The question about how to buy a men’s suit in Silicon Valley always comes up with my male clients. Admittedly, not every man in Silicon Valley even thinks he should own a suit. I’m not trying to encourage people who live a more laid back work and lifestyle to change how they work and live. But one thing is for sure. Every man should invest in at least one good suit. The more often a man has the need for a suit, the more of them he should own.
So, even if you happen to be a wardrobe minimalist, take heed. Here’s what you need to know.
It’s most important to think through all the probable occasions when you would have use for a suit. Be honest about this. If you could conceive of wearing suits for business and social occasions, you’ll want more suits in your wardrobe. If the purpose of your suits is strictly business, you’ll need a small variety of suits that allow for the versatility of your dress furnishings, such as dress shirts, ties, leather accessories, and even sportswear items such as non-dress shirts, and knits. If you know that the only business you’ll be doing in a suit is something social, this will likely affect the type of suit you will own. One note of caution about your mindset around when you think you’ll wear your suits. Even if you’re all business in your suits, there will be an occasion for wearing a suit out socially. That suit should be different than your work suits so you don’t feel like you’re working when you put on that suit.
So what should your suit or suits look like? Based on the occasions that dictate when you’ll wear a suit, there are many other considerations to think about. Will the suit have a relaxed fit with fuller shoulders and with ease at the waist? Or will the suit have a more precise fit, with shoulders that fit to yours, and with a more defined waist? How about the fabric choice? If you wear suits often, you will want to select a fabric that is more durable. If you wear a suit for special occasions, you may want to select a suit with a more luxurious fabric that doesn’t feel or look ordinary.
Color is also a major consideration. Not every color looks good on everybody, and not every color is appropriate for all occasions. For instance, wearing a black suit is typically inappropriate for a work situation. It looks austere and distant. What you want is to find the right blues and grays that provide you with the greatest versatility. There are also opportunities to bring in earth tones, especially if your personal coloring has warmth to it, such as brown hair, eyes, or darker skin. Navy blue is a neutral color that anyone can wear, especially for business. If your eyes are in the brown or green family, you can bring in accessories that “tie” the total look back to you. Midnight blue is even dressier than black.
You may also have texture and pattern considerations to make. Looser weave textures look more informal, as compared to smoother fabrics. If you’re in a more conservative business setting, striped fabrics will be totally appropriate. But wearing a striped suit out socially will make you look like you don’t own a suit for special occasions, or it will make you look stuffy or even out-of-date.
As if those considerations aren’t enough, then there are the finer details. Lapel choices are either the more typical notch style, or the bolder peak style. Even the lapel width is the topic of great discussion. Narrower lapels are seen as modern and youthful, but can be worn by a more man as long as all of the related accessories also have a streamlined design. Lapels that are of a more standard width are considered more traditional and can be worn by anyone. One of the biggest cautions about lapel widths is that the wrong choice could make your neck look too thick or your shoulders too broad. So when you try suits on, check those proportions.
Will the suit pants be flat front or pleated? Then there are issues related to garment construction. A less expensive suit will use glue to adhere layers of fabric in place. That’s known as fusing. The level above that uses a floating canvas secured in place by fusing. The best construction is entirely canvas.
If you’re making all of these considerations, you may think about whether to own suits that are off-the-rack, or are made-to-measure, or are custom tailored. If you are inspired by the looks of fashion designers, the first two choices make the most sense. If you have the time, patience, and money, and are less interested in adhering to current fashion styles, the custom approach may be up your alley.
Wonderful ready-to-wear suits are available that are as good as any suit. Don’t think that because you’re considering an off-the-rack suit that it’s going to be inferior. If you think through the considerations and options I’ve shared with you about how to buy a men’s suit in Silicon Valley, you’ll make excellent buying and wearing choices.
Of course, even with all of this knowledge, it may be difficult to know what’s right for you. My specially developed style and color profiling sessions will help you get clear on what suits to own, and all of your clothing. Connect with me to learn more about this transformational experience.
Next week will be part two, the “how to wear a suit in Silicon Valley.”
Joseph Rosenfeld helps successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs transform their self-confidence by improving their personal style. Get Joseph’s free report that helps you know which “7 Ways Your Image Is Leading to Low Performance” at josephrosenfeld.com.