Do you have a place like Syms near you? Syms is awesome – it’s a huge store with large selection, excellent prices, and educated sales people who will take the time to get your measurements and tell you the pros and cons of various suits.
Wool. 100% wool. Summerweight or winterweight, whichever you like. But make it 100% wool. Any blend is a compromise.
Pay attention to how the suit is finished. Look for good stitching, patterns or stripes matching up along the seams. The lapels should have a slight roll, rather than being creased. Make sure the lining is good and straight and well sewn.
Then get it altered. I don’t mean just having the pants hemmed. Find a good tailor who really knows alterations and have it unbagged where it bags, and let out in the same places you are. Good alterations turn a “meh” into a “nice suit!”
If you are willing to spend some money, I recommend going to a nice clothing shop, like a Nordstroms, Brooks Brothers, or a little more moderately priced but still very nice (and my store of choice) Joseph Banks. (Begging other people’s pardon, Not Syms, Not Men’s Wearhouse, and Not the We’re Going Out of Business Suit Store. There is a big difference in quality, IMO.) Get someone to help you choose a suit. Tell them exactly why you’re buying a suit. I agree that blue is best choice, and I’d recommend two-button jacket with no pleats on the pants. 100% wool, and make sure the lining of the trousers are comfortable (ie, silky, not itchy). Don’t get anything with overly big or small lapels. The price range you’d be looking at would be in the $400 to $1,000 at these places, with the exact price being a matter of your own preference.
I never get my suits altered where I buy them. I have a tailor who will do the whole job on em – not only put cuffs on the pants, but adjust the butt to flatter me, make sure the sleeves are correct length, etc. This is a professional tailor, not a guy at the local dry cleaner. Look in the yellow pages. Depending on the suit, these alterations run me from $80 to at most $200. These folks will also make suits, so you can also skip step #1 and go right here — cost of buying a suit and getting it altered or having one custom made will probably be in the same ballpark.
Get at least two 100% cotton shirts, one white and one either blue or conservative stripes, probably avoiding button-down collars. That way they can be used for a wide range of functions and won’t go out of style quickly. Get shirts that have a single measurement for the sleeves – ie, 16/34 (collar/sleeve length) not 16/33-34. It’ll fit better. You’ll want two, maybe three ties that’ll go with both shirts. Learn how to use spray starch and iron them.
Don’t forget a belt and shoes. A nice belt will run you $50, and shoes start around $80, but quality shoes start around $150. They’ll last forever if you don’t use them much.
There you go. You can get well outfitted and look fantastic for about $1,000, maybe more, maybe a wee bit less. Good luck!
I recommend getting a material with some Lycra in it, 3% or so. It keeps them from wrinkling as much and will look great all night long.
You can get a great suit for $400. If you aren’t using it a lot, this price range should do just fine. Make sure it is tailored to fit you just right, though. Otherwise put, a $200 suit that fits perfectly will look better than an $800 that doesn’t. Dark blue is versatile, but very conservative. Add some flash. Black always works and light grey’s with brown shoes can make you stand out from everyone else in the room. If you are portly, a 3-piece works great and you still look sharp when you take the jacket off to dance. Tall? Go for 4 buttons.
What you should spend the money on, though, are the accesories. $150+ shoes, $50+ non-iron shirts (French cuffs allow for cufflinks for added style), $50 ties. Match your socks to your ties for added flair.
Lastly, get your hair cut the day before the event! I see Hugo Boss suits hanging on men with shaggy manes, ear & nose hair and just shake my head.
You can get a perfectly nice suit at Men’s Wearhouse. It will be tailored to fit properly and will be made well and will be stylish. There’s no reason to spend more than about $400 for a good suit, particularly if you’re only wearing it once or twice a year.
I second everything above, but suggest that you bring someone with you to look at the colors and styles you pick out. Personally, I never knew that I was a ‘winter’ until I did this. Gray or light colored suits look like hell on me but dark blue pinstipes and black pinstripes rock. But the reverse may be true with you, so I suggest bringing a second opinion with you who cares about you and not the commission.
PS- wear shoes with black socks. If you only have holy-socks, buy some with the suit.
PPS- Do you have a suit shirt to wear with the suit that won’t clash with it? You should know your size, as you can’t pull those things out of the bag, try them on, and then put them back if they don’t fit.
PPPS- Ties…do you have unstained ties that will go with this suit? Older ties that you like might be worth showing to your local dry-cleaner, especially given the style of the ties sold now. (Solid colors are almost impossible to find.) Still, if the edges on any of them are frayed, no matter how much you love them, put them to rest.
Both you and Ravenman are right. I think Brooks Brothers do look a tad more sophisticated and refined than the suits you would find at Mens Warehouse. They are also 2x as much. Usually I get a BB suit for interviews and clients and a number of MW suits for day to day around the office.
A couple things:
You want 100% wool. No polyester
Colors are, in order, solid blue, solid charcoal gray, striped, other colors - tan, brown, black.
