Everyone needs a good suit, and if you follow these rules, you’ll be able to find your own Avoid bargains Know your likes, your dislikes, and what you need it for (work, funerals, court). Squeeze the fabric — if it bounces back with little or no sign of wrinkling, that means it’s good, sturdy material. And tug the buttons gently. If they feel loose or wobbly, that means they’re probably coming off sooner rather than later. The jacket’s shoulder pads are supposed to square with your shoulders; if they droop off or leave dents in the cloth, the jacket’s too big. The jacket sleeves should never meet the wrist any lower than the base of the thumb — if they do, ask to go down a size. Always get fitted.
Nicholas Antongiavanni, author of The Suit: A Machiavellian Approach to Men’s Style, offers a short primer:
Suits are made of wool. Mostly. At the upper end, you see wool blended with cashmere. You might even see 100 percent cashmere. For hot weather, linen and cotton and silk are available, but most suits are still made of wool. Stick with that.
Fineness: It’s usually reflected in the so-called “super number.” You know, “super 150′s” and the like. Two things: First, the super number denotes the fineness of the individual fibers. The higher the number, the thinner the fabric and the smoother and silkier the cloth. Second, wool gets rarer the finer it is, so very high supers — 180′s and above — are expensive. But that doesn’t make them better, necessarily. They can be wrinkle-prone, and they show signs of wear — such as shininess — early.
Take a bunch of the cloth and squeeze it. Does it bounce back to life quickly, with little to no visible wrinkling? Does it feel like there’s something to it, some structure — what tailors call “guts”? That’s a good sign. It’s nearly ineffable, but play around with cloth long enough and you’ll come to know it.
What you will see on most store racks is plain weave or worsted (the smooth, tightly woven stuff) — basic business cloth. But there’s more to cloth than worsted. The most common alternatives are flannel (spongy, fuzzy stuff) and tweed. Flannel is a classic cool-weather cloth. And we all know what tweed is.