It’s the staple piece of every man’s wardrobe.
Every man should have one.
It should be like a secbond skin.
But it’s very easy to get wrong.
Small suit mistakes can ruin your look.
So you want to feel great. Should you just go and buy a suit? Job done?
No. It’s not as simple as that. We’re here to help – we want you to feel like a million bucks so use our guide to avoid the 10 suit mistakes which will make you look stupid.
Read on to make sure you don't make these classic suit mistakes.
#1. Trust Your Gut
So you find a suit in a store, you try it on and look in the mirror. What’s your gut instinct? Do you like it? If not, don’t buy it. It’s that simple. You may not be able to work out why you don’t like it but if you don’t feel fantastic, put it back.
Your suit is your suit of armor and you should feel good when you wear it. If you don't, put it back on the rack.
As a man, you are responsible for yourself and for the message you send. In order to send the right one, you need to feel great in the clothes you wear. If you don't, it'll show.
#2. Know What A Suit Is
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, you’d be surprised how many men don’t understand what a suit actually is. A suit is a jacket and trousers made of the same fabric and designed to be worn together. A suit typically consists of a jacket and trousers and sometimes a waistcoat.
Yes, you can mix and match jackets and trousers, but this is not a suit. And you should not wear this combo to an event where a suit is required. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can ‘get away’ with a sports jacket and trousers. No matter how similar, it just won’t look right if it's not the same fabric.
#3. Remove Tack Stitching
This is one of the most common yet easily avoided suit mistakes! Tack stitching is a longstanding sartorial tradition. It shows your suit has been prepared with care and it also prevents damage on transport.
Tack stitching is commonly applied to the jacket shoulders, the front pockets, the breast pocket, and the vents. It is designed to be removed but do so with care to avoid damaging the material. You can use a stitch remover or a small pair of sharp scissors to do this.
If you don’t use your front pockets, it’s a good idea to keep the tack stitching in place as it helps maintain the shape and structure of the jacket.
But there’s no excuse for not removing it from the vents. This is the suit equivalent of failing to remove the label from the bottom of your shoes. It looks sloppy and amateurish, and your jacket won’t move with your body the way it's designed to. (And you’ll also be walking about with two huge white crosses on the back of your jacket. Not a good look.)
#4. Remove Tags
Always, always, always remove the label tag from your suit! As suit mistakes go, this is a bad one.
These labels are commonly found on the bottom of one sleeve. This label is not there so you can show others who made your outfit. A quality suit speaks for itself and keeping the label on is possibly the worst suit-related mistake you can make. And it is guaranteed to make you look stupid.
To leave the label in place is unconscionable – you will look like an amateur, a show-off or someone who intends to return his suit to the store after he’s finished wearing it.
Just don’t do it! Ever.
#5. Buy a Suit For The Right Occasion
While it’s true that we believe every man should own a well-fitted dark suit, you should also know when to wear a suit and ensure your suit is appropriate for the occasion. You may have an interview but some interviews don’t require suits (cf. Silicon Valley, the trades, etc…). You may be invited to an event where a suit would look out of place.
Make sure you do your research and understand the dress code before attending. And remember, there is ALWAYS a dress code.
#6. Make Sure Your Suit Fits
Fit is king, gentlemen. Your suit has to fit you. You will always look better in a well-fitted $100 suit than a poorly fitted $10,000 suit. (On a slightly related note, go for a bespoke suit if you're lucky enough that you can spend $10k on it). Make sure your jacket sleeves and trousers are the right length, and your suit fits around the shoulders and waist. Too big and you’ll look like you’ve recently been ill. Too small and you’ll look like you’re about to burst.
You can have a suit adjusted but there are limits so make sure that when you buy a suit, it fits as closely as possible in the first place.
#7 & 8. Choose Function Over Fashion
There’s nothing wrong with fashion suits but first and foremost, you should buy a suit that will last you at least a decade. The classic suit has undergone small changes here and there in the last 50 years but it can still be thought of as a timeless piece. Any one of Cary Grant’s suits from the 1950s could be worn today and would not look out of place. It’s this timeless style you should aim for.
Trends come and go – meaning fashion suits will look out of place in a few years and you’ll need to buy another one. Fashion suits are also inappropriate for the traditional work environment. Opt for a traditional suit and you can wear it for years to come. (And you won’t look back at photos and think “why on earth did I wear that?”.)
Want to know more? Check out my article on the best suit colors.
#9. Choose The Right Fabric & Build Quality
A suit is not just a suit. There are hundreds of different textures, weaves, and materials to choose from. Unless you’re very experienced, it would be difficult to tell the difference between a polyester suit and a cashmere suit just by looking at it online. But the difference in cost should indicate there is a great deal of difference.
Shop for your first suit in person. Touch the material and look at the fabric. You should always try a suit on to see how it fits and feels before buying it.
Also, pay attention to build quality. The jacket lining is as important as the shell – jackets can be canvas lined, or you can get a completely unlined suit. The lining can be fused (glued) or stitched to the shell – by machine or by hand. All of these factors contribute to the quality of the suit, its longevity and the way it fits you.
#10. Practice Wearing Your Suit
Don’t just buy a suit, hang it up and wear it once in a while. You should get used to wearing the suit and that means wearing it regularly, especially if you're new to suits. If you wear your interview suit as though it's a costume, it will show – you will look and feel unnatural. Once you become used to the feeling, you’ll begin to enjoy how it feels and how it makes you look. That confidence will also show. And you’ll perform better as a result.
Bonus Tip – Pair Your Suit Correctly
So technically this isn’t about the suit and this isn't classed as one of our suit mistakes. It’s about what you pair with the suit. You can ruin the look of the best suit very easily. Think about what you’re going to pair it with and think about your personal grooming. Don’t ruin an otherwise dapper look with a poor quality shirt or dirty shoes.
Take some time to try out different pocket square, shirt and tie combinations to ensure you always look the best you possibly can.
Read next: suit buttoning rules for men!