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Men’s suits purchasing and dressing mistakes



NCG Tailor’s point of view



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NCG Tailor has collected 30 purchasing and dressing mistakes for men’s suits, custom-made or ready-to-wear. Some of them are pretty obvious; some are unique (you won’t find them elsewhere), some are from our more than ten years of experiences. Hope this article could help the gentlemen who are looking for a better fitting suit.


Putting on a suit still means a lot in our modern society. When you go to work, attend an important business meeting, wearing a formal suit is almost a must. However, you should understand that buying a suit is one thing, knowing how to wear a suit is another thing.

When we finished this article yesterday night, we were surprised that there could be so many mistakes one might make. Yes, this is a long article, and this is a long list.

Without further ado, let’s us start this list.


Mistake 1: You think expensive suits = good suits


Let us put this way: All good suits are expensive, that’s the truth. A good suit requires excellent quality of fabric, lining, accessories and manufacturing, all that costs a lot. So if you think you have found an excellent suit for a ridiculously low price, well, it’s a trap, please just go away.

However, does this mean all expensive suits are good? Not necessarily. The suit is good or not, sometimes is not the right question you should ask yourself; the real question you should ask yourself is: will I look good in this suit? In other words, the most expensive one may not be the right one for you.

It is like finding your soul mate: he or she might the most brilliant or most beautiful or handsome person you ever know, but he or she might not be the right soul mate for you.

The most expensive suit ≠ the best suit ≠ the right suit.

the right suit for you



Mistake 2 : Your brand label is still there


Maybe you just don’t know that this tag on your suit’s sleeves should be removed; maybe you just forget; or maybe, you want to leave it there because you want to show off?

Please, by any means, remove it. No? You want it there? Well, what’s the word we are looking for here? Right, TACKY! Believe us, it is not just us, 95% of people will find it tacky.


tear off your suit's brand label

Photo credit: www.realmenrealstyle.com


Mistake 3: You think cashmere suits > wool suits > polyester suits

Regarding comfort, yes, cashmere suits are better than wool suits, wool suits are better than polyester ones.
Regarding price, yes, cashmere suits are the most expensive and polyester ones are the cheapest.
But not always.
Cashmere suits are fragile; they are more difficult to be taken care of.
A little percentage of chemical fibers might not be so bad; it can make your suit more robust.
For a specific purpose, wool polyester blended suits are even better because they are thicker and they wrinkle less. For example, for drivers, for magicians costumes, etc.



Mistake 4: Don’t know the difference between fused, half canvas and full canvas

Ready to wear or custom made, it is very important to understand the differences between these three suit structures.

The full canvas suits are the best, and of course the most expensive: it’s interlining covers the full front of your suit jacket, gives it a magnificent structure support.

The fused suits are more cost-effective, and theoretically, they should be much cheaper, their interlining is just glued to the wool fabric (as you can imagine, this can not last very long because soon or later, the glue cannot stick the fabric and the interlining together anymore).

The half canvas suits, they are like full canvas ones, just their interlining only covers a part of the jacket’s front (normally the chest area).

This is crucial: when you are buying a suit, always ask the seller what kind of suit it is. Don’t pay a full canvas suit’s price for a fused one.

full canvas suits - half canvas suits - fused suits

photo credit: parisiangentleman.co.uk


Mistake 5: pick 2-pleat pants when you don’t need pleats

Pleats are bad; they are the opposite of “good-looking,” plain-front pants are much better. However, sometimes pleats are necessary because they can create extra rooms for those who have a big belly or large hips.

Maybe in an off-the-rack store, you don’t have much choice, the pleats may already there. But if you are having your pants custom tailored, please do check with your tailor and ask him to put fewer pleats as possible: can make plain-front, don’t make 1-pleat; can use 1-pleat, don’t make 2-pleats.


pleats pants men

Photo credit: pantolo.com


Mistake 6: Forget to check your suit’s back

Yes, almost every man will look at himself in a mirror while he is trying on a suit, we know. But how many will check the suit’s back? The reason?

