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  • Writer's pictureRay Peck

The 10 biggest mistakes when buying a suit!

Everyone buys a suit at some time in their life. Whether it is for work, an interview, wedding, funeral, christening or just to look and feel good. There are some golden rules to stick to that will stop you looking and feeling like a square peg in a round hole.

Here are the top ten mistakes that people make when choosing their suit.

#10 Fabric choice.... When deciding on your fabric you have to take into account a) what the purpose of the suit is for, b) where you will be wearing the suit and c) how often will this suit be worn?

So if, for example your friend or relative has invited you to his wedding in St Lucia in September you need to buy a suit that is cool, light, and travels well. This suit is almost certainly going to be one that is not worn regularly and certainly won't be suitable for work. I would advise you as your tailor to opt for a linen or cotton or better still a tropical weight wool and silk mix which will perform and recover beautifully after your flight. The linen and cotton will really only be suitable for occasional wear such as BBQ's, garden parties etc. but the wool and silk mix will make a perfect special occasion suit such as presentations, board room, speeches etc. providing you have chosen a neutral and conservative colour.

If you work in an air conditioned office in the centre of London or in the City I would advise you to choose a mid-weight worsted fabric in a business navy blue or charcoal grey with perhaps a light stripe or even a check but not too bold. These will sit perfectly in your environment and suit most business sectors without being too in your face. The mid-weight option is perfect for all year round wear, bearing in mind that most offices have air con in the summer and central heating in the winter. Mid-weight worsted gives optimum performance, great comfort in all environments and good recovery after wearing - an all round great work suit.

"Your tailor should advise you that any suit should be given at least 24 hours rest before the next wear to allow the fabric to recover and reshape."

#9 The shoulders are the most important!..... Whether you are buying your suit off the peg or having one personally tailored for you the first rule of the fit is that the shoulders should be comfortable and fit correctly. Everything else can be adjusted to fit as necessary if required but if the shoulders are wrong then you are in a world of trouble. The whole hang of the jacket comes from the shoulders so this is why it is so crucial to get them correct.

So many men believe that they are a certain size chest and will not go above or below that size when trying on a jacket and often end up with a jacket that just looks ridiculous because either the sleeve crown is over hanging the shoulders causing it to collapse and look like you have a giant coat hanger in your jacket or the shoulders are so tight that you end up with divots just below the sleeve crown where the fabric is so stretched. This is the fastest way to completely ruin your jacket by constant stress on the fabric and seams.

"I would always recommend having your suit personally tailored by a reputable tailor who should not only ensure the correct width of your shoulders but will also take into account your shoulder shape such as sloping shoulders, forward shoulders and square shoulders"

#8 Crumpled trouser legs!!..... There is nothing more unsightly than a nice suit which is spoilt by what seems to be huge folds and crumples around the ankle area.

This is caused by the trouser legs being too long and gathering all the excess material in the most natural place, at the bottom.

In general the rule is quite simple although with modern day trends their are variations.

for a business suit or for that professional tailored look your trousers should be of a length that there is a small break in the front crease just above the shoe where the fabric rests lightly on the top of the shoe and the back of the leg should end just above the heel of the shoe. Your tailor should be able to measure you accurately for this and may recommend that you have the trouser bottoms shaped to heel to achieve the perfect look.

"Now, as trends and fashion changes this rule is not set in stone. I am sure you will have seen the hoards of young fashionable men who wear their trousers ultra skinny fit with the legs ending above the ankle to reveal the ankle area and shoe. This is perfectly acceptable and maybe even expected in certain work environments such as media and advertising but would be frowned upon in the the City law firm's offices."

#7 "I got the suit home and it doesn't go with anything"..... This is something that happens so many times when buying a suit from a shop, off the peg. You choose your suit, try it on, it's an electric blue skinny fit that you are going to wear at your friends wedding.....then you get it home and realise that the shirt and tie combo that the bride and groom have asked you to wear don't go with it.....urgh!

Now you have to return it to the shop and start again, you may find that the shop has a 'no refund' policy and you can't find an alternative suit so you are going to have to accept a credit note or choose something else and then go and spend additional money elsewhere trying to find the correct suit.

