How to Buy a Suit | Our Detailed Guide to Making the Right Purchase

How to buy a suit

Updated by Sonia Su

There is a lot of information about how to buy a suit. Much of it is conflicting, and much of it is outdated. Choosing the wrong suit may have been acceptable in the past, but it can have serious business consequences these days.

The purpose of a suit is to project a professional image while also being comfortable enough for a long day's work. It isn't an easy balance to strike, so the first thing you need to do when buying a suit is to take care and not undermine your efforts.

At Nimble Made, we believe that to choose a suit that makes an impression, you need to know the standard for your industry and how those standards have changed over time. We pride ourselves in providing slim-fit shirts that will go hand in hand with your suit. 

Nimble Made

We understand the struggles of getting the perfect fit, so we brought in more inclusion in the sizing standards, even for a classic T-shirt.

Our products are carefully thought of and are of high quality at an affordable price.  


What Does a Suit Consist Of?

A man's suit is typically composed of a jacket, trousers, a shirt, and a necktie. Here are our picks for the best ties.

The jacket is an essential part of the suit. Suits should fit well and is made from high-quality materials. The shoulders should be broad enough to accommodate your frame, and the fabric should drape smoothly over your body. Here is more about how to get your suit tailored.

how a suit jacket should fit

No matter how good the materials are, a suit that looks shabby probably doesn't fit well. If you can't move quickly in your suit as it is now, don't buy it until you find one that fits your size and shape perfectly. In this case, perfection is less important than considering what clothes make you feel confident.


How to Buy a Suit: Buying Guide

When shopping for a suit, it's essential to keep in mind the occasion you will wear it. If you're looking for a suit that is versatile enough to wear to both formal and informal events, then you should choose a navy suit or charcoal gray suit.

If you only need the suit for informal events, you can stand out and wear an unusual color or pattern. For example, a light gray or wine-colored suit is likely to draw attention during a wedding ceremony. Here are some factors to consider when buying a suit:

Choose the Right Style for You

There are many different styles of suits, so it's crucial to find one that fits your body type. A tuxedo, for example, is not the best choice for a large man. Likewise, a slim-fitting suit may not be comfortable for a man with a larger frame. If you're unsure what style suits you, ask a tailor for advice.

Measuring tape

Pick the Right Color

Black is the most versatile color for a suit, but it's not the only option. Brown and charcoal gray are also popular colors. And you can never go wrong with a navy suit if it's your first suit. Be sure to choose a color that matches your skin tone and hair color. Here are our picks for the 7 best suit colors.

Right Fabric

Certain fabrics are associated with specific industries. One of the most important things to consider when buying a suit is the fabric's suitability for your profession. Here are some of the most common fabrics used in suits:

The wool comes in many varieties, but it retains heat and resists wrinkles. It can be dyed in various colors and is often used in suits for business or formal occasions.

Polyester is a synthetic fiber that is wrinkle-resistant and durable. It is often used in suits for everyday wear. Learn more about the differences between polyester and cotton.

Cotton

Linen is a natural fiber that easily wrinkles but is breathable and cool in summer. It is often used in suits for casual occasions.

Cotton is a natural fiber that absorbs sweat quickly but wrinkles very easily. It is often used in suits for summer or warmer climates.

Right Price

While it's good to be practical when buying any piece of clothing, there are no natural shortcuts for purchasing a suit. If you buy cheaper suits without paying attention to quality, you're likely to end up paying for it in the long run. A good suit will last several years if it is taken care of properly.

Choose the Right Fit

Well-fitting suits, especially bespoke suits, make you look polished and professional. A suit that's too tight or too loose will make you look sloppy. When trying on a suit, make sure the shoulders fit well and the fabric is not too tight or too loose. If you're not sure whether a suit fits well, have a tailor take a look.

Tailor


Suit Trousers Size Guide

If your trousers are too big, they're going to fall as the day goes on, and you'll end up looking sloppy. If they're too small, you'll be uncomfortable, and the fabric will pull at your waist and crotch.

The best way to find the right size is to measure your waist and inseam and then compare those measurements to the ones listed on the suit trousers' sizing chart. Be sure to buy slightly longer trousers than you need, as it is easier to shorten them than to lengthen them.

