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Secrets Of Buying Suit

Just stick to basics, and you'll look great

When new customers enter Guffey's haberdashery in Buckhead in search of a new suit, sales associate Dan Mullis recites three key factors, almost by rote.

"First there's the choice of fabric," he says. "Next comes the detailing."

Then comes the most vital element: "Measuring the garment so that it fits exactly."

Notice that "what's trendy" does not make the cut.

A recent study by NPD Group —a market research firm — indicates that more young men are purchasing tailored clothing. Compared with the previous year, guys between the ages of 18 and 24 accounted for a 53 percent increase in suit, slack and sport-coat sales in 2005. And there's a strong likelihood that these guys are woefully inexperienced at buying suits.

Finding the right suit isn't exactly a science. But it helps to focus more on balance and proportion than all the bells and whistles that designers come up with each season.

"Your body dictates almost everything you need to know about choosing a suit," said Alan Flusser, the New York-based tailor, designer and author of three books on menswear.

Menswear experts offered a few tips to help guide the uninitiated through the process of purchasing a new suit. Their suggestions should serve notice that, while suit styles may change over time, the rules for dressing well remain constant.


1. The fit factor
Generally, suits should fit snug — but not tight — around the torso. To test: Make sure there's just enough room to slip a hand inside the breast flap. Jacket sleeves should drop to just above the palm of the hand.

2. Proportion takes precedence
Wide lapels, shirt collars and neckties can overwhelm a slender physique. Conversely, narrow shoulders, neckwear and collars magnify the proportions of fuller-figured men. And the width of a necktie also should be in proportion to coat lapels.

3. Details make a difference
Standard or surgeon's cuffs, with functioning buttons, ticket pockets and side vents are small touches that can add a lot to a suit.

4. Opt for flat-front pants
Pleated pants tend to make legs and hips appear wider, while flat-front pants create the opposite effect.

5. Don't fixate on the price
Consider a suit an investment. A $1,500 designer suit does not guarantee greater quality than a $200 suit purchased at a department store or men's warehouse chain. For a custom-made suit — which allows the customer to select the fabric and tailoring details —prices can hover around $2,500.

6. Why navy blue's a classic
For long-term value, invest in one suit that can easily transition from business to formal occasions. "Navy looks great in the office, and it works at night as well," says Nick Sullivan, fashion director for Esquire magazine. "The best color for a tuxedo isn't black. It's actually midnight blue. And with navy, you have a choice of wearing black or brown shoes and accessories."

7. Select a fabric that matches your lifestyle
How much do you travel? How often will you wear the suit? Dan Mullis of Guffey's haberdashery says these questions will narrow the list of fabric choices.

8. Don't look like a sailboat
Double vents in the rear can billow unflatteringly on men with prodigious backsides.

9. Big guys don't wear plaid
Patterns such as plaids and stripes tend to exaggerate the proportions of large men, while making the contours of a slender man more prominent.

10. Cuffs vs. no cuffs
Cuff-free slacks tend to elongate the look of the leg. Cuffed pants have a truncating effect because the vertical line is disrupted.

11. Button up in style
Suits with two-button jackets tend to flatter any physique. Three-button suits can make short men appear even more squat, while the elongated lapels on a one-button suit can make them appear taller.

12. Looking like Letterman
Double-breasted suits have a slenderizing effect on portly men, while that extra panel of fabric can appear to swallow the physique of slender men.

The Atlanta Journal




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