One of the most stylish fashion statements a guy can make is a suit. Sure, we love the scruffy flannel-and-jeans look. But when it’s time to look sharp, smart and put-together, there is nothing like a suit.
When it’s done right, that is. Too many men are failing to wear their suits to perfection (or anywhere in the neighborhood of perfection). The pants are too long, the jacket sleeves are too short, the lapels are too wide, the buttons too tight… we could go on and on.
So we will. Below, we’ve helpfully highlighted the 15 more egregious mistakes guys are making with their suits. Men, print this out, laminate it and study it. Then pledge never to commit these errors ever again.
1. Letting a white undershirt poke though above the dress shirt at the neck. This is sloppy-looking, giving off a whiff of frat boy. It’s also simply unnecessary: Go buy yourself some v-neck undershirts (or better yet, wear none — they’re by no means required) and save the crewnecks for days when you wear a tie.
2. Not getting your jacket sleeves hemmed or tailored. Most men assume that once their pants are hemmed, they’re done. But jacket sleeves are just as important, if not more so, to have tailored. Too-long sleeves look careless, and too-short sleeves look dorky. Make sure the jacket ends 1/2 inch above your shirt sleeve. In addition, take care to tailor the jacket width around the bicep and the torso. Most guys’ suit jackets are way too roomy, making them look heavier or simply sloppier.
3. Choosing jackets that are too long. A good way to test the length? Let the jacket hem fall where your fingertips end naturally. It’s as easy as that.
4. Forgetting to remove the brand label off the jacket sleeve. We’re shaking our heads.
5. Forgetting to cut open the thread on the the back vent and the pockets. Again, smh.
6. Choosing lapels that are too big. If they’re big enough for Rush Limbaugh, they’re too big. 3 inches is probably a safe upper limit.
7. Wearing pants with pleats. You’re not the dad from “Leave It To Beaver” (or this guy) and this isn’t 1955. Flat-front pants are the way to go so you don’t look 10 pounds heavier.
8. Wearing pants that are too long. Mind the break — the break, that is, in the fabric that occurs when the bottom of your pants skim the tops of your shoes, creating a horizontal crease (a “break”) in the fabric. Pants with no break mean they’re so short they fall right above the shoe and flash some sock. This is trendy, but perhaps too risky for many guys. Most men should aim for a medium break — not too rumpled or baggy, but not too short around the ankles.
9. Wearing pants with cuffs. Not only are they untrendy at the moment, cuffs visually shorten the leg, a death sentence for the petite dudes out there. For everyone else, cuffs also tend to flop around more. And no woman likes a guy whose pants flop around the ankles.
10. Choosing shirts that are too big. There will be some gym rats with bulging muscles whose shirts are too tight. But generally, men have the problem of buying them too big. When it come to the collar, follow the one-finger rule (if you can fit more than one finger between the collar and your neck, it’s too big). For the torso, just purchase a slim-cut shirt, for the love of God. If it’s billowing out or bunching at the sides when you tuck it in, it’s simply too big.
11. Thinking pinstripes are the only acceptable suit print — and actually wearing them. Suits come in more print options than just pinstripes, from glen plaid to windowpane check. Adventure out into subtle prints, always neutrals on neutrals… but leave the bold pinstripes to Gordon Gekko and Derek Jeter.
12. Wearing black. Yes, wearing black. You may have gotten a spiffy black suit for your Bar Mitzvah, and you may have seen your father rock a black suit to the office. But black should generally be reserved for funerals and weddings — for daytime wear, stick with a classic navy or charcoal gray suit, paired with shoes in brown hues. Bonus: There are almost no color shirts that don’t match navy or gray.
13. Going bold with French cuffs… that look like flippers. French cuffs, worn with subtle (not flashy/cutesy/anything with logos) cuff links, can add some “oomph” to a suit for a more formal occasion. But when they’re too big at the wrist (or, God forbid, exceed the size of the suit sleeves they’re under), they’ll flop around conspicuously. Best to just steer clear entirely.
14. Letting your tie peek out from under the sides and back of your collar. Either your collar is too small or your tie is too big. Either way, make sure this never happens.
15. Focusing on flash over substance. Tie clips, pocket squares, French cuffs — these are privileges that are earned, not simply given. You’ve got to master the basics first, which means a solid-fitting suit and a shirt to match in a foolproof color combo. As the saying goes, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”