Suit Up: 3 Ways a Good Suit Will Change Your Life
A well-fitting suit says a lot about you (and an ill-fitting one says even more). Learn how the right suit can help you get ahead.
When preparing for an interview, you’re probably focused on getting there on time, remembering your past accomplishments, and making sure not to drop any curse words in your answers. But what you wear to the interview may make an impression before your words do.
So ask yourself: Does your suit fit you?
If you’re thinking, “Of course my suits fit; they’re my size,” then you are probably missing the finer points of a good suit, and managers and clients will notice your inattention to detail. Dressing impeccably shows others that you’ll command attention and respect in the boardroom and beyond.
To truly make a statement, you need to ensure that your suit underscores the positive qualities you exhibit during the interview.
If the Suit Fits...
A suit either fits well or it doesn’t. There’s no middle ground. When you wear a suit that doesn’t fit or isn’t your style, you’ll know it — and so will everyone else.
There are 3 common problems behind ill-fitting or inappropriate suits:
They're the wrong size — If your suit’s too big, you run the risk of looking adolescent, inexperienced, or like it’s on loan. If it’s too tight, people will conclude that the suit’s old or that you have no need for one that fits properly. Whatever the assumption, your suit could mean the difference between landing that dream job and facing rejection.
The lengths are off — This applies to pant legs, shirt sleeves, and coat sleeves. To look your sharpest, the lengths have to be just right. Whether you’ve consciously realized it or not, you’ve probably noticed someone with sleeves that stick out too far or glaring high waters. The lengths of pant legs, shirt sleeves, and coat sleeves are critical characteristics of a good fit.
They’re out-of-date — If your suit is outdated, people will think you dug it out of an attic or a time capsule. If you wear a suit jacket with extra-wide lapels and oversized pinstripes, you’d better be auditioning for a role as a 1930s gangster; otherwise, you can forget about making a good impression.
The Psychology Behind a Well-Tailored Suit
What you wear tells the rest of us something about you — what you think about the world and what you expect us to think of you. It’s nearly impossible to separate ourselves from these initial judgments; it’s human nature.
Psychology Today conducted a study in which they showed 300 adults (men and women) images of a man in two different suits and asked the subjects to make “snap judgments” about the man. The study found that after just three seconds, people rated the man as more confident, successful, and flexible when he wore a made-to-measure suit rather than an off-the-rack equivalent.
These results aren’t surprising. When you look good, you radiate confidence. If you’re gunning for a promotion, your suit can play a major role in that decision.
In a recent interview for Blac Detroit, William Malcolm, a designer of men’s suits, claims that attention to detail can influence a manager’s decision. He believes that “they think if he looks that impeccable and he pays that much attention to detail, he will do that in what I need to hire him for.”
The Secret to Looking and Feeling Good
A quality suit is an investment, but it’s one with a huge return. It has the potential to impress managers and shape the way people perceive you. Beyond the size, length, and style of your suit, three characteristics separate a great suit from the duds:
- Fabric: Look for high-quality wool with a high thread count for formal suits. There are great blended materials, but the standard for business and formal affairs is wool. If it’s an everyday suit for the office, choose durability over elegance.
- Construction: Cutting and stitching requires care and craftsmanship. Examine the seams to be sure there are no ripples. These are telltale signs that your garment wasn’t crafted by a professional.
- Style: Choose a style that best fits your body type. If you have a big frame, a double-breasted suit won’t be flattering. If you’re slim, a suit coat with wide lapels will look odd.
In addition to all of these compelling reasons, a well-tailored suit will ultimately be more comfortable. If you want to land your dream job, why not spend the time and money to get a suit that fits well — it may give you the edge you needed.
Brian Zeng is the chief marketing officer of OWNONLY, an online menswear boutique that provides custom-tailored business and casual suits to customers around the world. Also a digital marketing consultant, Brian is an expert in SEO, social media, copywriting, content development, content marketing, and web design. Connect with Brian on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.