BUYING A SUIT

Long time no write! With work being incredibly busy over the last year I have sadly neglected this site. Anyway with some time on my hands I thought it a great chance to get back in the swing.

 

Over the last few months, in my 9-5 job,I have seen many suits sent to us to tailor that really should never have been sold to that customer, either the wrong size completely, the customer is completely the wrong shape for a brand’s block, the staff member at the store is trying to hard to change the style of the suit to their or the customer’s personal preference and in doing so are trying to recut the garment, and some times even sales consultants trying to adjust something out of their skill set. Now obviously I lean towards having things custom-made, but for many this is not possible, due to budget limitations, location or even simply time constraints. So what are some basic tips to make sure you aren’t being sold down the river, or having tailoring done you don’t need or won’t even notice. Some alterations are best done by a professional tailor if needed rather than having a sales consultant overstep their knowledge.

 

Starting out, it is important to remember that the person in the store is trying to SELL you something, not necessarily in your best interest, and while they want to sell you the thing that fits you best, that only applies to what they have in stock. It is good practice to know roughly what brand fits you well. For a rough guideline go back and read some of my earlier posts on dressing for your body type as these will give you a clue as what things to look for.

 

THE DEAL BREAKERS

These things are deal breakers in my mind and simply say. don’t buy this

  • Taking in shoulders or chest
  • Letting out of the chest
  • Changing the armhole shape
  • Taking in trousers more than 6cm
  • Shortening a jacket more than 3cm

All of these things suggest a much larger problem and quite simply the suit doesn’t fit you. Also they signify work required that your standard sales consultant doesn’t appreciate the complexity of or unintended consequences that can arise from such an adjustment. You are also relying then on the store having a very skilled (read expensive) tailor to do these adjustments well. This isn’t an exclusive list and trusting your judgment is important, if you think the garment is being adjusted to an unreasonable level then don’t buy it

In short if the suit (or jacket) you are trying on needs any of the above, walk away.

 

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THE BASICS

After having scared you of what to not do, the following are completely normal and should be considered standard wherever you purchase suiting

  • Trouser shortening (obvious I know)
  • Sleeve shortening
  • Lengthening of sleeves or trousers up to 4cm
  • Taking the jacket in up to 2 inches
  • Taking in trouser the waist up to 4cm
  • Letting out the trouser waist up to 4cm
  • Tapering the leg up to 2cm
  • Shortening a jacket body up to 2cm

These are all basic adjustments and can be done in store. If you are unsure at the staff members competence, the you can always take these jobs direct to your tailor of choice to have them done without fear.

 

THE TOUGH ONES

This is the group of alterations that I suggest exercising the most caution on. In skilled hands they can make the garment fit superbly, however done at the wrong time or too much can ruin a suit, or if suggested by someone who doesn’t understand completely could result in an ill-fitting garment that should never have been purchasedscreen-shot-2017-03-04-at-4-03-22-pm

  1. Squaring the neck, or Lifting the Nape. This is a very delicate job and should only be done in very specific circumstances. The client who needs this job has very sq, and usually quite boney shoulders and the collar is being pushed up creating a fold at the back of the neck IMMEDIATELY BELOW the collar. Sorry for shouting but creasing occurring lower on the back is something else completely. If you are a muscular client, do not get this job done as it will cause enormous problems, same goes if you are buying a coat that is quite snug (read tight). Even doing this adjustment may not completely cure the problem but only dissipate it. If you are unsure on this one and the problem is severe, don’t proceed
  2. Taking in of a jacket excessively. I see this all the time especially with the current look of very slim jackets. Taking in of a jacket more than 2″ is reducing the waist by more than a size and a half. If done too much it can cause issues with how vents sit at the back. Also if a jacket needs to come in this much, it quite often is too big in the front half of the jacket, and only the back panels can be reduced. This can result in a jacket although skin-tight at the back that is still too big at the front. This is quite common on big chested guys. Proceed with caution

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  1. Taking in a trouser more than  4cm. This sounds simple but if not done correctly will be a nightmare. 4cm is basically a size in most trousers, so why not get the size smaller? Some “big bootyied” people may need the waist only taken in, but it is essential that this is noted to prevent trouser from being too tight . The verdict on this is that it is ok only if the sales consultant is attentive and knowledgeable. If not, then take it directly to a tailor of your choice, but noting that if its love 8cm you may end up with a very hefty bill
  2. Slimming trousers excessively. Again with many people wanting slim trousers and suit brands having not moved as fast as fashion has, this is a common request. Slimming trousers a small amount is fine and requires minimal caution, however drastic tapering requires far more thought. Firstly wool is nowhere near as robust as a denim or cotton trouser and as such can’t be worn as tight lest it split. Equally important is that the majority of you are wearing suits for work and as such are in them for 10-15 hour stretches and really slim trousers are uncomfortable after that length of time despite what a salesperson may tell you.The other thing to note is that if you have large calves you cannot taper trousers to the same extent as the pant needs to fall over the calf not hug it, as this would cause “trumpeting”. Again it is all fine but exercise common sense
  3. Letting trouser seat out. in itself this isn’t difficult however most suit trousers only have 1-2cm in the seat which only makes a slight difference

 

 

 

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All in all it really isn’t that hard, just avoid the top group of alterations on any new purchase, and exercise caution on the bottom group.Remember  design team has been paid a lot of money to design the cut of these suits for a reason, use alterations to  augment, not transplant that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About themaninasuit

I have been involved in the menswear business since university in1997. Have gradually fallen in love with men's suiting and more recently tailor made garments. I am perpetually asked for style advise and things to wear so decided to get some of my thoughts and passions out and about

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