Get a signed copy of our latest book, Emily Post's Etiquette - The Centennial Edition, for yourself or to give as a gift, and support Vermont's independent bookstore Bridgeside Books.

Join our Substack newsletter for more from Emily Post.

Five Tips for Buying the Perfect Suit Hero Label

Five Tips for Buying the Perfect Suit

It doesn't matter if you are compact and athletic, or big and tall, you can look like the professional you are or want to be. For many that means getting into a proper suit. Take a look at our attire guide if you are wondering if you might need a suit. If you are new to this look or maybe just want a refresher or a few helpful tips - read on.

  1. Go to an established store that can tailor or customize a suit, where trained professionals are on staff. Don't feel pressured to buy or decide too quickly. This is a purchase that may take a bit of time to get right and professionals can help you figure out what your options are. These experts are more knowledgeable about make, style, cut, and fit than most of us. They can teach you the difference between traditional, European, and athletic styles and which will work best for you.
  2. You should be aware of the following fit issues:
    • If it feels too tight, it probably is. You should be able to fit the flat of your hand in between your chest and the front of the jacket when buttoned and the back vent(s) should lay flat.
    • If it feels a little big, it can probably be tailored: men's suits can often be taken in, or even let out, a full size as long as the shoulders fit well.
    • Trousers should fit at the waist (one finger inside the waistband) so you have room when you sit.
  3. The traditionally correct jacket length? Stand with your arms hanging naturally at your sides. The jacket should hit just under the curve of your derriere.
  4. The sleeve of the jacket should hit where your wrist bends so that your shirt can poke out 1/8" to 1/4".
  5. Trousers: a "full break" is the bottom of the pant altered to hit 1" above the floor. Pleated trousers should have cuffs.

Fabric choices, construction, buttons, linings - this is one of those topics that gets bigger the further you go. Start simple. Notice what you like, and what you think looks good. In the end, whatever choices you make, wearing a good suit should make you feel good about how you look.

And be sure to check out our tips on wardrobe care.