The Real Man’s Guide to Buying a Suit

So you want to buy a suit. What happened? Someone die? Ah, never mind. It doesn’t matter. Maybe you got some fancy-schmancy new job or you’re going to a costume party disguised as a reponsible adult from 1957.

It’s not like someone asked you to build a new deck, wash the dinner dishes or separate your laundry by “color.” Here’s all you do. Hop over to the nearest store that sells men’s suits. Say, “Hey, I need a suit.” Someone who knows a lot more than you do about these things will stick a tape measure in your crotch and tell you exactly what to buy.

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Go with powder blue or plaid. The chicks will dig you. The guy with the tape measure and friendly hands will spout some gibberish about the “cut” of the suit. Just nod politely. Then he’ll tell you it will take a week or 10 days for the “alterations” to be made and for the suit to be ready. Your biggest problem is hanging on to the sales slip. Then all you have to do is go back and pick it up. Badda-boom, badda-bing, all done.

Now quit being such a $#&* sissy and get back to work. OK, OK, it can be a bit more complicated than that. Nowadays, you have what you call your metrosexuals who think it’s important to look “good” in a suit. Hey, if Lt. Columbo ever cared about looking good in a suit, there would be a lot of killers still roaming the streets. Looking good is for guys who read Esquire.

But in case you do read Esquire, and you missed that particular issue, the magazine has some other hints for shopping for a suit. Just take them with a grain of salt. They’re all a bit on the namby-pamby side. First of all, the magazine tells you to avoid bargains. Yeah, right. If you don’t go looking for bargains, you could end up shelling out more than $20 for a suit. Who are you? Ceasar Romero? Who needs a suit that costs more than $20?

However, if you insist on being some sort of fashion plate, the pretty boys at Esquire suggest squeezing the fabric. Oh, that is so wrong on so many levels. Anyway, if the fabric bounces back with little or no sign of wrinkling, Esquire says that means it’s good, sturdy fabric. The magazine also suggests gently tugging the buttons. At this rate, you’ll probably have to take the suit out for dinner and movie. Before you do that, however, Esquire says to check out the shoulders on the jacket. They should be square with your shoulders. If they droop over or leave dents in the cloth, the jacket’s too big. Never mind that. Eat some spaghetti. You’ll grow into it.

In his book “The Suit: A Machiavellian Approach to Men’s Style,” Nicholas Antongiavanni says suits are made of wool. What? You’re suddenly too good for polyester? Whatever. You were saying, Mr. Antongiavanni? He goes on about how the best suits are wool blended with cashmere. Not even a word about corduroy.

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You can judge the fabric by it’s “fineness.” It goes by things like “super 150s.” The “super” part is about the fineness of the individual fibers. The higher the number, according to Esquire, the thinner the fabric and the smoother and silkier the cloth. Wool supposedly gets rarer the finer it is. So watch those high numbers. They’re pricey. Oh, one other thing. Check in the inside breast pocket. If you’re lucky, you’ll find some loose change. If you are buying (well, la-de-dah) a new suit, see if the pocket is set off by strips of the external fabric. That apparently means it’s been reinforced.

By now, you’re probably overwhelmed. Take it easy on yourself. Take a woman with you — your sister, mother, wife, girlfriend, what have you. Heck, take Sister Agatha from the local nuns’ roller derby team. You need help because, trust me, you have no fashion sense whatsoever. If you did, would you be reading this article?