The business suit buyers guide
A business suit should look sharp, professional and timeless yet look effortless.
If you regularly wear a suit, you’ll want to feel confident that you’re sending the right signals and wearing tailored clothes that make people stand up and take notice.
We take a look at the most important elements of a business suit and explain that how, if done correctly, a well made and beautifully designed business suit can successfully elevate your style and status.
Our timeless, tailored suits derive from a modernised approach to Savile Row tailoring. Designer & Tailor Alexandra Wood has been named ‘’Tailor of the 21stcentury by GQ and has been listed as one of the top Savile Row tailors by Esquire magazine for 2020.
Passionate about helping to make you look ‘more’, she has an eye for style and design, where each piece is crafted to effortlessly flatter.
Our ready to wear suits have been carefully made with a high level of attention to the finer details that you’d expect from Savile Row tailoring, yet with a modern edge which oozes style and confidence.
We run you through all you could possibly need to know before buying a ready to wear business suit:
What are the best colours for a business suit?
If you were to have just three business suits in your wardrobe, we would recommend a navy, charcoal and softer blue such as a petrol blue.
Gone are the days of pin stripes and checks. Since the Wall Street crash, pin stripes have been seen as a crass business suit option. Herringbone can be a nice, subtle alternative choice.
However, do think about which colour you wear the most and which pairs best with your existing shirt and tie collection.
We find that even though a customer may buy a balance of some grey and some navy, that after a few months they find they’re drawn to the same colour time and time again. So, there’s no harm in having a full wardrobe of navy blue. In this instance, you can always choose a plain, herringbone and birds eye pattern to add some subtle differences.
How many business suits should I own?
If you are someone that wears a suit daily, then we recommend having at least three. The best way to ensure your suits last is to wear a suit one day and let it rest for a further two, and rotate accordingly. This allows for the natural fabrics to breathe and should mean that you don’t need to dry clean them too often, which can wear your suits out quicker than necessary and strip the moisture from the fabric, which is what can make a suit fabric shine faster.
How do I make sure my suit won’t crease?
Suits that don’t crease are usually made from unsavoury fabrics that although bounce back better than a boomerang, also make you sweat profusely due to the fact that they trap your body heat. This is why we will only make suits from pure, natural fabrics that both last and allow your body to breathe.
Fear not, as natural wools can also resist creasing and with the advancements of fabric technology, it’s easier to buy a suit that doesn’t crease more now, than ever before.
When buying your new suit, suits with ‘Teclana’ (a man made fibre that’s entertained with natural wools to resist creasing) and therefore keeps your suit looking in fine fettle after a long days work.
Suits that say ‘High twist wool’ are brilliant at keeping your suit bouncing back, keeping it looking sharp and crisp. A high twist wool is where the strands of the yarn are woven tighter together which allows it to bounce back into place. The bonus of this clever fabric is that it is more breathable and anti-creasing which makes for a great travel suit in particular. It is also a great choice for a Summer suit. This fabric is also highly durable even when made in a lighter weight cloth where softer, more supple fabrics would show wear and tear sooner.
The thing to bear in mind with this fabric is that it’s rougher to the touch, so if you’re after a suit that feels soft and luxurious and that drapes beautifully, this won’t be the choice for you and you may have to compromise.
For a more luxurious business suit option we recommend choosing a Super 120’s wool which is still durable but offers the softness and drape that looks expensive and feels great at the same time.
A mid-weight wool is also a great choice, as the weight works well to help the fabric bounce back, while being heavy enough to keep you looking smart and sharp all day long.
By its nature, a business suit needs to look structured and a weightier cloth works well. It needs to show that like your work, it’ll stand up to the job in hand.
What’s the best weight fabric for a business suit?
For an all year round suit, we recommend choosing a suit that sits between a 90z – 120z. Any heavier than this and it becomes too hot and weighty and any lighter, you have a suit that will be too light and would be more appropriate for a Summer suit.
Do I need an extra pair of trousers?
If you have a good range of suits and rotate them regularly enough then it’s not always necessary to buy an extra pair of trousers. However, if you’re harder on your trousers than most, then if the option is available, then you may as well go for the extra pair. They tend to be less expensive as a whole suit, than to purchase on their own at a later date.
