Here Is What You Should (And Shouldn’t) Do When Buying A New Suit

As much as fashion is about following rules, it’s also about breaking them. Still, it’s always good to have a foundation. And it is with that in mind that we give you this list of some basic do’s and don’ts when it comes to suits:

Don’t buy a style that isn’t right for your body type

No matter how stylish short jackets are right now, for example, they will simply never be flattering to certain body types. For the lowdown on how to buy a suit that fits you like a glove, have a look at this for more details.

Don’t pass up tailoring

If a bespoke suit isn’t in your budget, that doesn’t mean you can’t still look great. It’s perfectly okay to buy a suit off the rack, making sure it’s reasonably within your size range (that is, the shoulders fall where your shoulders are, and it’s not too tight or short anywhere), and then take it for tailoring. A tailor will make any necessary adjustments for a reasonable price. Even if your budget is tighter than an ill-fitting suit, don’t be afraid to at least ask how much they charge. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised…and soon you’ll have a suit that fits you perfectly.

Don’t buy a suit with sagging shoulders

Even if you go to a tailor to fix the way the suit fits, there may not be not much they can do if the shoulders don’t fall where yours do. If there’s only one thing you check when you try on a jacket (and actually, there are a few more—again, feel free to check out our suit-buying guide for more info), make it the shoulders, for the love of all that is good and right in the world!

Do try to vary materials

If you can afford more than just the basics, why not change up the material your suit is made of? Tweeds and even certain stylish corduroys are great for winter, and a linen suit can be a godsend in the summer heat.

Do consider the gray suit

Although black is the most common color choice for suits today, consider dark gray, at least as the color of your second suit. Dark gray has a timeless feeL—think of how many men in classic movies and TV shows are decked out in it.  It will make you stand out in a crowd of black-suited peers, and at the same time, you’ll show impeccable style.

Do accessorize

No matter how sharp you look in your suit, the right accessories can make you look even sharper.  Pay attention to the color of the tie you choose, or why not add a pocket square? Colorful or patterned socks can also be a fun touch—Just make sure you don’t look ridiculous. Stick with geometric patterns, not motifs like cartoon characters or little hearts or such.

In fashion, some rules are made to be broken. But these should generally give you a good foundation that will help you look great any time you put on your suit!

And since I’m a hardcore pocket square lover…

I will not let you go before I share with you the two main tips when it comes to wearing a pochette, as we like to call them here in France. So here we go:


Contrast when wearing a pocket square

There really are no rules when it comes to your personal style, but it is important not to match your look completely. You want to add a different element with your pocket square, so it is best to contrast this fabric with the rest of your look. This means that you should not choose a pocket square that is identical to your tie.

Try to have a little more adventure by matching a striped blue tie with a polka dot pocket square pattern in a contrasting color. It is also important to not pick a pocket square color that matches your suit. If you have a navy suit, you should opt for a bold pocket square like an emerald green. You can be subtle or over the top, but always remember that contrasting is your goal. Remember also not to over-accessorize: if you choose a tie pin, for example, you should probably forego the pocket square.

Be creative, my friend…Be CREATIVE! 

The best part about wearing pocket squares is that you have the ability to be playful and try out different looks. You should not be afraid to wear bold colors or fun patterns. Silk pocket squares often are made of the highest quality and look the best in formal suits, but you can purchase pocket squares in a variety of fabrics. There are even fabric pocket squares that are designed for more casual wear. With so many different options to choose from there is no excuse not to join in on this reoccurring timeless trend.

Here’s to your success!

Read Next: 8 Ways To Look Great In A Suit

56 thoughts on “Here Is What You Should (And Shouldn’t) Do When Buying A New Suit”

  1. Matching your tie and pocket square is a big no-no. Glad you included that.
    Know your strengths and weaknesses. If you’ve got blue eyes, a blue accessory will bring that out more. If you’ve got a pale complexion, a white shirt won’t do you any favors.

    1. “If you’ve got a pale complexion, a white shirt won’t do you any favors.”
      I’ve always found that if you’re pale, a black shirt won’t do you any favors.

