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How to Look Sharp in a Suit
Picking out a suit is no easy task. At times it can be even harder than purchasing car, although less expensive. But looking at that price tag of a designer suit makes one think that they may have to settle for a cheaper style or brand. The truth is there are a lot of suits you can pick from that will definitely suit your budget. Below is a quick tutorial on suits, what to look for and ways to help hasten your buying decision. Suits come in a plethora of colours, cuts, styles, and fabrics. First, let’s take a look at colour and what the colour of the suit represents.
Traditional business styles (used for all seasons)
Black – Traditional black is a very conventional colour that is pretty much safe for any and every occasion. This type of suit can be spiced up with detailing or pinstripes, which ultimately can be changed by the type of shirt and tie worn. This type of suit gives an authoritative popular presence for men who want something that can be very transitional. Wearing a black suit with a nice shirt and no tie also shows of statement that dress can be taken down a notch to business casual for those guys on the go.
Light grey/Dark grey – Grey is generally that type of colour that a lot of men want to don. Grey shows a statement, it shows that ‘yes, I am who I am, conventional, but I can still be unique!’ I don’t know about most guys but I get more excited over the many shades and variations of grey suits than blue or black. Light greys allow a wide range of light soft colours of shirts and ties to be paired to give an ultimate swag look. Dark grays; stick with basic white or black, or darker shades of vibrant colours to allow the suit to stand out on its own.
Dark Blue (or navy) – Known as power blue, this colour suit took the business man away from the conventional black but still withheld that authoritative look because of the richness of the blue. A stitched pattern, pinstripe, or embossing makes you look more sharp.
Tan/Cream/White Linen – As bold as these colours may be, and as limited as one might be to only outfit in the spring summer months; these show a sort of upbeat class, provided they are worn with the right accessories and shirts. These type of suits show a very comfortable, classy yet sporty look to not be taken lightly. I’m not saying to don these types of suits in an interview, but a night out on the town or worn at spring/summer classy event, you are sure to turn a lot of ladies heads.
The Fit and Cut
Remember; suits come in various colours. The colour you choose reflects the look that you are going for. What comes next is the fit and cut of the suit. Suits are generally made from wool, or a wool polyester blend, and summer suits are general made from cotton. Polyester suits are generally far cheaper in cost than wool and cotton much cheaper in cost than polyester.
The Three Fits
- Bespoke/Custom fit or Tailor-made – These are conformed to the body measurements and turned into a pattern. Fit is optimum and choice of fabric used is to your discretion.
- Pre-made Fit – The pattern is already made by a template then it is modified to fit the customer. Cuts and fabrics are limited to that of tailor made.
- Off the Rack Fit – Plainly put, what you see is what you get. Can be altered to fit properly but sometimes won’t fit 100%.
Suit jackets can come in different sizes according to body type; short, regular, and long. Depending on your height and body frame you would fit according to size in inches as well as length of sleeves. Jackets also come in variations according to tapering and vents, there is:
- Boldly tapered sides with two vents – Influenced by body and accentuates shape.
- Mildly tapered sides with a single vent – Sleek fit, not too fashioned to the body.
- Tapering not that noticeable with no vent – Boxy fit, shoulders are usually more predominantly squared.
Jackets come in two main styles:
1. Single breasted jackets – Are the most popular and common; where both sides meet and fasten in the middle. These types of jackets go a step from thigh to three quarter length for the fall/winter season. Single breasted comes in a variation of single button, two buttons and three buttons down the center. When buttoning a single breasted jacket, you must keep in mind the number of buttons. Single button; fasten the button or leave it open. For two button jackets; button the top button. For Three button jackets; button the middle button.
2. Double breasted jackets – This type of jacket having two rows of buttons that are parallel to another, which overlap and fasten. Believe it or not this has had a huge comeback in fashion. It’s no longer the type of jacket your dad would wear. Now this type of cut has become a hot look for fall and winter coat styles. From mid waist to three quarter length coats.
When matching a dress shirt or shirt to the style and colour of suit keep in mind the tone and any fine detailing, stitching or pin striping. A light pin stripe allows you to match with a light colour dress shirt; this makes the striping more prevalent. Remember to wear dress shirt colours that don’t wash out your skin tone. If you are tanned and you wear a sand colour dress shirt, make sure that the dress shirt is lighter or darker than your complexion. Shirt cuffs should stick out no less than a ¼ inch from the jacket cuff.
Cuff links are another accessory to use on a ‘French Cuff’ shirt. Cuff links can be as simple or plain or bold and stylish. Cuff links don’t really have a set style according to the suit, you just more or less pick something that you will feel comfortable wearing. You can also look swag with your very own set of monogrammed cuff links.
When it comes to choosing ties one must always ask themselves; does my tie match or compliment the suit? Did I tie the knot correctly? and lastly, is my tie texturally interesting? When it comes to choosing a tie we all fall into the habit of choosing a safe basic colour or textural pattern. Try opening up to different patterns and prints. Just remember if your suit or suit has a textural pattern then you might try to turn it down a notch with a plain colour tie and vice versa to sharpen your look.
Trousers come in different styles and cuts according to the style of suit. For pre-made or off the rack suits, the pants are generally a 5-7 inch drop from the shoulder measurement. i.e. 42 inches long – 36 inch pant waist. The ‘drop’ is the measurement from the shoulder relative to the waist. Suits are generally made this way to keep a standard guideline to matching jackets to pants. Pants can be flat front or single or double pleated. Pleated pants are wider at the top and narrow at the bottom, and used to be worn by taller men to take the attention away from height and give the man a classier look. Flat front generally are less narrow at the bottom, however can come in a narrow slim fit or a flare boot cut fit.
When getting pant bottoms sewn or tailored there is two main ways; a plain bottom or a cuff. Cuffs are gradually going more and more out of fashion, and plain bottom is more desired. This is due to the look; traditionally pleats were used for taller men, while plain bottoms were used for shorter men. This helped balance out the height of the wearer to accommodate the suit to give more of a cleaner classier look. Nowadays plain bottoms are more desirable because it looks much more fashionable.
When matching socks to a suit there are a few points to keep in mind:
- Matching socks to pant leg give more of a sleeker longer look, the visual eye will see the pant leading directly to the shoe.
- Darker suits, sock can stick to the basic black as the colour does not seem to deviate much from the darkness of the suit, although you can match the sock to the pant as well.
- For patterned socks, the background colour of sock matches the suit.
With all of this in mind hopefully it shed some light on your options when buying a suit. Remember that when going to a retailer be open to the different patterns and styles. I prefer going to a well known reputable tailor being measured and having one custom made or altered to fit. After all, you don’t just want to look good; you want to feel confident about your purchase.