General Question

Rarebear's avatar

Men: Any tips in buying a suit?

Asked by Rarebear (24739points) December 10th, 2013

I am a professional. I wear ties and a sport coat or blazer occasionally. But I don’t wear suits. I have an old suit that is out of style and ill fitting, and I need a new one. I don’t want a vest—so a two piece suit. I also don’t want that new modern style of really snug legs. But aside from that, I’m really kind of lost.

I went to the Jos A Bank website and they have a dizzying variety of suits in all different price ranges. I will be going there in a week or two and I wanted to be armed with some knowledge.

My dad, who always was an impeccable dresser, used to help me with stuff like this, but he died 5 years ago so I’m left solo.

And then I remembered all you well dressed folk.

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58 Answers

Seek's avatar

Does the site have a brick-and-mortar store? I wouldn’t dream of investing in a suit without trying it on first. There’s so much to think of – the sleeve length, how it fits in the shoulders, single or double breasted…

That said, I’d recommend either grey or navy, as black tends to look a bit dated – like you’re either a parish priest or an undertaker. I’m fond of very tiny pinstripes, personally.

pleiades's avatar

I’d say try one on that’s close to fit. Then get the rest of it tailored/customized.

tomathon's avatar

Custom tailoring is the way to go. Depending on which company or individual tailor you choose from, you get to choose the material, cut, and fit. You can choose from thousands of fabrics, colors, styles and personalize it with signature lining, cuff, or collar.

Total cost will depend on what you end up choosing. The lowest starting price I have seen is for around $1,000.

Spread out your orders across multiple companies or individual tailors so that you can get a feel on the quality of their craftsmanship.

CWOTUS's avatar

Aside from the other advice that’s been offered, the only thing that I can add is “allow enough time”. If you’re buying the suit to be ready for an event in “x” weeks, then make sure to allow at least two weeks for the full selection, fitting & marking, tailoring, final fitting and purchasing of accessories, if any: new shoes? tie tack? cuff links (if you’re going that way)? shirt/s? belt / braces? etc.

EDIT: And my advice if you’re going to buy new shoes (how I hate new dress shoes!), then buy some of those “full adhesive” wide padded bandages that you can put on your Achilles area when the blisters start to form after the first hour or so of wearing them.

josie's avatar

It depends, I guess, on your body.
I get mine tailor made. More expensive, but well worth it. I recommend that.
I can’t get a suit off the shelf (6’5” 45 chest 33 waist) to look right after they cut it up.

Rarebear's avatar

Thanks everybody!

zenvelo's avatar

Start with the basics: a navy blue wool suit with a subtle pin strip win dark red or dark grey. Cuffed pants. And while bespoke is great if you can afford it; if you can’t, then go to a good store like Brooks Brothers or Nordstrom.

And then a grey or charcoal suit, then a subtle plaid for summer. And good shirts (Brooks Bros. button down all cotton) and ties. And expect to pay $100 for a good belt and $250 or so for a good pair of shoes. Black belt and shoes to start with.

JLeslie's avatar

Why is this question for men? I hope you don’t mind me answering.

The sales people can size you up and help you go to brands that will fit your body type well. If something is pulling badly don’t let them talk you into any major alterations, try to find a better fitting suit instead. especially if it is tight under your arm, meaning the armpit area, do not buy that suit. Needing to shorten a sleeve is typical, sometimes shorten the upper back if there is extra fabric bunching up, although I don’t even like having to do that alteration.

They may use the word “drop.” The drop is the inches between the jacket and trousers. If you wear a 42 suit jacket and the drop is 6, the trousers will be 36. A lot of manufacturers use a 6 inch drop. Trousers can be altered up to two inches and that’s it. Any more and the trousers are way out of whack.

RocketGuy's avatar

The guy at Men’s Warehouse found me two beautiful suits, in a buy 1 get 1 free sale. Then I found that the one would be $650. The guy had a great eye for color, fit, and style.

funkdaddy's avatar

Just went through this same thing. I’d never owned a full suit so had to take the plunge. This definitely wasn’t “my thing”. The two main things I learned were

1) Just go try them on, all the reading and “educating myself” on the internet wasn’t worth much once I actually started putting on different suits. Other than knowing the terminology when someone is talking, it just doesn’t matter beyond what looks and feels good. I found out there was an outlet mall nearby that had Jos. A Bank, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, and a Banana Republic within 500 feet of each other, so I just tried on a ton of suits in 3 hours and learned what was what.

