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How to Buy Formal Wear

If you’re used to dressing comfortably, or have perfected a personal style that’s geared toward relaxed social settings like concerts and daytrips, then buying formal wear can be a daunting proposition. It might seem like there’s a secret set of rules that cost a fortune to learn and follow. Take a deep breath and don’t worry. With the help of this guide, you’ll outfit yourself just right and skip all the costly experimentation.

What’s the Occasion?

Different occasions demand different styles. For example, the suit or dress you that’s appropriate to wear as a wedding guest is different than the one you should wear to an interview. A wedding outfit, while respectable, can incorporate vibrant patterns and colors that act as a window to your personality. Interview garb, on the other hand, should make you look sleek, professional and ready to tackle the job.

Pick the right material and color

Spring and summer pose different demands than the fall and winter months. If you’re going to be outdoors enjoying the sunshine, lighter fabrics like cotton, linen or chambray will keep you from pulling on your collar as you enjoy company. Light, or even bright and lively colors (depending on the occasion) will help you look as fresh as the season. Once the leaves start to turn, so should the shades of your dress, toward earth tones and dark or muted colors. You’ll also want to wear a heavier fabric, like wool or flannel, to keep out the chill.

A Good Tailor Makes All the Difference

Whatever the occasion, make your purchase a few weeks early. A dress or suit will look its best after a tailor alters it to perfectly rest on your body. Tailors aren’t too hard to find — you can inquire at the store where you bought your garment or ask a well-dressed friend for recommendations. Once you have numbers to a couple of shops, call ahead and ask about a specific alteration. This will help you get an idea of what their communication skills are like ¾ an essential factor achieving a good fit.

Just one, please

If you know you have very little occasion for formal wear and just want one or two swanky pieces on hand, it’s perfectly possible to find something that will suit all your needs. Whatever the main piece of the outfit, be it a suit or dress, opt for something a little more conservative that would be acceptable in a business setting. If the occasion calls for it, you can always liven it up with vibrant accessories.

To Buy or Rent

Another option, for those of you who prefer to keep it casual as much as possible, is simply to rent a piece as the need arises. You can take a designer set of threads out for a night or two for significantly less than it might cost to own a lesser piece. The drawback here is that you can’t have it tailored. You also have to make sure to return it on time, or late fees will eat up all the savings you achieved by renting.

Now you’re ready to turn heads at any event!