This is not a new topic, yet people are making the same mistakes again and again. I have five suits in my closet, 2 of them are even custom made. However, none of them makes me 100% happy. I always thought that buying a suit is like buying other types of garments, likes jeans, or shirts: you go to a store, you pick one, that’s it, and it should be simple. Until recently, I saw an article on the website NCG Tailor, about men’s suits purchasing and dressing mistakes:
They listed 30 mistakes of purchasing suits. Even though I do not agree with everything they listed, it still made me realized that buying a decent suit actually requires a bit of knowledge, and it is not as simple as buying a t-shirt or a pair of jeans.
And also, a nice piece here on HuffPost which also has some good ideas:
Look at my own analysis first. Here are my own tips that will help you to prevent buying a suit that you will hate after:
Check the shoulders
Almost every good article I found lists this as priority number 1. Which is pretty true: think about it, the shoulders are the only places where a suit jacket actually “stick” to your body, the rest is just hanging there. If the shoulders are too wide or too narrow, I cannot imagine the rest of the jacket could fit you perfectly.
Plus, altering the shoulder’s size and shape could be pretty expensive, or almost impossible.
Check the fabric, twice
Stay away from polyester suits. Always pick 100% wool or at least a suit will a large percentage of wool in it.
I insist on this because one of my suits, although big brand, it has only 55% wool in it (which I did not pay attention). Comparing to my other 100% wool suits, it feels more and more uncomfortable.
Check the armholes
This is something I did not know until I see the article on NCG Tailor. One of my gray suits looks pretty nice on me; the problem is that when I lift my arms, the jacket seems to be pulled up too. Now I understand that a lot of off-the-rack suits have low-armholes, which will cause this kind of problem.
Always move your arms to check how the jacket suits. Look yourself in the mirror to see if the jacket can also be lifted significantly. If yes, you should probably go away.
This is the first and the most obvious thing to do. Of course, every gentleman, while trying a suit, will check this, like button numbers, jacket length, fabric patterns, shoulders fit, sleeves length, and so on.
Ask a friend to check the overall appearance and the little details will do, or simply look into a mirror. Lapels too wide compared to your face, jacket too long which makes your legs looking short, sleeves too long make the jacket looks like it is your father’s old suit; these simple details can be checked and spotted easily.
But that’s not what I am trying to say here because there are places you need to check that may not be so obvious.
Check the back
Sadly, a lot of guys don’t pay enough attention to their suit’s back. A suit well-fitting in the front but ill-fitting in the back could be considered as a bad suit. Personally, I think there are three major places to check:
1. Scapula area.
2. Around the waist
3. Jacket bottom
A well fitting suit should fit these three areas perfectly, no bulging, no redundant fabrics, and not too tight. For example, 3 of my suits all have a little bulge around the back neck, just below the back collar (which I did not pay enough attention while I bought them).
Bring a friend if you go suit shopping because only another person can help you to check your suits’ back. Salesmen’s opinions are not so reliable.
Always buy an extra pair of pants
A suit’s jacket and his pants don’t have the same lifespan; normally the pants will be worn way earlier than the jacket. When a suit fits you perfectly and at the end of one year or two, and you have to throw the pants into your garbage can, you will feel pretty bad because it will be almost impossible to find the same pants with exactly same fabric. My navy blue chevron suit, which is custom made, was my favorite. Unfortunately, its pants are totally ruined; I went to the same tailor last month, but he did not have the same fabric anymore.
The last one, don’t trust the price
Ironically, one suit I barely wear is the most expensive one. It felt good when I bought it, but I don’t like it anymore because I feel not so comfortable in these pants when I walk. I still don’t know why exactly, but one thing is sure: Always try twice the fit before deciding, don’t just trust a brand, or the price.