• Lydia Chu

How to wear a suit

I’ve been doing alterations for about 20 years, but it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I’ve been focusing on suit alterations.



I’ve noticed over the years that whenever my clients bring in a suit for alterations, it’s typically not the right size or the right fit. This is what has motivated me to become a certified style coach in 2016. Since then, I’ve been using my knowledge as a style coach and alteration skills to help my clients look their best.


Just like most of us, nobody taught me how to dress when I was growing up so naturally, I didn’t really understand the importance of dressing properly especially when it came to suits. It wasn’t until I started working with suits, especially men’s suits, that I started focusing on the proper fit and how they should be worn. Quality is an important factor when choosing the right suit but more important is the fit. No matter how much it cost, if it doesn’t fit properly, it’s not going to look good. So, it’s extremely important to make the right choices when picking the right suit, but it's also critical that you choose the right accessories to go with your suit to obtain that optimal look you're looking for. Here are some tips on what you need to know.

Suit


Traditional Fit: When choosing the right fit, think about what you're comfortable with. If you prefer more of a relaxed fit, then go with the traditional fit that is going to be more roomy through the chest and waist area. The pants are going to be more traditional as well by being more roomy in the legs with wider leg openings. Typically, traditional fitting pants will have front pleats with 8 1/2 - 9" in the leg openings.


Slim/Eurpoean Fit: If you prefer the contemporary look, you want to stick with a slim or European fit. Slim fits will fit closer to your body and can actually make you look taller and slimmer. Leg openings are typcially 7 1/2" - 8" and you don't have to be a thin person to be able to wear them. As long as you're proportionately smaller in the waist compared to your chest, I recommend trying on the slim fit. You'll be pleasantly surprised by how well they fit.


Color: Choose the right color. If you're looking for a business suit for work or interviews, you want to try to stick with navy, dark grey, or medium grey. These colors are the most versatile and most popular. Navy will make you look younger and more fashionable whereas grey will make you look more mature and distinguishable. Both are excellent choices for business settings. Black is more for formal occasions or for funerals so try to stay away from black if you're looking for a business suit. If you're choosing a suit for social gatherings or for going out, have fun with bold colors and patterns.


Alterations: Once you have chosen the right style, fit, and color, be sure to have those minor alterations taken care of by taking it to a professional who knows how to work on suits. (You can easily have your suit ruined if you take it to somebody who doesn't have the experience). When you're buying a suit off the rack, it's important to make some adjustments for that perfect fit. Some of the most common adjustments are shortening sleeves, taking the waist in or out, and hemming the pants. Once you have the perfect fitting suit, you need to figure out how to wear it with the right accessories.

Dress Shirts



Color: Choosing the right dress shirt is just as critical when you want that perfect look. It depends on the occasion but generally, you want to go with something neutral like white, light blue or pink, but if you like some pattern, go with a subtle pattern like small pinstripes or checks. A basic solid white shirt is a must especially for business, and It goes well with any color suit.


Pressing: Be sure to have your shirt professionally pressed if you want to obtain that professional look. Wrinkled shirt will scream untidiness. You don’t want to spend the money and time to buy a nice suit and have it ruined by wearing a wrinkled shirt, and please, don’t try to press it at home. It’s not worth it and you can never get that crisp and professional look you want.



Fit: As far as the fit goes, stick with a slim or even extra slim especially if you’re proportionally a lot smaller in the waist area compared to your chest. Otherwise, you’re going to look like you’re wearing a tent and will end up tucking in a lot of fabric. Also, if you’re looking for more fitted shirt without excess fabric around the waist, choose shirts without the back pleats. Back pleats will give you at least few more inches of extra fabric you probably don’t want. By choosing the right fit, you're going to look better, slimmer and save money on alterations.

Ties


Color: Be sure to choose a color that’s not too loud unless you’re going to a social gathering and want to stand out. For interviews and work, stick to a solid color or a subtle pattern like polka dots, strips or mini pattern. Something neutral like burgundy, blue or lavender is always a good option. Try avoid wearing the same pattern tie as your shirt. For example, a striped tie with a striped shirt will be a bad combination.


Size: Be sure to pick a tie that will match the size of the lapel on your suit. Typically, you want to match the width of the tie to the width of your lapel. For example, if you’re wearing a suit with a skinny lapel, choose a skinny tie. You can measure the widest part of the lapel on your suit and find a tie that matches. Most suits have lapels that are 2 1/2" -3".


Tip: When you're wearing a tie, the end of the tie should end at the middle part of the belt, not before or pass. Learn ways to tie a tie.

Belts and shoes



These two items should always match or be very close in color. Try not to wear an old dress shoes or belt especially with a new suit. An old and worn out shoes as well as an old belt can completely ruin the nice suit you’re wearing. If you’re wearing a dark grey or navy suit, you can wear black or dark brown shoes. Keep in mind that black shoes are always going to be more formal than brown. With medium grey, go with brown shoes and always black shoes with black suit. No matter what color you're wearing, always shine your shoes.


Socks


Should be the same color as your suit. You want to create a long line of color down to your shoes. Whatever you do, please don’t wear white gym socks. Not only would they stand out and be a distraction but you’re also presenting yourself as someone who doesn’t know how to dress.

Pocket squares




Pocket squares are not a must, but it does add a nice touch to the whole look and make you look more fashionable. Pocket squares and ties should be complementing each other but not exactly matching. So, if you're wearing a solid burgundy color tie, choose a pocket square that has a little bit of burgundy in the pattern like a burgundy polka dot. There also many different ways to fold a pocket square, but square fold is the most classic and professional. Click here to learn.


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