6 Simple and Inexpensive Ways to Raise your Suiting Standard Now
There is a lot more to suiting up than just throwing on everything you own and heading out the door. Your presentation when wearing a suit should look like you've put time into your appearance and that you're dressing with purpose.
Whilst there is a vast and varied range of elements to look out for when dressing formally, we're going to keep this brief and highlight the easiest and cheapest 6 tips that will raise your overall look and have you dressing like a sartorially educated gentleman next time you head out.
It would be easy to say "buy yourself a new suit that fits perfectly, change this, new that" but we understand that isn't realistic for many people who are on a budget. There's plenty that can be done without spending a cent, just like anything good in life, it just takes a few extra minutes when you're getting ready. Here we go:
Your Tie knot:
The quality of your tie knot is more important than you might think. It's right beneath your face so it's the second thing people will see when they meet you. First things first, do up your top button. If you can't, your shirt doesn't fit you and you're looking at buying a new one. There's no excuse to have it unbuttoned.
Secondly, tighten your tie up. Both snug around your neck and the knot itself tied firmly. Not restricting, but definitely not loose. Even at the end of a long day, try to keep it snug and shirt buttoned. As for the type of knot, there are countless knot types out there and there's no right or wrong ones per se. Our advice, keep them simple and classic, something like a Full Windsor, Half Windsor or Four in Hand.
Our final point on the knot (and arguably the most important) - the dimple. Adding a dimple to your knot is always a good idea. It's a subtle style indicator that you know your craft. It will make you stand out in a good way and bring a lot more life to your necktie.
Don't do the Donald Trump or the fat man who doesn't have enough tie length to reach over his stomach. The tip of your tie should fall in the middle of your belt buckle but until you have plenty of experience with knots, no doubt the length of the finished product will vary greatly. Whilst it is frustrating, it is so important to be persistent with retying until it's the perfect length.
HINT: To take some of the guesswork out of it, take note of where the long end is sitting relative to your body (or the short end relative to your shirt buttons). If the tie is too short, drop the wide end of your tie further down your body and the opposite if it's too long. This will at least give you a gauge for the next time you try again.
Also, different knots use different amounts of tie, affecting the length of the finished product. If you're a shorter guy and always have an issue of the tie being too long, look to some knots that will use more fabric to give a better length as a result. If you're tall and find most times the tie is too short, you can look at knots that use minimal fabric to free up a bit of length.
Tie slides (or tie clips) are simple to get right but there are many options available out there. Basically you want the bar to reach across your tie approximately 2/3 to 3/4 of the way and never extend past the other side of your tie. This is obviously dictated, to an extent, by the width of tie you wear. In terms of tie slide location, generally just above the fourth button down from your collar is ideal.
If you've ever asked the question "should I wear a pocket square?" the answer is simple. If you're wearing a jacket, you should be wearing a pocket square. Even for less formal events or just casually when you might be dressed with an open collar, always slip a pocket square in and you're good to go. The single most important take away about pocket squares is this: Never ever match your necktie and pocket square. They should always complement each other, but never match. Also, you don't want them to both be loud. If you're wearing a plain tie, have a little more fun with the pocket square and vice versa.
Waistcoat and Suit Jacket Etiquette:
How you button your jacket or waist coat is an easy way to show that you know your suiting rules (so many men don't, so be one of the few who do). Below are the simple rules to follow for the different jacket types.
This one is easy. You only have two options. Standing: button. Sitting: unbutton.
The most typical closure type is the single breasted, two buttoned jacket. Lately people have been wearing both buttons fastened. Hopefully we're not treading on too many toes here but it's straight up wrong. You see it everywhere. Point is, even though some people have tried to make this some sort of trend, the jacket is not designed for fastening both buttons. When you button them both, it changes the shape of the jacket fit and it bulges in the chest. Jackets are designed to give you that masculine broad shoulder and slim waist look. Why would you want to change that?
So what is correct...?
Top button only when standing, unbuttoned when sitting.
You don't see much of this style getting around these days but there's a simple rule for remembering this one. "Sometimes, Always, Never". Button the top button if you feel like it, always button the middle button and never fasten the bottom button.
With a double breasted jacket, the general consensus is fasten all buttons except for the bottom button. There is a bit of flexibility if you're wearing an 8 button jacket (you can unfasten the top button as well) but in general, it's just the bottom button unfastened.
You might see a bit of a trend developing here...and waistcoat etiquette is no different. Leave the bottom button undone on the waistcoat. Another point about waistcoats, if you do decide to wear a three piece suit, make sure the waist coat comes down at least to overlap your trousers. You shouldn't be able to see your shirt anywhere between the bottom of your waistcoat and the top of your trousers.
Speaking of trousers, in the interest of appropriateness at all events, a break is ideal. (A break is a horizontal crease in the fabric created by the hem of the trouser leg touching your shoe.) If you only have one or two suits, you are safest to maintain a tailored but conservative trouser length. Waders don't fit the bill in all settings and some occasions aren't suited to them. A single break will make you look taller and leaner as there's no bunching fabric at the bottom of your trouser. Believe it or not, too much trouser length can affect the fall of the fabric right up to the seat, so it's worth taking the time to get it right.
...Oh and while you're down there, give your shoes a regular polish. Well kept shoes are a standout on any outfit.
As mentioned in the beginning of this post, the pointers mentioned above are far from the complete list of things to pay attention to when suiting up. We've tried to pick out the simple mistakes that are made by a large majority and the ones that take almost no money to fix. We feel for men just starting their sartorial journey, these are the easiest changes to make. At least until they gain further appreciation of the benefits and self confidence that comes from having your suiting down pat and wish to investigate this fun and rewarding hobby of dressing for success for yourself. Or just keep an eye out for our future posts to help you on your journey to being a sharp dressed man.
Stay classy, gentlemen.