2) At least from that limited experience, the difference in quality is really noticeable. If the point of the suit is to make you look and feel good, the pricing wasn’t as different as the quality.

I had Josie’s issue with shoulders/chest/waist never all working in the same suit, so I got close and the rest was tailored. Everyone I dealt with was used to people who had no idea what they were doing, so I just kept asking questions like “how does this work”, “this one’s different here, what’s that called”, and “how do I not sweat like a mofo in this”... no one was phased by my relative incompetence.

visit a custom tailor, or Brooks Brothers, even if you don’t buy anything, it’s just interesting how different it is from most “retail experiences” we have now

rojo's avatar

Stick with the darker colors, greys and blacks, possibly dark blue; ones that can be used for any occasion from work to dating to a funeral. Spend the money and get you one or two good classic style suits in different dark colors. Get them tailored to fit (and don’t gain/lose too much weight) and they will last you several years. You can get another every year or so and if you do not got too outlandish, they will always be in style and you will eventually end up with a decent wardrobe for any occasion.

Unbroken's avatar

Any shopping experience that involves trying a lot of different items on you should be wellrested relaxed comfortably full and hydrated and have nothing pressing to do after.

Never let anyone including you talk you into an item, if you have any doubts put it on hold and come back possibly with a second opinion.

Never sacrifice a love for “it’s decent and more bang for my buck.” You will force yourself to wear it and eventually breakdown and buy a new one before you would have had to.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Be sure to take a picture when you get it!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

For dress, Men’s Warehouse.

For work, just at cheap suit from Sears. Really cheap. My work requires physical loading and setup. Not going to bust an expensive suit with work.

What counts most is learning to tie the proper windsor.

Rarebear's avatar

Thanks everybody.

@pleiades That’s what I was thinking of doing.

@Seek_Kolinahr Yes, there’s a store close to my house.

@tomathon Ideally that would be great. Sadly, though, I’m a cheap Jew so it’s hard for me to spend that kind of money unless it involves astronomical equipment. :). I won’t be wearing it that often. Just for big events and presentations.

@cwotus I hate dress shoes too.

@josie. I’m 5’8, 150 pounds, pretty average.

@jleslie Thanks! I hadn’t heard the word “drop” before.

@zenvelo I hadn’t heard of the term “bespoke” before.

@rocketguy I was going to go to Mens Warehouse but the ads annoy me.

@funkdaddy Thanks, that helps. I’ll put Brooks Brothers on my list.

@unbroken I learned a long time ago not to sacrifice quality and go cheap.

@dutchess Only for you baby

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I learned to tie a Windsor online.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Ok friend, learning to tie it is one thing ;), but ending up with the perfect example
is an art form far beyond the skills required to tie ones shoe laces. The masterful Windsor boarders on the black arts, a crafty magic disguised as poetry.

Rarebear's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies That’s true enough. Actually, I want to learn to tie a bow tie.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I gotta be fairly drunk for that.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I just shot a mens lifestyle campaign for Maritz. Yes, that’s an Ascot, though I call it Mankerchief… a.k.a. Neckerchief, Cravat, Day Knot.

This guy has been extremely helpful.

Rarebear's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Nice shot, CT. You sure get to hang out with pretty people in your job.

Seek's avatar

I like ascots. Sue me.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

The “pretty” ones were in the womens jewelry campaign shot after the men.

Seek's avatar



The face does nothing for me. But her necklace is pretty. The three strand one, not the knotted one.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

My mother thought so too. The designer gave me the necklace set after the shoot. Mom was thrilled. Of course now I’ll have to take her out to dinner so she has a place to wear it.

Rarebear's avatar

She’s a bit overly made up, I agree. But terrific high key lighting, though.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Seriously, this is a great critique of my work. Much appreciated. Didn’t mean to hijack this thread though. But to answer, the client wants what the client wants. I didn’t hire the styling team. The market for the shot is the cruise affluent. And believe it or not, the client does demographic research on the target market before anything gets booked. I like the gig because I can just show up and shoot. They take care of props and styling. Easy street for me.

Rarebear's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Well, you know I’m a fan of your work. But it was perfect lighting. And for those who are looking at it, lighting like that is really hard to do. Try it.

tomathon's avatar


You’re a doctor, correct? Think of what kind of impression you’re going to make with the way you dress. No offense to you, but if I caught you in a cheap suit, or a suit that you wear often, I wouldn’t think you’re much of a professional.

