Most men will reach a point in their lives where they want to revamp their wardrobe. In every man’s closet, there should be two suits to cover any occasion. Here’s my quick guide to what to consider when buying your first made-to-measure suits and revamping your wardrobe.
Question 1: Where will you wear them?
Usually, around the time of an event or major life change, many men will have the realization that they need a quality suit in their life. An upcoming wedding, a new job, or a change in body shape all tend to be good reasons to invest in this upgrade. In most cases, when there is this occasion or major change, men tend to gravitate towards this purchase because, 1. A man never looks as good as he does in a well-tailored suit, 2. It’s a simple uniform that meets the needs of a variety of occasions, 3. In the words of Charles Hix, author, “Looking good isn’t self-importance, its self-respect”.
Question 2: What Color Suit?
Navy or Medium Gray suit (preferably both). Why Navy and Gray? Navy and gray are universally acceptable in both business and other environments as the standard colors for suiting. For gray, I recommend a medium gray rather than charcoal, as it tends to be more flattering for more skin tones. For the navy, I suggest something with a slight sheen (the slightest) for a bit of elegance. I suggest avoiding a black suit on your first purchase. They aren’t too versatile. Now, having a navy suit and gray suit allows for multiple combinations:
- Navy suit
- Gray suit
- Navy jacket, gray trousers
- Gray jacket, navy trousers
By having two solid suits in gray and navy, you’re able to mix and match to create 4 separate outfits. Besides, if you have any other jackets or trousers with tailoring made with complimentary fabrics, those combinations grow exponentially.
Question 3: What Fabric?
Unless you already have an extensive suite collection, the best bet for an improved wardrobe is to start with a year-round fabric. A good made-to-measure clothier (adding myself to this list) will explain weights and fabric types during your visit. My recommendation is to start with year-round wool in a light-to-medium weight. In today’s dynamic environments, layers are your friends (check out my IG page to see photos of how I layer my looks). Buying a moderately-weighted suit will allow you to maximize usage.
You can always layer in the winter and opt for an unlined internal structure in your jacket to make it even more manageable in warmer months. When reviewing fabrics, you will see “GSM” or grams per square meter usually listed on the fabric swatches. This is the universal measurement for fabric weights. For warm months, 180-230gsm would be best and are usually cotton, linen, silk, or fine wool blends. 240-300 is best for a year-round fabric and anything higher is best for colder months. Again, I suggest staying in the 240-270gsm range for the most versatility.
Question 4: What about Options (Lapel, Linings, Vents, Pockets)?
There are endless options when designing a made-to-measure suit. I’ll tackle the most basic questions since a good clothier should walk you through other additional options.
Buttoning – I suggest a two-button jacket. For your first suits, it’s the most obvious choice. Much shorter and leaner men can also try a one-button jacket. But, when in doubt, the two-button jacket is the right choice.
Lapel – A Notch lapel is the most common and traditional lapel. A peak lapel is best for more of a formal look. It is also more flattering for shorter or larger men. Shawl lapels are strictly for formal wear such as tuxedos or if you’re really experimenting, and you already have 10-12 quality suits already in your wardrobe- which means you’re probably not reading this blog.
Lining Style – Most suits have a silk or satin lining on the interior sections of the suit. If you tend to “run hot”, I suggest a half or 1/3 lining style; which will mean your jacket will be only partially lined, allowing for more breathability and lighter weight.
Vents – The three types of vent styles are “side vents”, a “split vent”, or no vent at all. Side vents are the most common nowadays among stylish men. With slits on both left and right sides of the rear part of the jacket, this style provides a flattering silhouette for most men and a more modern look. It also looks better than the other options when the jacket is worn separately with other trousers or jeans. Most off-the-rack suits are produced with a single “American” vent, which is less expensive to produce. It works well on few people, particularly those that may have a large seat. A no-vent style works well for petite men, as it provides a slimmer silhouette that hugs the body.
Pockets – A “Flap” pocket, is the most traditional pocket. The pockets reside on the inside of the fabric and only the flap is exposed (the reason for this was to keep external particles and debris out of your pockets). They tend to be a common choice for business or formal use.
A “Jetted” pocket has the sample pocket construction as the flap, only without the external flap. All that appears externally is a slit on each side where the pocket opens. This is the most formal and streamlined silhouette. While it appears on formalwear such as tuxedos, it’s become more common. Finally, a “Patch” is the most casual pocket. The pocket is sewn externally as a patch. It has a large opening and is typically shipped with round edges on the bottom which give it a wide brandy glass shape. This appears more often in other jackets with casual fabrics such as cotton or linen.
Question 5: What if I want something more unique?
A man will need to choose for himself but always consider how much wear you will get out of this suit. These investments will be your most fruitful if you can wear them often. If you really want something different, consider a unique pattern in navy or gray such as a Birdseye or Herringbone, and then move onto patterns such as a Prince of Wales or other check patterns.