How to Buy a Suit

How to Buy a Suit
With so many 'rules' on suits, it can be hard to traverse the waters of buying your first one. Here at The Idle Man, we've got you covered with this suit guide on exactly what to go for when buying a suit.  Check out more from our Men’s Style Guide here  There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to buy a suit. Whether it’s for a job interview, a wedding, a funeral or any other formal occasion, buying a suit can be tricky, but once you've got a few tips and tricks under your belt, it'll be a walk in the park the next time you're thinking of buying a fresh suit. There’s no doubt about it, buying a suit is a big deal. It’s not something to be taken lightly so it’s essential you do plenty of research before leaving your house or entering your preferences into a search engine. Putting in the necessary groundwork will ensure you end up with a suit you really like that’s suitable for the occasion you bought it for and most importantly: a suit that fits. We thought it would be good to run through the key things to bear in mind when buying a suit, plus a couple of things to remember when wearing it to guarantee you always look as dapper as possible in this suit buying guide.
mens suits street style
Mens Suits Street Style | SHOP: Suits

How to Buy a Suit

Buying a suit isn't as difficult as you'd first think, all it takes is a little bit of time and patience, and you'll crack buying a suit every time. What you have to remember is what you need the suit for, so whether you need a new suit for work, or you need a new casual suit for formal occasion or weddings etc. When you're looking at investing in a new suit, then it helps if you know what your budget for the suit actually is, because you can soon spend way more than you first thought, and you don't want to blow the budget all in one go. Of course, if money is no object (lucky you) then you can go all out and buy a bespoke or maybe even a tailored suit, but for the most of us, we have to work to some form of budget and buy off the rack high street. Another element to buying a suit is how the suit should fit, you must always know exactly what size you are when you're looking at suits as this will save you a lot of time and heartache in the long run. You can measure yourself, or if you want something that's a little more precise, then you can always walk into a high street tailor and they can measure you properly.

How to Buy a Suit Online

Buying anything online can be tricky. Depending on the brand there might be variations in sizes, fits and lengths, so there's no guarantee that a size on one site will fit the same as on another site. It's important to know your measurements as well as your overall shape. Do you have broad shoulders? Maybe a narrower waist than the average man? These are all important things to keep in mind when buying a suit online. Basic things to remember are;
  • Read the reviews. Customers can give invaluable advice through their feedback, such as if a suit comes up larger than average, or if the material is bad quality.
  • Read through the product details. You know the boring details that are written under the name of the products? The bits that mention fit and material? Those are pretty vital when you're buying a suit online, as they can give you necessary details such as how it fits, the material it's made from, and if it had any additions you can't see in the picture, such as inner pockets.
  • Check the returns policy. Some sites are picky with their returns options, with some requiring you to keep the tag on, or have a copy of your order form. These things need to be taken into consideration before you click buy.

What’s it For and Will You Be Able to Wear It Again?

Given that suits are rarely a cheap purchase you’ll want to make sure you can get wear out of it after the occasion you initially bought it for, so this means choosing the colour and fabric type carefully, while also opting for a classic cut. Whether you’re buying a suit for a wedding or a job interview it’s best to stick with navy or charcoal two-button as they’re not only versatile, but they’ll also form a solid foundation for the formal section of your wardrobe. Keep it simple when it comes to fabrics; a subtle check, birdseye or herringbone can add an elegant touch of texture, but avoid bold pinstripes as it's not a versatile print and you can run the risk of losing that elegant look.
Navy Suits Mens Street Style
Navy Suits Mens Street Style | SHOP: Suits

