3. Buy the right suit
These days, suits are cut to look athletic, slim, slightly shorter, and more tapered. “When I graduated from college my dad thought he was doing me a favor giving me his old suits, and they had these ridiculous-looking wide lapels and huge, padded shoulders,” Fenton says. That’s not a dig at his dad—point is, even if a blue suit seems timeless, its shape is not.
Also critical: Don’t cheap out on your suits. “When they’re two-for-$400 or whatever, the manufacturer has had to cut corners”—sometimes literally, he says. One test: Pull at the lapels or the pocket flaps. These portions can literally be glued together, and on cheaper suits, the felt lapel backing might not fit quite right. “Suits are the most complicated items you can make in the world of menswear,” he says. “Just setting the sleeve so it hangs right is true artisan stuff.”
Another test: Try on a suit that’s at the high end of your budget, and then try a more economical model. Take selfies at both shops and see how you look. Stride around the store. A good suit is actually constructed to move with you, not resist movement, and you can actually feel the difference.
From there, get the staples. Fenton suggests a blue suit. And while brighter blue hues are popular at the moment, you can’t go wrong with grey flannel, or lighter-weight, three-season suits in traditional charcoal hues. Chunkier herringbone patterns and plaids are very much in style, and while the former is classic, he suggests staying relatively conservative if the goal is to build timeless pieces for your closet. One timeless tip: A little plaid always goes a very long way.
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