Ever been shopping for a suit and found yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options available? Wish there was a way to pick the right one for you? If so, you’ve come to the right place. In our 7-step guide, we examine the 3 key components of the traditional two-piece suit combination, along with 7 nifty little tips to choose what’s best for you, and create a look that 007 himself would be proud of.
Without further ado:
Unless you’re feeling particularly fancy, or fell in love with Ryan Gosling’s waistcoated look in Crazy Stupid Love – we’re going to assume that you’re like most men, and a classic two-piece (blazer and trousers) is what you’re after. Here are the basic things you should be looking out for:
Color: The general rule of thumb if you’re buying for work is to opt for grey, black or navy blue; more formal and broadly accepted office attire. The more adventurous amongst you could try lighter colors such as beige – but these are typically for more casual, daytime wear. If you’re a chap with a high degree of contrast between your hair and skin tone then nothing will bring out your best like a dark suit; if however you’ve a lighter complexion; blonde hair and pale skin for example, try a lighter hue. The darker your complexion, the darker the suit.
Fabric: For casual daytime wear, cotton and linen look great and allow your body to breathe in the summer months. However, both of these fabrics tend to crease quite easily, so it’s best to avoid them in more formal settings. Wool is a solid choice, very common in the colder months and it tends to remain wrinkle-free. With all these fabrics and more, from cashmere to velvet to silk and beyond – our hot tip is to pick the right one for your shape. A heavy fabric will make you look more bulky, whilst a light fabric will provide a slimmer silhouette; find what works for you and go from there.
Pattern: From plain, to pinstripe, to windowpane, herringbone and houndstooth; there are so many patterns you can choose from. They can all do different things for your appearance, pinstripes for example, have a slimming effect, but the most important thing to bear in mind is the size of the pattern. If you’re dressing for a larger frame, whether that be down to a few too many mince pies or some serious lifting at the gym, the pattern should be of a corresponding size. A slim stripe or a tiny check will look out of place on you. On the contrary, if you’re a slim man then a larger pattern will overpower you and make you appear smaller.
The centerpiece of any modern gentleman’s wardrobe, and the focal item in any suit combination; here are a couple of things you need to be aware of when selecting your blazer:
Buttons: Blazers can have 1, 2 or 3 buttons. Whilst 2 is considered to be more classical, it all depends on your preference. 1 Button provides the greatest maneuverability, whilst 3 provide the least. However, 1 button has the least slimming effect of all jackets, whilst 3 buttons have the most since they draw the eye in a longer vertical line.
Lapel: The 3 main types of lapel are peak, notch and shawl. A quick search on google and you’ll find the respective advantages and disadvantages for each when it comes to dressing for your figure, and for dressing to the occasion. What you might not find however, is that the width of the lapel (in the same way as patterns) should mirror the size of your frame. The bigger the frame, the wider the lapel. The eye is pleased by good proportions – so you need to keep yours in check.
From number of vents to number of pockets, types of pocket flap to types of lining – there are a myriad of other considerations – so just make sure that you consider how each of them work for you.
Next up, the trousers:
Pleat: Opting for a trouser with a pleat as opposed to a flat-front should warrant more consideration than at first you might think. Remembering what we learned earlier about the ability to create a slimmer silhouette by drawing the eye along vertical lines, it follows that a pleated trouser will give the illusion of a slimmer leg. That being said, the pleat adds bulk to the side-profile – so it’s a question of personal preference in this trade-off.
Cuff: Whether you choose to have cuffs or not, the hem should always rest gently (with minimal bunching around the ankle) on top of the shoe. No sock should be visible from a standing position. I repeat; no sock. Cuffs add more bulk to the bottom of the trouser and therefore create a wider leg profile. Since they prevent the eye from travelling in a seamless line from top to bottom also, they create a shorter appearance.
Now obviously you won’t be wearing these items in isolation; you might be accompanying them with a crisply ironed white shirt, a lovely silken tie, some unbearably comfortable cotton socks and a dashing pair of Oxford shoes (or you might not…). The key things to remember are:
- Match your colors: As a general rule of thumb, go for socks that match the color of your suit… and shoes that complement it (brown matches grey and blue, black for black). The shirt should complement the color of the suit, and mirror the level of contrast between your hair and skin.
- Long, unbroken lines along with darker colors will add length to your silhouette – giving a taller, slimmer appearance. Breaking up lines with patterns, cuffs, color contrasts and so on will add width – creating a shorter, broader silhouette.
Korie Cantor is a writer who writes about living and lifestyle. She possesses a great sense of style and loves to share her thoughts about fashion and its latest trends. Follow her @koriecantor