The secret to wearing a suit properly is understanding how it’s meant to fit your body. With the basic knowledge of a tailor and few simple tips, anyone can look smart and put together. Just remember that while fashions change year to year, having a high-quality, classic suit can help keep you in style for a long time.
Nailing the Basics
1Choose a charcoal gray or navy blue suit. Unless you are going to a funeral or black-tie affair, there is no reason to wear a black suit in the daytime. Instead, go for a classic-cut, neutral color. These suits will be more versatile and favorable for everyday wear. Most dress shirt colors will also match well with a dark grey or navy.
- Feel free to choose a subtle pattern for your shirt, just make sure it doesn’t clash with any pattern on your suit.
2 Check the fit of your jacket. The jacket should taper in at the waist to accentuate your shoulders. While the hem should fall where your fingertips end naturally when you have your arms at your side. The sleeves should also sit at the top of your wrists and allow a quarter to a half inch of your shirt cuff to show.
- For a better fit, visit a tailor to have the jacket fitted around your biceps.
- Avoid lapels wider than three inches.
- Also be sure to remove the brand label from the sleeve.
3 Make sure the pants “break” on top of your shoes. This is when your pants skim the tops of your shoes and create a crease. If there is no crease, it’s a good sign that your pants are too short. However, if you have a deep crease or multiple creases, it’s likely your pants are too long. To make sure you get the right length, try the pants on while wearing shoes.
- If you are planning to wear a suit every day, buy more than one pair of trousers as they are likely to wear quickly.
4 Avoid pants with front pleats or cuffs. Pleats are a much older look that has fallen out of fashion. So rather than trousers with a front crease, go for a flat-pressed trouser, which will help slim your legs. Similarly, purchasing pants without cuffs will help elongate your legs, as cuffing makes them appear shorter.
Choosing Dress Shirts and Ties
1Wear your suit with a quality dress shirt. Though it can be hard to tell the difference from far away, a quality dress shirt will not only look better but feel better as well. You will have freer movement and the dress shirt will last longer. To make sure you are buying a high-quality piece, look at the crispness of the collar and check for clean stitching.
- Also look at the paneling along the shoulders. If the shirt has a “split yoke,” which is where the panel is made from two different fabric pieces sewn together at an angle, then it is likely to be better made.
2Go for a classically styled shirt. You can use the dress shirt to bring in pops of color to accentuate the suit or add personality. However, you don’t want to go over-the-top with patterns or bright hues. A fluorescent neon shirt is unlikely to go over well in a basic office job. Instead, try to stick to whites, blues, light purples, salmon, and grays.
- If you are going to wear an undershirt, wear a v-neck so it doesn’t show under your collar.
3 Check the width and length of your tie. The standard rule is that the width of your tie should match the width of the lapels on your suit jacket. So, if your lapels are two-three inches, then your tie should be the same. You should also make sure that your tie partially covers your belt buckle. To do this, you may want to knot the tie to see how long it is when worn properly.
4 Stick to basic knots. The most common knot for a tie is the Windsor knot. This knot looks good with any suit and is common for everyday work attire. You can do either a half-Windsor knot or a full-Windsor knot. Though it may sound odd, a good way to judge which knot to use is to go off of the size of your head. You want the Windsor knot to match. For less formal attire, try a four-in-hand knot.
Completing Your Look
1 Add a pocket square. Fold it so it fits snugly in the pocket and just peeks out of the top. This is a great accent piece to any suit and is a great way to add a bit of personality or character. However, your pocket square should not match your tie’s pattern or fabric.
2Get the right shoes. For everyday wear, try dark brown shoes. These shoes pair well with both charcoal gray and navy blue. You can also go for lighter browns or tans if you are wearing a lighter colored suit. Loafers or Oxfords are the most common shoes to wear with suits, though you can change styles depending on the occasion.EXPERT TIP
“Try wearing a suit with a modern cut that’s a little shorter with really cool socks to show off a nice pair of shoes.”
3Buy socks with proper length. While socks are a great area to play around with style, you always want to make sure they cover your ankles when you sit down. Your pants are going to ride up no matter what you do, so you want to make sure you aren’t showing off any extra skin. Aim for pairs that sit halfway up your shin like argyles.
- Feel free to mix up colors and patterns or simply stick to blacks and grays.
4 Choose a thin belt. A belt is a necessity for a properly fitted suit. However, you don’t want a large, clunky item with a big belt buckle to overpower your look. Instead, go for a thin belt the same color as your shoes with a silver, gold, or bronze belt buckle. The simpler, the better.