I always found it interesting that a suit customer walks into a store and the first thing they do is start browsing the patterns and colors, only after finding the design they like do they try the suit on for size. I believe the best way to suit shop involves the exact opposite action, ignore the look and immediately start trying some on to find the best size.
Years ago you could probably walk into a store, pick out the pattern you like and the tailor would be skilled enough to make almost any suit fit well. The problem is that tailors like that are few and far between these days! Today, you need to find the best fitting suit you can to keep alterations to a minimum. This will not only save you money, but give you the best look possible. A good fitting suit speaks volumes about the wearer, they appear confident, powerful and successful. I would argue a less expensive suit that fits well appears more expensive than an expensive one that fits poorly.
Ok, so now you know that fit is paramount over everything else, you need to shop a few different stores, remember do not worry about pattern or color at this point, you are looking for a well fitting suit.
Of course the next question is how do I know what suit fits me best. There are 3 basic ways to tell, first look in the mirror and notice how the suits lays on your body, does the collar of the suit lay smoothly around the neck. Also does it buckle at the chest, is the length right(general rule is that the distance from the collar to the bottom of the jacket should equal the distance from the bottom of the jacket to the floor with shoes on). Now look at the back or even better bring a friend along and have them look to see if there is any stretching or bunched up fabric, if the creases are vertical the fix is usually easy, but if the lines are horizontal then it can be much more difficult for a tailor to alter. Lastly, look at the pants, how is the waist, seat and thigh look. The general rule is that you do not want to take in or out more than 2" from the waist since the back pockets will start to lean in or out. If you have major alterations needed on the pants then a separates program where the suit jacket and pants are bought separately is probably the best solution.
So I said that there are 3 ways to tell how a suit fits, the first being visual, the 2nd being the amount of alterations needed. The last way to find a well fitting suit is with a knowledgeable salesperson. Most people let the salesman pick you, but you should be picking the salesman. The best way to do this is to ask the store manager who is the most knowledgeable salesperson on the floor, this saves a lot of time and gets you to the best person right away. When I managed a Brooks Brothers store I was more than happy to steer people to the most knowledgeable salesperson so that they would have a great experience in my store and want to come back.
Now you have it, bring along a friend or spouse to help with how the suit looks in terms of fit, have the tailor give you an idea of alterations needed(choose the suit with the least alterations needed) and seek the advice of a knowledgeable salesperson who can steer you in the right direction to help find the best fit.
As you go from store to store you will notice the same patterns and colors! Not to worry since your individuality comes from the neckwear and what better way to express yourself than with a Bow Tie Club bow tie, its like the icing on the cake!
Best of luck buying your next suit and if you have any helpful suggestions of your own I would love to hear them, just email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org
Kirk Edward Hinckley
President and Founder