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114. Some stuff I learned about menswear
Tips on suits for guys who don’t dress good
Wedding season has been rolling around, and I hadn’t bought any formal clothing in years. I wanted to share what I’ve learned on my hunt for the best quality on a budget!
Navy is a flexible color that can be worn for many occasions: weddings, funerals, interviews, etc.
Get measured. Easiest way is to get some measuring tape and follow some YouTube videos. You can also go into a department store like Macy’s where they’ll do it for free.
A good-quality suit is going start at a few hundred bucks, so be prepared for that. We are busting out of the realm of polyester and into 100% wool territory.
The collar should hug the neck even when you move your arms around. The collar shouldn’t float behind you.
The jacket should end halfway down your butt (or halfway from the collar to the floor)
Jacket sleeve should leave room for your shirt cuffs to show. Your shirt cuff should end at the wristbone.
Fabric should hang cleanly, without creases from tension around the chest, back, or crotch.
Pants should break at the top of your shoes when you’re standing.
Nice-to-have indicators of quality
A rolled lapel (instead of a hard-edged fold)
Where to buy
If you have lead time of at least a few weeks: try to get something made-to-measure. The cheapest high-quality online option is Spier & MacKay.
If you are short on time: Spier & MacKay and Suitsupply have good off-the-shelf options. Off-the-shelf utilizes drop-6 measurements, e.g. a size 38 jacket will come with size 32 pants. You can’t mix and match these unfortunately, but Suitsupply has in-person locations in the US where you can get your off-the-shelf purchase altered if you don’t know a local tailor.
The easiest things to get tailored are sleeves and pant legs. Stuff like shoulder/chest fit and the crotch area are harder to adjust.
Pro tip: Cut any X-threads from your new suit (or let your tailor do it if you get it altered). Those aren’t supposed to be there when you’re actually wearing your suit.
Money-saving alternatives if you have time:
Go thrifting for a brand like Brooks Brothers in a nice neighborhood. Use the money you saved and get it tailored!
Wait for sales on BB’s site.
For formal events, you’ll want a white shirt with a spread collar. The spread collar provides crisp continuity from your dress shirt to your suit lapels. Go with 100% cotton for comfort and ease of ironing.
Where to buy
If you happen to perfectly fit Uniqlo’s dress shirt in the neck, chest and sleeves, that’s the cheapest decent-quality shirt you can get. If it doesn’t, you’re better off paying a bit more for a nice off-the-shelf shirt with your neck measurement from Spier & MacKay and Suitsupply. You’ll literally be able to feel the difference in quality.
If you have lead time, you should once again consider buying made-to-measure. Proper Cloth comes highly-recommended.
Get black or dark-brown shoes for your navy suit. Don’t pair with light-brown shoes because shoes should not distract from the suit nor break up your silhouette.
Where to buy
I actually didn’t do new research on this because I still wear some Florsheims I got from DSW years ago. They’re a good budget option!
My only other advice is to go with something basic with a point (no square toe!),
How to wear
The four-in-hand is a classic that doesn’t create a huge knot underneath your chin like a Windsor knot can. I like to tighten the tie horizontally (i.e. parallel to the ground) because this gives the tie some 3-dimensionality rather than laying completely flat on my chest.
Bust out a tie bar or a pocket square for extra flourish.
Where to buy
I honestly have just picked up ties over the years from the clearance section of Nordstrom Rack or even Marshalls/Ross that have caught my eye. Aim for 100% silk, but you can get away with a cheaper material if the pattern is fun.
If you wanna ball out, Sam Hober makes bespoke ties for $95.
That’s it! Depending on what you already have/are willing to compromise on, you’ll probably pay somewhere between $400-$800 total. In exchange, you’ll have a high-quality outfit that fits you better than anything you’ve ever worn before that you can wear to all of life’s most important events. I guarantee you will get compliments.
Hope this saves you or a loved one time and money!
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