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Need help buying a suit!

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
It's time for a new suit. The few that I have fit poorly and are terribly constructed. Suits in my size don't usually come along often. I'm approximately a 34s-36s with a 30 inch waist. My budget is about $400 including tailoring. I know that's not a lot to work with but I'm wondering if I can get anything around that price of fairly decent quality. At tip top in Canada, there was a Calvin Klein suit made in Canada with 100% wool. The total cost was about 470 including tailoring. I'm still debating on whether or not I should buy it. Is it worth it? I'm currently in high school so I won't be wearing a suit everyday. Or maybe I should just go to h&m to get a 220$ suit?
post #2 of 16
holla at me, spent countless hours figuring this one out. how much do you weigh?
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
I weigh 150 lbs. Why do you ask?
post #4 of 16
Originally Posted by dLee50714 View Post

I weigh 150 lbs. Why do you ask?

Because it gives a clue as to what is likely to fit you. If you weighed 250ibs then a slim suit would not work! Clearly you have not troubled to search any threads here as you would have learned the sort of detail that is needed to offer suggestions. Maybe you should trouble yourself to look for answers to your own question - it is hardly uncommon.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Sorry about that. But I've read on other threads that one's weight would not help others determine their suit size.
post #6 of 16
Any particular reason for this suit?
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Just to wear to formal events and the like. I really love wearing suits but have yet to find an affordable one that is decent quality.
post #8 of 16
At your age, you don't need to be worrying too much about getting a super-expensive, top-notch brand-name suit. Get a wool, solid navy blue suit that fits your shoulders, back and chest as perfectly as possible, and spend as little as possible. If you were a professional who needed to wear it twice a week for years to come, them it'd be worth it spending more for construction. With your needs and age, you're going to outgrow it before you wear it out.

Tip 1. Solid navy blue.
Tip 2. Try to buy the suit as separates. I don't mean mixing and matching jackets and pants.
Tip 3. There's no substitute for you going to a large store and trying on many many jackets. Shoulders and chest need to fit perfectly. Don't listen to any shop assistant who tells you they can fix the collar or the back. If it doesn't sit perfectly, don't buy it. Sleeves however can be shortened, but if you're getting short sizes, you probably won't need to.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks becnal! That really helps me a lot. smile.gif what is your opinion on grey suits, or black? Is it okay to have a wool blend suit? What would be an acceptable budget for me being in this age group?
Edited by dLee50714 - 6/23/13 at 1:25pm
post #10 of 16
Grey is nice too, but navy is better. Gives you some colour in the daylight, but is really dark and sharp looking at night. Don't get black as it'll only look good at night. It just doesn't look nice in daylight.

Try to get all wool if possible, but if you find a perfectly fitting suit for a bargain and it is at least more than half wool, then give it a go. But not being 100% wool is usually a deal breaker for me.

Your budget depends on your finances, so I couldn't say. But resist the urge to overspend. Your body, tastes and knowledge will change a lot in the next few years, so any suit you buy now will not be with you more than 5 or 6 years.
post #11 of 16
I echo all advice given by others: go with navy or charcoal, shoot for 100% wool, and try your absolutely best to get the shoulders right.

You may already have a decent sense of what a proper fit is for you, but I didn't back then so forgive the unsolicited advice if you don't need it.

First, go buy yourself a tailor's tape measure at the local fabric store so as to start understanding how wide the shoulders should be for you, seam-to-seam. Try on more expensive jackets to figure out what that width should be if you need to, then go looking for a less expensive suit that's as close to that magic number as possible. After you learn this measurement you'll start measuring all sorts of things in your closet, from sleeve length to tie width. My other advice in shoulders is to look for something less padded, but that all really depends on your build.

The other measurement that ranks high in importance would be the length of the jacket, since although a tailor can shorten it, accidentally throwing off the balance of the jacket is really easy to do if the bottom creeps up too close to the pockets. Everyone has a slightly different spot where they like their jacket to touch when holding their hands down at their side, but typically if you get close to your thumb knuckle you'll be ok. Anything too long and you're wearing your dad's suit; anything too short and you've blown, at minimum, the formality of the garment.

Nearly all other proportions of the jacket can be relatively cheaply dealt with by a tailor.

Finding a 36s (let alone a 34s, which is barely available at all, though at 150lbs I doubt that's really your size) is never that easy at most major american brands, and often they are still too big depending on your height. For something a bit more fashion-forward/euro-cut in that price range for a smaller person (I am one too), I would recommend looking at the following brands:
  • Zara
  • H&M (like you said)
  • Ben Sherman (can find on sale often - Nordstrom rack sometimes carries)

And then, possibly to the disapproval of others on this forum, I think you get a decent product and a great learning situation if you try out Indochino, the online made-to-measure company. Going through that process may not net you a perfect suit (only experience and money will get you that, anyway), but it will start to put you in the mindset of what really fits vs. what you'll settle for because it's "close enough" or "it fits ok for the price" -- just get ready to hate a lot of your clothes as soon as you are faced with what you sort of already knew - which is that very little of what you own actually fits. smile.gif
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you, that's some really great advice! Really helps me narrow down what to choose
post #13 of 16
JCMeyer is spot on about being dissatisfied with your old stuff once you start getting stuff that fits perfectly. I agree with everything he said except the MTM. I'd wait until you have much more experience before you go that route.

By the way, how tall are you? If you're under 5'10", I'd stick with short sizes. Although it is possible, you really don't want your tailor messing around with the length of your jacket.

And where do you live?
post #14 of 16

This might help or there's a thread on SF about  buying a suit 

post #15 of 16
I like that webpage, but those tips about hand sewn seams and secret pants pockets are not useful for someone new to suit buying like the OP. The next page on suit fit, however, is very useful:

How to Tell Your Suit Fits
A great suit doesn't look so great if it doesn't fit. Seven ways to tell if it does.

1. Shoulder pads end with your shoulders.
2. Your flat hand should slip easily into your suit under the lapels when the top (or middle) button is fastened. If you put a fist in, the suit should pull at the button.
3. The top button of a two-button suit — or the middle button of a three-button suit — should not fall below your navel.
4. With your arms at your sides, your knuckles should be even with the bottom of your jacket.
5. Jacket sleeves should fall where the base of your thumb meets your wrist.
6. Between a quarter and a half inch of shirt cuff should be visible.
7. One inch of pant leg break.
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