Whether you work in an office where suits are the mandatory dress code, or you’re a sartorial fellow who dresses up for dinner dates at the weekend, a suit is a staple of any modern man’s wardrobe.
Even if you work in a casual office and your idea of getting dressed up at the weekend is donning the latest streetwear, you still need the best suit around, whether for a wedding, job interview or funeral, it’s likely you’ll need a smart tailored look at least once a year.
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However, there’s an enormous number of decisions that need to be made when buying a suit, with a wide selection of brands, different styles, materials, and price points to consider.
Wearing a suit should be like stepping into new skin – you should feel comfortable in your suits and know how different styling options can affect your look. A good suit can make you look taller, slimmer and accentuate your shoulders. It can also help with making the right impression in your career. Basically, selecting the right suit sends a message that you’re switched on with your styling choices and that you’ve got life in order.
With that is mind, we’ve created the ultimate guide to buying a suit, with plenty of advice to ensure that you choose the very best suit you possibly can.
Best suits: which style is right for you?
With so many suits available it can be easy to get lost in the swathes of choice. To decide what you’re after, first think of the occasions you’re dressing for. If it’s for work, then a sharp, two-button suit is the way to go, if it’s a formal event then a tuxedo will do the trick.
Plain Two-Button Suit
A simple two-button suit is the workhorse of your wardrobe. The versatile silhouette can be dressed up for weddings, or dressed down for the office. It’s the do-everything option.
If you get one, make sure it’s navy in mid-weight fabric, as this is the most sophisticated and adaptable option.
If you’re buying two suits, get one navy and one charcoal/grey. This not only means you’ll have more options during the week, but you’ll also be able to mix it up for less formal occasions, and wear the trousers with your navy jacket (and vice versa).
- Browse Plain Two-Button Suits at Mr Porter
- Browse Two-Button Suits at ASOS
- Browse Two-Button Suits at M&S
If you really want to make a sartorial statement and stand out from the suited crowd, then you can do so with a patterned suit. Whether it’s pinstripes, Prince of Wales check, Houndstooth, or Tattershall.
Just make sure the pattern features subtle, tonal colours, and always pair it with a plain shirt and plain accessories.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to make a sartorial statement but don’t fancy a patterned suit, you should opt for a double-breasted suit.
A dark double-breasted jacket is versatile enough to be worn at the office, but is special enough for cocktail parties and weddings.
The blazer work by creating a flattering V-shape that slims your middle and broadens your chest and shoulders. The sharp peak lapels and carefully structured shape are the peak of power dressing.
Traditional DBs have up to eight buttons, but more contemporary takes generally have four or six buttons, and, although you can wear your double-breasted jacket undone, it’s designed to be worn fastened up. Just remember to never fasten the outer bottom button.
- Browse Double Breasted Suits at Mr Porter
- Browse Double Breasted Suits at ASOS
- Browse Double Breasted Suits at M&S
Of course, there are some formal occasions when your regular suit won’t do. Black tie invitations made be infrequent, but when you do receive one you’ll want to look the part.
It’s time to don a dinner jacket (or tuxedo, if you’re American), a white dress shirt, patent leather shoes, and do your best James Bond impression.
The frequency of events will dictate how much you want to spend on a dinner suit, but as these are usually events where you’ll want to look and feel like a million bucks, it’s always better to purchase a well-fitting suit than hire a sweat-stained one.
Finally, if you’re attending a summer wedding, sports event, or garden party, you’ll want a ‘summer suit’. They’re a perfect way to stay glamorous, cool and sophisticated even when the heat is trying its very best to have the opposite effect.
The trick with a summer suit is getting the material right. You’ll want to opt for linen or light cotton in beige or a pastel colour. This will not only keep you properly ventilated, it’ll also make sure you look the part.
Bespoke and Made-to-Measure Suit
You can either choose to buy your suit off-the-rack, or have it made, bespoke, just for you. Choosing the perfect suit is a lot easier if there's an expert beside you, giving advice and accurately measuring your body, and the end result will make you feel great. Thankfully, this service is no longer the preserve Savile Row and Jermyn Street regulars (although, you can still head there if that's your thing) – there are a number of less intimidating and more affordable options around.
Best suits for men: Inspiration Gallery
Best suits: single vs double-breasted suits
Perhaps one of the biggest decisions to make when choosing a suit is whether to go with a single-breasted or double-breasted cut. The good news is that both of these options are in style at the moment.
There’s no hard rule about when to wear one over the other. If your wardrobe is mainly made up of single-breasted suits, then maybe add a double-breasted option to make a statement.
Some men prefer to save double-breasted suits for special occasions, but they look equally at home in the office (especially if you want to make a power play).
If you want to dress for your body type, then single-breasted suits have a slimming effect, creating a defined waist with usually one or two-button fastenings, whereas double-breasted suits are better for lean, tall frames, creating a blocky silhouette which broadens the torso.
Best suits: choosing the right suit for your body type
Buying the best suit isn’t just about spending the most money and getting the best brand – you also have to find the best silhouette to match your body type. A good suit can make you look taller, slimmer and accentuate your shoulders.
If you’re slim and slender you should get a jacket with a roped shoulder. This lends a little extra volume to the cut and gives you a stronger shoulder line. Double-breasted jackets are great at adding more presence and avoid a break in the trousers.
