As we slowly start to emerge from hibernation and gear up for a return to our offices, it’s finally time to ditch the lounge wear / PJs in favour of a more professional image, particularly if you’re about to start a new City grad scheme or attend a job interview in person.

So, once you’ve braved the barbers, make your next stop a reputable gentlemen’s outfitter and invest in a good quality suit.

Indeed, for many men, buying your first suit is a rite of passage and it’s something you’ll remember for years to come. But with so many options where to start? Slim or classic fit? Single or double breasted? Two or three buttons? Three or two-piece? Plain navy or pinstripe? Notch, shawl or peak lapel? 

Below are our five simple tips to help you tame that sartorial monster, and ensure your first-ever purchase is a classic, timeless and perfectly fitting addition to your new work wardrobe. 

  1. If budget permits, go for a 100% wool suit, synthetic fibres not only age badly, they’re also uncomfortable. You can pick up a decent off-the-rack wool suit for around £250 to £300. If money is tight, keep an eye out for the forthcoming sales as there are bound to be some great bargains up for grabs.
  2. A plain navy or dark grey two buttoned suit is a man’s equivalent to the ‘little black dress’ and will definitely be one of the better fashion decisions you make in life.
  3. Look out for either a half or full canvas (an extra piece of material in the chest) jacket. This provides more structure, and unlike the cheaper fused versions that instead typically have a layer of adhesive, will last longer if properly cared for.
  4. There are few things worse in this world than men wearing trousers that are either too long or short – it’s just wrong! In terms of length, the hems should sit nicely at the top of your shoes. If you want, you can create a little detail here by adding cuffs. And if you’d prefer not not to look like you’re wearing a bag of potatoes, get a tailor (see below) to taper your trousers. Aim for narrow parallel and not too skinny. 
  5. Suit dressing is less about trend and more about styling and fit. So, once you’ve made your purchase, if appropriate, take it to a tailor and have it altered. For relatively little spend, you can have a perfect fitting suit that really flatters your body shape. The basics include:

Jacket length – jackets should drop down to around your crotch area. Get your tailor to pin the jacket and play around with the length. Try not to have too much cloth taken off the bottom or you run the risk of ruining it’s proportions.

The shoulders – it’s not the 80s so pay attention here, these may need to be altered to ensure they properly sit on your shoulders and don’t float mid-air. You should be able to feel your shoulder ends through the jacket. 

The lapels – whether you go for a notch or peak style, make sure they lie flat against your chest as these can’t be altered later. If you have either a bow or gap try a different size or brand.

The sleeves – they should sit nicely at the top of your hand i.e. where your wrist joint is, so have them shortened if they’re too long. You want to show half an inch of your shirt sleeve when you have your jacket on. In some cases, off-the-rack suits have baggy sleeves so you may want to think about having them tapered to give them some shape.

The fit/waist of your jacket – you can go for regular, slim, or extra slim fits but don’t expect a bespoke finish. Whichever you choose, if required, make the alterations for a comfortable fit.  You can’t hold your breath in forever and nor do you want to look like you’ve suddenly shed pounds.

Alterations are an inexpensive way of taking an ordinary suit and making it extraordinary, and in doing so you’ll feel like the Boss. And pretty soon you’ll be eyeing up that MD’s corner office and wondering what you’d look behind their desk.

Next time, we’ll be tackling shirts and ties…

Sanu – Founder, CheekyLittleCareers