When you are buying your suit, whether it is at a shop, in a tailors studio or in the comfort of your own home with a visiting tailor such as Godfather Tailoring, it is always advisable to wear the shirt, tie and shoes that you will be wearing on the day or at least have them to hand. That way your tailor can advise and help you choose the correct colour and design to compliment your accessories. It also gives you the chance to physically visualise how your ensemble will look once complete

#6 Incorrect sleeve length..... This is probably the most common mistake people make when buying a suit. There is nothing that makes me more angry than to see a man wearing a suit and half of his hand is covered by the cuff of the jacket and shirt.

You have to be extra careful when choosing your suit and if you are buying off the peg check to see if the cuff buttons are functional. If they are it is even more important that the sleeve length is correct as to adjust them usually means they have to remove the sleeve and shorten them from the crown/top which is never ideal and can be costly.

I can almost guarantee that if you go to your local shopping centre and try on a suit with the sleeves 1 inch too long and ask the sales adviser for his opinion he will tell you that they look fine. You will end up walking around in a £400 suit that simply doesn't fit (not all sales advisers will do this and there are some very conscientious sales advisers out there but they tend to be under so much pressure to make the sale they will say anything).

At Godfather Tailoring I take great care in ensuring the sleeve measure is accurate and in agreement with the client.

The general rule is that firstly your shirt sleeve length should be correct and should come to just past the wrist joint when hanging down. Then your suit sleeve should fall and end approximately 1/2 inch above this to show a little of the shirt cuff, particularly if you are wearing a double cuff shirt with cuff-links.

"If a sleeve is too long it creates the overall perception that the whole jacket is too big and long!"

#5 Jacket Length is important..... This is an area where trends do dictate but I have to be honest and maybe it's because I'm getting old but today's fashion with the younger set to wear everything so skinny fit and short is causing some people to look like they are just wearing a suit that is 2 sizes too small.

There is a fine balance in these high fashion trends between looking fantastic or looking ridiculous and I do see a lot of the latter.

So..... for a nice professional business suit or middle of the road suit that is the "correct" length by industry standards go to the "rule of thumb" which basically means that the length of the jacket should come to the middle knuckle joint of your thumb when your arm is hanging vertical. This isn't an exact science as some people have long or short arms in comparison to their height and torso so I tend to advise that the jacket should end approximately level with where your backside ends. This gives a good fall and the skirt of the jacket covers your hips and seat. You can go marginally shorter for a mid fashion fit but bear in mind that the shorter you go the more your vents may tend to flare out and open as they will start higher up your body.

#4 My shirt keeps coming out of the bottom of my waistcoat!..... There is an increasing popularity for wearing a waistcoat which is a great look either as part of a suit or as an individual accessory to your look.

The most common mistake people make with their waistcoat is once again the length.

Your waistcoat should comfortably cover the waistband of your trousers to give a clean smooth and smart appearance and will stop that dreaded crumpled shirt from poking out from beneath.

"A well fitting waistcoat should fit close to the body but not too tight and should be long enough to cover your waistband"

#3 "I get so hot when I wear my new suit"..... This goes back to fabric selection. A lot of off the peg suits are made with a wool and polyester mixture which is why they can sell them so cheap. At the budget end retailers are using 100% man made fibres which enables them to be able to sell you a suit at sometimes under £100. Don't be fooled or reeled in by this.

Whilst they look great on the hanger and when you first wear them you will soon find out that you are wearing a sweat box that soon begins to resemble a dish cloth.

The problem is that man made fibres like Polyester, Nylon and Acrylic have no breathable qualities and cannot absorb the body's natural moisture. We all sweat, even in an air conditioned environment we perspire throughout the day. This means that the perspiration has nowhere to go and lays on the surface of the fabric and on your skin and you soon feel hot and damp in all the wrong places (and are smelly too). Your skin cannot breathe as there is no fresh air coming in to the suit and you will soon see the suit looking crumpled and creased.

