Whilst we can espouse and preach the cost-per-wear approach ad nauseam, sometimes your rational, long-term mind and your bank balance don't see eye-to-eye. Fortunately, affordable suiting has become commonplace and you can buy a decent suit off the rack for less than the price of a few concert tickets. However, don't just grab the first suit on the rack in front of you. Read ahead to understand the key features of your new suit’s construction and the accessories to lift your look to a 10/10.
A budget suit is not a time for experimentation. Stick to a neutral hues such as black, navy or grey as darker shades make it more difficult to spot a budget fabric’s flaws. Loud colours and patterns draw the eye toward them and the less you have invested in your ensemble, the more you want to avoid scrutiny.
A simple trip to the tailor’s will fix almost high street sin from your latest, bargain purchase. With suiting, fit is everything- you will always look better in a well-tailored $200 suit than an ill-fitting $2000 designer alternative. But of course, tailoring has its limits, and the shoulders of the jacket must sit right. Try the jacket on with the shirt you will normally pair with it– you’re looking for a sleeve seam that sits against your arm, for the collar to lightly touch your neck and shoulder fabric that lies flat. Everything else can be tweaked and tailored accordingly.
The canvas inside your jacket fabric is what gives it shape. In more expensive suits, the canvas is hand-stitched to move when you do, however, budget alternatives are usually glued instead. These ‘fused’ jackets do not mould to your body and can come unstuck if they get wet, or if stored on the floor, creating air bubbles that pucker your lapels. Your money goes furthest with a half-canvassed jacket, which has a stitched chest but glue lower down, so you get better shape where it’s most visible. To check, pinch your potential purchase between the buttons and if you can’t feel another layer between the fabric, put it back on the rack.
Avoid using an iron at all costs as heat will quickly turn your matte suit fabric extremely shiny. Invest in a steamer instead to smooth out stubborn lines, especially at the elbows and knees. To store your suit correctly and avoid any unflattering stretching, swap your wire hangers for wide-shouldered wood.
The right accessories can transform any outfit, so when your budget is tight, divert your funds to investments that offer better returns. An extra $100 buys a tie that elevates your entire outfit, or a fitted, double-ply shirt that distracts from where you have been thrifty.