Inexpensive Suits for Men
Buying a suit can be tricky, and there are seemingly a million things to consider when picking the right fabric and getting the right fit. What can make it trickier is if you re on a budget and can’t afford to waltz into your local high end retailer and drop several thousand dollars on a suit. With the following suiting tips and tricks you will have the perfect suit in a few days and your bank account won’t be singing the blues.
Step 1. Set a budget and STICK TO IT!
First things first, determine how much you are willing to spend on your suit. Keep in mind that alterations can cost as much as $150.00 and this number MUST be calculated into your original figure. A good rule of thumb is, the less you pay for the suit the more your alteration bill will be. If you have no idea how much suits cost then try to budget between $500 to $1,000, this will get you a suit that will fit relatively to exceptionally well and will allow you to wear that suit for many years. Remember suits are an investment and should be treated as such. If you look like a hillbilly in your interview, it doesn’t mater how many degrees you have you won’t be taken as seriously as the next guy who has a well fitting suit. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great deal on your suit so here’s the 411 on how to score an amazing suit for less.
You have to be strong and not give into the luscious labels and high-end fluffery that makes up for 60% of the cost of many suits. Go into a menswear store in your area and ask the sales person point blank “Show me the suits in (your predetermined) price range.” You can throw in a “Please” and “Thank you” if you like but when on a suit shopping mission they will understand if you skip the pleasantries. If their selection is minimal or non-existent within your rice range leave and find a different store. Once you get a feel for the suits that they have you will know quickly if the suits in the labels they carry are in a style that you would like or fabrics that you find attractive. Which brings me to the next step.
Step 2. Choose your fabric.
Once you have seen what the store has to offer look at the coloring of the fabric, if this is your first suit go for solid black, navy, or brown. If those clors arent available in solids then make sure the patterns are subtle so they are not overly note-worthy. This is so you can mix the suit jacket later on with other pants, or the pants with other tops and you can get away with doing so. You don’t want people to recognize that you are wearing the same thing over and over, then you look grubby.
So after you have determined that the color of the fabric is a good choice move onto the composition of the textile used. 100% wool or as close to 100% wool will be your best bet. It wears well over time, dry-cleans without any problems, and is very easy to maintain. A god quality wool suit that is hung properly in your closet will not need to be pressed or steamed often because the wool will release the wrinkles. Man-made synthetics and other natural materials do not have this same property and require ironing or steaming which deteriorates the fabric which can leave your suit looking shiny and old. I’ll touch on caring for your suit a little later on in the article. Other great materials are bamboo, cashmere, and blends of these materials with wool. Another common material is wool with some stretch in it. Though this material looks and wears beautifully you may find that it will get a sheen to it after some time if the dry cleaners press it with a high heat.
Try to avoid a suit that has a high amount of rayon, or polyester as it will not last as long and tends to look like an inexpensive suit. Just because you are on a budget, doesn’t mean you should look like you are. Also these material are notorious for trapping in smells which is definitely something you don’t want.
Step 3. Find your fit.
This part takes the most amount of time and energy and requires a very critical eye. This “expert eye” can be yours or a friends but it must be razor sharp and have a no hostages kind of decisiveness that will not allow you to leave the store looking like a schlup. Also, try on everything! The pants, the jacket, and a shirt either yours or one that the store carries. You have to pay extra close attention to the shoulders of the jacket and keep your eye on the fit of the waist, thighs, and upper arms. If these things are to tight… toss the suit. If these things are too wide (especially the arms and legs)… toss the suit. In fact the only reason to hold onto a suit at this point is if it fits in the aforementioned categories especially the shoulders. The reason the shoulder must fit perfectly is because they are the backbone of the suit. To alter these would be like getting a spinal column transplant. You don’t want that… and neither does your jacket, so don’t do it.
Once you learn which size fits you, determine if you need a short, regular, or tall jacket. A loose guideline is if you are 5’7″ or below you would likely need a short, 5’7.5″ to 6′ generally fits a regular, and 6′.5″+ usually requires a tall jacket. Along with the fit comes the style of the suit. To get a cut that is in style, is not that important but a good looking suit can/should have these elements to them so I recommend looking for the following details on your suit jackets:
- Two buttons
- A notch or peak lapel
- Double vented back
- Lapels no thinner than 2″ and no thicker than 4″
- Three pockets – a breast pocket and two lower side pockets
- Three inside pockets (optional) an inside pocket on each side and one additional pocket on the left inside breast.
Step 4. Alter your suit.
Suits are created around a standard silhouette that is cut from the mould of a stereotypical Adonis. However companies know that no one is the same and therefore suits are made customizable by having extra fabric in the seat of pants, hemlines unfinished, and the ability to suppress a waist at the drop of a dime. Being forced to hem the pants to a length of your choosing is a good thing though because you can control how much break (created when the bottom of your pant rests on the top of your shoe) you want on the bottom of your pant leg. Not only is everyone different but everyone wears different shoes and believe it or not, the height of the shoe impacts where your pant leg should be sliced. Make sure that when the seamstress has the pant pinned up that the length is exactly where the sole of your shoe meets the leather heel. This is called a full break because the hemline breaks along the front of your shoe. Though this is the most popular hem, I prefer to have the hem angled so the front is more like a half break hem or a no break hem. The result looks cleaner and doesn’t crease the front of the slacks.
After the pants are pinned to your liking, walk around and see that the pant leg doesnt kick up too high or drag on the ground. A pant that drags on the ground will fray or even run and get destroyed. There is very little that can be done to repair this. If your pants get ruined from a tattered hemline, you will be out a suit. So pay attention and make sure the hemline is bang on.
Next is the sleeves of the jacket, relax your arms and let the seamstress chalk or pin up the sleeves to the middle of your thumb’s highest bone. A frayed sleeve is tantamount to being homeless so make sure that when you type and work with your hands that you are not dragging your sleeves against your work surface otherwise you will be surprised how quickly they wear down. Conversely a short sleeve makes it look like you are a gorilla… and not just any ape… but a marsupial with no sense of style.
The waist of the jacket should be suppressed to show off your broad shoulders and lean mid-section. Of course this only applies if that is the case, otherwise make sure the jacket is not pulling around the middle at the buttons or along the vents at the back. These are tell tale signs that the waist has to be let out. Adjusting the waist is an important step in making your budget suit look like a million dollars.
Lastly, an alterationist may adjust the posture of the jacket correcting neck-roll but be prepared to be charged through the nose if you require this. Most times jackets are made with a little roll in the back for a normal posture. A very proper posture may then have a roll in the upper back below the collar. Depending on how severe this is a reworking of the entire jacket may need to be done. Most gentlemen will not have a problem with this unless of course the jacket was made for an athlete with perfect posture and you have an extremely curved posture or vice-versa.
Even if you don’t have the money I recommend going to Holt Renfrew in Canada or Harry Rosen, or Saks in the U.S. or similar retailer and speaking with the menswear sales associates about suiting. They will know your size as soon as you walk in the door and they will put on a suit that will fit you perfectly. This feeling will stick with you and you will remember what a good looking suit feels like. Shoot for this feeling when shopping for a suit in your price-range.
Once you have a suit that you love and is perfect in every way I recommend going online to Modern Tailor and ordering a suit through them. Keep in mind you must already have a suit that fits you perfectly as they require your measurements. Going through them allows you to save a staggering amount of money as their suits start at $250.00 for %100 wool!
I hope this article has helped you pick out a great looking suit while saving buckets of money. Let me know in the comments below.