Buy to keep: suits and dress clothes

Whether you wear suits, pants, dresses, and skirts to work every day, or only for special occasions, you'll want to shop right so your dress clothes last. Here's how:

Buy to keep: suits and dress clothes

Buy doubles

  • Often shoppers will buy two pairs of pants to go with a new jacket, but then wear only one pair, saving the other for when the knees wear out in the first.
  • Instead, put both pair of pants in your rotation and they'll wear evenly with the jacket.

Buy for fit and comfort

• Buying a new jacket? When figuring out how well it fits, try different positions in the fitting room, such as grabbing at a seat belt, reaching for a dropped pencil, and sitting at the keyboard. Lining on a roomier jacket will survive these stress points.

• You grab the size you need in pants and head for the dressing room. But they're too tight in the waist. Grab another pair in the same size. Sometimes waist sizes can vary by as much as an inch.

• Say the pants fit fine in the waist, now what about the length? When trying on a new pair of pants, if they wrinkle upward, that means they are too short in the crotch area. If they wrinkle horizontally across your midsection, then they are too tight.

How to buy suits

Good quality suits can be expensive at the outset but will serve you better in the long term. They wear better, drape better, and retain their shape better.

Fabric

  • When selecting a fabric for your new suit purchase, wool will give you the best value. An all-wool suit should last about six years.
  • A wool blend lasts only four years and a synthetic fabric, less than four years — plus it just doesn't look as good on as a wool suit does.
  • Scrunch up the fabric of a suit you are considering purchasing. It should bounce back and not wrinkle at your touch.

Styling

  • Consider the style of the suit. While three- and four-button jackets are popular for men's suits, the classic look is for just two buttons on the front of the jacket. That style will never fade.
  • Pants are also a consideration. Cuffed pants are considered more formal, as are pants with front pleats. Uncuffed pants and those with a flat front are considered informal.
  • They should hang from your waist, not your hips. In addition, they should break near the tops of your shoes.

Fit

  • Figure out the fit. Shoulders of the jacket shouldn't be too square or slope too much. Make sure you can see your shirt collar over the jacket collar.
  • Your shirtsleeve should peek out about one centimetre (1/2 inch) from the jacket sleeve.

For women

  • Keep things basic when buying a suit. A simple black, blue or tan suit can be dressed up or dressed down — or used with other pieces to create different looks.
  • Buy suits a little larger. If you are between sizes, buy up. A larger size will look better than a tight-fitting one.
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