Pleats = cuffs, no pleats = no cuffs
The suit should have some weight to it. It shouldn’t feel sheer or thin
The jacket should not appear glued together or cheap
Generally 2 or three buttons are in style. Bottom button is never buttoned
Make sure you get it tailored (although I bought three suits and the only thing that needed to be altered was the pant length)
I agree. One week allows it to smooth out the harsh edges so that it doesn’t look like you just got it cut.
As long as we’re taking advice for suits, can I wear a black, very-thin pinstripe suit to a med school interview?
My favorite suit is a Hart/Schaffner/Marx from The Store Formerly Known as Filene’s. The cut was perfect when I bought it. I’ve put on some weight since then, but it magically still seems to be perfect. It is all wool, charcoal grey. I find charcoal to be the most versatile, suitable for business, weddings, funerals.
If you are in great shape with a trim waist, then the European or tailored cut looks great. Otherwise (and I fit in the otherwise category), get a more traditional cut.
If the store has a tailor on the premises, get an idea whether he/she knows their stuff. I’ve had some get it perfect the first time, and had others do it several times before it they got it right. If you can afford it, Ravenman’s suggestion is the way to go; bring it to a professional tailor. It will be another pair of eyes (and professional ones at that) to evaluate the suit’s fit.
Also bear in mind some stereotypes in suit colors. Black can imply death, especially to those from the old country. Brown used to disturb those who had vivid memories of the Holocaust, although this is less prevalent now. Green can be a bit cartoonish if you aren’t careful as are blues that aren’t navy; you can look like a member of a sales staff at a real estate agency. Best bets if you are unsure are greys (light, medium, charcoal) and navies. You can’t go far wrong there. Tweeds are terrific, but you need a bit of style to carry it off.
I have to disagree with both of these. Don’t wear brown shoes with black or gray suits, nor to a formal event. George Gobel: “Did you ever feel like the world was a tuxedo, and you were a pair of brown shoes?”
And socks should coordinate with the pants, not the tie. Wear a red tie and red sock? I don’t think so.
This comes closest to what I would advise also. Canadian manufacturer Jack Victor makes elegant, close-to-European-cut suits in nice 100% wool fabrics which are multi-seasonal, so if the place you shop has this brand, be sure to check it out. The linings are exceptionally nice with this brand, & you’ll love the way the suit feels on you. A Jack Victor suit will set you back $500-$900.
The trend right now is a 3-button jacket if you have the height to support one. Ideally you should be at or over 6 ft tall to wear this style of suit jacket as the lapels are not so deeply vee’d as a standard two button jacket, which will make you look “boxy” if you are too short. Flat front slacks are also “stylish” at the moment, & if you sport a stouter figure, these often look less “hippish” on you than pleats will look. Try a suit on with both types of slacks to see which looks & feels better on you. There are many manufacturers who offer “separates” in fine suitings as well, so if you are wider in the shoulders and VERY small in the hips, or especially the reverse, slacks can be ordered to match which will fit you more appropriately.
My best friend’s husband is a haberdasher (has in fact done ONLY that, in his whole work life) and owns a fine men’s store here in our town. I work for him around the holiday season, and have fitted many men in suits while he oversees—I would also encourage you to either find a tailor who works independently to fit your suit to you personally, or find a haberdasher who contracts with a good independent tailor, where both can fit you personally. Many men do not like to try on clothing when shopping, but I encourage you to do so, and do so extensively, when buying a suit. There are so many colors and styles available now that you want to know what looks and feels best on you.
You may want to wear a white dress shirt and some dress shoes when shopping for a suit so that you can see a more finished look as you try on suits as well. A good haberdasher will have dress shirts/shoes/belts/ties available for you to wear when assembling the right look, but this isn’t always the case. I am in the camp of those who believe a navy or a charcoal suit would be your best bet for basic color, but be sure you find one to suit your coloring (hair and skin!). If you are greying, or if you are blond, sometimes a charcoal suit is not flattering to you, depending upon the shade of charcoal offered.
Make sure when having the slacks tailored, if you carry a wallet in your back pocket, you DO have that in place at the fitting. This can make a noticeable difference in the length of your slacks hem on the “wallet leg”, if the tailor does not know this when making hem measurements. Also if you are built without a substantial rear end, as a lot of guys seem to be, have your tailor or haberdasher do a “scoop” in the rear of the slacks to define your backside more fully. When you are not wearing the suit jacket, the slacks will look as if they were literally made for your body this way, and can emphasize definition you might otherwise be lacking when wearing slacks. If you are investing in a nice suit, you want the fit to be as flattering as possible.
It’s some trouble, I know, to go to these lengths, but it will be worth it when you have a wonderful, well-fitting, nicely cut and lined suit tailored to your body which will last you for years.
Not to a job interview, no, but colored socks aren’t usually a huge hit with men anyway. I’ve matched socks with both my shirt (pink and pink, and if you think finding pink men’s socks is easy you’re crazy) and my tie (blue and blue).
I could see a black suit, white shirt, red tie and red socks. That’d be pretty nifty if you ask me.