Buying a suit from Savile Row is a no-brainer, right? The quality and craftsmanship is second to none and without fail you know if you go to one of the key brands you will walk out looking and feeling a million dollars. For those gentleman lucky enough to afford the price tags that their handmade suits demand, then it’s happy days.
But what about shopping for a suit on the high street? Do you look at price, shape, cloth, brand? It can soon become a bit of a nightmare with those being swayed by a ‘cool’ brand overpaying on a poorly made product. Whilst other brands become undervalued because they don’t have the reputation to backup their fine offering.
What I would like to do is show gentlemen the tips to look out for when buying a suit, helping (I hope) men to make an informed decision.
If you are on a budget or looking for a versatile suit that you can wear through the seasons then focus on wool. By far it will give you more bang for your buck. If you choose cotton you will soon be regretting it when you are freezing your nuts off in the colder months. Linen doesn’t need explaining does it? Only for summer gentlemen!
The Jacket Fit
This can be subjective based on your weight, but take into consideration certain points on the suit.
- Your shoulder should line up with that of the jackets
- Ideally the sleeve should show about a 1/2 inch of shirt cuff
- Keep the arm cut high into the armpit to help the jacket hang more flatteringly
- If you are of average height the length of the jacket should sit about halfway down the buttocks. If you are taller, lengthen the jacket and the opposite if you are smaller.
For me it has to be a two button. The one button option is more suited (ahem!) for a blazer, a more relaxed affair worn as part of a smart casual outfit. Whilst the single breasted three button is just a little dated in my opinion.
If you are in the UK then I would suggest going for a lined jacket, just because we don’t see enough sun to warrant an unlined suit. But remember unlined doesn’t equal poor quality necessarily. The innards are visible so typically it takes more skill to create a jacket without lining. Always, always though have lining in the sleeves so the jacket slides on like a dream.
Please whatever you do don’t make your trousers just an after thought. They are crucial to the whole look, and should have as much care taken to them as the jacket. Look from all angles to see how your trousers sit, not too baggy they look like an 80’s rap video, and not too tight you look like a member of the Nutcracker (literally!). Recommended trouser break is ‘slight’ (quarter), unless you are a trendy wendy and are going sockless during the warmer months then you might ask for no break.
When paired with your suit you want a clean fitted silhouette nipped in at the waist, your trousers should fit comfortably without a belt.
The Tubular Sleeve
The key here is to look for the curve in the sleeve and making sure that the sleeve of the jacket follows the line of your arm when they are by your side. Everyone has different posture for different reasons and although high street brands mass produce suits they will have specific house cuts, so shop around to find the brand that fits you best.
Easy to remember just think straight arm jackets equal a poorer quality.
I hope this guide will help you when you are next on the high street shopping for a new suit. To caveat the above though I would always suggest researching your local tailor or alterations service who for a small cost can create an even better fit for you from the high street suit you have purchased.
Sam Brady is a menswear expert, having worked in or around the field for the past 14 years. He has built up a keen eye for detail when it comes to the production of clothing, and is happy showcasing the craftsmanship of Savile Row and Jermyn St. But he understands the need for an interchangeable modern man’s wardrobe that mixes high street and luxury clothing.