Tailor-Made Suits: The Rules to Buying a Custom Made Suit.

Posted September 07 2015




The Basic Rules for Suiting and Booting from Generic Puzzles:

So you need a suit.  Whether it’s for your graduation (congrats!), a wedding (good luck) or attending your beloved half-aunt's funeral (our sincere condolences), you’re going to need to add to your repertoire of suits and find one that looks and fits great.

Remember, a badly fitting suit can make you look less dressed up than no suit at all.

Rule number 1. Fit is everything – even the world most expensive suit will look a potato sack if it isn’t tailored to the contours of your body.

If you can’t afford a tailored made suit, then grab a great looking suit from the rack at a local department store and then spend a few extra bucks on custom tailoring. Even when buying a suit from the store a few extra dollars will got a long way to giving your suit the “wow” factor you desire.

If you are going to buy a suit online to save a buck or two, you should really be going to your local department store and try it on pre-purchase. This guarantees that you will have at least something to work with, when it comes to fitting. When buying a suit off the rack, the most troublesome and important element to fit is the shoulders; shoulder are incredibly hard to fix, if they don’t fit initially.

A well fitted shoulder lies flat, with the seam on top of the shoulder lying un-rumpled and should be the same length as the shoulder under it.  The arms should have no divots or arm wrinkles – this is the sign of a bad fit.

A great suit fit should give the full range of motion, both buttoned and unbuttoned – you should be able to rotate and stretch your arms without restriction.

Suits are styled on clean lines, you should be able to fit one finger between the collar of your shit and your neck, but no more than that. Your shirt collar should also follow the lines of your suit’s lapel.


The Jacket Closure:




As a rule of thumb: If you are standing and wearing a suit you should have the jacket buttoned, while sitting, it should be unbuttoned, unless you are wearing a double breasted suit. When testing your suit in the store you should test the closure on your jacket to see how it wraps. 

A bad fit on jacket closure is easy to spot as you will get an 'X' across the fabric where it is pulled tightly across your chest, causing the suit to warp as it strains.


Jacket Length:



A half-inch of linen – just like grandma used to say. The time-honored tradition for the relationship between a suit jacket and the shirt – this is not some cryptic code. It refers to the amount of shirt you should be able to see underneath your suit sleeve. This is terminology could be slightly old hat by modern standards and does not need to be followed to the letter, more a general guideline, so put away the measuring tape.

For sure, the sleeve should never hide the shirt completely and a small band of cuff should always be visible. Once again, this is a very easy adjustment for the tailor to make – so focus on the shoulder primarily.

A good suit or jacket should fall just past the waist and drape over the buttocks. An ideal fit will cover your rear and stop before the top of your leg. Your hands also give a good marker, with your hand relaxed the base of the jacket should come to around your knuckles – of course this is purely subjective as different men have different arm lengths, but once again a good outline.

Jacket Collar

It’s easy to tell a well fitted collar from a poorly fitted one. Tight fits are very bunched around your neck and loose fits will mean the suit pulls away. Remember contours, you need to make everything smooth and sleek.

Your jacket collar should rest against your shirt collar which in turn lies on the back of your neck. These elements should only barely touch without any significant gaps between them. If the collar is too loose it’s a very easy spot – there will be a gap where it is flopping back off your neck.

Trousers:



The fit on the trousers is also important: and befall a handful of critical rules. One: trousers should fit only on your waist, never on your hips and one finger should fit into your waist band – no muffin tops.

By pulling your trousers up just a bit you are going to look vastly more refined, It looks sleeker and slimmer you want to avoid tight or loose fabric. The back of your trousers should be a smooth drape over the shape of your rear – the fabric should not be baggy or taut.

You can spot a bad suit in the seat of the pants, when there are wrinkles, or loose u-shaped sags across the thighs. If you just need marginal changes, this can be done my tailor.

Trouser Break


The trouser break is the small wrinkle caused when the top of your shoes stops your trousers cuff from falling its full length. This usually, should be a small subtle feature – one horizontal dimple or crease is usually ideal. The cuff should rest on the top of your shoe – the back of the trouser can sit slightly lower than the from resting just above the heel is appropriate. This is one of the easiest adjustments to make.


Some Quick Rules:

1. The shirt cuffs should not slide up when you stretch your arms

2. This is the failing of many a man: Don’t ruin your custom-made suit with 2 dollar shoes. Do. Not. Wear. Trainers.

3. Always unfasten your jacket buttons when you sit. Absolutely, no exceptions. Make sure your socks are long enough, so that no skin on your leg is shown when sitting down - also.

4. The finish is everything - don’t go all sloppy and have a white undershirt poke through above your dress shirt neck. This is especially true if you are prone to sweating a lot. If you must wear under shirt, generic recommends that you go with a deep neck or v-neck vest.

