How to buy a suit


A colleague recently asked me for advice on buying a suit – probably navy, certainly single-breasted, possibly three-button. It’s the kind of everyday question that I get asked a lot, and probably concerns far more people than ‘Which French tailor has the best finishing?’

So here’s a guide through the posts on Permanent Style that should help answer that question. Even with the new categorisation system, I realise it’s not always easy to find the exact post you want. 

1 – How to look good in a suit

General advice on both buying and wearing suits. A good place to start.

2 – How to find a quality suit

What to look for in a ready-to-wear suit, from canvas to stitching, in one of my columns for How to Spend It, the Financial Times magazine

3 – Style and colour

A much broader area this, and one that has never been covered in a single post for that reason. I recommend looking through the Reader Question and How to Wear It sections, however, as that covers most of the points. 

2 – How to have a suit altered

If you’re going for ready-to-wear, you should have the suit altered, at least somewhere. This post has become a reference tool for such alterations, with 37 comments since it was first posted five years ago. Remember to glance at the comments on all posts – often the follow-up question you had will be answered there.

3 – Going to the tailor

If you decide to go for bespoke, read this post. Given my colleague is in Hong Kong, bespoke is a very real possibility. But you need to know what you want, and be firm with it.

I hope that’s helpful. I do notice there’s no post that deals with style basics such as 2 vs 3-button however, or navy vs grey. I’ll put that on the list. And if anyone wants a lot more people, there is also of course my book