The suit has been a stalwart of menswear for hundreds of years with roots going back as far as the 17th Century. Although society, culture and technology may have changed greatly since then, the basic need for men to look smart and sophisticated has not, and thus, this classic combination of matching garments cut from the same cloth remains a focal point in the wardrobes of men worldwide.
Today, suits are the expected dress code in a smorgasbord of day-to-day situations and occasions, so having a well styled and reliable suit is crucial for any self-respecting gent. However, with countless styles, fabrics and cuts to choose from, the world of men's suits can be a formidable No Man's Land for those not in the know, which is why we have picked at the minds of Cruise's own sartorial specialists to bring you a full guide to choosing and styling the perfect suit for you.
Work – It’s best to keep it simple in the work place as office dress codes usually opt away from flamboyance. A two piece suit in charcoal, black or dark navy can offer you a broad range of looks when paired with different shirts, ties and accessories - perfect for swapping and changing during the week. We advise buying two pairs of trousers to save on your cleaning bill.
Job Interview – Again, this is no time for showcasing your eclectic taste in style, a classic, sharp cut black suit is ideal and when matched with an understated rich red or green tie can ooze sophistication. It’s best to check your suit for dirt and stains at least a week before your interview – it is better to be safe than sorry.
Special Events – For summertime events a typical suit can leave you very hot and bothered, so if you are in the sun why not try an light coloured linen suit which will allow you to stay cool. If it is a black tie event you are attending, then a tuxedo and dickie bow tie is a no-brainer.
When trying out blazer for size, make sure the shoulders hug your frame and look neat, avoiding excess material or any overly tight areas, especially seems. Your blazer should button up with ease and not need pulling together, however make sure the fastenings are not slouched or gaping. If you can fit anything larger than your first between you and and your blazer then its best to get it altered.
When you hold your arms straight you should be able to cup the jacket hems with your hands, any longer or shorter and you need a different size. Sleeves however are less of a worry as these are easily altered. It is best to show around half an inch of shirt sleeve cuff at your wrists.
One Button – a typical modern style best suited to slighter frames. Always have the button fastened when standing and undone when sitting down.
Two buttons – A good all-round style for most torso shapes. This classic style is widely available and you should remember to always leave the bottom button undone.
Three buttons – A flattering style for men with medium or tall builds . Always keep the top two buttons fastened (or at the very least the middle button) when standing up and again leave the bottom one undone.
Double breast – A wise choice for slighter frames who seek a contemporary style. It is best to always keep the buttons fastened as there is lots of excess material in double breast blazers, but feel free to leave the bottom buttons for comfort.
Notched lapels – These are the most common style of lapels and are sewn at an angle from the collar. Notched lapels are usually found on single breasted jackets and are most informal in style meaning they could easily be paired with jeans and smart shoes for a causal look.
Peaked lapels – This style is very common on double breasted blazers. Traditionally, notched lapels are found at more formal occasions so this is a wise choice for any important events.
Shawl lapels – The shawl lapel has a continuous curve around the collar with no visual cuts or stitching. These are most common on tuxedos and dinner jackets.
Jacket vents all come down to personal style. While centre vents are most common, double vents or no vents at all are rather popular among contemporary European designers.
Your choice of fabric should depend on season. Thick fabrics will likely be too hot and uncomfortable in warm and sunny weather and likewise, linen or cotton pieces will be too cold and breezy in winter. Wool suits can be good all-rounders depending on fabric density and can be layered and paired with jeans for a more modern look. Linen suits tend not to bode well for travellers as the fabric has a tendency to crease very easily.
Any good suit will always come fully lined. It is often the case that designers opt for colourful or patterned lining, and this can be great for adding a statement to your outfit without being over the top. Try to avoid colour clashes between the lining of your blazer and the colours or patterns of shirts and ties. This is something that is usually overlooked and can be subtle sartorial downfall in the eyes of style-savvy.
When buying formal shirts it is always best to choose fitted or slim fit styles, even if you aren't a sculpted male model. These cuts help to reduce baggy looking areas and excess material. If you have a favourite shirt at home because of fit and comfort then memorise the neck and arm measurements and use this as your starting ground. Shirt colours and patterns can always be enhanced with a tie and pocket square, however these should only compliment your shirt, never match it.
The style of your trousers and the fit around your waist (known as the trouser rise) should suit your own personal style. It is best to avoid showing too much sock however you shouldn't allow the material to go baggy around your ankles. Trousers are easily altered by a tailor and we advise slim fit trousers for a smart and stylish outfit.
Footwear & Accessories
You can enhance shirt colours and patterns by adding a tie and pocket square, however these should only compliment your shirt, never match it. You tie should always meet your belt line and tie bars are best places between the 3rd and 4th button hole on your shirt.
Brown leather shoes are very handing for toning down formality and look great with a dark navy suit. If you want to add a touch of subtle personality to your outfit, try adding some playful socks to match your tie (Channel 4’s Jon Snow is the undisputed master of this art).
Finally, try not to over-clean your suits. Putting a suit through many washes can wear it out and leave colours faded and fabric weak, this is why it is best to purchase two sets of trousers for any suit you are likely to wear regularly.
To see the latest men's suits from top designers such as Dolce & Gabbana, Hugo Boss and Gucci, visit the men's premium suit collection at Cruise.