Buying Your First Suit

Buying a suit for the first time can be a little daunting, especially when you haven't got the foggiest idea of what you're doing. What you need to do is know exactly what you want, don't go into the shop without knowing what you want to suit for and where you'll be wearing it as you can end up with a suit that has cost a lot of money, and you have no place to wear it. When buying your first suit stick to something classic so you can wear it multiple times and you can get the most wear out of it for your money. Go for a simple and plain black suit that you can wear over and over again, both to the office and to more formal occasions, which in turn means you're getting the best suit for your money. If you're going for a simple off of the rack suit, then go simple, as you don't want to take out a mortgage for something that you don't wear too often and have it just sit in your wardrobe.
the idle man slim fit black suit
SHOP: The Idle Man - Suits

Best Places to Buy a Suit

When you walk down your average high street it can be a little overwhelming with the amount of shops that are available to you. So, over here at Idle HQ we all know all too well the struggle of finding the right shop to buy your suit in, so we thought we'd give a quick list on the best places to buy a suit.

The Idle Man

Of course we had to start with ourselves! Now, I know what you're thinking, of course we'll start with ourselves, but, over here at The Idle Man we have a cracking range of suits that will suit the needs of most men. From classic tailored pieces and styles to something a little more daring with colour and pattern.
the idle man suits for men
SHOP: The Idle ManSuits


With a more modern take on menswear as a whole COS offer a range of modern and stylish suits for the needs of the stylish man about town. Slim fitting and classically cut with a twist of new age menswear COS's suit range is spot on. Price-wise, you're looking at spending about £150-£200 for a suit jacket, and about £50-£100 on a pair of trousers, but, you know that you're going to get a cracking suit that will last you for years.
COS suits for men
COS Suits for Men | SHOP: Suits  


Definitely steered to a more preppy vibe, J.Crew have a modern and sleek take on the suit. With a range of classic colours, patterns and styles available J.Crew know what they're doing when it comes to the modern suit. Now, you'll pay a little bit more for a suit from J.Crew, but it will be worth every penny.
j crew suits for men
J.Crew Suits for Men | SHOP: Suits

Discount Men's Suits

Unfortunately, not all of us can afford to pay top prices for a decent suit, but have no fear, there are options out there for the man who is shopping on a budget. Now, because you won't be paying a lot of money for a suit, I wouldn't expect a top of the range suit, when it comes to something like this, you get what you pay for, but that doesn't mean you can't get the most out of it.


Probably not the first place you'd think of when you're looking at buying a suit, but Primark has a range of extremely affordable suits that every man can afford. Now, for your price point I wouldn't expect a top quality suit, but, if you're working to a budget, or you simply want a cheaper suit to only wear a few times, then you can't go wrong.
black primark suit for men
Black Suit for Men | SHOP: Suits


Slaters is a brand that some of you may never have even heard of, but they have a cracking range of suits on offer that are affordable and look great at the same time. Whether you're buying one to wear everyday at the office or need one to wear to a more formal function, then Slaters will have the suit for you.
slaters mens suits
Slaters Suits for Men | SHOP: Suits

Suits Direct

For those of you who like a label attached to your clobber than Suits Direct is a great option when you're looking at buying a suit. A brand that's dedicated to bringing designer labels at a discounted price, they have a great array of suits that are available, from classic styles and fits, to something a little more modern and sleek.
suits direct suits for men
Suits Direct Suits for Men | SHOP: Suits
PHOTO CREDIT: Suits Direct

Good Suit Brands

Of course, there are more brands and shops out there that cater to your tailoring needs, you just have to do a little bit of legwork and research to find the right brand for you, and at the right price point. Depending on your budget you can go all out with a bespoke suit, or you can keep it high street, the choice is completely up to you and your wallet.

How a Suit Should Fit?

Many of you will be thinking 'what size suit do I wear', and it's easy to get it wrong, but as important as the colour and fabric of your suit is, it’s essential to get the correct fit that compliments your body shape. If it’s too big you’ll look like you’ve borrowed one of your dad’s and if it’s too small you run the risk of embarrassing rips – neither of which you’d ever want when wearing a suit. To make sure you get the right fit in both jacket and trousers we’re going to break down each component to make things as straightforward as possible.

