For The Suits Essentials: The Suit

For The Suits editor, Van Cleef's, tonik suit as made by Thick as Thieves LA. Fabric from Ace Face Clothing.

Van Cleef, For The Suits boss man, own tonik suit as made by Thick as Thieves LA. Fabric from Ace Face Clothing.

This is serious business here. Real serious business. We’re talking suits here at For The Suits.

Any self respecting skinhead, mod or suedehead should own a suit. It’s as simple as that. There’s no argument to be had, for it’s an absolute truth. There’s very few of those in life, in fact many would argue such a thing does not exist. Well it does, and we’re here to lead you through the purchase process.

First things first: go bespoke. Yes, it costs more. Yes, it can be daunting for the first time purchaser. We don’t recommend it if you are not sure how you like your clothing to fit. You have to be in the right head space, as silly as it sounds, to get everything you want out of a suit. If you’re not strong willed or confident in what you’re looking for the process is ultimately going to end in disappointment.

You may be telling yourself you need a suit, but you don’t want to pay the price of having one made. You’d rather get something off the rack. If this is the case: you don’t NEED a suit, you want one, and you can be as bloody disappointed as you please when you end up with something you don’t like.

It happens all the time with clothing: people get cheap with what they buy, buy a bunch of cheap shit for the price of a few good quality bits of gear and end up disappointed. Think long term with this purchase, it’s one of the most important you’ll ever make. You can buy three or four disappointing, ALMOST right suits and end up shelling out the same as you would have for one really great bespoke suit.

If you don’t think there’s that much of a difference, the arm holes will tell the story in particular. Anything off the rack is marketed towards everyone with that particular chest size and arm length. So it doesn’t matter if you have skinny arms or are in the gym six days a week. It’s one size fits all.

Spend the money once, it’s worth it. There isn’t a monetary figure attached to disappointment, but believe us: the price is a steep one.

Too often we’ve seen or heard stories of first time suit buyers, unsure in exactly what they want, ending up with something they’re not happy with. Usually because they’ve been led astray by a tailor who was more strong willed than them. It’s not only bad tailors who will do this, the good ones will as well.

It’s as simple as this: they know what they prefer to make, they have a style of suit they can make a bit easier than others and charge just as much. They won’t force you to get what they want, and if they do: LEAVE, but they will try to persuade you. This is obviously trouble for anyone unsure of themselves.

Take a bit of time to find a tailor, ask your friends who have suits you like who they use. You don’t simply want to go with the first one you come across. They may be who you end up with in the end, but you’re only failing yourself to not shop around before committing to anything. That goes for most things in life (wink, wink).

So where do we start, now that we’ve decided to go bespoke and found a tailor we like? Simple, with the fabric. This is the “guts” of the suit, and you want them to last.

The “twist” of a fabric refers to the number of turns is inserted into the fabric to bind the fibers together. This in turn determines the strength of the fabric. So when you see fabric referred to with numbers such as 60 or 120, this is what it’s referring too.

You want a high twist. This is something you’ll not only be parading around it, cock of the walk, but also something you’ll very likely be spending some sweaty nights in packed into an all nighter. You may also be getting in a fight in it (we don’t recommend that, from experience). You want something that’s high quality and strong. Feel the fabric. Feel the difference between even a 100 and a 120. You’ll be able to tell the difference.

As for the actual fabrics we recommend? Mohair (plain or in a subtle pinstripe), tonic, Prince of Wales, herringbone. Be as flashy as you like, but get good quality material. There’s a lot of cheap crap on eBay, labelled mod or skinhead suits. It’d be embarrassing to actually be seen in a lot of them. What you’re ideally looking for is something with a bit of flash, while maintaining a understated cool. The things you choose to customize in the suit will make it stand out.

Onto the jacket: single breasted, three or four covered button, center vents for the skinheads and suedeheads, side vents for the mods. One ticket pocket is an absolute must, but do what you want with it. Two and one is the classic, but four and three still looks smart if done right. Decide how many buttons you want on the cuff, we personally prefer six. But once again, this is something up to you.

Get the lapels right. No more than 2-3/4″. Anything more starts to look silly, and isn’t the look you’re likely hoping for.

Some people like to customize the number of button holes in the lapel. We don’t, but certainly don’t have anything against it. Two should probably be the most though. Three can still look smart, but is starting to push it.

Make sure the shoulder is a “soft shoulder” or not padded at all. This is going to be determined by your body type. If you have broad shoulders, don’t bother with padded shoulders. You’ll end up looking like a linebacker. If you’re lacking broad shoulders, go with light padding to help with the silhouette of the suit.

The arm length of the suit should allow for between a quarter of an inch and half an inch of your shirt to be showing. Nothing makes you look more like a twat than having a suit that runs down past your wrists. Everyone can spot it from a mile away, and they’ll know you don’t have a clue.

As for lining, get something nice. It’s the little touches that make it yours.

Tips on wearing the jacket? Bottom button unfastened. This goes without saying, and if you’re a avid reader of the site and don’t know this rule by now we’re a bit shocked (and disappointed) with you. And when you sit down, unfasten all the buttons. You’re simply going to be uncomfortable otherwise, not to mention over time this will distort the silhouette of the suit.

Trousers. Another area with some options. Frog mouth, slant pocket, one rear pocket or two. Fastened or unfastened. Notches in the rear pocket(s). All up to you, and what you think looks good. This is the beauty of a bespoke suit, it’s yours and no one else will have another one quite like it.

Getting the length right is an absolute must though. Just above the ankle. Trousers that run over top of a shoe look shit. It’s that simple, there’s no sugar coating necessary. It looks terrible. Get it right and show a bit of sock and, most importantly, show off your shoes.

What to wear underneath is something, in this site’s opinions, people often get all wrong. Shirts should only be striped or plain. A lot of people will wear checks or tartans underneath. We don’t think it looks right, but to each their own. Get a nice button down collar. You haven’t skimped out on anything yet, why start now? The flow of a collar underneath a class suit is a wonderful thing to behold.

As for accessories? Get a decent pocket hankie. Something’s just not quite right when you’re missing one. Make sure it matches your shirt. Get a nice pair of socks. Red is obviously the standard, and generally looks class, but they won’t work with everything for obvious reasons. A horizontal striped pair in the right colors looks great, as does paisley. A chunky ID bracelet doesn’t go amiss either.

Shoes should be either a lace up brogue or smooth. Loafers are for wearing with sta prest. A suit requires a bit more of a, shall we say, substantial shoe. If you need a reminded of the importance of shining them, please leave this site and never come back.

You probably have a good quality Crombie. You hopefully have a good quality Mac. Wear either of these over top of the suit as necessary. This will, most likely, be the first thing people see before you “unveil” your suit. That first impression can be ruined if you’re not wearing the right overcoat.

Well there you have it. We’re sure to have alienated some, made others rethink exactly what they wear when they go out and hopefully put a few on the right track. And that’s all we ever want to do, help everyone who reads this site in their battle to look “smart as” every single day.

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