Twenty tips for looking sharp in a suit

Even if you're restricted to the ubiquitous work uniform, you can stay a cut above the pack.

1. Fit is everything. Even the world's most expensive suit will look bad if it isn't tailored to the contours of your body.

2. Visible stitches around the edges of your lapels (called pick-stitching) aren't necessarily a sign of a well-made garment anymore. However, they can be an attractive decorative flourish—as long as they're subtle. No contrast stitching.

3. Some say you shouldn't cut the stitching in your jacket pockets, because putting objects in them will cause your jacket to lose its shape. Don't listen. It's pointless to have non-functional pockets, and a concert ticket or a business-card holder certainly won't do any damage.

4. Some think three-pieces are stodgy, but when the waistcoat is cut close to the body and hemmed to the belt line, you'll look slim and modern.

5. Your tie bar should never be wider than your tie.

6. Always unfasten your jacket buttons when you sit. No exceptions.

7. Avoid over-accessorising. If you're already wearing a pocket square and a tie bar, you'll want to reconsider that clever lapel pin.

8. A dark, patterned pocket square provides a welcome visual anchor to a light-coloured suit.

9. Save the bulky shock-resistant sports watch for the gym or your outdoor-adventure excursions. It has no place with a suit.

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10. Save yourself some embarrassment: Always remove the stitching on the vents and the label on the left sleeve before wearing a new suit.

Patrick Grant, the owner of the Savile Row fixtures Norton & Sons and E. Tautz, shares his tailoring tips.

11. Get a uniform

“Men do well when they find something that works for them and stick to it, rather than continually try to reinvent the wheel. One of our customers must have 20 double-breasted jackets in the same cut. If you establish your own sense of style, you don't subject yourself to the vagaries of fashion.”

12. You can't beat English tailoring

“I have friends who wear Italian-style suits, which are softer and have less structure. But I prefer English tailoring, which gives suits more shape and a well-defined shoulder. To me, it just looks sharper.”

13. Mind your silhouette

“You can tell a good handmade suit by looking at it from 50 yards off—it's about overall harmony and balance. The trousers should be slim, the shoulders narrow, the waist nipped.”

14. Don't go too short

“A suit jacket should come down to the first knuckle on your thumb. Too many people are cutting short jackets now, and they just make men look too heavy in the middle.”

15. Go for side vents

“Most of the suits being made on Savile Row have two vents because it's considered almost cheap work to do fewer. A jacket with one vent or no vents uses much less cloth, and it's much less sewing.”

What to look for before you buy

16. When your jacket is buttoned, you should be able to fit a fist between your chest and the fabric - no more, no less.

17. Before buying a suit online, try it on in a store first to make sure the shoulders fit, as sizing varies widely among brands.

18. Your jacket sleeves should reveal about 1.5 cm of shirt cuff. If they don't, try a short size instead—you could save yourself a trip to the tailor later on.

19. Choose fabric according to how often you'll wear the suit. The most versatile option is a soft but durable wool like super 120 (a measure of yarn fineness; any higher is too delicate for daily use).

20. Your pants should sit at your waist (not your hips). You should be able to fit one finger into the waistband comfortably.

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