Dressing up for an occasion such as a job interview or a formal night out doesn’t have to be hard, but it’s not as simple as just putting on a nice suit, either. To make things a little easier on you, we found 10 common problems that can be fixed with a small adjustment or minor investment.
1. The shirt
The problem: Your shirt keeps untucking.
The fix: There are two reasons this might be happening. One, your shirt is not cut out for formal wear—unlike shorter casual shirts, shirts to be worn with trousers have extra material that covers the seat to ensure they don’t untuck when you sit down. Two, your shirt might be too small, and is pulling extra material from below to accommodate the chest. In either case, you may have to find a different shirt.
2. The tie
The problem: Your tie is too long, but both lengths match so you can’t shorten it further.
The fix: This is a common problem for men who prefer skinnier ties, which are often tied using the small four-in-hand knot. Using a larger knot such as a half or full Windsor will take up extra material, shortening the tie. Ideally, it should hit no further than your beltline.
The problem: Your necktie always ends up too short in the front, and too long in the back.
The fix: When you start the tying process with your tie laid flat along your neck and chest, ensure that the thin end strikes at just around your third shirt button down. This guideline takes into account your height and girth and prevents a too-short tie.
The problem: Your tie knot keeps slipping down.
The fix: The root of this problem is often the material—nylon and other shiny, synthetic fabrics tend to loosen more easily than silk and other natural materials. All ties slip a little, however. A tie bar helps fix the knot where it is with the added benefit of keeping your tie in place.
3. The jacket
The problem: The shoulders or chest of your suit jacket scrunch up, even when your hands are at your side.
The fix: Those parallel ridges that are forming between your shoulders are a telltale sign that your jacket is too small. The suit is taking extra fabric from the torso area to compensate for inadequate material. Unfortunately, you’ll have to size up.
4. The trousers
The problem: Extra material is gathering around your ankles.
The fix: That pooled fabric is known as “the break,” and it will take a tailor to get it under control. Assuming the rest of the trousers fit fine—many are sold with standard 34-inch inseams, after all—you’ll need them hemmed, which is an exceedingly simple operation for a tailor that won’t have you waiting 30 minutes.
The problem: The waist of your pants is scrunching under your belt.
The fix: If your belt is literally holding up your pants so much it’s folding the waist fabric underneath, you need a smaller waistline. This too is a simple procedure that costs very little to fix up—however, you’ll need to check how the trousers fit down your legs, as that measurement may be too large as well.
The problem: Everything fits fine up top, but your trousers are slightly too short.
The fix: Don’t panic. As long as the trousers fit perfectly at the waist and along the length of your legs—preferably a slim cut, in this case—a creative solution is throwing on some stylish socks to really own the exposed space. Fashion-forward men have been purposefully tailoring their pants short to do just that, and it’s catching on.
5. The suit
The problem: You feel overdressed.
The fix: Men these days have many options when it comes to bending the rules of a formal occasion. Although you can’t ditch the suit, shirt and tie altogether, you can find a solution for self-consciousness by adding colours, prints, patterns and accessories that will help make you feel less, well, formal. For lively shirt/suit combos, try matching bright checks with neutral suits, and pastels with navy.
The problem: It’s too hot/cold outside.
The fix: Suits aren’t built for all occasions. In the summer months, gravitate toward cotton suiting options, as well as silk and knit ties that offer more breathability. In fall and winter, pull on wool and wool-cotton blends, and if it’s particularly chilly, a wool tie on top of that.