So, I’m on the subway when what could only be described as a little bit of masculine heaven passes by me. He should have been Mediterranean perfection except for that buzz kill of a suit. It needed a minimum of two inches cut away from each side or better yet; he should have bought a suit that fits.
Gentlemen, the difference between a sophisticated man and a guy in a suit is tailoring. When you buy a suit, fit is key. Are your shoulders stopping in the right place? Is there space in the neck area? Is the jacket gapping anywhere? You want your suit to flatter you, not make you look untidy. However, it’s not likely that a suit will be perfect off the rack. On average, most men have thicker necks, broader shoulders and/or longer arms than the size the design world uses. Think of the sizes as an educated guess. Also, you should keep in mind every designer cuts differently. It’s possible to find your perfect match.
Attempting to get more information on this, I sat down with my favorite tailor, Ruth, and found out what you should know. I can’t prove it but I suspect she was birthed at a sewing machine with a measuring tape around her neck. Needless to say she’s been making people look perfect for a long time.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR SUIT FIT PERFECTLY
• If the shoulders and chest don’t fit, then it’s simply not worth it. It will cost too much to fix it. Leave the suit behind.
• The sleeve, the side seams, the collar and the back seam can all be adjusted within reason.
• Don’t forget the pants. The hem should stop about 1 1/2 inches below the ankle. There are some newer slim fits that stop above the ankle. Don’t hem those pants.
• Look at yourself in the big three-way mirror in the best light and consider the length of the jacket and the style of the suit. Are you too short to carry off the six button double-breasted blazer? Should you have a shorter jacket?
There are a few ways to go in terms of where to look for suits and suiting. The most expensive alternative is custom.
Truthfully, while it’s not cheap, I suggest having it done at least once for the experience. If that’s too tall of an order, I suggest the department store. Higher end department stores like Saks, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman carry suits that GQ dreams are made of. For the cost conscience guy, there are lots of department stores that sell quality suits at reasonable prices. Sometimes department stores have sale events where you get free tailoring with purchase. Depending on the retailer you could get crazy good deals.
What I haven’t talked about are the smaller specialty stores and the smaller privately owned shops. Most small specialty stores can’t afford a full time tailor, however, asking costs you nothing. Private shops usually can offer great service and sometimes face time with the designers. Where some men make their mistake is choosing a suit solely based on price. A good deal doesn’t make for a great look.
The suit doesn’t have to be custom; it can be vintage, but take the time to have it tailored. A little bit of effort in your appearance will put you heads and shoulders above the rest.
*Special thanks to Ruth Wongdebalderas at the Washington DC Lord and Taylor for her collaboration.
Posted by Denee Davis