Every salesman needs a great fitting suit. It’ll take you from closing deals in the boardroom to swanky restaurants at night while looking incredible whilst you’re at it.
A great suit can make an average looking man look awesome and a great looking man look like James Bond.
You buy everything else online, so what not buy a suit? They seem competitively priced and you can shop from the comfort of your sofa.
What could go wrong?…
Unlike watches or groceries, the most important parts of a suit are the fit and construction which are very difficult to judge through a computer screen.
With that said, here are some handy pointers when buying your next suit online that will hopefully save you some headaches.
You need to know at least 3 measurements before you buy a suit either online, bespoke or in store. They are –
Chest: Measure around your chest, under your armpits. The tape should look much like how you’d wear a towel if you had boobs.
Waist: Measure your waist around the part where your pants would normally sit. Add a gap of around 2 fingers tucked into the tape to give you a little breathing room.
“Length”: This one is a little more subjective and might need you to try on a couple of versions of the jacket to get it just right. I’m 6ft4inches and I have to go for “long” version of suit jackets otherwise the arm length is a little short. If you are under 6ft this shouldn’t be an issue and if you’re over, well you’re going to have to experiment a little as it changes dramatically for each brand.
There are again 3 main options for the fit of your suit, however, there are only really two to choose from for sales professionals.
Slim: A “trendy” suit fit favored by 16-year-old kids going to their first dance. Unless you are extremely skinny (then hit the gym son) this fit is not suitable for the business environment. Again, I’m 6ft 4 inches and of a “slim” build but these suits make me look ridiculous.
Modern: This is what most in-shape men should be considering. It’s more fitted than your Dads wedding suit but doesn’t have the spray on look that high street brands like Topman push. The shoulders are still narrower than a classic fit but the armholes are higher than a slim fit so it still looks tailored.
Classic: This is the fit for the more traditional man. Considered a power suit, this is best suited to men with a bigger frame.
Be realistic. The best fitting off the rack suit, whether this it’s bought online or offline is going to need a few hundred spent on tailoring it to get it just right. It’s well worth the money.
With that said, when the suit arrives you should check it in the following areas to make sure the fit is as close as you can get it –
Shoulders: If your suit doesn’t fit in the shoulders, send it back. It’s as simple as that. The material should be snug across your back but still allow you to cross your arms. The shoulder pads should never extend beyond your shoulders when the jacket it buttoned up either.
Chest: The chest should be flat and it should keep it’s shape on your torso whilst contouring around your waist, adding to your natural lines.
Lapels: They should be bunched up or sticking out away from your chest. The lapel should be around the same width as the tie that you’re planning on wearing with the suit.
Sleeves: Suit sleeves should sit just above your wrist bone to reveal a little of your shirt underneath.
Trousers: Often neglected and the easiest thing to have tailored. You should never be wearing suit trousers that look bad. Generally (there are exceptions) the length of the trouser should sweep over the top of the shoe just a little.
I personally prefer navy blue suits in the corporate environment. They look Italian, gentlemanly and stylish. If your customers are more conservative go for grey.
Never go for black. I’ve yet to see a salesman pull it off. They either look like they’re heading home from a funeral or they’re so covered in lint that I could never do business with them.
With regards to materials – wool for winter and linen for summer. Most online suit retailers won’t offer the choice of fabric weights so know what you’re using the suit for.
As it might take a couple of tries before you find the correct fit for you, always check out the returns policy of the website you’re buying from. Often I’ll use a slightly more expensive online store because they offer unlimited free return postage.
Also, take note of the returns policy of the business. It should be a minimum of 30 days but double check just to save any confusion later on.
Finally set a firm budget before you start shopping. It’s very easy to start off wanting to spend £300 and then jumping past £500 when you start browsing. A suit might help you build trust and authority when you first meet a potential customer but it’s not going to close the deal on its own, no matter how much you spend on it. So stick to the budget.
Not sure how much you should be spending when buying a suit online? We’ve got you covered.