How Often Should you Dry Clean your Suit?

Quality Wool Dress Suits Require Less Dry Cleaning than Cheap Alternatives

Any man who owns a high-end suit or suit separate should be aware of the basics of dress suit care. High quality wool suits require less frequent dry cleaning than their cheaper cotton or linen counterparts. With cotton or linen suits, on the other hand, the tendency to stain or wrinkle makes extra cleaning and pressing a necessity

Top quality worsted wool dress suits may be worn many times over a period of months. When the time does come to clean them, always use professional dry cleaning services; we have known men who made the mistake of sending their suits through the wash, and the amount of shrinkage was truly remarkable.

Between wearings, hang your dress suit to let the wrinkles fall out and the fabric breath. Slacks hung upside down from the hems, instead of folded at the knees, will wear the best. Hang the jacket on a molded hanger to reinforce the shoulder structure.

Remember that with each dry cleaning, any dress suit will lose a little color. Normally this is not noticeable, but if you make the mistake of splitting the jacket and slacks when dry cleaning your dress suit, the colors will begin to change. Dry clean both pants and jacket at the same time for a suit that has consistent color and is attractive through many seasons.

Shirt Collars and Cuffs

Know your shirt, from turndown collars to barrel cuffs

Turndown collars

The most formal dress shirts collar today is also the most common. Known also by the name “straight-point collar,” the turndown collar will vary in the length of the tips and their distance from each other, but essentially consists of a wide neck and relatively long points that extend downward to form a triangular opening at the neck that is ideal for showcasing the knot of your necktie. Men with short necks can use a shorter collar to lengthen the appearance of the neck. Men with long necks can use a longer collar to make their necks appear shorter.

Cutaway collars

Also called the “wide spread collar,” the cutaway collar is like a turndown collar with the points pushed as far apart as possible. This leaves a wide gap at the neck of the dress shirt that allows even wide necktie knots to be displayed prominently. The cutaway collar is widely considered more elegant than a turndown collar.

Roll collar

Invented in the US, the roll collar is essentially a long, wide turn down collar with buttons at the collar tips. Well-made roll collars generally have a soft finish. Combined with the buttoned tips, the finish gives your dress shirt a less formal look than other collars. The roll collar is also known as the “button-down collar” and the “soft-roll collar.”

Pin collar

More popular on dress shirts in the US than Europe, this collar features a pin that holds the collar points close to the knot of the necktie. The collar is dressy, but the metal of the pin can distract from the face of the wearer. Like the tab collar, the pin collar lifts the tie knot nicely.

Tab collar

Instead of a pin, the tab collar has a button or snap that extends from the two wings of the collar. Like the pin collar, the tab collar lifts the tie knot nicely, and is especially popular on dress shirts in the US.

Detachable collar

An old-fashioned practice that is virtually nonexistent today, detachable collars can be attached to and removed from collarless dress shirts. A few men still use detachable collars to make a classic fashion statement.

Wing Collar

Also called the “wing-tip collar,” you will see this collar on dress shirts intended to be worn with tuxedos. The tips of the collar are folded down into small triangles at the center of the collar. The wing collar is perfect for wear with a bow tie, and should only be worn with your tuxedo.

Cuffs: Barrel & French

Barrel cuffs, also called button cuffs, close with a button. French cuffs are longer, fold up, and require cufflinks instead of a button. Dress shirts with either barrel cuffs or French cuffs are considered professional attire, but a French cuff dress shirt will make a more elegant fashion statement.

How to Match a Dress Shirt to your Suit and Tie

Faced with a Rack Full of Dress Suits, Where do You Start?

It’s early morning and you’re face-to-face with a rack full of dress suits, neckties, and dress shirts. Most likely, you have plaids and checks, stripes, herringbones, the occasional paisley, and solids. Presumably your suits are the classic dark colors that suggest authority, and your ties are the brighter colors that suggest emotion.

You need a strategy for choosing the right dress shirt color and pattern for your dress suit and necktie, and here it is: select your suit first, your tie second, and then your shirt.

* First, select your dress suit: Colors that are traditional for business suits are subdued: black, navy blue, and gray. We will assume that your dress suits are likewise colored. Your suit should provide a solid foundation for the rest of your ensemble

* Second, your necktie: Your necktie is the most expressive item you wear. If you are strictly about business, then conservative checks, paisleys, and stripes are wise choices; there’s no need to draw attention away from your face. But maybe you’re more interested in making a personal statement. In that case, one of the larger, more striking or artistic patterns may suit you

* This leaves the third element, your dress shirts. It usually has a cool color (light blue, white, gray, etc.) that enables it to serve as a light backdrop upon which the tie stands out. If the shirt is like a canvas, the jacket of your suit is the frame.