A jacket is typically worn less, where your trousers are worn more and are put under more stress, so overall, it can be useful to have an extra pair around for if one pair suddenly gives up on you.
What’s the best way to travel with a business suit?
No matter if you’re travelling long or short haul, there are ways to pack your business suit, to ensure its looking its best. We recommend turning your jacket inside out and folding the sleeves inwards and then folding the bottom of your jacket upwards, then to fold in half and pack. This certainly looks strange but works very well. If your suit does have any creases, hotels usually have a pressing service where you can quickly pep your suit up so that it’s ready for your business meeting.
How should a business suit be cut and how should it fit?
A business suit shouldn’t draw overt attention and it should subtly display a sense of professionalism. The cut should fit well to show your level of care and attention but should not be tight or overly slim fitted. Your suit should never look ‘too trendy’ which then diverts all attention onto how cool you are, rather than look like you’re focussed on the business you are there to attend to.
A classic business suit is typically two buttoned with a classic width lapel which is 3.125” and which has two side vents rather than a single vent at the back. The shape should fit your body closely, but not ever be tight.
Below, we run through exactly what you should be looking for in terms of fit and style:
THE ALEXANDRA WOOD CUT & FIT
How should a business suit fit?
The shoulder line on your tailored suit is one of the key elements to your suiting success. 1cm too wide and you run the risk of looking like an extra from Miami Vice. 1cm too narrow and your shoulders will look too small and the overall effect of a genuinely great suit is then lost.
A sharp right angle should be aspired to, with a firm shoulder to give your upper body structure and shape.
The half back of your suit jacket also plays a major role with the shoulder seam and how the pitch of your sleeve ultimately sits, so the two go hand in hand and need paying attention to.
Your shoulder line is deemed THE most important part of your suit as the eye line naturally directs towards your shoulders, as it is the nearest point to your face. When done correctly, it can make you look a million dollars.
Another important element of your suit (Shoulders aside) is to have a clearly defined waistline. Why? Because it stops you from looking ‘boxy’ with no shape. Our secret, seam shaping is just one of the defining elements of an Alexandra Wood suit that will leave you looking your finest. We believe in the power of cut and clever seam design.
Your jacket length is critical to your suit success. A jacket that is too short can make you look heavier than you are. Opting for a jacket that disguises the top of your legs makes you look slimmer by taking the focus away from the heaviest part of your legs (around the hip/thigh area).
So, where should a jacket come to? Some tailors will ask you to place your hands by your side and cup the jacket with your hands, giving an indication of where your jacket should come to balance your proportions perfectly. However, in our view this is no good if you have particularly long or short arms.
So, in short (or not) we say your jacket should skim the bottom of your bottom. This creates a great shape whilst enhancing your waistline. Another example of an Alexandra Wood ‘how to turn heads’ secret.
HIGH QUALITY FABRICS
The fabric of your suit plays an important role in both its longevity and how it makes you look and feel. Our ready to wear suit range has been created with a pure, luxury 120z wool which has been test rubbed 64,000 to ensure it meets our high standards and yours.
Investing in quality suits means that you won’t need to make any regular shopping trip and can feel confident that you’ll have a suit collection that really lasts with an added plus that they don’t crease and stay looking sharp and crisp.
Our ready to wear suit range have been made with the same quality, details and care you’d expect from one of our made to measure suit designs and will quickly become your ideal business companion/s.
COLOUR BY DESIGN & PROFESSION
How do I choose a suit by my profession?
We’ve chosen our most popular made to measure colour selections to form a classic range of elegant suits that can be worn easily for a business or for an occasion. From a classic navy to a softer petrol blue, we describe which suit would be most appropriate for each situation or occasion.
Depending on the type of business you’re in, you’ll find that certain colours work best. Here is our short guide:
- Navy, a rich dark navy is ideal for all round business use. Navy blue has been proven to be one of the most trusted suit colours. A colour of trust and loyalty, so is a great choice for most sectors. This is usually chosen by those who work in legal and financial sectors.
- Petrol, a soft blue that is a little less formal and more friendly. Petrol blue is a flattering colour for most skin tones and looks great with number of shirt/tie combinations. This suit would lend itself well to those who are in less formal jobs and who can allow their personalities to shine through a little.
