When I was in the garment business I learned about the 3 F’s: fabric, fit, and finish. You need to pay atten- tion to ALL three of the F’s. 1. Fabric Until you learn about thread counts and fabric blends and the different wools, you just need to trust me on this: Hartmarx or Brooks Brothers, suits. If you really want to step up to the plate, Cavali or Hickey Freeman (about $1,800 dollars). Go with their classic cuts, and rely on the tailor to fit your particular frame. Just ask for a “three season” worsted wool. If you buy a “tropical weight” (10 to 12 ounces) and you live in the Northeast, you’ll only get to wear it four or five months without looking like you just flew up from Miami. If you get a “winter weight” (16-20 ounces) and you live in Malibu, you’ll sweat through the fabric and faint while you’re in line for your kale juice. Fortu- nately, the National stores (Nordstrom is the best at everything) only carry the proper weight fabrics for the particular climate you are shopping in. Having said this, make sure you ask. You are your own style advocate; take some time to learn how to do it right. 2. Fit This is the most important lesson you can ever learn. The suit needs to fit, from all angles. It can’t float away from the shirt collar; it can’t fall too far off your shoulder. You can’t look like a boy wearing Dad’s suit. The pants need to break just as they ap- proach the shoe, leaving a slight pinch in the drape as the fabric hits the shoe’s upper. No soggy bottom in the back, no crotch grabbing in the front. If you decide to buy a double-vented suit, you better be thin, and the vents better be tacked down to about 3 inches from the suit coat’s hem. If you leave the double vents open all the way up, the way Prince Charles does? You will be walking around with a big floppy flap like you did when you were three years old wearing those trap-door footy pajamas. Fit is critical. Spend the money on the suit because wherever they sell $1,000 suits they employ $1,000 tailors. If the armhole is tight? If the fabric gathers just below the yoke? Get it fixed. Pay attention to the details. And don’t be shy. Tell them: “I want an inch and a half cuff”. If they say: “these pants have a peg-leg and will look stupid with cuffs”, you bought the wrong suit. My Last Cheap Suit A fully hand- stitched suit will have a full length inner canvas that floats in between the suit fabric and the suit liner, allowing for a better feel and a better drape. C. TheThree F’s The “ready-to-wear” suits use a fused process that won’t stand up to the test of wear and time (and dry cleaning)...trust me, I have made every mistake at least once. I’ll never forget this really cool suit I bought when I lived in Chicago 20 years ago. It was a summer weight, olive suit. Yes, I said olive. I’m not proud of that. After about a year the fabric started showing small bubbles across the chest panels... The fused liner had detached from the suit fabric, causing a phenomenon known in the cheap suit business as “bubbling”. That olive drab classic suit now sleeps with the fishes.