Well, you may feel pretty good, like this:


perfect suit front

photo credit: blog.trashness.com


But hey, your suit's back may look like this: 


suit back ugly


Or even worse, like this: 


suit jacket fits badly



Mistake 7: Obsessed with slim or even skinny fit


A slim fit suit is good; people love it, but please note that it is not for everyone. If you are corpulent, or tall and skinny, perhaps a standard cut or slightly slim cut will be better. Please avoid the "too slim" fit if:

- You have a big belly; your waist is larger than your chest;
- You are tall and skinny;
- You have narrow shoulders.

For a long time, we thought that people chose slim fit suits because they wanted to show their body shape, but later we discovered that that’s not the Top one reason. The most important reason is that those gentlemen, they don’t like the feel of “redundant,” they don’t want to feel their arms float in their sleeves, they want the fabric and the lining to be close to their body and thus they can feel “sharp, clean, quick.”

But there is still a limit, a line. When a slim suit becomes too skinny, you might destroy the slim look you are looking for. Like this one, sleeves too tight.


suit sleeves too tight



Mistake 8: Loose fit double-breasted suit jacket on petite men

We all understand that the fit is important for any suit, it is even truer when it comes to suits for small size men. Any redundant part can make a petite man even shorter.

Normally, we will recommend that small size men should not wear double-breasted suits. The reason is simple, double-breasted jacket has two layers of fabrics in front of the chest, and squared jacket bottoms, these details can all make the wearer even smaller.

Unless the fit is extremely good, Like this one:


double-breasted suits on petite man

photo credit: www.themodestman.com


Anyway, if you are not tall, pick single-breasted suits; you can try double-breasted ones if they are really well tailored, and always avoid a loose fit one.


Mistake 9: Add cuffs when not necessary


About The cuffs on men’s dress pants, here are some tips:

1. If the pants fabric is enough heavy, The cuffs can add a little more weight to your trousers, can help keep them straight. But not so obvious for lightweight pants, and not so obvious for linen trousers.

2. Cuffs make you look shorter. If you are not tall, please avoid them.

3. Cuffs are only needed on pleated pants. For plain-front trousers, please avoid them.

4. In most cases, the cuffs height should be between 1.2 inches - 1.8 inches. Cuffs too high may look redundant.


suit pants cuffs

photo credit: www.gq.com

suit back ugly


Mistake 10: You want low rise suit pants


When it comes to pants rise, a lot of people prefer low-rise pants; that’s ok for jeans, but this should not be the case for suit pants (or dress pants).

Wearing a pair of suit pants is all about formality; they are not supposed to be low-rise. If you seek comfort, maybe you can go for high-rise, but in most cases, we would recommend mid rise.

Please note that your jeans are made to sit on your hips, but your dress pants are made to sit on your waist.



Mistake 11: Buying online: trust too much model shows and decide too quickly


We used to buy suits like this: walk into a shop, try one, don't like it, move on, try another one. You can touch the garment, feel its fabric, try its fit.

Nowadays, buying online is an entirely different method. You can not touch, feel or try, all you can do is to look at the pictures, the model shows. Well here is where people make most of their mistakes: put too much trust into images, and the looks of the suits on models.

Please keep this in your mind before you enter your credit number on a website: you are not only purchasing the suit itself; you are paying for the look of that outfit might give you when you wear it. That suit on that model is made, and adjusted again and again, for that model, not for you.

We all appreciate beautiful things; sometimes we just rush into them; it is in our human nature. But please don't forget that without touching, without feeling, without trying, you need to be more cautious when buying them online.

Two extreme examples: 


model show and reality show



Mistake 12: Your waistcoat does not match your suit


Regarding your waistcoat, or suit vest, if you want, here is our thought:

Either you don't wear one (nowadays, vests are not as important as they used to be); or you find a perfectly matched one. By "perfectly matched," we mean: Either, the vest's fabric is exactly the same as your suit's fabric (formal); Or, it is an entirely different fabric (business-casual).

The most unacceptable match: your suit and your vest being almost the same, but slightly different (for example, different shade of black, or gray).



Mistake 13: Jacket-front looks shorter than jacket-back


Now, this advice is based on our experiences, and you can hardly find this elsewhere.

This problem can only occur when: you have a big belly, AND you bought a ready-to-wear suit (if it is bespoke made, this issue can be taken care of by your tailor).