It’s no mystery why the plain white dress shirt has been the standard since the beginning of dress suits: it draws attention to the tie, which in turn enhances a man’s suit. Contemporary men’s fashion has moved beyond the white dress shirt, so here are some strategies for combining colors and patterns:

Sample combinations

The easiest approach is to combine three solids that enable the dark dress suit to be offset by a dress shirt and necktie that contrast each other.

* More interesting is the combination of two solid colored articles of clothing with a single patterned article. This could be a solid business suit and solid necktie with a patterned or striped dress shirt, for instance

* The next combination is two patterns with one solid. This could be a patterned business suit and a silk Italian necktie with a solid dress shirt. The pattern sizes should vary from each other, and a unifying color should be present in both patterns.

* The most difficult combination is three patterns. The safest approach is to use two of the same type of pattern (such as a striped dress shirt and necktie with stripes of a different size, for example, that share a unifying color) in combination with another pattern for the dress suit (such as a Prince of Wales check).

When you’re in a rush to select the right dress shirt, you can also think of it this way: your style should become more subdued as you progress from the necktie to the dress suit.

Wear the Hottest Shirt this Season: Striped Dress Shirts

What to Wear with Vertical, Horizontal, and Diagonal Striped Dress Shirts

It happens every season: someone comes up with the latest men’s fashion trend, but they don’t tell you about it. Maybe you’re too busy working, hiking, playing sports, or spending time with the family. One thing you’re not doing is flipping through fashion magazines or watching cable fashion shows. This season, things are different.

The hottest dress shirt pattern this season looks to be the striped dress shirt: narrow vertical, horizontal, and diagonal stripes. Vertical stripes are a great way for men of average height look a little taller, while horizontal stripes help men of above-average height look shorter. Diagonal striped dress shirts add an elegance that we find pleasing.

Selecting a tie: A striped dress shirt with a solid necktie will make an attractive combination. A necktie with a different pattern, such as checked, will also look handsome. Just follow the rule of thumb that the pattern in your tie and the pattern in your shirt should have a common color.

Selecting a suit to wear with a striped dress shirt: A high quality, solid dark suit is always a safe choice, but don’t be afraid to wear a patterned suit if you want. Yes, you can wear a striped business suit with a striped dress shirt, but in that case you should select a business suit with stripes of a different width than those of the dress shirt. Also, select a necktie that is not striped.

Don’t try to wear a striped dress shirt, necktie, and dress suit together; make sure one article has an entirely different pattern, and you will be in style with one of the hottest fashion trends this year: the striped dress shirt.

How to Measure Yourself for a Suit

With the Right Set of Suit Measurements, it’s Easy to Select the Perfect Suit

Most men shopping online for a dress suit have one question in mind: Will the suit fit? Luckily, a men’s suit size is nothing more than a chest measurement. Below, the fashion experts at SuitBargains.com teach you the essentials for jacket and pants measurements.

Essential jacket measurements

Chest: Place the measuring tape high under your arms at the widest point, covering your chest and your shoulder blades. The tape should be completely level. As you breathe normally, have a friend insert a finger between your chest and the measuring tape. This suit measurement yields both your chest and suit size.

Shoulder: Have a friend measure across the top, back, of your shoulders. For this suit measurement, the measuring tape should extend seam to seam.

Jacket length: This suit measurement determines the ideal length from the bottom of the collar to the bottom of the jacket. Measure from where your neck meets your back to a point just below the curve of your buttocks

Sleeve length: In this suit measurement, determine your sleeve length by measuring from the shoulder to a point that just covers the wrist.

Essential pants measurements

Waist: Most suits will have a six-inch drop between the size of the jacket and the waist of the slacks, with an allowance of 1.5 to 2 inches available for letting out. Take this suit measurement with the tape comfortably loose, the tape encircling your natural waistline.

Length: To measure your trouser length, find a pair of slacks that fit well. Measure the outside seam length from the top of the waist to the bottom of the leg; this is your outseam length. Measure from the crotch to the bottom of the pant; this is the inseam length. These two suit measurements should be within the unhemmed pant length specified for the suit you purchase.

