A few days ago I read an article that reminded me of Lynda Goldman’s book You’re Hired… Now What? I loved the book and I definitely recommend it to everybody in the Canadian business world: front line employee or executive, immigrant or established Canadian. They (the book and the article) promoted the same concept: dress the best you can afford. Goldman’s book is a great quick reference on how to choose outfits, from colours to style for a typical business day, cocktail event and specific social functions. I will not get into it, the book does a great job in giving you the essentials on the subject.
Every book or article I have read on this subject, recommends the following order in choosing a suit: 1. colour; 2. style and 3. fabric. I think that the most important part of choosing your next suit should be the fabric.
The first thing that ruins our look is the fabric: polyester and any other synthetic fibre give the suit that unattractive look with shinny spots and smooth patches. Although quite popular in the 70’s mainly because of their low-maintenance needs, today it is unusual to find a polyester suit: they are considered vintage, and I am so grateful for that!
Wool is a natural fibre, most valued for its textured appearance and warmth. If you are looking to invest some money in your wardrobe, choose wool or a combination of wool and synthetic fibre but no more than 40% (if you really need to!). Wool suits have a much longer life, they are more versatile, wrinkle-free and because they absorb moisture, they will keep you cool even on a hot day! The most common types of wool suits are merino, cashmere and angora, for both men and women.
Now, let’s talk a bit about style, as in design not fashion. Choose a jacket that fits you comfortably with the buttons aligning perfectly when you close it. Lift your hands, stretch, move, sit, turn… make sure the jacket feels comfortable.
Pay attention to the shoulder line: you want to make sure the line meets the edge of your shoulders. The sleeves length should be at the maximum 1 inch above the wrist.
Same rules apply for men. The golden rule for choosing a well fitted suit for men is first to determine the pants size, then add 6. So, if your pants size is 38, the jacket should be a 44 for a comfortable fit. I did not know this but last time we shopped for my husband, we met the most knowledgeable sales manager at a Maximillian store in Richmond. An older gentleman with a Scottish accent who took the time to teach us how to choose the best suit.
The colour of your suit is important of course, but if the fabric and the design of your suit make it look cheap and unattractive, no colour in the world will save it!