How a Suit Jacket Should Fit

  • The first thing to look at when trying on a suit jacket is how it fits on the shoulders. You want the suit to fit snug around the shoulders and not protrude. Similarly, you don’t want the jacket to strain on the shoulders – if it does then size up accordingly.
  • The second most important thing to bear in mind is how the jacket fits across your chest. While you shouldn’t need to breathe in to button it up, you also shouldn’t have any more than a fists’ gap between your chest and the buttons. Get this right and the jacket will nip in at the waist creating the sort of clean silhouette you’re ultimately aiming for
  • Thirdly, when you hang your arms down by your side you should be able to cup the underneath of your suit. If you can’t then the jacket is too long. It’s also worth noting that this may not apply to more contemporary styles that tend to have a shorter jacket.
  • Lastly, ensure you have the right sleeve length. Ideally, the jacket sleeve should meet the base of your thumb allowing for quarter an inch to half an inch of shirt cuff to show. Anymore or any less and your overall appearance will look sloppy. After all, t’s all about nailing these nuances when wearing a suit. And remember a dry cleaner or a tailor can always alter this very easily once you’ve bought your suit.
mens suit jacket size guide
Men's Suit Jacket Size Guide

How Suit Trousers Should Fit

  • It might sound obvious but make sure your trousers fit properly around the waist. You shouldn’t really need to wear a belt if you’ve chosen the correct size.
  • When it comes to cut this is down to personal preference. Classic suits tend to have a straight fitting leg, while contemporary ones tend to be cut slimmer. Our preference is somewhere in between the two which is probably the most suitable for the young, modern male. Once again, a tailor can assist with any tapering that may be required.
  • Much like the cut of the trousers, the break is completely down to personal preference. The most common ‘break’ (when the crease line of your trousers meets your shoes) is the ‘half break’ which means your trousers will sit just on top of the shoe. Like the sleeve length, anything more or anything less will look messy. If your trousers need taking up or letting down then a dry cleaner or tailor will be able to easily alter them.
Size Guide Jeans Trousers
Trouser Size Guide for Men

How Long Does it Take to Tailor a Suit?

I can throw all the size guide at you that I like, but sometimes we can try on a suit in our size and it still doesn't fit. I know of this feeling all too well I'm afraid, as being one of those people in that 'inbetween sizes' demographic, I couldn't tell you that amount of time I've had to put things back on the rail because not one size fitted me. Enough about my problems, when it comes to your tailoring, you want to best fit possible, so, if you've recently bought a suit that doesn't fit quite right, or you've got an older suit that's a little bit too big for you now, then there are some alternatives. Tailoring a suit can be a quick and simple task, whether you take it upon yourself to do the tailoring, or you want to leave it in some more professional hands, then you can do. The length of time it takes to tailor a suit depends on what you want to have done to your suit. If you want to have your sleeves taken up a couple of centimetres, then that could take a couple of hours, however, if you want to have your entire suit altered to fit your body, then this could take up to a week to do.
tailor at norton and sons savile row
Tailor at Norton & Sons, Savile Row
PHOTO CREDIT: Norton & Sons

Different Suit Styles

Choosing the right style of suit that will work best for you and your body shape can be a little bit of a tricky task. With the amount of fits and styles to choose from, you can get a little lost along the way when it comes to picking one that's right for you.

