Buying a suit, whether it’s custom, made to measure, or off-the-rack, can be rather intimidating. After all, it’s not something that happens very often. Even those of us that own more than one suit aren’t buying one every month – certainly not when the Colorado cycling season is upon us!
As you may expect, I’ve spent some time thinking about this topic. And, no surprise here :), but I’ve managed to come up with a number of theories. Really, I think it boils down to two reasons.
1. Guys don’t know what they’re doing.
The first reason is a little tough for us to admit. After all, as all guys know, we never need to ask for directions because we always know exactly where we are, it just may not be as obvious to others.
That being said, a lot of guys looking to buy a new suit may feel as though they have no clue what’s going on. But we think that knowing how to shop for and wear a suit is something that we SHOULD know all about.
But don’t be too hard on yourself. Soft skills like knowing how a suit should fit and when you can pull off a velvet blazer aren’t the hard skills coded onto the Y chromosome of every man – ones like knowing how to grill a T-bone and understanding exactly how much you can tie to the roof of your car.
No point is more central than this:
Knowing how to dress well is something you have to learn.
(I’m sure even James Bond had a mentor that showed him the ropes at one point.)
In the old days, most guys did have a tailor. Just like they had a trusted barber and a butcher that knew them by name.
When you buy a custom shirt or suit, you aren’t just buying the product, you are also buying the service. This should be true no matter where you do your shopping.
If you have questions, you should be able to ask them. Are you curious what Super 110s are? Ask! Have you heard that there is a special way to fold a pocket square? Ask you tailor about it. By the way, there is no ‘right’ way to fold a pocket square, just better ways :).
In any case, your tailor should be your mentor and your source for education. If they can’t provide personalized service and teach you something each time you work with them, then you better find yourself another tailor.
And as you start to learn more about suits and dressing like a real man, you begin to realize that this sort of thing is nothing new at all. Men have had working relationships with their tailors for hundreds of years, so why stop now?
If education is one roadblock for the modern man when it comes to shopping for a suit, that can’t be the only reason, right? This leads us to my number two reason men don’t like buying suits:
2. I don’t have the right physique for a custom suit!
Now, us guys are going to feel one of two things. Either we think we will look awesome in a custom tailored suit, or, well, maybe not so awesome. In the case of the latter, guys may be a little concerned that maybe their less than perfect features will be brought into focus (beer belly, not-so-athletic butt, etc).
This is completely understandable. After all, what’s the point of buying a nice suit if you aren’t going to feel confident wearing it?
Here’s what you need to know:
A custom suit can show off your best assets AND hide those that aren’t.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you are currently working on building a nice solid pair of shoulders. You’re busy putting in the requisite time in the gym, but it’s going to take some time. In the interim, your suit can help out. Investing in a full canvas suit with a peaked lapel style will help to create the image that your shoulders are wider than they really are.
Or, say you are looking to add a few virtual inches to your height. You can choose a suit with a subtle pinstripe pattern to help elongate your figure. The stripes help to create the perception of length and slimness.
Buying a suit can seem like an intimidating task. You may feel that as a man you are supposed to understand all the nuances of menswear and style. But the truth is that you just need to start somewhere. And finding a trusted tailor that can help guide you is key.
The right menswear expert can be someone that can answer your questions, help to guide you and most importantly, give you a great looking set of clothes that will help you to define your own personal brand.
Wearing a nicely tailored suit is just one of the perks of being a guy. It’s right up there with being able to write your name in the snow and the privilege to recline in your chair and thoughtfully stroke your beard.
If you chose to read this blog then I’m guessing your closet is devoid of a suit that you are proud to call your own. Perhaps now is the time to join the ranks of men around the world and see how easy it is to be the best dressed guy around.
By Ryan Wagner
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