Most people tend to stop after they buy a suit. They figure they’ve paid their money, now all they need to do is strap in and slap on a tie and they’ll be ready to hit the big time. That’s a cute notion, but having a suit you don’t know how to wear properly is almost as bad as having no suit at all. Imagine if someone arrived on a construction site and they had tools, but had no idea what any of them did. That person would quickly get shuffled to the bottom rung on the ladder, if they were kept on the ladder at all. The same goes for style, which means you’d better know how to put your stuff to use. That means not only having a sweet suit ready to go, but the know-how to make it work for you.
Fewer and fewer people go to a tailor these days, and it shows. Get the sleeves and pants hemmed by a professional, and let them guide you along. These are sartorial professionals who will make you look better than you ever have in your life. Find a good one, trust them, and they’ll take you far. If you can’t afford a good suit and a good tailor, get a cheap suit and a good tailor. They’re miracle-workers with fabric.
Check Your Shoulders
Fewer suits are coming outfitted with shoulder pads, but if you have them, they need to end at the shoulder. If they hang over, you look like you’re trying to be mob muscle from the 1940’s, and it isn’t a sexy appearance.
Match The Tie To The Lapel
Your tie and lapel should be about the same width. This is a simple faux pas, but an egregious one. When they are the same size, they look like they fit together. When one is too thin or the other too fat, the end result is like clashing colors: Out of place.
Always Add a Square
Some will say that the pocket square should only be added when you’ve mastered the basics. Scoff at those people. The real answer is to learn the ways of the pocket square and always have one at the ready.
Easy On The Bling
Big cufflinks, a tie pin, a tie clip, a flashy pocket square, a loud tie, and a bold print are all great, if you know what you’re doing. If you’re new to the suit game, master the basics so you can dazzle with fire and flash later on. Less is usually more in the suit world.
Don’t Buy Black
We’re not going to tell you to never, ever buy black, but too many people think it’s the answer to their suit conundrum. In truth, a gray suit is more versatile, easier to disguise, and works for more occasions. You’re not a funeral director, so prove you can do better than grabbing black and not thinking about it.
Better Have a Belt
The only excuse not to have a belt is if you wear suspenders. Otherwise, a suit looks incomplete. Also, that belt should match your shoes and any other accessories you have, so stay smart when getting your waist cincher. And no novelty belt buckles.
Go Double Vent
The double vented suit has a more modern look, works better with more body types, and is overall a sexier and more stylized choice than the single-vented suit. It’s a small feature, but changes the cut and hang of your suit so much, that it’s a failure to overlook it.
Button Only the Top
On your jacket, the top button – or top two in a three-button style – is the only one(s) you should be working with. Buttoning up the entire thing looks awkward and says you’re trying a little too hard. And never button the bottom button alone. Never. Gun in your face, you die first.
Unbutton Before Sitting
Not your pants, just your jacket. It is bad for the coat and bad for your look to be sitting with a buttoned jacket. Plus, you’re just asking to lose a button.
Half Inch Cuff Display
This is an easy one, but confuses more than a few people. Your shirt cuff should stick out about half an inch from your jacket cuff. More, and something isn’t fitted right. Less, and you’ve outgrown your clothes. Those shirt cuffs should also be landing right at your hands, not flopping over or showing any wrist.
Vests Add Formality
Vests are re-surging in popularity, and they’re a good accessory for those who want something a little different. They offer up greater formality, look more put-together, increase warmth on cold days, and help make a suit without a tie look playful instead of sloppy.
Your tie should land at your belt, as should your vest or waistcoat. Your suit jacket should cover your zipper and your sweet buttocks. Your pants should land at the top of your shoes, or have a slight break. Socks should disappear into the pant leg, showing no skin. Yes, we mean you Mr. Boat Shoes.
Never underestimate the effect of a wild pair of socks. Just make sure they match, and are long enough to never show any skin while you move or sit.
Get An Undershirt
And don’t have it slip up into the collar of your dress shirt. If you can see the collar when wearing a tie, you need a deeper V-neck or an A-style.
Cut It Apart
Suits come with strings that close the pockets, hold the vents closed, and have brand tags. All of these need to be cut apart or removed. We all forget sometimes, and look like kids when we do.
Pleats make you look heavier and shorter. We say stick to flat front pants unless you’re playing the father in a 1950’s sitcom.
Get Subtle Prints
Pinstripe suits are not the only choice. You should have more than just solid colors, but don’t immediately shoot for the stripes. Windowpane, houndstooth, and glen plaid are all fine, and they make you stand out without looking like you’re trying to shock and amaze.
Careful With The French Cuffs
French cuffs are a nice look, unless you go big and sloppy with them. They need to be extremely, almost imperceptibly subtle. If they wave and flop, you’re going too big.
Cover Your Collar
Your collar should disappear under the lapels of your suit jacket, otherwise it doesn’t look like an ensemble. Points and corners should be tucked away.
Beware Your Trousers
Outside of using a tailor, there’s not much you can do here. Get the right length of pants. Too long and they’re sloppy, too short and you look like you’re trying the skinny trend.
Know Your Shoe Colors
Black shoes can go with a black suit, and brown shoes can go with a brown suit, but don’t mix the two. You want a broader contrast or a closer match between shoe colors and suit. Just bone up on your color choices.
Keep the Knot Simple
When wearing a suit, you don’t want to get nutty with the knots. Go with a Windsor or a double-Windsor. Anything else is unprofessional.
Cover Your Tie
Your tie should never stick out from under your shirt collar, except where it’s supposed to. If it does, your tie is too big or your shirt is too small. Fix one.