Let’s face it: the most comfortable get-up is a pair of kicks, shorts/jeans and a tee. A suit? Not so much. Yet when the occasion calls for dressing up, you’d better have at least one well-fitting suit that’s ready for wear. If you’ve never bought a suit, or had one made, this one’s for you.
By Damien Lee
Whether it’s a distant cousin’s wedding, a corporate meeting, or just the need to look like a baller for no good reason, a two button single-breasted jacket with notch lapels (also known as “stepped lapels”) will do the job. The versatile jacket is suitable for any occasion and notched lapels suit most body types (emphasis: most).
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When buying a suit off the rack, it is of utmost importance that your jacket and pants fit. If your arms are swimming in your jacket sleeves, it wouldn’t matter that your cufflinks are encrusted with cubic zirconia.
Jacket shoulders should hug the shoulders without pulling across the back. You should also be able to button the jacket with ease. The sleeves should hang straight and long, not bunched up at the arms. Trousers should be a smooth drape over your butt, with the pants sitting comfortably, just slightly above the hips.
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Different materials and colors affect the overall look of a sneaker – the same can be said of suits. The general idea when selecting a suit is to get one that is as versatile as possible. While a black suit looks great, it can be too formal for many occasions. A charcoal or navy suit are apt for any occasion, both work and pleasure. For fabrics, stick to wool or wool blends.
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More often than not, suits bought off the rack will not fit perfectly since human beings come in all shapes and sizes. Some of us are blessed with the body of a Greek God, some of us hit the protein powder too much and are paying the price of the after-effects; some of us have chicken legs, some of us have too much leg.
Fret not, a good tailor would be able to make simple alterations without changing the overall look of the suit. Hems of the trousers should be shortened to form a gentle break, while the seat can be taken in if it’s too baggy. The jacket sleeve should also be shortened to show half an inch of your shirt. Remember to wear a pair of dress shoes and a formal shirt when making the alterations, so the tailor has a better idea of where the pants and jacket sleeve should end.
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We’re not quite done yet. Pay attention to the detail. Jacket pockets are an important feature. The classic flap pockets are a timeless design and can be tucked away in a pinch to create a more formal jetted pocket. The vents of a jacket also affect the overall look of a suit. Both the single and double vent look good with any jacket, allowing the jacket to drape comfortably when sitting. Lastly, pleats on trousers should generally be avoided unless you are super confident about pulling them off well, or are a hardlined traditionalist, or Dad, is that you?
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Would you rather have a plain hem or cuffs? If you don’t already know, cuffs are the turned-up margin of trousers, neatly creased and sewn into place. Cuffs also give the pants extra physical weight, allowing the fabric to fall better. A cuffless pant is generally smarter looking, while a cuffed pant is slightly old-school. Whether or not you want cuffs, it all comes down to preference. Try both and decide which looks better.
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Accessories of the suit should not match, but instead complement the outfit. Ties and pocket squares draw attention away from the stomach and towards the chest area. They do not have to be the same color, but again, they should complement each other. As for tie knot, you’d only really need to know the four-in-hand. It’s neither too big nor too small; it’s slightly asymmetrical, and appropriate for most situations.
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Just because you’re in a suit and tie, doesn’t mean you can’t play around with your footwear choices. If you’re dressing up for a formal occasion, go with the conventional oxfords or derbys. If it’s semi-formal, throw on a pair of no-frills sneakers in muted colours – grey, black or white. Think adidas Stan Smith, Common Projects Achilles low tops or Converse Jack Purcells.
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