The Complete Guide To Buying Your First Suit
Does a man need a suit?
In the opening scene of Spectre, Daniel Craig in a perfect dark suit turns to his woman and says “I won’t be long“. He gets out of the window, casually walks on the roof like he has done it a million times. The streets are in chaos by the festivities but you see the confidence in his face. Mission starts! You almost feel the thrill and you wish you were like him. Classy. Can you imagine him doing it in a fluffy jumper or an ugly Christmas sweater? You get the idea right?
The first time I walked into a store to buy my first suit is a moment to remember. I had finally found a well paying job and had just begun to build up my wardrobe from scratch. I decided to go to Brothers in Stockholm, where a well-dressed salesman by the name of Simon greeted me warmly. He asked me what I was looking for and I simply said:
“It is time to suit up”.
The question how many suits does a man need or which colour they should be is a hard one to answer. It depends on the person, his line of work and his age group. However the question “Does a man need a suit?” has a very easy answer.
That answer is absolutely. Whether you work in a bank or a construction site, there are going to be times where a suit will be required.
I am here to help you make that choice.
Where is a suit required or recommended?
The list of where a suit is appropriate is actually endless. Here are some events that I would consider important:
- Your graduation
- A funeral
- A business interview
- A meeting with an important client
- Daily if you are a banker or a lawyer
- Cocktail parties or networking events
- A classy date
- At work, simply because you want to look and feel great
Things to consider when buying your first suit
Now that I have finally convinced you about the necessity of having a suit, it is time to talk about the little but very important details. You have finally decided that you need a suit but you have no idea where to start. All suits look the same, you do not know what colour to select and you are terrible at matching colours together. You look around and you see dozens of brands, each with different patterns and fabrics and in the end you buy what is more convenient or cheap, or even buy an overpriced brand just because you heard Hugo Boss is good. I will try to break it down as simply as I can.
In the following sections you will find the most important things to look for when you are buying any suit, whether it is your first suit or your 10th:
- Material and Quality
- Colour and Versatility
Let’s break them down one by one.
Fit is by far the most important component of any successful outfit. You can wear a suit from H&M that costs 100$ and look like a million bucks just because it fits you well, while on the same time you can spend 5000$ on a brand suit that is 2 sizes bigger and looks baggy on you. The result is that you will look uncomfortable in your suit and everyone will look at you for all the wrong reasons.
A suit jacket or a blazer should follow the natural curve of your body, especially at the shoulder parts. It should be straight and not crease a sure sign that it is too big or too small.
Another easy way to spot if the jacket fits well is the front buttons. If the jacket creates the dreaded “X” that is illustrated in the picture, then the jacket is too small. On the contrary, if it looks loose, it is too big.
Lifehack: If you have a single breasted jacket, you should always button the first button and leave the bottom one unbuttoned. Remember also to unbutton it when you sit down, so you do not put stress on the button and risk it popping out eventually.
I see a lot of men that have paid attention to these details but have neglected the simplest yet most effective alteration that a man can do on his suit. Hemming the pants and shortening the arms. For a very low price, you can shorten your pants and arm lengths to the desired length and this is a small subtle sign that you take care of your appearance and that you mean business. I will not go into much detail on this as the pictures below speak for themselves. I generally favour length up to my wrists for jackets and no break for the pants, so they will look crisp and straight when looking sideways.
And remember, a suit jacket might look great on the front, but always take a look at the back of the collar. If it creases, it is a bit too tight. Taking a “seating test” will always give you a better idea.
Material and Quality
Now that we have established how important fit is, let us talk about the actual garments. Before buying something, remember to always check these few things that help you select a product of good quality that will last you years with proper care.
- Fabric type. There are different types of fabrics that are woven in different ways and come from different sources. Cashmere, cotton, wool, linen and synthetics such as polyester. The first thing to consider is the frequency of the use and the climate you live in. Flannel is great for colder climates while linen is perfect for more casual, summer days. A fabric that you can always count on in general is wool. Always check the inside pockets of a suit that reveal the actual materials used in each piece. If you buy online (Which I do not recommend), always look for the additional material information tab. If you plan to use the suit often, avoid going over Super 120-130 wool, since it is less durable and delicate. Your first suit should generally be from 100% wool products, though the interior lining will be probably synthetic. If you keep something from this guide, is that you should ALWAYS avoid the twin sisters, Poly and Ester. Like the plague. They are uncomfortable and will break down very soon, leaving you frustrated, itchy and annoyed.
- Suits have three types of canvases. Glued, half and full canvas. You should avoid glued as it will break shape very soon and is a sign of lower quality. Half canvas is a mix of sewn and glued interlining and full canvas has interlining sewn to the outer shell of the jacket. A quick easy way to tell is the pinch test. Simply pinch the fabric below the bottom buttonhole inside and outside of the jacket. Pull the layers apart gently. If you can feel a third layer inside, the jacket is fully canvassed. You should always look for at least half canvas, as full canvas is generally more expensive.
- The attention to detail, the buttons and the stitching quality are also important. Always try to take a closer look to the small details in every piece. Are the buttons plastic? Does the garment feel good to touch? Is the stitching inconsistent or sloppy? These are small details that you will start noticing after a while.
Colour and Versatility
Now we are in business. You are comfortable choosing your quality first suit and know which fabric to look for, depending on frequency of use and the climate of your location. Choosing the colour of your first suit is rather simple and in the end, a personal preference. You will either buy a dark charcoal suit or a navy blue suit.
You cannot go wrong with either choice. They are staples in the classic man’s wardrobe, though dark grey is more associated with business, sales or banking in my opinion. You might opt with that if you are an older man, but if you are in your 30’s like me, I believe that a dark blue suit should be your first suit because of one reason: Versatility.
A dark blue or navy suit can go with virtually anything. Pair it with some brown oxford shoes and a red tie and you have a power suit ready to accomplish anything.
Not everyone has enough money to buy multiple suits. Versatility is key. You can dress it up with a classic white or powder blue dress shirt or a beautiful light pink. You can virtually match it with any colour tie and pocket square. In general though, I would always go with lighter colours to avoid a monotonic display, which is a big no-no.
Want to dress it down? Wear some white sneakers or change the pants to khaki chinos or grey dress pants. You have a completely different outfit every day. A bonus is that when you wear it in the evenings or at night, it will almost look like formal black.
Why a navy blue suit should be your first suit and a grey suit your second will be covered in the following weeks here in Misiu Academy.
I will be rather simple here. Higher price does not mean always higher quality. Sometimes you pay for the brand name a substantial mark up. Hugo Boss makes nice business suits, but not everyone can spend 800$ just to show off. You can buy a quality suit for half that price and even go made to measure around 500$, a much better choice.
What I will say though is the following: Always buy the best that you can afford based on your budget. If you have to spend 50$ more for a suit that you know will last you years, it is a great investment. A cheaper suit will need replacement much faster, which drops its ROI (Return on Investment) over time. Shop smart and always ask questions. A salesman wants to sell. Question their knowledge.
We have gone through why a man needs a first suit, why it should be navy blue and how to do smart shopping. I hope this long first post has inspired you to notice the little details and leave a smile when you are in the store. I will never forget the day that I was wearing my grey suit while walking next to the lake, ordered an ice cream and the kid serving me said:
“Sir, you look fantastic”.
A basic, versatile and interchangeable wardrobe will allow you to step up your game and be the foundation of your new style change. Please leave your comments below, as criticism or additions are always welcome or subscribe for regular weekly content. In the next article we will talk about grey suits and how to wear them.
And please, avoid Poly and Ester!
Thank you for reading,