- Charcoal - A classic, timeless colour that is considered one of the most professional. This is the most formal colour in the business suit offering but again works well with a number of accessory combinations. This is another great suit option for those again working in legal and financial sectors.
- Alternative City offers a great alternative choice to a classic navy, with a subtle yet effective puppy tooth design. An idea choice if you work in a creative environment and can be a great cross over suit to wear for occasions.
- Bright Spark, a vibrant, warm blue is ideal for creative types and is a fun way to spice up your working wardrobe and can successfully be worn for more occasions such as weddings or christenings. This look lends itself well to the shirt being left slightly unbuttoned and worn with no tie.
CONSTRUCTION OF YOUR SUIT
The internals of your suit are just as important as the external and help to form the ultimate shape of your suit and done incorrectly can let your suit down rapidly. Done correctly, then your suit is sharp, elegant and defined.
Each suit is made with a half canvas which gives definition and shape to your chest. The half canvas is lightly stitched throughout the chest of the suit rather than a cheaper method of ‘gluing’ a canvas which makes a suit look stiff and without movement an can start to bubble shortly after its first dry clean.
A high quality canvas allows for free flowing movement and a superior fit. The purpose of a canvas interlining is to help give the suit jacket support for its shape, a bit like a skeleton - indeed, this internal layer (along with other hidden components, such as shoulder padding) also known as the suit’s “structure”.
Our ready to wear suits are also made with a soft yet structured shoulder, with light padding which frames your body perfectly.
We use a 1mm stitching to complete each suit. A fine stitch around the lapels and edge are an element that is used on bespoke suits to show that they have been hand finished. Each of our suits have been individually stitched by hand.
With every suit we also choose natural horn buttons to bring your ready to wear suit closer to that you’d expect from one of our made to measure suits.
YOUR SUIT CUT
We offer a distinctive cut where shape is paramount to the success of your suit. We use our exclusive seam shaping design which has the key to your style success. It’s this that most customers comment on being subtly, yet distinctly different to most ‘off the peg’ suits.
The cut is shaped and slim yet not overly so. The shape of your suit is made to gently hug your frame in order for you to feel both confident and comfortable.
THE ALEXANDRA WOOD DIFFERENCE
We understand the difference between a well cut suit made from a quality fabric made with a special cut that exudes confidence and flatters one’s body shape. We create a defined waistline that no matter your size, gives the illusion of slenderness.
This combined with our quality construction and luxurious fabrics makes for a far superior suit to that you’d usually find.
Our suits offer an effortless elegance with subtle details and fit that make it different to those usually bought ‘ready to wear’ or ‘off the peg’. A two buttoned jacket whether with a notch or peak lapel will make you look suitably improved, with the top position of the button being in just the right place- can make all the difference
BUILT FOR COMFORT
The fabrics we choose are smooth, weightless and comfortable to wear. Gone are the days of heavy fabrics with little movement and have been replaced by mid to light fabrics which better suit the way we live today (and our heavy use of air conditioning) paired with you guys tending to overheat.
Sizing True to size so please do choose the size you would usually take, unless you prefer it roomier, then we advise choosing a size up.
Customers remark on how well our suit range fits and note the difference from most ordinary suits they’ve bought in the past.
We are happy to advise you as to what size you would need either via our live chat service (click bottom right on ‘chat with us’) or via Facetime.
We leave around 2’’ seam allowance (which in simple terms means fabric you can use to let the suit out easily to make larger if required) Which is unlike most suit manufacturers who leave a minimal amount of seam allowance for cost cutting purposes.
We make all of our trousers with an unfinished trouser length for you to choose your desired final trouser length.
Our suit trouser length runs up to a possible 36” inside leg when hemmed.
- LAPELS We design our suits with a single lapel which has a classic width of 3.125” This width is both elegant and timeless, meaning you’ll always look classic.
- VENTS We cut side vents, as they sit better than a single vent and look more elegant, where a single vent tends to look more casual and is a better choice for casual sports jackets.
- STYLE Single breasted with two buttons, where the top button is placed at the most flattering point of your waistline. Too high, your body can look ‘boxy’ and too low doesn’t make your suit look sharp enough.