Single Breasted Suit

This is the most common suit style that you'll see on the high street and on most people. A single breasted suit means that the suit buttons on the jacket are below each other, so you'll have one line of buttons going down the front of your jacket. This suit style suits nearly every man, as the eye is drawn to the centre of your body, giving off the illusion of a slimmer frame. You can have different variants of the single breasted suit, as you can have the option of one to three buttons on your suit jacket. The choice is completely up to you, but one or two buttons is definitely a more classic and stylish option.
Men Wearing Single Breasted Suits | SHOP: Suits

Double Breasted Suit

A double breasted suit is less commonly seen, but it's still a very stylish and, sometimes, a more modern adaption of the suit. What a double breasted suit means is that you'll have an extra row of buttons running opposite the buttons that fasten your jacket. These buttons are purely for a decorative and different style of suit,as the jacket will fasten slightly more to the side to make the buttons even on your body. Unfortunately, a double breasted suit doesn't suit everybody; because you have an extra row of buttons, and the suit fastens slightly to the side of your body, it can create the illusion of a wider frame. So, if you've got a stockier frame then I'd suggest you avoid the double breasted suit to avoid looking bigger than you are.
Men Wearing Double Breasted Suits | SHOP: Suits

Suit Colour Guide

When it comes to suits there are a lot of options available to you and you're thinking what colour suit should I wear, so it's easy to get a little bit confused about what colour or style that you want to go for. When it comes to the colour of your suit you can stick to classic colours, or, you can go a little wild and go for a patterned or coloured number.

Mens Black Suit

Undeniably one of the most commonly seen suit colours out there, the black suit is a classic. With the ability to take you from day to night with a few simple tweaks, the black suit will work for you no matter what the season or occasion. Undoubtably classic.
the idle man slim fit black suit
SHOP: The Idle Man - Suits

Mens Grey Suit

The great thing about grey is that there are so many variations of the same colour that you can choose from. When you look at grey suits there are a few variations you can take your pick of, from a lighter shade of grey, an almost white colour, perfect for the day time, to something a little darker, an almost black colour, which will work perfectly for the evening.
grey suits for men
SHOP: The Idle Man - Suits

Mens Navy Suit

Much like grey, navy is a great colour to own for a suit as there are so many variations of the same colour. You can have a lighter blue suit that works great for during the day and to wear to the office, or you can go for a darker shade of navy, which is an almost black colour, again, great for the evening and you still wear this colour for work as well.
navy suits for men
SHOP: SelectedSuits

Mens Coloured Suit

Now, a coloured suit may not be your first port of call when it comes to buying a suit, but, over the past few seasons we've been seeing a lot more modern colours and textures come from the world of suiting. If you haven't got the confidence to pull off a bright pink or orange suit then have no fear, not many men do (including myself) then you can wear something a little more subtle. Opt for a lighter green or stone colour, which is bang on trend for this season, but wear something even more subtle underneath as you don't want to overpower your look.
seleced zac flint blazer grey
SHOP: SelectedSuits

Mens Patterned Suit

Tackling a coloured suit is one thing, but taking on a patterned suit is a completely different story. Again, a patterned suit isn't going to be for everyone, but if you have the confidence to pull one off this season then do so. How patterned you want to go is completely up to you, as you can opt for a paisley number, which is a more modern take on the suit, or, you can go for something classic, such as a pinstripe suit, for a sleek and stylish look.
patterned suits for men
SHOP: The Idle ManSuits

Suit Fabric Guide

The fabric of your suit is another very important element that you have to think of when you're looking at suits, as if you pick the wrong fabric, it can go a little wrong. Some fabrics are suitable for some occasions where others aren't, so do a little bit of research into what fabric you want to invest in before you start at buying a suit.


Cotton is the most commonly used fabric for suits as it's relatively cheap to use, breathable and easy to take care of. If you buy a suit that's 100% cotton, then you can pay a lot of money for this, whereas if you're looking to buy a cheaper alternative then a certain percentage of cotton will be used, but the rest may be a poly-blend fabric or polyester to make the suit a bit cheaper.
cotton fabric material
Cotton Fabric
PHOTO CREDIT: Cowslip Workshops


Tweed is a fabric choice that's more commonly seen during the winter months in the country. Because of its warmtThe latest news from style, life, arts, and culture and everything in between. Whether it's a new brand arriving into our style, our latest drops and editorials. You will never miss a beat with us.

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