Guys: Need a Suit? Read This First!

When Reality Chic asked if I could write a post about how to buy a men’s suit, I said “Of course!  Absolutely!”  Truth is, I didn’t have the slightest idea how to buy a men’s suit, let alone how to advise you to buy one.

But I’m a resourceful woman and knew exactly where to go in search of answers.  I went straight to my house of worship: Nordstrom.  And there, I found answers.  A very helpful saleswoman dropped knowledge on me and now I will drop it on you.

First, why do you need a suit?  If you’re just out of college and searching for your first job, you need a suit for interviewing.  Even if you land a job that doesn’t require you to wear a suit every day, or at all, a good suit will still come in handy – special events, weddings, The Big Date(s).  Just as a little black dress is for women, a good suit is a necessary part of any well-dressed man’s wardrobe.  Also, women dig a man in a great suit.  Trust.

One more thing, before I go any further,  you will have to try on suits. Plural.  As in more than one.  I know you don’t want to.  I know you’d sooner watch paint dry.  My heartfelt advice to you is to suck it up and deal.  Now, on to the dropping of knowledge.

Men’s suits are wool or wool blend.  If you live in a hot climate, a wool/silk blend is a lighter weight fabric and more comfortable year-round.  Wool/silk blends are also a smoother texture than 100% wool, if you care about that kind of thing.

You have two options in the cut of your suit: American or European.  The American, or traditional, cut is fuller.  The European cut is a trimmer fit.   Many younger men are opting for the European style.  As for single- vs. double-breasted, they don’t even sell double-breasted suits at Nordstrom.  So, there you go.

Suit sizes come in Short, Regular and Tall.  If you’re 5’9” or shorter, they’ll put you in a Short.  If you’re 5’10” to 6’1”, you’re a Regular.  Anyone over 6’2” is a Tall.  The salesclerk will also measure your shoulder and chest circumferences to nail down a jacket size.

If you can swing it, purchase two suits – in navy and dark, charcoal gray.  Notice: not black.  Unless you’re interviewing for a position with a mob family, black is a bit severe.

Choose a suit with simple lines and stay away from anything trendy, like topstitching or crazy colors, which will likely go out of style quickly.  A well-made suit with classic lines is an investment that you will wear for five or six years if you care for it properly.  A trendy suit could be out of style by the time you walk out of the store with it.

These are examples of classically-lined suits in navy and charcoal gray:

So, how much will this investment set you back?  A quality suit can cost $700-900.  But keep in mind there are many options, and price points, for suits.  Wherever you go, remember the guidelines here and consider cost-per-wear, which is what I do when I’m thinking about buying (yet another) fabulous purse.  Think about how often you’ll wear your suit over the next 5 years – not to mention how handsome you will look in it – and the cost per wear comes down to a reasonable amount, which will enable you to sleep at night without fear of financial ruin.

That’s it, my friend.  You now have the knowledge.  Go forth and find your suit!


Felicia Biggins is a personal stylist in Austin TX who wants to rid the world of pantyhose, cheap flip flops and leggings worn as pants. Her blog, The New Black, is at and you can follow her on Twitter at @fbigg.

Check out Reality Chic’s Your Guy’s Style Guide every Thursday!

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