How to Wear a Men’s Suit - The Joseph Abboud Guide
- by Off The Cuff
- October 07, 2022
- 7 min read
You’ve likely noticed when you’ve seen well-fitting men’s suits on the street: there’s an instant sense of authority and confidence from the wearer that draws the eye. However, the opposite is also noticeable: when a suit is worn incorrectly, it tends to command the wrong kind of attention.
If you’ve already made an investment into your wardrobe by purchasing a suit that’s tailored to you, you want to get the maximum kind of return from that investment. Knowing how to wear a suit correctly prevents the suit from wearing you.
Men’s suits can be a tricky subject—even for those who have their style game in order. While several men’s fashion rules from years gone by have either outright disappeared or simply evolved, wearing a suit in a way that inspires your confidence will never go out of style.
Whether you’re exploring the art of menswear for the first time or you’re someone who wants to learn more about the subject, we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to wear a men’s suit—with tips on what to do and what not to do.
Choose the Right Suit for Confident Wear
You’ll always maximize the power of wearing a well-fitted suit when you start by choosing the right suit for you. Choosing the wrong suit can leave you with extensive buyer’s remorse and a garment that doesn’t help you look or feel your best—a feeling that every man should experience.
You might be compelled to go out and spend as much money as possible on a designer suit—but this is really all marketing at work. You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to get the right suit. Far from it, in fact.
Choosing the right suit doesn’t start with selecting the most expensive option. For every man, it should begin with the proper fit. A $5,700 suit that fits poorly will still fit poorly, no matter how much it costs.
We’ve written an entire guide on how your suit should fit you, from the shoulders down to the cuffs of your trousers. This is an excellent place to start exploring how a suit should fit, regardless of brand.
Objectively, there is no such thing as a “bad” suit—style is a personal experience for each man. However, there are suits that will make you feel more confident, comfortable, and capable. A suit that looks amazing on you may not work for someone else, and this is why you should focus on fit first.
Fabric and Function Are Still Important
We’re not saying that the function and construction of your suit aren’t important. Once you’ve nailed the fit, then you can worry about the other details—such as lapels, fabrics, and other points of style.
You’ll also need to decide between off-the-rack, made-to-measure, or bespoke men’s suits. In many ways, this decision is made based on your budget—but keep in mind that an off-the-rack suit doesn’t automatically mean the most affordable price. This is why a focus on brand is less important than the garment itself.
Off-The-Rack Is Good for Exploration
With an off-the-rack suit, you’ll get your suit quickly. However, to nail the fit, it will likely need alterations. Additionally, you’ll need to choose from whatever fabrics and styles are currently available on the market—there is virtually no room for customization.
We consider off-the-rack menswear as an excellent launch point for men developing an interest in wearing suits for the first time. What you’ll sacrifice when it comes to control over design, you’ll make up for with discovering exactly which design elements complement you the most. You also have a bit more room to get creative with color and pattern before making the leap to a larger investment with a suit designed specifically for you.
Made-To-Measure Suits Are the Next Step
A made-to-measure suit is a sort of middle ground point between bespoke and ready-to-wear garments. You’ll be able to get this suit more quickly than a bespoke suit, but you’ll still lack the depth of customization that’s available at the next step up.
Still, a made-to-measure suit is a tremendous step up from ready-to-wear garments when it comes to investing in a suit. Made-to-measure suits will often be able to offer custom details that simply aren’t available in most off-the-rack options, such as surgeon cuffs (for showing off your favorite watch) or custom buttonhole stitching.
Bespoke Suits Are the Pinnacle of Design
Bespoke is the most customizable option available—and bespoke suits are an investment built to last. When you choose a bespoke suit, you are choosing a garment with a wearable life of 15 years or more.
With bespoke options, you’ll feel like a king; you’ll have free reign over suit fabric, lapel styles, buttons, and more. You’ll also be guaranteed to get a suit that fits your body like a glove.
It is worth pointing out that this is not a time-sensitive option: you’ll need multiple appointments to confirm the fit, so prepare in advance for weddings or high-stakes events.
