How to Choose a Suit or Tuxedo


If you are choosing a suit or lapel for a special occasion, you are going to have a large number of options. If you have never shopped extensively for a suit or tuxedo, you might be pretty shocked by how many options you have. There are dozens of different options for just about every piece of a suit or tuxedo. Also, there are many minute differences that can drastically change the way a suit looks or fits. You might not have opinions about every part of the suit, but you’ll need to develop opinions about many of the bigger elements of the suit. That means you need to choose the break on your pants, the style of pants, the waist, the shirt, the lapel, and the cut of the blazer. That might seem like a lot of elements, but many of the items go together.

Choosing Your Pants

Starting from the bottom up, you need to begin with your pants. You can also work from the top down; it’s your choice. Your options for pants are suit pants and tuxedo pants. Those are pretty broad places to begin. Suit pants are slacks that you’re likely familiar with; they have belt loops and sit at the waist or just below. Tuxedo pants tend to sit just above the waist, often have a satin ribbon running down the side, and do not necessarily have belt loops. When you are choosing the pants, you should choose whether or not you want belt loops. If you’re wearing a cummerbund or suspenders, you might not need belt loops. You’ll also need to choose the break, which is the point on your shoe where the pants are hemmed. They can be hemmed low, medium, or just below the ankle. All of these terms will make more sense if you visit and see examples.

Choosing the Blazer

The blazer is the largest element of a suit or tuxedo. You need to choose how it fits as well as the lapel. The different fits tend to depend on your tastes as well as your body type. There are slim fit suits, athletic fits, and more standard fits. A slim fit suit is pulled in across the chest and the waist. It fits tight to the body, and is designed specifically for those who are more slender. They might not be right for those who are larger or who have very wide shoulders. If you have wide shoulders or a broader chest, you might need an athletic cut. These suits are cut wider across the chest, but still pull in at the waist.

Finally, you can choose a more standard cut. These don’t pull in as tightly across the waist. The type of blazer you choose will inform which type of lapel you choose. A slender or athletic suit will often call for skinny lapels; the lapels should be proportional to the width of the shoulders. You can also choose a shawl lapel, which is the lapel that does not have the normal straight angles built into the lapel.