Long ago, when my kids were young, I had this very same issue. Right before I walked into the office, I saw what a piece of shit car the doctor was driving. I walked right out and canceled the appointment.

If you vacation or travel for business to locations with low to no minimum wage laws, you can cut the price tag to less than half for these custom suits. I did that when I went to Hong Kong.

Rarebear's avatar

@tomathon I usually wear scrubs. I work in an ICU and GI lab and I do a lot of surgical procedures.

Seek's avatar

Why the hell would you choose your doctor based on the car he was driving? any untalented, moneyed arsehole can write a check.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If @tomathon ever makes an appointment with you, you better rent a car @Rarebear!

That would make a good question,actually. If my doctor drove a regular old car I’d assume he was sensible and frugal.

Rarebear's avatar

I drive an 8 year old Rav4

tomathon's avatar

The car is just one of many indicators for culling out doctors. It wasn’t my first criteria, and it won’t be my last. If it wasn’t the car, it would have been the cleanliness.

Luxury goods display economic power. If an untalented doctor has money, then, either the person inherited his wealth, or you’re underestimating his or her talent. Patient ignorance could be another factor but that won’t last long. A talented doctor has an influx of patients and that influx generates large sums of money. Likewise, a doctor who has money and doesn’t use it to display economic power will just as likely end up on my shitlist.

Rarebear's avatar

“Likewise, a doctor who has money and doesn’t use it to display economic power will just as likely end up on my shitlist.”

Wow. My opinion of doctors is based upon how clinically competent they are and how well they interact with people, not whether they drive a Lexus or not.

tomathon's avatar

You’re making a separation where there should not be one. In a capitalist system, the Lexus tells the consumer the level of competence and bed side manners of the doctor. Doctors don’t make money being incompetent assholes.

Rarebear's avatar

@tomathon Seriously? A Lexus tells the consumer about the bedside manner of the doctor? So, if the doctor has, say a Tesla, does that mean that that doctor is a better doctor than the one who has the Lexus?

And are you saying that you think that the competence of a physician is directly proportional to their income?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Really, @tomathon. That just seems so…. shallow. Movie stars crave attention and flash. I would hope my doctor’s primary goal is to help people. I would hope my doctor didn’t get into the profession just for the money and flash.

What would you think of a doctor who played a banjo and made his own beer?

tomathon's avatar


No. The Tesla is in the same league as other luxury sedans. It will indicate economic power just as well as a Mercedes.

If working for an employer, not necessarily. Private practice, on-the-other-hand, yes.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I don’t think I’d chose you as my doctor. Your priorities are in the wrong place.

tomathon's avatar


Money is the byproduct of being a good doctor even though the primary goal is to help others. The money indicates how good he is as helping others.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But flaunting money is a sign of a shallow, limited mentality.

tomathon's avatar

I’m not a doctor. I’m a self-employed asset manager.

tomathon's avatar

Increasing your standard-of-living is actually showing the highest and most basic mentality. I would say anyone who has the opportunity and doesn’t do it has a limited mentality.

It is also a very poor business practice. I have have seen it all too often. Those who presented themselves poorly were eventually driven out of business.

Rarebear's avatar

@tomathon How do you choose your physicians?

tomathon's avatar

Aside from a display of economic power, I check out their credentials [license status, hospital affiliation, education,] years of experience, patient reviews, location, service convenience such as blood test or x-ray in the same building complex, honoring appointments, courtesy, backup doctor when primary unavailable….I think that covers it.

Rarebear's avatar

@tomathon All the other stuff seems reasonable. But checking out the car they drive seems irrelevant to me and frankly a little creepy.

tomathon's avatar

If it works for you, great. My personal experience says otherwise.

Why creepy? He parked his car in the parking lot. It is not like I stalked him.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Of course people increase their standard of living when they can afford to. However, there are people out there who increase their standard of living when they can’t afford to. They do it to impress people, to make them think they are something they aren’t. Can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

tomathon's avatar

That is why I said it should not be the only criteria. It has to be considered but not be exclusive.

Rarebear's avatar

@Dutchess_III Well, I spend my money on astronomy equipment. To me a car is a necessary device to get to and from work.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Right. And beer. And trips. I’ve seen you take those damn trips to Hawii and shit. >_<

Rarebear's avatar

I shit in Hawaii too.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I would hope so. ;)

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