By comparing your own suit measurements with the suit measurements, it’s easy to select the perfect suit. After you receive your dress suit, have a professional tailor hem the pants and, if needed, adjust the waist for the perfect fit. For additional information about measuring yourself for the perfect fit please refer to our Measurement Guide.

Picking the Right Belt

Picking the Right Belt

There are only three belt colors you should be concerned with: black, brown and tan. Ideally, you should own casual and dress belts in all three colors, but you can make do with a thin black dress belt, and a wide brown/tan casual belt.

Sizing belts requires a little extra room. Take your waist size, and then go one size bigger. IE: Your 36” waist translates into a 38”-40″ belt size.

Belts should be an accessory, not the centerpiece of your wardrobe. So even though you dream of turning heads with a croc skin around your waist, don’t get suckered into buying a belt that’s more expensive than your shoes or — God forbid — your suit.

Matching belt to your wardrobe

The simplest rule when it comes to wearing a dress belt is that it should always match your shoes in color and finish. Shiny black shoes demand a shiny black belt.

Casual belts allow you quite a bit more flexibility, however. Whether black, brown or tan, a casual belt with a dull, matte finish goes reasonably well with jeans and sneakers.

Keep the buckle under control!  The bigger the buckle, the more casual the belt; small, sleek clasps are usually found only on dress belts.

An Introduction to Suit Quality

Designer Suit Components, Fabrics, Colors and Patterns

So you’re looking for the perfect men’s suit or suit separate! This primer in dress suit quality will introduce you to components, fabrics, colors and patterns you will find in a high-end designer suit.

Suit Components

Strictly speaking, a suit consists of two or three parts: the jacket, the trousers, and the optional vest.  The jacket of a dress suit may be single-breasted or double-breasted, and may have one or two vents. Some men’s suits have no vent at all.

The trousers of an suit may be pleated or flat front, depending on your preference, and the pant leg may or may not have a cuff. Contrary to a common misconception, the cuff is not a requirement of a double-breasted business suit.

The vest is a holdover from an earlier era. For most men, a vest would be too warm to wear at the office. Today’s standard business suit has two pieces.

Suit Fabric

When an suit is made, all pieces are cut from the same fabric. Wool is the preferred material for a man’s suit because the natural fibers allow ventilation, wear well and resist wrinkling. Wool is graded for fineness; a higher number indicates a finer wool fiber. Examples are Super 100, 110, 120 and 150. The higher the number, the less likely the wool is to wrinkle thanks to the tighter weave.

Another ideal fabric for a man’s suit is silk, especially in luxurious summer suits. Cotton would be a possibility but for its extreme susceptibility to wrinkling that will mar the appearance of a business suit.

Suit Color

Subdued colors are traditional for a man’ dress suit, and suits are no exception: black suits, navy blue suits, and all shades of gray suits are the appropriate business suit colors for the typical MBA graduate. Other colors of dress suits are more appropriate for casual occasions, weekend wear, and the like. Leading patterns in US business suits are Prince of Wales check, dark gray or blue flannel, and a fine gray herringbone pattern in flannel, all available in suits.

You have now finished your primer on suits, including the components, fabrics, colors and patterns common to designer men’s suits. One last tip: as with any man’s suit, Italian suit jacket and trousers should always be dry cleaned together. Why? Dry cleaning the entire business suit maintains the same shade of color over time.

How to Buy Dress Pants with Uncut Hems

For the Best Fit and Style, Purchase Dress Pants with Uncut Hems

When you purchase a high quality pair of wool dress pants, the SuitBargains.com experts recommends “unfinished” or “uncut” hems.  Here you will learn what uncut hems are, how they benefit you, and what to do after you receive your dress pants.

Wearing a high quality wool suit also means having dress pants with the correct inseam. Uncut hems are simply trousers that have not had the final hem sewn in at the bottom of the pant legs. Uncut hems on dress slacks enable you to have your trousers customized to your particular inseam length. In addition, you have the flexibility of choosing straight or cuffed hems.

When buying your suit or dress pants in general, you should take your suit measurements to verify that both the jacket and the waist will fit, and that your inseam and outseam length are shorter than the uncut hem length of the trousers.

When you receive your dress pants, take them to an experienced tailor who will set the hem to the perfect length. Also take the shoes you intend to wear with the dress pants to help the tailor better judge the length.

You may have been tempted to purchase cheap dress pants with a set inseam length, but from now on you know that for the best fit, you should purchase dress pants with uncut hems.