- CUFFS Sham buttons on your cuffs mean that it is easier for the sleeves to be altered and adjusted if needs be. A sham cuff is a ‘faux’ button hole stitching which can be removed to enable the button hole to be placed elsewhere to be able to shorten the sleeve and allow for the usual distance between the bottom of the cuff and the first button to be as it should be.
- WAISTBAND We choose metal side straps, as they allow you to adjust your trouser waist in or out depending on your current size and helps the front of the waistband to look clean and sharp.
- TROUSER LINING We line our trousers from the top of the waistband to the front of the knee with a comfortable, non-static lining which makes your trousers both more comfortable and durable.
- REINFORCEMENTS We reinforce our trouser crotch for durability and comfort as we know that this can be a key area where men tend to find their trousers wear out
- WAISTBAND Our trouser waistband has been reinforced and is so comfortably sturdy that a belt isn’t required unless you wish to add one for style preference. They also come with a rubber shirt grip inside, helping to keep your shirt firmly in place, ensuring that your entire look is as sharp as it should be.
WHERE OUR SUITS ARE MADE
All of our ready to wear suits are made in Europe and have been for the past 14 years and are made ethically. We take quality very seriously and ensure that we always provide you with a unique and top class product.
After our suits are made they are quality checked on our fit mannequins to fully inspect each and every garment before it leaves our workshops and into our store.
BUYING SUITS ONLINE
We can guide you via our live chat (Click tab bottom right of our website), where you will be advised by real and fully knowledgeable stylists or alternatively we can schedule an appointment for you via Facetime so that we can advise you on the best colour and size choice for you.
BUYING SUITS IN STORE
You’ll be offered advice on what colour, shade and cut will suit you and be recommended any alterations we’d advise to make your suit look even more flattering.
WHO’S WORN OUR SUITS
Our suits have been worn by some of the most high profile men in Britain and come highly reviewed from CEO's to Politicians. Chuka Umunna was named as GQs Top 50 best dressed man in consecutive years when seen wearing our suits. Rupert Goold was spotted wearing two of our smoking jacket suits to the BAFTA awards for the release of the film ‘ Judy’ in which Renee Zellwegger won Best Actress.
DELIVERING YOUR NEW SUIT TO YOU
Our suits come to you delivered with a branded suit cover and natural wooden hanger, ready for you to hang with pride in your wardrobe.
Deliveries and returns in the UK are free of charge and Deliveries are also complimentary Worldwide but you would be responsible for returning items tracked.
Also available is our Wait & Try service where our stylist will deliver your suit or any order over £500 to your home for you to try. During current circumstances, they will deliver your items safely to your door and wait for you to try. When restrictions lift, we are happy to advise you on fit just as we would for you in store. Should you require any alterations, we can pin these for you, take away and send back to you fully altered. (Alteration charges would be according to our current price list)
Alterations can be made for you and will be charged at our basic alteration prices.
Investing in quality clothing is a great decision as it means you’ll be wearing something that you truly enjoy wearing, that’s comfortable and will ultimately last.
However, they do need taking care of and that can be the downside, but do it properly and you will have treasures that last for years to come.
We walk you through what will be needed to ensure the quality remains the same as when you first bought it.
HOW AND WHEN TO DRY CLEAN YOUR SUITS
Your suits needn’t be cleaned as often as you may think and we tend to advise visiting the dry cleaners sparingly.
Dry cleaners tend to use strong detergents and can strip the natural moisture out of your suit.
Suits should be spot cleaned where possible and we advise using a natural fabric freshener to lift any odours from under the arm areas.
Where possible, we advise using an eco-friendly dry cleaner who uses natural products that will help to keep your clothes looking as lustrous as when you first bought them.
WHEN TO UPGRADE TO MADE TO MEASURE OR BESPOKE
A ready to wear suit is an ideal choice if you are a standard size and only need minor adjustments. If you are not a classic size 40’’ chest for example and have to have your suit heavily adjusted then this is when it may be time to choose a made to measure suit.
The added bonus of a made to measure suit is that you are advised on what will suit you exclusively and you have more choice of ranges of fabric, styles and fit. You can read more about our made to measure suits here.
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