*When suit shopping, wear your best-fitting dress shirt and dress shoes to gain a proper understanding of how the suit will fit. If you don't yet have either of these things, find what you can at the thrift shop to try on along with the suit.*
- Fit. If you have any idea of your measurements, this will help tremendously as you peek at the suit rack. Don't expect the size of a suit to be printed anywhere. Most older suits are without such labels. If you're clueless as to your size, just grab a few things that might fit and head to the dressing room. So much of thrift shopping is trial and error.
- It's better that a suit be a slightly too large than too small. Most aspects of a suit can be taken in/up. However, if the shoulders are too wide/padded, move on. There's practically no way to remedy this issue without spending a lot.
- Ideally, the jacket's sleeve should fall just past your wrist, while the jacket itself should end about two inches above your the tips of your fingers (with arms flat at your sides). The pants should rest just slightly on your shoes. Remember, these things can be altered.
- A two-button, single-breasted suit is always safe. Three-button works as well.. Any more than three or less than two and you're looking at the wrong suit.
- Feel. Many suits will have a label somewhere indicating fabric content. A lightweight, pure wool is the best. A polyester suit lacks stretch, breathability, and softness.
- Brand. As with any item of clothing, brand is the last thing to think about. Sure, there are certain labels you see that almost certainly guarantee quality, but fit and feel take precedent. Also remember that, while today's average suit from a Haggar or Stafford may be junk, companies like these used to produce quality goods in America. As such, ignore all preconceived notions.
The navy blazer will serve you for all occasions in which the grey suit is simply too formal. Paired with tan chinos, grey wool trousers (from your suit), or (sometimes) jeans, the navy blazer rests between formal and casual.
- Fit. A blazer the same size as a suit will likely have a different fit, as blazers are naturally cut for a less formal fit.
- Two-button, single-breasted is ideal.
- The classic navy blazer generally has brass buttons. Some people find them to be a little old-fashioned. If brass isn't for you, a tailor can easily switch out the brass for navy, dark grey or tortoise buttons.
- Feel. Look for lightweight wool suitable for year-round use.
- Brand. Again, fit and feel are the important things here.
I hope you're all enjoying the start of this series. I figure most of you know these things already, but I'm always receiving questions about building up the basics of a wardrobe. Of course, these are just my thoughts and any suggestions to amend this guideline would be appreciated.