A suit can make any man appear more confident and stylish, but even the most expensive suit can look plain sloppy if it’s not fitted right.
“Fit is probably the most important part of wearing a suit,” says Jonathan Cavaliere, a menswear blogger who was previously awarded the title of Canada’s Sharpest Man by Sharp Magazine and The Bay. “One thing to keep in mind is that it’s very rare you are going to find a suit that fits you perfectly right off the rack, so expect to have your tailor work some magic.”
And yet— the key to looking suave in a suit is the way the man wears the suit, adds Cavaliere. He helps breaks down some of the most common fashion faux pas men make when donning suits.
No.1: Oversized suit jacket
One of the most common men’s style mistakes is wearing a suit jacket that is a few sizes too big. Cavaliere suggests wearing a blazer that fits snug on the shoulder with sleeves that are a good length for your arms. “Your sleeves should show about a half inch of cuff.”
No. 2: Wrong pants length
It’s all about proportions; you shouldn’t be tripping over your pants when you walk, and you don’t want them too short like you’re channeling Urkel. Your pants should have little to no “break,” Cavaliere suggests, referring to where the pant leg meets the shoe. The pant should fall between the ankle and the heel. This would essentially make a shorter man appear taller and a taller man look more proportionate.
No. 3: Suit that’s too small
Not every man can pull off a skinny suit. That being said, a suit that’s trim (not tight) and yet gently hugs the body should complement most body types.
“Men typically confuse the word ‘slim’ with skinny or tight and that is far from the truth,” notes Cavaliere. “A man who has a large frame with bigger proportions can still fit in a slim suit, as long as he is trying on the right size.”
Opt for a brand that makes slim cuts. Most of the time, the suit can be altered in places where a man needs a bit more room, or taken in where he needs it a bit less.
No. 4: Over-buttoning
Over-buttoning your suit jacket may restrict movement and alter its silhouette. If it’s a two-button suit, Cavaliere suggests buttoning the top button and not the bottom—this should essentially make the shoulders look broader. When sitting, you can unbutton the top button as well to allow the jacket to relax. On a double-breasted suit, the anchor button (the button located on the inside of the jacket) should always be buttoned to give the jacket a good fit around the mid-section. (Photo © Jonathan Cavaliere / mrcavaliere.com)
No. 5: Matching pocket squares and tie
The pocket square and tie are located close to each other, so the two patterns should complement, not match. Matching the two simply lacks creativity and looks cheap, says Cavaliere. (Photo via Getty Images)
Tips for buying a suit
“If you are looking for something durable that will last a long time, go for something in the Super 110 wool range,” says Cavaliere, referring to the thread count. “The higher the number, the more luxurious the cloth. With that being said, the higher the thread count, the easier it will pill and eventually fray – which makes Super 110 a perfect medium.”
In terms of construction, there are only three ways to make a suit: fused, half canvassed, and full-canvassed.
Fused suits are the cheapest and most common suits on the market—but a fused suit has a glued chest piece, and over time will cause the fabric to bubble and ultimately appear cheap. Fused suits also don’t mold to the wearer like half-canvassed or full-canvassed suits.
“My advice it to go for a suit that is half-canvassed as they are affordable, durable, and mould to your body with wear,” says Cavaliere. “(But) I think over everything, the most important part of wearing a suit is confidence. There is just something about putting on a well-fitting suit, which automatically makes you feel like a million bucks.”
How to spot a cheap suit
The personal styling team at menswear brand Frank + Oak provide some quick tips on how to detect the quality of a suit:
Pockets are a good indicator as to the quality of a garment. It’s a small detail that customers and thus designers often overlook, but it definitely makes all the difference.
Cheap buttons are also a no-go. The easy way to spot them is if they look flimsy and painted.
The shoulders are a critical point on a jacket; they should have a clean, smooth line.
A suit’s sizing should be more precise than “small”, “medium” or “large.”
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