      1. Many palefaces fall in the Autumn color palette and look horrible in traditional blue and black business attire. Charcoal and dark olive are better choices for this demographic.
        Your color palette is the first thing to consider in wardrobe selection.
        There was a good book called Color for Men that is out of print that showed the 4 color palettes and associated skin/hair types. This is the way clothing store display their wares.
        You could also use Adobe Kuler, which will create a palette from your uploaded photo. Has many uses (such as your company logo/business card graphics), worth a look :

    2. “Matching your tie and pocket square is a big no-no. Glad you included that.”
      Hmmm…I’m inclined to concur – in the broadest terms. With aspects of style, it oft seems to come down to a blend of “It depends…” and the persona of the man, I dare say?
      If the man is a little larger than life or extrovert, maybe one can get away with a tie and square of the same pattern -maybe- if everything else in the outfit is ‘all present and correct’ and of beautiful quality cloth fit etc.
      I imagine it’s a case of suck it and see – try each out in front of a full length mirror – if you look a bit ‘odd’, or the clothing stands out more than you do*, discard.
      I would posit counterbalancing cloth textures and patterns to prevent dominance in an outfit is an idea (eg knitted silk tie with a fine weave jacket or smooth tie with Harris tweed).
      Personally, I would not have a tie/square match, being a more understated personality, though YMMV and I would match three ways thusly, assuming a solid colour jacket:
      1. Matching a solid tie:
      With same solid colour square. If tie has texture, a smooth edge showing on the square with a basic puff. If a smooth texture tie, points or edges of the square are visible. This look grants the smartest, cleanest, professional, ‘means business’ debonair impression. It’s amazing how deferentially people treat you with this! Moreover, it may be somewhat ‘safe’, but it won’t offend anyone’s sensibilities and is guaranteed to make a good impression while will get entry into jacket & tie only clubs or restaurants.
      2. With the the same solid colour tie:
      Match the *smallest* colour elements of the square, say the dots in a polka dot square or an element of pattern in a paisley square with the solid colour of the tie.
      3. Match a striped or patterned/polka dot tie:
      Use a solid square with a colour matching the same colour of the smaller/smallest part of the tie pattern, or use the opposite pattern type to the tie, e.g. striped tie opposed with a square with polka dots or circles (and vice versa).
      The perennially useful “” has a few pointers:
      Finally, I was always taught by the tailor I apprenticed with that “Fashion is where you notice the clothes before the person, Style is where you notice the person before the clothes.”

  2. I watched one of President Clinton’s State of the Union speeches in the 1990’s and noticed the misshapen shoulders in his jacket. I thought he should look up John Gotti’s tailor and get some proper bespoke suits made.

  3. I like to match my pocket squares to my shirt, but then again, a constrast is great, too, that somehow compliments the look. Paisley styles come to mind.
    Tailoring is critical, and worth it. You should assume from the beginning that any sport coat, blazer, or suit won’t fit perfectly. If it doesn’t compliment your body, you’re losing out badly.
    I see an amazing number of men wearing suits, sport coats, and shirts that are obscenely too big. Terrible!
    We’re at the point where so few people dress nicely that when I wear my $79 Macy’s INC brand sport coat, a nice pocket square, and a nice shirt, the compliments continually roll in. It’s like from another planet when wearing nice clothes, lol.

    1. It’s so easy in rural or “country” areas and small cities to stand out above the vast majority of mouthbreathers that there’s really no excuse not to. Most men can’t even be bothered to wear a tie. Pocket squares are like next level shit.

    2. Heard that cufflinks with French cut shirts can be a cool accessory and give you a unique look. Saw cufflinks that were made from old .45 call shells …

  4. My main challenge is finding a suit that doesn’t fit my chest like a tight bra and fanning up at the top. When I do find one, it is always too long, and tailors can only shorten by an inch or so before it starts looking weird.

  5. I spend my life in grey suits. Much better than black, though I have a few of those as well.

  6. Instead of spending “1200 on a very nice suit, most men should pay $1000 for a 2 year gym membership, get a chest, shoulder and back, and then spend $200 on a suit.
    Guess which one will look better?

