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Choosing a suit isn't difficult if you follow these basic steps with respect to fabric, fit and style. As with most things you get what you pay for but a contemporary looking business suit needn't cost the earth. If you have a reasonable budget, you will have no problem finding a great suit. There are several websites out there that will give you advice on buying a suit so I will not try to replicate these. However the advice given below is specific to choosing a suit that is suitable in an Officers Mess and would set you in good stead at AOSB.
There are a lot of different fabrics available but I would advise going for a hard
wearing fabric with a reasonably high wool content (45% or greater). Combining polyester
with wool ensures you will have a suit that has good crease recovery and will be
relatively easy to dry clean -
With respect to pattern, the best option is to go for either plain or pinstripe. My advice is to go for a clean and uncluttered fabric avoiding chequered and tartan patterns as these can be overly detailed and distracting.
If you buy from a reputable dealer they will ensure a good fit and one popular option to make sure you get a good fit is to buy a mix and match suit. A mix and match suit allows you to buy a jacket with whatever size trousers you need. This may sound obvious but many suits are sold as a two piece suit and you can't alter the jacket and trouser sizes! Beware of cowboy salesmen who are desperate to sell you anything to earn their commission. We all know the type of sales assistant I am talking about here, those who haven’t got a clue how a suit should fit and most certainly no idea how an Army Officer should dress. If possible take somebody with you who you can trust to give an honest opinion of how you look in your suit before parting with your cash.
One very useful benefit of the mix and match approach is you can buy a second pair of trousers. Very often in a military environment you will find yourself engaging in various shenanigans (usually in the bar) and although you may be able to remove your jacket before participating in a boat race, its less common that you get the chance to remove your trousers! Well, unless things go very wrong for you. This can result in your suit trousers becoming worn before the jacket. The mix and match approach allows you to buy extra trousers either when you need them or when you buy the suit ensuring you get most from your investment.
In terms of style the most popular type of lounge suit in the Officer Mess is a single breasted jacket. Double breasted sports jackets and blazers are common for more relaxed occasions but not recommended for AOSB. Make sure the stitching is as invisible as possible and avoid jackets with contrasting stitch colours.
Buttons – A lot of retailers consider 3 button jackets to be out dated but these are generally the standard in the Officers Mess. Normally a 3 button jacket is worn with only the middle button fastened. If you are struggling to find a jacket with 3 buttons then a 2 buttoned jacket will suffice but under no circumstances buy a single button jacket!
Vents & Slits -
Now that you know what your looking for go to the Buying a Suit section for more practical advice.