Consider hiring an image consultant if you're not sure where to start when shopping for a suit. Your consultant will help you find clothes that make the best impression on others and make you feel comfortable and confident.

How dress pants should fit


How to Buy a Suit Jacket

The suit jacket should complement the trousers, not match them. The fabric of your suit's jacket should drape smoothly over your shoulders and around your waist. Choose shorter jackets if you're bigger through the middle or have short arms; otherwise, it will make you look boxy. Remember to add a pocket square for a touch of sophistication. Browse Nimble Made's pocket squares.

Pocket square


Shirts and Shoes: Fit and Color

If you want to stand out in a crowd, choose different colors for your shirt and shoes. Wearing the same color suit, shirt, and tie or bow tie will make you look like part of a matched set—though you can also consider a suit without tie. Be sure that your shoes match the color of your belt and bag. Here is a guide on belt sizes for men.

There are many different brands of suits, but some are better than others.

If you're looking for a quality suit, consider investing in a Nimble Made dress shirt. The brand is known for its classic designs and durable fabrics. The Nimble shirts have a modern look, and the construction is excellent. Here are guides on how a dress shirt should fit and the best black dress shirts.

Moreover, the Nimble Made shirts are wrinkle-resistant so that you can wear them straight out of the suitcase. If you're looking for a versatile shirt that can be dressed up or down, the Nimble shirt is a great option, whether you want a classic white shirt or patterned one.



When it comes to variety, they offer many different cuts and colors. You can also find matching ties and pocket squares to complete the look. Here's more on how to buy a dress shirt.


Is It Time to Buy a New Suit?

A well-fitting suit is affordable, versatile, and easy to care for.

If you've had your current suit for more than three years, it may be time to buy a new one, especially if it was bought off the rack. In general, suits should last between five and ten years if they are cared for correctly. If the pockets sag, the fabric is starting to wear thin, or if you've gained or lost weight, it's time for a new suit.

Suit


Consider a Custom-Made Suit

If you have a hard time finding clothes that fit or prefer clothing with a personal touch, consider making a bespoke suit or "made to measure" suit.

Having your suit tailored to fit your body perfectly down to the shirt cuff and notch lapel means it will likely be more comfortable than off-the-rack suits. According to industry standards, a reputable tailor can measure you for your new suit.

If you buy an adjustable suit, you will have to replace it in a few years when your body has changed shape. Buying a bespoke suit or "made to measure" suit is likely to be more expensive than an off-the-rack option or fused suit, but it will make you look and feel better through many years of wear.

Men's suit


Choose Comfortable Undergarments

Don't wear tight underwear or undershirts with your suit. They will show through the fabric and make you look uncomfortable. Instead, choose comfortable undergarments that won't show through your clothes and will allow you to sit comfortably.


Types Of Suits

There are four main types of suits:

Single-Breasted

Single breasted suit is the most popular type; as the name suggests, single breasted has one row of buttons and a notched lapel.

Double-Breasted

Double breasted is less common; it has two rows of buttons and a peaked lapel.

Roped Shoulders

A more casual style; the suit has thicker fabric around the shoulders, which gives it a rounded appearance.

Three-Piece Suit

A more formal style; a waistcoat beneath the jacket.


Where to Wear a Suit

Many people choose a suit for special occasions, but it can be worn on any occasion where you want to look dressed up. Consider wearing your new suit on first dates or job interviews. A tailored suit or bespoke suit will make you appear more successful and put others at ease.

If you don't think of yourself as very fashionable, consider investing in a black suit, which is always in style and can be dressed up or down.

Black suit


How Do You Determine Suit Size?

When shopping for a suit off the rack, the first step is to determine your size. Most stores have a measuring tape so you can measure your chest, waist, and inseam.

If you're not sure what size to order, most stores have staff who can help you choose the correct size and whether you would like a two-button suit or three-button suit.

Suit jackets are typically sized with the number of inches around your chest measurement. If you have a larger or smaller frame, many stores offer custom sizing so you can order a suit that fits you perfectly.

