Suit up

Bryhanna Greenough heard you were looking for a suit.

Every guy needs a suit.

I don’t mean new, expensive ones designed for climbing the corporate ladder. I’m talking about a suit to bust out when the house red starts flowing and the cheesy music starts thumping: the weddings, the family reunions, the graduations.

The kind of suit I’m talking about doesn’t necessarily say “Hello, I’m willing to conform,” but it will definitely have your back when jeans and a t-shirt just aren’t good enough to cut it.

A good suit enhances what you’ve got. In fact, a tailor’s number one goal is to make you look as much like Michelangelo’s David as possible. And they’ve got the skills to do it. They can smooth out an uneven shoulder with a little extra padding, or work the buttons to downplay a big belly. A sleight of a tailor’s hand can make you look like a million bucks.

However, custom tailored suits, made to measure, are expensive, starting at around $1000. Quality store-bought suits are also pretty expensive ($600+), especially if you’re only going to wear the thing every now and again. Cheap store-bought suits (around $200) are a waste of money as far as I’m concerned.

Suit styles haven’t changed much since the 1940s, so buying one second-hand is a possibility if you’d rather spend your money on other things. This is really the way to go.

Here’s how you do it:

Don’t even think of looking in your dad’s closet. This is all about you.

Put on a white-collared shirt and dig out the shoes, call up your stylin’ friend­—the one who knows how to wear hats—and tell him you need his help. You’re going to the thrift shop.

Once inside, the suit aisle shouldn’t be hard to find.

Most people say to start by measuring your chest, but my advice for you is to look at the fabric first. Pure wool is the caviar of men’s fabric. Since wool is more expensive than the other fibres, it is more likely the suit will be constructed to a higher standard of quality.

Do not be misled by the synthetic persuasion! Synthetic fabrics give off a plasticky sheen, the visual equivalent of cheap cologne. They just don’t hang as nicely as wool. They get stinky too, because you’re basically wearing a plastic bag.

On the other hand, if you want a wide-lapelled suit that looks like it was made from the same fabric as your nan’s basement couch, give ‘er. You’ll feel awesome because you went big and didn’t go home. Those suits will never truly go out of style, in part because we’ll never, ever be rid of them: polyester doesn’t decompose.

And our darling exhibitionists will always exist too, God bless ‘em.

But I digress.

While I’ve been rambling on, you’ve been harvesting an armful of maybes from the rack. Now find a mirror and try them on. You’re going to a wedding, not a football game, so watch those shoulder pads. They shouldn’t protrude beyond your own shoulders. If you aren’t sure if a shoulder pad is too big or not, try standing sideways against a wall. Your arm should touch the wall, not the shoulder pad.

If the pads are okay, now check the fit. Do up the buttons, (but save the bottom since it’s usually left undone anyway.) If the jacket pulls tight, or is so roomy you could fit another you inside, release it back to the wild.

The collar should hug the back of your neck without buckling. Sleeve length can be adjusted for pretty cheap, but if they’re too short, take a look to see if there’s enough fabric inside to extend them. The same thing goes for pant length. You should be able to fit two fingers in the waistband, at least. Wear pants that are too tight and you could labour with indigestion all night, or, more fabulously, tear the crotch out with your patented drop-kick dance move (a classic).

For a jacket comfort test, try holding your arms straight out in front of you. You should be able to move. Don’t buy a straight jacket, no matter how good you think it looks.

Once you’ve found your suit, take it to a drycleaners to have it pressed and cleaned, and to have a chat about any sleeve or hem alterations. It may be possible to adjust the jacket’s side-seams a bit to give the suit a better shape for you.


Once you have the jacket and pants, you have the base. Now make the suit your own. Try different ties. Always liked the look of a pocket hanky? An old style hat? Go for it. This is your suit for dancing through life’s celebrations.

Best thing is, it isn’t so precious that a cuff smeared with cake frosting will ruin your night. Wear it like you mean to have a hell of a time.

And don’t be afraid to do that drop-kick thing.

Illustration by Kira Sheppard