6. Suits are a game of inches: so here’s the numbers.

When you are standing ensure that at least ¼ inch of a shirt collar is exposed above the suit collar. When you sit, the suit jacket collar will ride up and drown your shirt collar. Measure the jacket sleeves so that 1/2 an inch is exposed.


Your Choices
:

The rule of 3 “sometimes, always, never’ rule applies to the top, middle and bottom buttons of your suit jacket. Never wear all three buttons.

Single breasted suit: The most common type, and a staple in the most wardrobes – if you don’t have one, get one. The single breasted suited can be dressed up with a Peak Lapel.

The double breasted suit: The double breasted suits is a statement piece, if  you are vertically challenged or skinny, double breasted suits are probably not for you. Everyone should stay away from loud patterns and think pinstripes – always keeping your jacket buttoned – even when sitting.



Slim fit: Does exactly what it says on the tin, it means that it is closer to the body without excess fabric – this doesn’t mean you have to be tailored with an inch of your life, slim fit can be worn by a lot of different body types.

Classic fit: is comfortable and easy to wear, it is generously cut around the chest and waist which means  less constriction but it still maintains a clean body shape.

Modern fit: This style falls between both the slim and the classic – this is designed for the guy who don’t want the boxy classic fit but don’t think they can pull off a slim fit suit.

Lapels: lapels are the tell-tale sign of a dated suit. A good rule of thumb is that your lapels should be about the width of your site. For the moment skinny ties are in, as are skinny lapels or more accurately fat ties.

Notch Lapel - The Notch Lapel looks good at work, in meetings and for job interview, but is not too stuffy for date night or social event, a very balanced suit.

Peak Lapel – a Peak lapel is used primarily for double breasted suits, however now the Peak lapel is featured on a single breasted suit is now considered a sharp accent.

Shawl Lapel – The Shawl Lapel is almost exclusively is almost exclusively seen on tuxedos and dinner jackets at weddings and black tie events. A Shawl Lapel on jacket adds graceful lines. 

Buttons: The most common style today is a two-button suit. If you only have a three-button suit it’s time to go shopping.


Vents:  The darts and pinches at the back of the suit jacket can dramatically change the fit of a suit and how it falls on your body.

Center Vent:
As the name implies, the cut goes up the middle of the jacket. A Center Vent should lie closed when you are wearing your jacket or the jacket fit is not right.

Side Vent:
Side Vents let you put your hands in your pants pockets without the jacket bunching up and allow the jacket to lie smoothly in the back when seated. Side Vents can also make a jacket appear slimmer.

Accessories: like pocket squares can add another level of sophistication to your suiting. If you are wearing a light suit a dark pocket square can provide a visual anchor. As a rule you should never match the color or fabric of your tie or suit to that of your pocket square.

Never wear a sports watch with a suit, if this an “a-ha moment” for you then its time to get yourself a proper watch.

For accessories, less is more - you shouldn’t be seen with a pocket square, a tie bar and a lapel all at once.


Fabric:


When picking a suit the fabric choice is super important, there are only a handful of fabrics designed for suiting – which is good, but there are still a lot of factors to picking the perfect one.

In summer you’re going to need a breathable fabric to war against the sweaty back – in winter you’re going to need a thicker jacket.

Fabric softness is a second factor, who wants to be engaged by itchy suit pants? Or feel trapped tight and unable to move because of an over starched jacket.

Wool is probably the most popular fabric choice for men due to its versatility and refined look. Wool is a fully organic material which means that it breathers well and can be worn in summer and winter – in day or night. It is super soft wrinkle free but can be seen a clumpy, and unflattering.

Cotton is the second most popular fabric for suits and is derived from plant fibers. Cotton suits move and breathe well but are easily creased which make the suit look sloppy. They are satisfactory when it comes to softness but lag behind in the luxury department when compared to wool fabrics.

Linen suits are super lightweight and maintain their coolness in soaring temperatures. However, linen wrinkles easily and stains even easier, meaning it requires regular dry cleaning to maintain a fresh, crisp look.

Cashmere, on its own or as a blend, is rather luxurious but can give an unwanted shine to a suit. Depending on whether you want something fancily European or not, cashmere may not be suitable for work. But for pleasure? Always.

 

  • 7oz – 9oz: Lightweight. Ideal for the peak of summer here. Think African plains hot.
  • 9.5oz – 11oz: Light to mid weight. Perfect for moving from spring to summer and late summer to autumn. Cause we all love awkward transitions.
  • 11oz – 12oz: Mid weight. Perfect as the go-to fabric weight for most days. Choose this for your first suit purchase.
  • 12oz – 13oz: Heavier mid weight. A satisfactory choice for daily wear, though maybe a little too hot to handle in the peak of summer.
  • 14oz – 19oz: Heavy. Great on a cold autumn or winter’s day. Warmth made easy.