How to measure chest size


Suit Buying Dos And Don'ts

Do:

  • Try on different styles of suits to see what looks best on you
  • Invest in a quality suit that will last for many years
  • Choose a versatile color like black that can be dressed up or down
  • Consider a custom suit if you have a hard time finding clothes that fit
  • Wear comfortable undergarments that won't show through your clothes

 

Don't:

  • Wear tight underwear or undershirts with your suit
  • Choose a suit that's too large or too small for you
  • Buy an off-the-rack suit without trying it on first
  • Wear a suit that's not adjusting


How It Should Fit

It should fit your shoulders and chest well when you try on a suit jacket. The back of the jacket should sit just below your shoulder blades, and the coat's hem should fall at the top of your hips. When you move around, the fabric shouldn't pull or wrinkle.


Suit
If you have broad shoulders or a large chest, you may need to go up a size. If you have a more petite frame, you may need to go down a size.

The pants should fit comfortably around your waist and seat,  and the leg should be straight, not tapered or flared. The hem should fall just above the heel of your shoe.

If the pants are too tight or too loose, they can be adjusted. However, it's vital to get the right fit in the waist and seat so you don't look sloppy.


How Much Should You Spend?

You don't need to spend a fortune on a suit, especially if it's your first suit. Many stores carry quality cases that are affordable. However, if you're looking for suits that will last for many years, it's worth investing in a higher-priced suit.

When you're shopping for a suit, consider your budget and find the best option for you. You can find suits starting at $100, but they may not be of the highest quality. If you're looking for a high-quality suit, expect to spend at least $300.

Suit


Budget Considerations

Suit Materials

A higher price tag doesn't guarantee a high-quality suit. Instead, look for the material the suit is made from, which will give you an indication of its quality. Some materials are more comfortable and durable than others.

Common materials include wool, cotton, polyester, and rayon.

Wool is a popular choice because it's durable and comfortable. It can also be tailored to fit your body well if you find a good tailor.

Cotton is a less expensive option, but it's not as durable as wool. Polyester is a synthetic material that doesn't breathe as well as wool and can be stiffer.

Rayon is a synthetic material that's soft and drapes well.

Suit


Suit Construction

The construction of a suit also affects its quality. Suits are typically made of two or three pieces. The two-piece suit has a jacket and pants, while the three-piece suit has a jacket, pants, and vest.

The seams are part of the construction methods that can affect quality. The most expensive suits have hand-sewn seams by skilled tailors. These suits will fit better because they're sewn to fit specific body types.


Conclusion

Suit shopping can be overwhelming. Start with knowing your measurements and choosing a color you like. Then, try on different suits to see what fits you well and feels most comfortable. If your budget allows, invest in an expensive suit made of high-quality materials that will fit you well for many years. This can be an essential part of a men's capsule wardrobe.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Buy a Suit

Is $300 too much for a suit?

The cost of a suit largely depends on various factors like quality, brand, and material. While $300 might be considered a mid-range price for a suit, it can still offer decent quality and craftsmanship, but it might not reflect high-end tailoring or luxurious fabrics often found in more expensive suits. Ultimately, the decision of whether $300 is too much for a suit depends on personal preferences, needs, and the intended purpose of the suit.

What is the average cost to buy a suit?

The average cost of purchasing a suit can vary significantly based on various factors like brand, quality, material, and tailoring. Typically, an off-the-rack suit can range anywhere from $300 to $1,500, while a bespoke suit or a "made to measure" suit can start from $1,000 and go well beyond depending on fabric and craftsmanship. Overall, the average price for a decent-quality suit might fall between $500 to $1,000.

How do I choose a suit for my body type?

When choosing a suit for your body type, consider fit and proportions. Opt for a suit that fits well across the shoulders and has a tailored silhouette to enhance your physique. If you're taller, consider longer jacket lengths; if shorter, choose shorter jacket styles to complement your frame. Tailoring alterations can also help achieve a perfect fit, ensuring the suit flatters your body type.

Should I size up or down for a suit?

It's generally recommended to focus on finding the right fit rather than sizing up or down. Getting the correct measurements for your suit is crucial, and alterations by a tailor can ensure a proper fit. Sometimes, a suit may require adjustments in specific areas rather than a complete sizing change to achieve the ideal fit.

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