Let us explain: a suit jacket usually has almost the same length on the front and on the back, which is pretty easy to understand, like this:


normal jacket length - front and back


But when you put it on, your beer belly might hold up the jacket's front and makes it looks shorter than the back.

Temporary solution:
Don't button up.

Ultimate solution:
Get your suit custom tailored, because in ready-to-wear, difficult to find a suit jacket with a curve like this (red line in the photo below):


jacket length for beer belly


Mistake 14: Don't pay enough attention to your jacket's armholes


This is not a joke; this is the mistake that 60% of men can make while purchasing a suit.

NCG Tailor's opinion: the armholes on your suit jacket are like joints on a machine. Their size, their shape will determine if you can (or not) move your arms freely and comfortably.

Finding the "right armholes' size and shape" for you is essential.

For example (if you have already this kind of feelings in some suits, well, you will understand right away what we are trying to explain here):


wrong shape and size armholes for your suit jacket

Photo credit: wideeyestightwallets.blogspot.jp


This photo, sounds familiar?

Tip: Move your arms while buying your suit (lift, move forward, backward, or to both sides). If you feel the sleeves dig into your armpits deeply, pull the jacket up significantly, create a strange form of shoulders, move on! You might say: hey, I can alter it later. But do you know how expensive it can be to modify the armholes (not to mention sometimes it is far beyond alterable)?



Mistake 15: Wrong combination of suit style details


If you are planning to buy an off-the-rack suit, skip this;
If you are visiting a professional tailor, skip this;
If you are configuring a custom suit online because you find a nice online custom suits store, read this.

When you see a place online where you can personalize all the details, you want to give it a shot. The thing is, you are probably not a tailor; you are just a regular buyer who tries to find a formal outfit that can make you look fantastic in it. So to avoid some obvious mistakes, please read the following suggestions.


Wrong combination No. 1: Notch lapel + square bottom.


Basic rules:
"peak lapel + squared jacket bottom" is a classic combination for double-breast suit jackets.
"Notch lapel + round jacket bottom" is a classic combination for single-breasted suit jackets.
"Peak lapel + round jacket bottom" could be a trendy style combination, if the peak lapel is relatively narrow.
"Notch lapel + squared jacket bottom" is a big NO.



Wrong combination No.2: Patch pockets on formal business suits


Free personalization does not mean you can put anything together, after all, a suit is a suit, it is more for formality and less for creativity.

Patch pockets are usually big ones; they are not for formal business suits, absolutely not (even though on casual blazers, patch pockets could be an elegant element).

Some tailors may have different opinions, like this one (with which NCG Tailor do not agree: what's the point to put something intentionally on a jacket and then try to make it almost invisible?):


There could be a formal suit so well designed that the patched pockets just blend in the whole jacket appearance, and people hardly notice them, for this, we agree. However, the patch pockets are just so big and so eye-catching that it is almost impossible to do that.


patch pockets on men's casual blazers

photo credit: hespokestyle.com



Wrong combination 3: two pleats + round pants' pocket


Strictly speaking, this is not a "wrong" combination, it is a combination impossible.

Let us explain:

On some websites, you can choose "2 pleats", and also "round pockets." This is an impossible combination: there will be not enough room in that area to put two pleats and a round shape pocket. So either you choose no pleat or one pleat, or you change your pants pockets to other forms, like slanted ones.


impossible for round pants pockets and 2 pleats




Wrong combination 4: Flat-front pants + cuffs


If your pants don't have pleats, you don't need cuffs.

The flat-front pants, comparing to pleated pants, have a clean, sharp, non-redundant look; so why adding those outside turned-up bottoms?

PS: this is just NCG Tailor's point of view, some tailors might not agree with this.



Wrong combination 5: Dark color fabric + light color lining


Strictly speaking, this is not a wrong combination; this is a combination of disaster. This is not even about fashion or trend anymore.

Take one example: Black fabric + white lining. What will happen? When you take your jacket off, people can see the interlining through your lining! Sometimes even inside threads and stitchings can be noticed.

