Getting Started and How to Fit a Suit: #30folds30days, Three Stairs Fold, Day 10

So, this was supposed to be 30 folds for 30 days. However, my lovely friend’s wedding yesterday kept me busy and I didn’t have a post up. So hopefully I’ll try to catch up and do a day with two folds. However, this is around 10 days in. 1/3 of the way done. And I think I’ve given a lot of good points on a style ethos, and the pocket square folds themselves are useful, but there is so much more practical information that is really required if you are trying to dress better. However, the important thing is to start. Just like with anything in life, this blog, dressing well, or forming any other new habit or venture, you have to take the first step. And keep going. Even if you miss a day.

If you have no suits, no ties, no dress shoes, and no clue as to wear to start, I would implore you not to rush off to a Macy’s. A single afternoon of purchases, without any clue of what you’re looking for, and little guidance will leave you at the mercy of whatever sales associate is on duty at the time. You may luck out and find someone competent, who knows something about what they’re talking about and can help, but you also could get someone who just started and could leave you in a poorly fitting, poorly tailored suit. And also sell you a pair of square toed shoes. If you take nothing else from this blog: Never buy square toed shoes. 

There’s a big difference between wearing a suit, and wearing a suit that fits. A lot of people advise on purchasing Made to Measure Suits, and with the introduction of sites like Black Lapel and IndoChino it’s really easy to get a Made to Measure suit. They have options that start at under $400, which is about the retail price for most suits that you’ll get in department stores, and the difference in fit is astronomical.

(credit: Fine Young Gentleman Blog, 10 tips to buying made to measure suits)

However, made to measure takes time, and may not always be an option. Also, if you see a $900 suit on sale for $200, you should probably buy it…if it fits you. I’ve gotten at least half a dozen nice suits for around $200 thanks to patience and sample sales.

There are a few things to look for in a suit to make sure it fits properly. The first being shoulders.

This is the key, because if a jacket doesn’t fit in the shoulders, it is one of the most expensive things for a tailor to have to alter. A few things to look for.

First, Shoulder divots. They look like this:

Generally, that is an indication that the suit does not fit, and is too large. Similarly, if the pads extend out too far and create any kind of divot on the top of the shoulder of the suit, is also too large. Look for a suit that fits comfortably, not snuggly, in the shoulders without producing any divots, too long shoulder pads, or other issues.

Second, you should also watch for pulling in the back of the suit, as that suggests that the suit is too tight.

There is also collar separation and bunching. Which is caused by a suit either being too large, too small, or just not being made and/or fitting right. Poor Kanye is even a victim of collar separation.

Additionally, make certain that the button on a jacket closes comfortably over the gentleman’s stomach. Is should sit as if it just fits, without creating pull on the fabric of the suit. At the same time you don’t want to appear to be swimming in it, otherwise it looks like you’re wearing your fathers suit.

Finally, for the jacket portion, there are the sleeves. A jackets sleeves should sit just around the wrist. If it goes beyond the area where the base of the thumb meets the wrist it is too long and will need to be taken up. Additionally a jacket should not sit so far above the wrist that you can see more than 1/2 inch of shirt cuff. Jacket sleeve length can be fixed easier than shoulders, but if there are functional buttons, this may cause a problem, as then the jacket will need to be taken up from the shoulder.

And last but not least regarding pants. Most suit pants come unfinished, and need to be hemmed before worn. Even suit separates that come with pre-finished pants should be checked out to make sure they sit properly. There are usually three ways to have pants on a suit finished. Full break, medium break, and no break. There is also a quarter break in between medium and none, but this is likely in response to the shortening of mens pants.

The modern and trendy look is no break. Classic is more of a half break. If you only own one suit, and plan on only ever having one suit, I would not recommend no break on the pants, and would instead go half or quarter.

So, follow these rules, and hopefully you won’t end up looking like you’re wearing your dad’s suit.

Today’s pocket square fold is one of my favorites. It’s called the three stairs fold. This one is somewhat more difficult, as was yesterdays, and this one may require an iron in order to get a really crisp look.

1. Start with your square. You will definitely need a flat surface for this fold.

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2. Fold in half diagonally.

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3. Now take the top half of your diagonal fold and pull it back until you’re about 1/2 to 1 inch from the half fold.

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4. Now fold it back up towards the top.

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5. Repeat this process folding back towards the first fold, but again leaving some fabric.

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6. Then fold back up to the top.

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7. You should at this point have three folds of fabric. This would be a good time to iron. Now carefully grab this near the center.

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8. Fold this in half leaving the three folds that you created on the outside of this fold. Now it just needs to be sized in for one’s pocket. This could also be the point where you could iron.

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9. Fold in one side.

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10. And the other to lock in the fold and make it fit in your pocket.

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11. Place in pocket and make final arrangements. This fold, even though it is somewhat complicated, does not require a lot of fussing with throughout the day.

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The Three Stairs fold  is one of my favorites. Elegant but interesting and at home in business or festive gatherings. Any questions or comments: seamus@smkstyle.com.

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