If you’re a regular gym goer and have attained the “perfect V” shape, avoid narrow and skinny suits. You don’t want to look like the Hulk bursting out of his clothes. A single-breasted suit with one or two buttons will suit you more than a double-breasted jacket. Balance a solid torso with neatly cut (but not slim-fit) trousers.
If you’ve let yourself go a bit, you’ll need a suit which hides any unflattering areas and draws the eye upwards. A generous cut on the bottom half of the jacket should be offset with wide lapels and a strong, square shoulder line
The most important thing to note is that shoulders can’t be tailored for you, whereas most other element of the jacket can. So, when buying a jacket, pay particular attention to the shoulders.
On that note, if you’re buying an off-the-rack suit, it’s definitely worth getting it altered to get a perfect fit. It’s always a worthy investment, and can cost as little as £15.
The best suits for men
If your prefer more classic, grown-up tailoring, then Tom Ford is your man. The 'Shelton' suit is made in Italy, it's tailored for a slim fit, with strong, padded shoulders, generous lapels, and three front flap pockets.
The suit is made from a Prince of Wales checked wool that is exceptionally smooth to handle. Of course, you have to complete the suit with the matching trousers.
Undoubtedly one of the best things about the Kingsman films is the tailoring. This double-breasted suit is styled after Kingsman Harry Hart, played by Colin Firth, and, if added to your wardrobe, could really make a statement.
This navy example is made from a Super 120s wool and cashmere-blend cloth, which has been sourced from the famous William Halstead mill – a manufacturer of fine fabrics since 1875.
Are you a frequent traveller? Then this Paul Smith 'A Suit To Travel In' is perfect for you. The black two-piece is cut from high-twist worsted wool giving it a natural bounce and recovery, making it resistant to creases.
The collection was tested by gymnasts and free runners to prove the design's flexibility and durability. The jacket is cut in the brand's signature 'Soho' fit which leaves room through the chest and is tailored through the waist and hem.
This HUGO by Hugo Boss check suit is a solid budget option if you’re shopping around for a reliable, versatile look that won’t break the bank. Constructed from virgin wool fabric, this ‘C-Ryan/C-Win’ two piece gets the job done.
Cut for a slim fit, the lined single-breasted jacket has a two-button front. The flat-front trousers feature clip-and-hook fastening and two welt pockets on the back.
The label founded by Mr Yves Saint Laurent in 1961 still retains its sleek style and sharp tailoring – this black suit being a perfect example of that. It'll work for just about any occasion, and is meticulously tailored to make you look a million dollars.
It's made from durable virgin wool-gabardine that'll hold its shape for more than just a few wears, and the trousers have been left unfinished, so you can hem them for your desired style.
Best suits: essential buying tips and things to look out for
- Ensure the jacket shoulders fit perfectly. It should be a snug fit, with no excessive fabric or distortion
- Get the length right by hanging your arms down straight and cupping the jacket hem in your hands. If you can reach easily, it's too long. Modern suit jackets sit an inch or two below the cuff
- When placing your arms at your side, the cuff of the jacket should fall where the base of your thumb meets your wrist. You should have 1-2cm of your shirt cuff visible
- Your trousers should sit nicely on top of your shoe, with no break in the front
- Two button fastening is the most popular option, flattering the majority of shapes and sizes
- A single button is perfect for a contemporary slim fit
- You should always keep the last button on your jacket undone
- A double vent is more traditional, while a single vent maintains a slim silhouette
- Get the fabric right. A wool blend is durable and great for everyday wear. 100-percent wool will feel more luxurious. Linens are ideal for summer.
- Consider investing in a second pair of trousers
- Lapel width is important. A notch lapel is the most versatile choice, while peak lapels lend themselves to a special occasion
- More expensive suits demand finer details, such as piping, hand-sewn buttons, and other design flourishes
Best suits: best places to buy suits
Now it's time to put your newly-found knowledge into practice. If you're looking for a new suit, these are the best places to buy them:
Mr Porter offers a selection of premium designer suits, with express worldwide shipping to 170 countries (with same day service in London and New York) and a free collection service for returns and exchanges.
Example brands: Tom Ford, Gucci, Saint Laurent, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Dunhill, Hugo Boss, Mr P.
Flannels continuously sources key pieces and collections from the world’s most iconic brands alongside new and exciting designers.
Example brands: Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, Dolce & Gabbana, Paul Smith, Canali, Prada
With ASOS you get a huge amount of choice, and an incredibly simple buying process, with free delivery (minimum spend applies) and free returns. You can also try on loads of options and only pay for what you keep with ‘Pay later with Klarna’.
Example brands: ASOS Design, Heart & Dagger, Burton, River Island, French Connection
Keep it classic with M&S' selection of suits. You get free alterations on select suits, free delivery on orders over $50, and free returns by post or in-store.
Example brands: Autograph Collection, M&S Collection, David Gandy for Saville Row
Topman offers a great selection of modern tailoring, with sharp lines and skinny fits. You get free delivery and returns, the option to shop now and pay later, and students get 10-percent off.
Example brands: Topman
It's a fact that nothing makes you feel as good as a tailored suit, so instead of buying off-the-rack, why no head to Edit Suits Co. in London and have a suit made to measure? An initial appointment takes place in the company's friendly and bright showroom, where you'll get measured and design every aspect of your suit. Just three to six weeks later, your tailored suit will be ready.