    1. I’ll do one better. Instead of spending $1000 for a gym membership, work out at home with free weights ($200) or body work and get a $1000 suit…
      Gym memberships are entirely unnecessary if money is a concern. Youtube ghetto workouts for some inspiration, and follow up with research and most importantly action, consistent, sustainable action. (sustainable means not going to the gym everyday until you burn out, more like developing a regime that you can use and morph throughout your lifetime)
      Especially for people who travel, you need to devise a system heavy on body weight workouts that you can use in hotel rooms, for example, with the aid of a chair and table if you want to get fancy…

    2. “get a chest, shoulder and back”
      Yes, and train legs while your at it. Nothing as ridiculous as a large upper body with toothpicks legs. Something that’s all too common among gym goers these days.

      1. Back when I was in university I had a friend of a friend who was on the rowing team. He was a good looking guy with pipes and a six pack and massive thighs . . .and calves that belonged to a little girl.

    3. Make it a $4K Bespoke, or even a Kiton/Brioni if you have the body type, and my money’s on the Sartorialist. Muscles are generally a bit detrimental to looking good in a suit. Suits are always most flattering to tall, slender guys. Cheap suits on football players just make them look like hired bouncers at a cheap bar.
      If you had stated “get rid of the gut” instead of “get a chest, shoulders and back”, I’d agree with you, though. There are limits to what even a great tailor can do.

      1. You got it. I meant to get a toned, fit body. Too many plumpy lawyers with a gut who have never made a squat manage to ruin fine suits.
        A nice suit on an steroid pumped ape will always look bad.

        1. IMHO if you are wearing a double breasted suit and “it works for you” that means you are a fat fuck. Work yourself into a single breast, two button blazer.

  7. I know a well fitted tailored suit is important but can a suit be too tight ? Too form fitting??Some of these suits seem like track suits they are so tight…

    1. It should fit correctly but allow for comfortable movement, if done correctly. Also should not bind underneath the armpits if amply sized.
      That being said, in some sport coats I’ve owned, they were a bit uncomfortable in some areas until the fabric was broken in, then were much better.
      Don’t forget that shoulder sections are usually prohibitively expensive to have tailored. When I got quotes, tailoring shoulders would exceed the cost of the garment!

  8. Your missing the most important part… SHOES!!! A nice suite means nothing without a solid pair of shoes. Just make sure it matches the colour of your belt and for the love of god don’t get square tips.

    1. Show that you aren’t a frat boy going for your first job interview and get shoes that do NOT have a rubber soul. Unless you work on a used car lot where your leather gets ripped up walking around outside all day, avoid the chunky look of rubber souls – very amateur. And of course, a good pair of shoes is the first thing women notice. I don’t know how they know it, they just know.

  9. I like wearing french cuff dress shirts with cuff links which make for great conversation starters–not sure why, but women like to talk about them.
    Good article.

  10. I have a question for the author, if he is reading. Which cut should I go for? American, British or Italian?

      1. Yes. Seriously. Believe it or not, many of us couldn’t give two rat shits about how your suit is cut…because we don’t wear them. Preening and fretting over the drape of your shoulders is for women, gays, and the French.

        1. And people who have to wear them for work. Might as well get past JC Penny if you’re stuck wearing suits in the first place.

        2. Yes I suppose if you’re a lawyer or something and it’s absolutely not optional…you want to look sharp.
          In my book, mandatory suit wearing is a red line I simply wont cross when considering a new job. Life is too short.

  11. These suggestions – the pocket square and “fun” socks – definitely go over better in France than in the US. In America, you never want to wear anything that attracts undue attention to your ankles – just don’t.
    And if you must experiment with a pocket square, unless you work in Hollywood or the arts community (in which case you probably aren’t reading this article), be conservative with any kind of pocket square. Whatever you do, never get one that matches your tie – it only screams “Hey! I don’t dress up very much, but I think this trick is really neat!”
    I’m telling you, the timeless classic Dress for Success got it right decades ago.

  12. I own a cheap suit. On the other hand, I dropped $500 on an Italian lamb skin leather, made in Canada blazer. Somewhere down the line I will get some nice, leather shoes with leather soles and such. With proper maintenance they will last 20 years or more.

  13. If I’m getting a suit, I get a tailored one; I’m sick of the inseam parting my balls like John Travolta’s hair in Saturday Night Fever.

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