One of the advantages that salesmen will tell you about man made fibres is that it holds its creases and will always look smart with little or no need to press.... this is so wrong! Yes man made fibres hold their creases.......all of them! even the unwanted ones behind the knees, across the lap, in the folds of your elbows and across the back of the jacket if you have worn it whilst sitting or driving. These creases will never fall out unless you have the suit pressed after every wear which brings its own issues as man made fibres tend to shine very easily when brought into contact with hot surfaces.

"At Godfather Tailoring I always advise that your suit is made from natural fibres like wool, silk, linen or cotton which are much more comfortable to wear, are cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter but most of all they will not make you perspire excessively and will allow your skin to breathe. Then when you take it off at the end of the day you can hang it for a minimum of 24 hours and most of the unwanted creasing will naturally fall out and the shape of the suit will recover. (Hanging in a steamy environment like a bathroom will speed up this process)"

#2 Stripes, checks or plain?..... There really is no hard and fast rule regarding this and you have to take into account the purpose of the suit but your body shape does play a role in your selection.

In the City there is a lot of law firms and you see a lot of men wearing bold pinstripes and chalkstripes which are great and shout out that you are a professional City worker however........

if you have a large frame or are particularly overweight I would advise that although stripes do have a slimming effect, avoid having them too loud as they draw attention to your body. A subtle stripe is much more effective.

In general I would avoid checks if you are overweight as they definitely accentuate this and may make you look larger than you are.

The reverse applies to thinner people who can comfortably wear a check, in a nice double breasted to give more width to the body but should avoid loud stripes.

"For weddings and social functions I think that plain and solid colours are much nicer and easier to accessorise with also."

#1 Off the peg or bespoke?..... Finally the one that I am sure you have all considered at some point in your life. Whether you have taken the step towards having a suit personally tailored or not here are the reasons why you should have at least one in your lifetime....

You may think that you don't need a personally tailored suit as you are a stock size and can easily find a suit off the peg and who am I to argue? What I will say is that with a tailored suit you have limitless options available to you, not just fabric but linings, coloured button holes, monograms, working cuffs, contrast meltons and collars, coloured velvet pocket jets, a choice of buttons, and cuff button options..... the list is endless. In short you can design and build your own unique suit that is completely original with no other like it in the world!

And whilst you may think you are a stock size you might be surprised at how much better your bespoke suit feels and hangs on you.

Off the peg definitely serves a purpose and has a place but it is relatively limited in choices, you may see a beautiful grey fabric in a boutique only to find that it only comes with slanting pockets and you wanted straight. With bespoke you have a host of options available to you.

One major reason I would almost always advise to go for a personally tailored suit fromGodfather Tailoring is a technical one but an important one. When you buy a suit off the peg they are almost exclusively constructed by using a fusing which basically means they fuse the outer shell with a glue substance. This is relatively cheap and allows them to sell the suit cheaper (although not in all cases). The problem with fusing is that it doesn't allow the suit to move freely with your body and adjust itself with your movements. Fusing also degrades relatively quickly and becomes separated.

If you have ever taken a suit to the dry cleaners and it has come back with raised bubbles in the fabric on the lapels and chest area this is usually because the fusing has melted during the high temperature cleaning process and the fabric has separated from the inner fusing. This is almost always irreversible and the suit is ruined.

at Godfather Tailoring all suits and jackets are constructed using a method called half canvasing with a floating chest piece. Canvas is the traditional way suits were constructed using a canvas made from horsehair which is attached by stitching at various points yet allowing movement. By using a canvass and a floating chest piece we remove the stiffness of the jacket and allow the jacket to settle and form itself to your body shape. As their is no issues with "fusing" degrading and bubbling your suit will last much longer and maintain its shape.

Finally with a personally tailored suit from Godfather Tailoring I take all of the hassle and worry away from you. I have over 35 years experience in the industry and bring all these skills to your office, home,club or wherever you require. it is in my interest to ensure that you have nothing but a perfectly fitting, high quality garment accompanied by the very best customer service to keep you coming back to me time and again.

I, as with most bespoke tailors take great pride in my work and do not just want to take your money. You will end up with a beautifully created garment made to your own specifications and guided by your personal tailor... how good does that sound?

Please look at my website and as the headline says

"I'll make you a suit you can't refuse"

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