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7 rookie mistakes to avoid when buying a suit

7 rookie mistakes to avoid when buying a suit

7 rookie mistakes to avoid when buying a suit
02 April 2017

Shopping for a new suit isn't easy. 

It can take years of practice before you reach the intoxicating highs of mid-air freeze frame jumps a la Ron Burgundy and his trusty Channel 4 News Team, safe in the knowledge you've got an eye-catching style and solid fit to boot.

So, to ensure you don't make any rookie errors this wedding and party season, we spoke to Reiss' personal made-to-measure tailor Rachel Booth about the biggest sartorial mistakes you're likely to make when shopping for a new suit.

Ignoring the shoulders

“When looking for a suit, the key is the shoulders - especially if you’re quite slim in the body. Far too many people look beyond this when trying on a jacket. If it fits on the shoulder but it’s too loose in the rest of the jacket, that’s fine, it means you just need it tailoring."

Wearing it too tightly

"If it’s a ‘first suit’, we have a lot of guys coming in expecting it to feel like chinos or their jeans, and they’ll ask for it to hang really low and be really tight. That’s a classic mistake as the crotch area will wrinkle and look badly fitted. What we tell them is to not worry about it feeling looser, otherwise it doesn’t look good."

Opting for waist over jacket size

“A well-fitting suit should be fitted on the waist and tapered in the leg. So if you’re 34 in the waist but have slim legs, you should be buying the 34 waist and having the leg tapered properly. The waist comes first. Don’t go for a waist that is too tight for you because you want a slim leg. The same applies if you want to help tuck in that tummy - you need the waist to fit properly or the whole look fails, and it’s supposed to sit on the hipbone not below. Conversely, if you’re wearing a belt to make up for super loose trousers then you’re going to see excess fabric in the sequin of the trouser. Trousers shouldn’t be spray on fabric, you want softly tapered leg in a trouser."

Going too long or short with sleeve length

“You want around a centimetre or two of cuff showing. Nothing less and not much more. If it’s not quite right but the jacket fits nicely then have the sleeves tailored.”

Forgetting the occasion you’re buying it for

"A straight pocket with two buttons and notch lapel is synonymous with more of a formal classic work suit. A peaked lapel with one button is more synonymous with an event, an occasion. So when somebody who’s so used to wearing suits on a daily basis wants to go for a grey, matte two button straight pocket for a wedding, we generally advise them that’s because they’re in their comfort zone and maybe they want to change things up."

Not wearing shoes in the fitting room

“Your hemline should be sitting just on your shoe, so standing in a fitting room in your socks, or trainers of a different height to your finest brogues isn’t going to give you the best gauge of where your trouser leg will fall. You can try it on without shoes, but just bear shoes in mind."

And for goodness sake, don’t make this rookie error

"One preconception is doing the bottom button up on a two button jacket. The second button is generally there for aesthetic purpose only. Don't be tempted."

ShortList was speaking to Rachel Booth as part of a workshop hosted by Affligem, a premium Belgium beer that combines a rich history of craftsmanship and designed for sophisticated gentlemen.

Reiss offers a full made-to-measure personal tailoring service and you can find it at