There’s a suit out there that flatters you, no matter what your body type. Probably as important as the suit, is the hunt for the suit. Here are a few tips if you don’t know your lapel from your cuffs.
The most important parts of a jacket are the shoulder and the waist. The proportion between them is adjusted for different body types. The silhouette should look wider on top and narrower at the waist. When trying on a jacket, make sure the shoulders sit exactly right, not too big or you’ll look slouchy. The drape of the sleeve is also important, check that it falls easily, has no shoulder pads protruding and is the right length—today the sleeve should be half-an-inch over the wrist, so that the shirt shows half an inch under the jacket. Suit-makers in India tend to make the sleeves too long, which gives the jacket a casual, unprofessional look.
There’s a return to the two-button suit, with the notches on the lapels being much higher, not lower down like they were in the 1980s. Make sure the width of the lapel is not too broad.
It goes without saying that comfort is key. With the buttons fastened, you should have enough room for movement. A sign of a well-cut jacket is when it curves well on the back, near the waist. I think that some men buy jackets without looking at the drape. The problem most often is large shoulders and extra-long sleeves.
TIP: Try on a jacket a size smaller and see how you look and feel. Just because you’ve been wearing size 40 for years, doesn’t mean it’s still the right size. If a smaller size fits better, you can always get other details, such as the length of the sleeve extended.
Also, try the double-vented jacket (with two slits at the back instead of one), which is widely worn in Europe. The single-vented jacket originated in America and gives a more casual look, since a lot of their clothes are sportswear-inspired.
Bigger body types should opt for darker suits with dark pin stripes. If you have a gifted waistline, go for dark stripes or a plain dark colour. Don’t wear the jacket too tight across the waist and don’t let the shoulders be too wide, or you’ll look much shorter. A slightly shorter jacket makes you look taller. If you’re very thin, opt for a wider stripe and a lighter colour.
For people who travel, opt for a polyester or wool blend, which won’t crush too easily. Also, ask for a fabric that is at least super 120 to 140 (16 microns), which makes for a nice suit for business travellers, as it allows flexibility and doesn’t crush easily.
TIP: Instead of getting your suit ironed or laundered at the hotel, hang it in the bathroom for 10 minutes, with a hot shower running in the shower stall. The steam that will fog up the bathroom will iron out the creases.
What are the rules for shoes while wearing a suit?
When wearing a suit, whether you pick a laced pair, slip-ons or monk straps, there’s one thing you must make sure—your shoe must have a leather sole. A rubber sole gives your formal shoes a casual look because the soles invariably look chunky. A problem most men find when they wear slip-ons with formal suits is that the bottom of the trouser doesn’t fall well. If you want to wear slip-ons, you’ll need a pair of trousers that are a little roomier at the hem. Shoes with very heavy toes are out and block toes are a no-no. While on the topic of footwear, match your socks to your trousers, not to your shoes or shirt.
(Write to Narendra Kumar at firstname.lastname@example.org)