should I Spend?

It is possible to purchase a man's suit for less than $75. It is also possible to get one for $10 at Goodwill. But if you're looking for a quality suit that will last and look great, you should expect to spend over $200. The classic gangster "Italian Silk" suit can cost well over $2,000. For real quality, budget some money. On the positive side, if you get a really good suit, you can expect to wear it for years. If you have time, though, start shopping around at men's stores and ask the clerks if they know when you can expect suits to go on sale; they'll usually tell you.

Do I Have To Get Measured?

Yes. This is the key to your suit, in fact. For mysterious reasons, women's clothing fits well right off the rack, but men's suits usually need to be tailored a little, even if only hemmed. Your size, after you're measured, should be an even number somewhere between 28 and 56, and short, regular, long, or extra-long -- So 38 Extra Long. The sales clerk can help you find a suit in the right range.

If you are larger in size, there are many places to buy big and tall mens clothing online.

The jacket should be fully lined with no seam puckering; an unlined or poorly lined jacket has a much shorter lifespan and wrinkles easily. The lining should feel rich and thick to the touch, not thin. You should also find the perfect cuff links to compliment your fitted jacket.

What About Details, Like Fabric and Style?

Details are critical. They are the difference between the polyester sequinned jumpsuit and the classic charcoal pinstriped suit. Select an all-wool suit if possible; if you're terrible about wrinkling clothes or don't have the cash to constantly dry clean your suit, a wool-polyester blend will wrinkle less but not last as long. Wool suits can be surprisingly cool; make sure you ask the sales clerk for an all-season fabric.


Colors are critical. Don't get a black suit unless you want to look like you're going to a funeral, and don't get a bright color unless you actually have the sense of style to pull it off -- and very few do. Keep it simple, and go with navy or charcoal. Pinstripes are fine, but don't use any other pattern, and make the stripes subtle so that the suit stays in style.


One button makes a difference. A three-button jacket looks classic, but a two-button or double-breasted suit is flattering for thinner men. If you're a big guy, look at yourself at every angle when you try on your jacket. The jacket should button easily and not pull on either side when you stand or sit, and your arms should move easily without stretching the jacket. Lapels should lie flat and show about a half inch of shirt collar when you're standing with arms to the side. Shoulders are critical because they can't be altered; be certain the shoulders fit properly and look good. Sleeves should come down to the wrist bone. The jacket should be fully lined with no seam puckering; an unlined or poorly lined jacket has a much shorter lifespan and wrinkles easily. The lining should feel rich and thick to the touch, not thin.


Pants are less critical. Flat front pants are slimming, and in general the best choice for staying in style. You'll almost certainly need a little hemming; the pants should stop right above your heel, and rest on your shoelaces, or where your shoelaces would go. Ideally, your pants should be lined, and they should rest comfortably on your waist with or without a belt. Pockets should not bulge or pucker when you sit or bend. If the suit isn't comfortable, don't buy it. If it doesn't feel comfortable, it won't look good.

What Else Should I Know?

It's smart to wear a button down shirt and good shoes when you shop for a suit so you'll have a very good idea of how well the coat and pants fit. You should wear nicely-shined shoes with your suit; it's a good idea to keep a pair of dress shoes of a compatible color in reserve just for the suit. Never wear brown shoes with gray, black, or navy suits.


Your button down shirt can change to suit styles, especially if you've purchased a charcoal or gray suit. But -- surprise! -- not all blues work with them. You should always look at the shirt against the suit jacket before you buy it. If you have rotten color sense, ask a sales clerk -- or your wife or girlfriend -- for his or her opinion. Ties should be compatible with the shirt, not the suit.


Never machine wash a nice suit! Always dry clean. Pure wool, especially, shrinks.



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