Mistakes to Avoid When Wearing a Suit
Now that you’ve got your suit, how do you actually wear it out in public for maximum success?
Instead of explaining exactly what to do with your suit, it’s a better idea to highlight what not to do in a suit. By following these simple rules and avoiding these mistakes, you’ll be informed and well dressed.
Forgetting to Accessorize
We know—your suit looks terrific, and it’s got you looking like a million bucks.
Do you know what would level up your style game and take your look to the next level? Accessorizing your suit.
You’ve got some amazing options, too. If you’re a fan of watches, there’s no better accessory for taking your suit game up a notch. A classy pair of cufflinks or a pocket square can do the trick if you're after a more subtle style upgrade.
Is it sunny out? Why not elevate your look with a stylish pair of shades?
There’s no shortage of accessory options to accompany that brand-new suit. Make sure you take full advantage of them!
Leaving the Tags On
No matter how proud you are of your brand name suit, we urge you to resist the temptation to leave the brand tag on the suit. These tags are typically located near the bottom of the sleeve by your wrist.
Don’t worry—you don’t need the tag to stand out. The elegance of the fabric and suit styling will do all the work for you. Remember: the suit is working for you, not the other way around. The right suit merely complements what you’re already capable of.
In some cases, leaving tags has nothing to do with the brand—some men simply don’t know what to do with this tag. Rest assured that you’re okay to remove it very carefully, either with a seam ripper or a sharp blade. Just be careful not to ruin your beautiful suit.
Forgetting Your Buttons
If you’re unfamiliar with suit rules, it’s easiest to follow the “Sometimes, Always, Never Rule” for buttoning your suit.
The rule is a guide, and addresses the three primary buttons you might find on your suit jacket: top, middle, and bottom. Most suits you encounter will only have two buttons on the front. In that case, you always button the top button and leave the bottom one unbuttoned.
If your suit has three buttons, that’s where the “sometimes” rule comes into play. You always leave the bottom unbuttoned, the middle one buttoned, and you can choose to button the top—depending on the situation.
It’s also worth noting that when you sit in a suit jacket, you should consider unbuttoning your suit: if it ruins the look, it’s likely ruining your suit, too.
To button, or not to button? A Saturday Night Live case study.
Expecting a Perfect Fit on the First Go
Off-the-rack suits may seem convenient, but in 99% of cases, the suit likely won’t fit you perfectly. There will almost certainly be something that needs altering, whether it’s the trouser length, sleeve length, or the seat of the trousers.
Sleeve length is a big one: No matter your height and build, you’ll have trouble finding two men with the exact same arm length. The jacket sleeve length is rarely perfect the first time you try one on.
Expecting a perfect fit from off-the-rack menswear is a mistake that can lead to disappointment. There’s nothing wrong with sending a suit off for alterations—just be sure to consider that added time when buying a suit for a special occasion.
Not Matching Your Leathers
When wearing a suit, you’ve got three common leathers that make an appearance:
- your shoes
- your watch
- your belt
Think of these as your “supporting cast”—the suit is the primary star, but your leathers come together and form your entire look.
However, there’s an important rule regarding suiting up with leathers: You have to match them. Or, at the very least, all three should come from the same color family.
You should also keep the colors of your leathers in mind when it comes to your suit color, too. Some argue that pairing brown or navy leathers with a black suit is a faux pas. If you don’t feel confident about color coordinating, this is a helpful guideline to follow.
We do see A-List celebrities getting away with brown and black combinations constantly, so we think the better rule is this: exercise your best judgment about what works for you and makes you feel confident.
Find Your Style at Joseph Abboud
Now that you know how to wear a suit, your options are endless. You can start anywhere: start with made-to-measure pieces, explore ready-to-wear styles, or begin your journey with a bespoke creation. Joseph Abboud offers them all.
Joseph Abboud is all about helping men feel confident and stylish with high-quality suits for any occasion. With concierge-level services and suit styles tailored to your exact measurements, you’ll get a bespoke suit that fits you perfectly when you need it most.
Ready to build your dream suit? Learn more about how Joseph Abboud’s bespoke suit process to take your style game to the next level.