Suit Buying & Styling Tips: in partnership with Marks & Spencer

There’s a misconception that a ‘fitted’ suited should be slim or skinny. When you visit a bespoke tailor they well create for you a fitted suit to your body type. When getting a ready-to-wear suit, make sure the shoulders fit perfectly. They shouldn’t be hanging too far over, as well as not be too tight that your biceps are popping out. Ideally the fabric should drape of the shoulder with a small curve all the way along the arm.
The great thing with Marks & Spencer is that they offer 3 suit lengths on all their suits – you can select from short, medium, long. Use this to your advantage in finding the right length for you. Wearing a suit is all about proportions. If you’re tall, you need a suit that’s body length and arm length complements your height, ensuring a good balance. Likewise for a shorter gentleman, if it’s too long you will look uncomfortable in a suit that will drown you. Make sure the length of the suit covers from the middle of your buttock toward the lower part where it curves into your leg. That way the suit will compliment your shape.

Shirts & Ties

Choose shirts that compliment your suit in the best manner – white or light blue shirts are the best as they’ll allow you added freedom in your tie selection. Find a collar that works the best for you – but be aware to choose a knot that fits the collar spread the best. Don’t fall into the trap of tying a large knot that dwarfs the collar. As a rule, keep proportions in mine – the knot should fit neatly between the collar.

Find a knot that suits you and is right for the occasion. You can vary knot styles depending on whether smart or smart/casual. The Four-in-hand, Pratt or Half-Windsor are the most common and affective. When knotting your tie, don’t be afraid to knot it all the way to the top ensuring it’s tight, neat and in good shape. It looks unprofessional if the knot is flat or if there’s a few centimetres gap showing your top button. Adding a dimple adds a touch of sophistication
Don’t fall into trap of wearing a skinny tie. The smallest you should go is 6.5cm blade tie – but that only works with a slimmer gentleman wearing a fitted suit. Regular ties offer volume and sits nicely between the suit lapels.

Compliment your tie and pocket square (if you wear a pocket square).
You may have been seeing a rise in pocket squares which its a great way to add personality while styling your suit. It brings an added elegance. However, be careful not to match the tie and pocket square with the same material. Rather, compliment them with similar shade or design. Look at even selecting similar colours in your socks that you will have in your pocket square. They may be far apart but as a visual composition it will bring your outfit together.

Invest in good shoes. A man is usually judged by his shoes and will make a lasting impression. The amount of times I’ve seen great outfits ruined by poor footwear choices. Get shoes that compliment your suit. Black shoes go with most suit colours. Oxblood and brown go well with navy and grey suits. Get a good lace up like a Derby or Oxford shoe. Brogues offer a bit more character but are better suited to textured suiting.

Buttoning up

Get into the habit of button up your jacket. But only the top button (on a two button jacket – or middle and top two on a three button jacket). The bottom one should be left undone so as to allow for the jacket to flow over your waist and hips. It will also ensure it hangs on the torso in a comfortable and natural manner.

Single Vent or Double Vent Jackets?
Single vent jackets tend to be quite popular but be aware of how it sits or pulls or splits around your buttocks. To ensure that it lies flat, make sure you have the right length – the longer the jacket the better. The main thing to bear in mind is proportion. Don’t have too short a jacket that sits above the buttocks – your jacket length should come down towards the lower part where it starts to meet your leg.
If you are slightly larger around the waist or buttocks, double vented jackets will sit in a far better manner and will offer a more flattering silhouette. It does go down to preference, but do remember to consider at all times is proportion.

Final thoughts
A suit should be an extension of you and express part of your character. Get these aspects mentioned here right and you’ll be well on your way to achieving great suiting. Building a good suiting etiquette will ensure you make the right impression and people take you seriously.

Chris Chasseaud

Chris is the Style & Features Editor at Ape to Gentleman, and one of the UK's leading style commentators. Having worked in the fashion and design world for his entire career he's well placed to deliver sartorial advice.