You don't want to buy a totally transparent mobile phone (well, you can't actually, because there is no such thing as transparent phone, no manufacturer will make it;

You don't drive your car with your car bonnet open;

and you don't put the light color lining inside a dark color suit jacket (as for the pants, you can do whatever you want, because people can't see the lining inside your trousers).


black jacket with light color lining - big mistake




Mistake 16: your last button fastened


In men's suits fashion, sometimes you have to do something that has no reason; people will keep telling you: it is the tradition.

Well, this is the one: Always, leave your last button unfastened (unless you are wearing a single button jacket then you don't have a choice).

We will not explain this further here because every piece of article you can find online will mention this. Some of them try to explain why, and you can Google...


Mistakes 17: Don't understand the difference between bespoke and made to measure


Unlike ready-to-wear, bespoke suits and made to measure suits both use your measurements. Made to measure suits use pre-built patterns and modify them to adapt your measurements and bespoke service will make your suit from scratch.

It's like buying a car:

"made-to-measure" is a little like when you buy your car; you add some functions according to your budget and your needs, like navigation, like seat heater, like Cruise control, etc. But the bottom line is, the car is already there.
On the contrary, "Bespoke" is like asking the car factory to make a brand new one for you, from scratch and every detail you asked should be satisfied. And the car was not there yet when you place your order.

If you don't understand the difference between these two different methods of suit making, well, sometimes, you might pay the bespoke price for a made to measure suit. Things happen, right?

About this, here is a fantastic article which explains more in detail:




Mistake 18: Don't understand the difference between custom-made online and custom-made locally


Even though NCG Tailor offers online custom make services, we have to admit that regarding suits' perfect fit, the best way is to visit a local professional tailor.

Online and local, different, different, different! Please remember this.

This is actually a big subject, let us try to explain it simply.

Let's assume:

1. you live in Los Angles. There is a tailor near your house, and there is a website which offers online tailoring service, but their suits are made in India.

2. Their making quality, fabric quality, lining quality, accessories quality are the same.

What could be the difference? The measurements and the fit.

1. In your local tailor's store, your measures can be taken care of by him or her, in a professional way; but on that website, you are probably watching measurements guides, photos, instructions or videos, while asking your wife to hold a tape and help you. Believe us, measurements taking is much harder than you think, and two measures not so correct can ruin the whole elegance of the suit they are going to make for you.

2. With your local tailor, you will have 2-3 chances to make alterations before the final delivery of your suit; but online? You get what you receive, that's all.

You might say: hey, come on, you are exaggerating. I bought a custom suit online, not so bad; after some small alterations, it was perfect.

Yes, that could be the case. However, some people might be as lucky as you.

Your jacket sleeves are 2 inches too long; you can alter them, sure;
But if they are 2 inches too short? Who can make them longer?

Tailors are not magicians, they will do what they can, but there could be a lot of things they can't alter, especially when it comes to some garment measurements way too short.




Mistake 19: Underestimate the importance of your spare pants


Today, you find a perfectly fitting suit, and you are happy. However, what you don't realize yet, is that even with extra care, your jacket and your pants have different life-span: In most cases, your jacket can still be perfectly fine while you suit pants are totally damaged.

Like this fellow said... in 2002:


importance of your spare suit pants

Photo Source: styleforum.net


Tip: If possible, always take a pair of spare pants when you buy your suit; because one or two years later, it will be tough to find the exact same pair.




Mistake 20: You don’t care who you are talking to: a salesperson or a tailor


They are different. Let’s skip the hypothesis that who is trustworthy and who is not, let’ just assume that all of them are honest.

You want a perfect suit, if possible, best quality-price ratio;
The salesperson wants to sell, that’s all;
The tailor wants to sell but has to sew.

The ultimate goal for a salesman is to seal the deal; after that, it will be the tailor’s problem or the after-sales department’ problem. A wise salesperson will not accept an order which will clearly cause big troubles for his colleagues. But still, how big these troubles can be, is difficult to define and his or her impulse to sell will keep him or her stop telling you some facts that might be troubling afterward (for you and the tailor).

I will not lie. But if you don’t ask, I won’t bring up.

This phrase, any resonance?

Plus, a tailor’s advice can be much more useful and accurate. Half of the salespersons, especially the new ones, they are apprentices in tailoring; they may know something, but can hardly give you THE RIGHT suggestions.

Tip: if you can, talk to a tailor, ask him or her what kind of suit will fit you the best.


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