Suit up! Part 2: The details
Last week we focused on the fit, so it’s time to move on to the more creative side of suits. Experiment with different colors, textures, and other little details—just follow these simple guidelines, and you’ll be set.
Color and pattern
Grandmother always says that you need to buy a black suit first. While a black suit has plenty of potential for Tarantino badassery, it’s not very versatile and is best saved for funeral garb. For a first suit, one that could be used for anything from interviews to nights out, opt for gray or dark blue. After covering the basics, branch out to richer blues, dark green, plaids, windowpane, tweed, herringbone, khaki, even white (just be careful not to end up looking like Colonel Sanders).
Lightweight wool is the all-around best suiting fabric. It hangs well, can be dressed up or down, and can be worn year-round. For the coldest months, opt for a heavy wool like tweed; for summer, cotton is best. All three types can be broken down into separates and worn with jeans, chinos, and other casual wear. Avoid overly shiny fabrics, and remember, most of the time you pay for what you get. Fabric from Men’s Wearhouse is not going to stack up to somewhere like Brooks Brothers. Of course, that doesn’t mean that quality suits have to cost a fortune (see: Uniqlo).
- Lapels, the “collar” of the suit that extends down the front, matter. The most common style is the notch lapel, which has a V-shaped notch. This is appropriate for any and all occasions. Peak lapels have a point that sticks upward towards the shoulders. These are appropriate for most occasions as well but are more rakish and flashy—be confident. Finally, shawl collars, which smooth all the way down, are best for formal occasions (such as on a tuxedo).
- Two jacket buttons are generally the best looking. Three buttons can look good as well, but make sure that the lapel doesn’t crease above the top button (like 90s power suits). This is often called a 2 1/2 button suit because the top button, when unbuttoned, is hardly noticeable. More than three buttons is too many. One button is best for formal occasions.
- Functional buttons on the sleeves are a sign of a nicer suit, but they make alterations more expensive.
- The type of vents in the back of the jacket is up to preference. One or no vent is traditionally American, while double vents are more European and sporty (they were developed for polo players).
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