Whether you're a seasoned 3L looking to diversify your wardrobe (or you need a new wardrobe after three years of lunchtime "pizza provided" meetings and lectures), a 2L looking to start your wardrobe, or an honest, no-foolin' lawyer who hasn't bought a new suit in years, the fact is: You need a suit. (It actually is necessary to keep up with contemporary styles so that you don't look like you bought your suit in the 1970s.)
We come in all different shapes and sizes (full disclosure: Your author is a spindly gentleman), and as it turns out, not buying a suit right off the rack is difficult for many people.
For those of us who don't have the same proportions as mannequins, where do you find a suit that fits? Here are three practical tips:
1. Go Online.
As you might expect, the answer to the question "Where do I find a five-pound gummy bear?" is the same as the answer to the question "Where do I find a suit that fits?" If you're looking to keep costs down, the Internet is a good place to look for a suit. Websites like Indochino and Black Lapel tell you how to measure yourself (with videos!), let you enter in your measurements, and then purchase a suit made of whatever material you want, with a variety of customization options, like buttons for suspenders already built into your pants -- just in case. Three to four weeks later, a suit shows up at your door. And if you did a bad job of measuring yourself, Indochino will reimburse you up to $75 for tailoring.
Pros: Completely custom. No tailoring needed (unless it is) because the pattern was cut specifically for you. Quite cheap, actually: $299 for a two-piece suit?!
Cons: It can take up to four weeks to get a suit. There might be problems with the fit of your first suit. Made in China.
2. Go to a Store -- the Right Store.
"But I don't have an Internet!" you yell, reaching into your nearby water glass so you can throw your dentures at the computer screen. Going into a store is fine, but make sure it's the right store. If you're excessively big or tall, then by all means, go to a shop for big and tall men, where they're likely to have the sizes you need. By contrast, if you're more broom than man, consider Express or Ben Sherman. Thankfully, the "modern" or "European" (aka slim fit) look is in, so more and more retailers are selling tapered suits. Be aware of pushy salesman at large national chains who will induce you to buy a suit that really doesn't fit you.
Pros: Opportunities for sales and discounts. You get measured right there by a professional.
Cons: It still might not fit even after tailoring. Can get really expensive really quick.
3. Try the Online/Tailor Combo.
The true suit ninja can get away with buying a "blank" suit on eBay (this is a stock suit in a particular size that hasn't been altered yet) and taking it to a local tailor to be altered. If you play your cards right, you can get the low prices of an online suit with the great fit of a tailored suit. The only catch is to make sure that you know your size already. This combo will work for people who are average-sized; maybe not so much for those of us on the margins.
Pros: It can be pretty cheap, actually.
Cons: Some logistical play. Also, you need to have a tailor in mind already. (A good tailor, like a good doctor, lawyer, or mechanic, should be someone with whom you have a good relationship.)
Going solo out of school? Spend more time developing practice skills and leave the marketing work for the experts.
- How to Dress Sharp: 9 Tips for Young Men (Real Men, Real Style)
- How to Buy a Suit: The Complete GQ Guide (GQ)
- Black Suits Are For Funerals and Parties? Now You Tell Me! (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Top 10 Signs That You Dress Unprofessionally (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)