Buying a Business Suit: 7 Things You Need to Know

August 09, 2014  |     |   0 Comment

Confident business people

When you think of a polished, professional and powerful “look,” a person in a  business suit is usually what comes to mind.  A classically styled suit is the mainstay of a good business wardrobe and deserves utmost consideration, especially given the dollar investment.

In addition to styling details and colour, it is important to consider a suit’s fabric, tailoring and fit.  While high price does not guarantee high quality, be prepared to pay a fair price for a good suit.  Not sure where to begin? Here are 7 tips you need to know when buying a business suit:

1.  Check for Quality Fabric. Fabric accounts for one-third to one-half of the cost of manufacturing a suit. Fabric should appear fluid and feel soft, but not spongy. Smooth wool worsteds are amongst the best buys in suiting fabric.  Because they are tightly woven, they better retain a tailored shape and hold a crease.  Worsted fabric is usually lighter weight than wool flannel or tweed, making it more comfortable wearing it year ‘round.  Wool/polyester blends are also amongst some of the best buys. Polyester increases fabric strength, reduces shrinkage, stretching and wrinkling. Wool increases fabric absorbency, making it more comfortable to wear in cold winder or warm, humid weather.

2.  Check for Wrinkle Resistance. Test the suit for its wrinkle resistance.  Grasp a handful of fabric in your hand and squeeze it firmly. Scrunch it hard and hold to a count of ten. Then let go.  High quality fabric should spring from your hand and back into shape with little or no wrinkling.

3.  Beware of the Lure of Designer Labels.  A designer label does not guarantee impeccable tailoring or construction details.  But don’t expect time consuming hand tailoring on even the most expensive suits. Machine tailoring has taken over most of the work previously done by hand.

4.  Examine All the Fine Details of the Suit.  Reject any suit with curled lapel edges, visibly stiff or boardy interfacing, heavy or lumpy looking shoulder padding, puckered or strained seams and narrow seam allowances.  Look for another suit if you notice mismatched or poorly placed pinstripes, unevenly placed pockets, uneven or gapping rear vent pleats and loose or dangling threads.

5.  Try on the Suit and Check for Wrinkles.  Diagonal wrinkles angled across the top of the sleeve indicate that too much fabric has been eased into one side. Contrary to popular belief, these wrinkles often won’t press out.

6.  Check the Jacket Lining.  Jack lining should have an ease pleat in the center back along the bottom hem.  It should be stitched down in the armholes and hems.  Women’s skirt lining should cover the rough edges of the waistband and be hemmed separately.

7.  Right Size Does not Equal Right Fit.  The right suit size does not always result in proper fit.  Minor alterations are often necessary even when you’ve picked the right size. And while good fit can make up for minor shortcomings in fabric or construction, a poor fit can make even the most expensive suit look cheap and sloppy.  If you must choose between a slightly too loose-fitting and a slightly too-tight fitting suit, always opt for a loose fit and have it altered where necessary.

Buying a suit is certainly an investment.  The best buys in suits are ones that are classic in styling, have high quality fabric and construction that can be expected to give a better return on investment than many of the lower priced, lower quality quits. While there are many reputable brands and high-end stores where you can find the best buys in suits, if you’ve got a discriminating eye, bargains can be found, so you don’t have to break the bank!

Not sure where to begin? Need help finding an appropriate business suit?   Please contact me to learn about my personal shopping services and how I can help you; or for a complimentary half-hour consultation: or 613-321-5159.

Erin Crotty is a trained image management consultant and Affiliate of the Conselle Institute of Image Management. Image management strategies shared were originally created by Conselle’s Director, Judith Rasband.


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