Guys, this is another post for you, so pay attention! If you do not own at least one quality suit, get on it. There is no better way to look professional, polished and sleek. But buying a quality suit that fits well and looks right on your body is far easier said than done. There are SO many details to consider, so I'll break it down for you.
Single Breasted vs. Double Breasted: I mentioned this in my Seersucker post, but unless you are pushing 6 feet or there-abouts, do not attempt the double breasted suit. As for single breasted, there are several options for the number of buttons down the front. More on that later.
The lapels: For suits, there are basically two to choose from: notched or peaked. Choose the style that feels best on you, but if they do not lie flat against your chest, the fit of the jacket needs to be adjusted (up). Also, in general, men are often advised to avoid very narrow or very wide lapels. Once again, it's a matter of taste, but that tends to be pretty solid advice. On a tuxedo, you also have the option of a shawl, or rounded collar.
The vents: Generally single vents keep a slim silhouette, while double vents allow you to pull the jacket closer to your body. Double-breasted suit coats usually don't have vents, but there are also single breasted suit coats without vents.
Buttons: The number of buttons on the front of your coat is a matter of taste and fit, but there are rules about which ones to button. With a three-button suit coat, only button the middle one. If there are two buttons, close only the top button. Single button suits are also an option and yes, you may button the single. Very high quality suits also have working buttons on the sleeve. Take a look the next time you see a suit in a nice shop- the real, working buttons are evidence of high quality craftsmanship. It doesn't matter that no one ever unbuttons them to roll his sleeves up, it's more the fact that they CAN open that appeals to some men.
The pockets: A patch pocket is a very informal, almost sporty style of pocket where the pocket itself is sewn to the front of the coat. A flap pocket has a piece of matching fabric that flaps over the opening for the pocket which is inside the coat. This a more formal look than the patch pocket and is also the most common in mens suits. The jetted pocket is the most formal pocket and is mostly seen in formal wear like tuxedos. This type of pocket has a small strip of fabric at the top and bottom of the slit for the pocket. In addition to the two outer pockets, some suits have a third pocket called a ticket pocket located just above the right pocket. It came about as a convenient place to store a train ticket, and has shown up on some suits as of late. When purchasing a new suit, the pockets are sewn shut, make sure to open them carefully with a seam ripper or small scissors, but please don't fill them with bulky items like an ipod, cell phone or wallet. It will ruin the silhouette.
The fabric: Most suits are made of wool and come in a variety of weights, but other popular fabrics include seersucker, cotton, and linen. Also, many of those fabrics, particularly wool are available in a variety of colors and patterns- a navy blue suit is incredibly versatile (but please please please do NOT get one with brass buttons), black is also quite popular and can be dressed up or down. Cotton suits are best in lighter colors such as khaki, or light blue since they are generally reserved for warmer weather. The same goes for linen, but there are always exceptions. Also, prints such as pin-stripe, windowpane plaid, glen-check, and herringbone are all acceptable.
Are you guys feeling overwhelmed? It certainly is a lot of information to take in. My advice: start with a nice navy blue, grey or black suit that fits well. Good fit begins with the shoulders- the seams should fall along your shoulders and the fit should be flattering. It should be snug without looking tight. The sleeves should be long enough to almost hit the knuckle of your thumb while still allowing a bit of sleeve to show. The jacket should pull smoothly across your back when buttoned. If it isn't smooth, the jacket is too tight. Lapels lay flat across your chest. I could write a whole entire post about pants, so I'll try to keep this basic. Flat front is usually best for pants- it's the most flattering, but occassionally a single pleat can help pants drape better, depending on your body type. Just try to avoid pants with multiple pleats. Also, don't be surprised if your suit pants feel different from your jeans- they should. Jeans are always a little tighter in terms of fit. If your suit pants fit like your jeans fit, then you need to get bigger suit pants. The pants should sit at your natural waist- just below your belly button. As for length, the pants should fall an inch above the sole of your shoe- this creates a nice "break" in the front of the pant. Cuffed hems should be reserved for pleated pants.
I hope this crash course in suits has been helpful, but feel free to ask a question in the comments section, or email me. Happy suiting!