Will I turn my fancy suit into a clown suit?
August 19, 2009 12:01 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to buy a new suit. I'd also like to lose a lot of weight. Will the suit still look alright if I lose 60 lbs and have it altered, or should I just wait until I lose the weight?

I recently started a new job and have some extra money to spend on some upgraded clothing. The suit isn't a requirement of my job, but I'd like to look extra sharp now that I can afford a suit that fits properly.

On the other hand, I'd also like to lose a fair amount of weight. I'm currently about 5'9" and 220 and I'd like to gradually get down to about 160. Obviously, if I lose that much weight, my current suit will no longer fit.

So, if I have a suit altered to fit me after losing 60 lbs, will it still look decent? Would a jacket/blazer/sport coat be easier to alter than the slacks? Or will I look like a mess either way?

If the answer is yes to the latter question, I'll keep my suit money in the bank.
posted by abkadefgee to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
As a rule, slacks are a ton easier to modify than jackets. But that much weight loss is going to mean major surgery on both, to the point that I'd definitely advise delaying the suit purchase till after the weight loss.

On the upside, the "wow I look amazing" factor in this suit is going to be even more extreme, and it'll make a great motivation for the weight-loss.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:06 PM on August 19, 2009

If you lost 60 pounds, you'd obviously need it altered....like a lot. And all of that altering comes at at a steep price, especially for jackets.

I'd keep your money in the bank until you lose the weight. Maybe make it an incentive to lose the weight.
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 12:07 PM on August 19, 2009

You can only alter slacks so much -- generally the easy way they do it is to take out material at the back seam. I lost a bunch of weight and had my suit slacks altered, and now the side pockets are REALLY far back.

I assume there are other ways, but I get the impression they get much more expensive.

I would wait until you've lost the weight to buy the suit.
posted by Comrade_robot at 12:09 PM on August 19, 2009

I am six feet tall and went from 225 to 190. I went to a suit store with a suit I bought at 230 another I bought at 215 and had since gotten to 190. Guess which one was salvageable? Tailors say they can't alter a suit from a size 46 to a size 40 without essentially taking 'the reason' out of the suit. I KNOW you are better off waiting until you actually drop the weight.
posted by parmanparman at 12:10 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would go ahead and buy the suit. As someone who's weight has changed dramatically (in both directions), I find that it's easiest to lose weight when I feel like I look good. And I feel like I look good when I wear stylish clothes that fit me well. Having a suit that fits you well now (and makes you feel good) may actually help you toward your goal of losing weight.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:10 PM on August 19, 2009 [7 favorites]

I have lost about 85 pounds in the last year, and I have not been able to salvage a single item of dress clothing. I went from a 52 to a 44 (shoulders) and from a 48 to a 36 (pants). I had five or six suits, as well as assorted jackets, slacks and dress shirts, and not a single item could have been altered successfully.

If your question is "should I buy a suit," then I think there need to be more criteria than whether the suit will fit after dropping 60 pounds. But on the basic question of the suit, I don't think any tailor can drop a suit by more than a couple sizes without it becoming shapeless and having really odd proportions.

This is kind of gross, but the most amazing thing about losing a bunch of weight is how much drops off of places that you didn't even think were fat. I would have guesses that 90% of the weight I needed to drop was in my gut, but I have been amazed to look at old pictures and see how much fat there was in places like my neck and upper back. Your whole shape changes.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:20 PM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

First of all: ocherdraco is completely right. You should get a suit that makes you look and feel great now.

However, you can't necessarily expect the suit to fit you properly after you lose the weight. One thing I've discovered as I've lost weight is that my body proportions are changing along with my weight loss. It's not just me, thinner; some bits of me are losing weight faster than others, and my shape is changing. That means that styles that used to look great on me don't look great on me anymore. Even if you are able to find a tailor to cost-effectively cut down the suit to your new measurements, you may well find that the style of the suit no longer suits you.

Perhaps you can try to get a suit at a reasonable price now (shop outlets, etc.), and start saving money for the new suit you're going to get later.
posted by ourobouros at 12:23 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

The most direct answer to your question is that you should wait until you've lost the weight before buying a suit. As others have said, it wouldn't work to have a suit altered to accommodate a 60lb weight loss.

With that said, there's no guarantee that you will lose the weight. I'm not trying to discourage you, but as someone who has bought clothes a size too small, or held out buying certain nice things until I was at an "ideal" weight, it's kind of a depressing mindset. And losing weight is not easy, so banking on being happy with your body "someday" is a recipe for unhappiness. One school of thought is that you should buy clothes for the body you have now, not the one you hope to have in the future. You will look and feel good if you have neat, well-fitting clothing now, and as ocherdraco says this may even spur you to lose weight to feel even better about yourself.

But, a suit is a big investment, and if you have set in motion lifestyle and behavioral changes that will likely lead to weight loss, by all means hold out for awhile on the suit and see how the weight loss goes. It is not an impossible dream to lose weight, so good luck and I hope you achieve your goal.
posted by JenMarie at 12:29 PM on August 19, 2009

There is a limit to how much something can be taken in before it becomes necessary to recut the fabric to a smaller pattern, or as comrade_robot said you end up with parts of the outfit in places they aren't supposed to be. Altering a suit that much is essentially the same as making a new suit, and would be very expensive.

It's going to take some time to lose that much weight-- I would buy the suit now, have it altered when you get halfway to your goal, then buy a new one when you reach it. That will give you good looking clothes all through the process.
posted by InfidelZombie at 12:50 PM on August 19, 2009

I watch too much "What Not To Wear" and they stress: "Always dress the body you have now".

Maybe spend a decent amount on a suit now, and when you hit 160 pounds splure on something really nice as a reward to yourself for all your hard work. (I do think you'll probably need a new suit after losing 60lbs).

Good luck with losing the weight, but live in the now. You won't lose the weight immediately, so you'll still have a few months to enjoy the suit.
posted by backwards guitar at 1:04 PM on August 19, 2009

Wait, and use it as a reward for when you lose the weight.

Damn I look gooood! = Positive reinforcement.
posted by rokusan at 1:04 PM on August 19, 2009

Nthing ocherdraco and InfidelZombie.
posted by jgirl at 1:05 PM on August 19, 2009

You can always consign the suit when you lose the weight, or just feel good giving it away along with your other "fat clothes." I am frequently guilty of buying clothing too small, and it is really depressing and has, I think, had the opposite effect than intended. Buy the nice suit because you can, and because it will make you feel good in the short-term. When you're at your goal weight...treat yourself with more nice clothes! Your newfound paycheque isn't going anywhere (hopefully).
posted by Pomo at 1:07 PM on August 19, 2009

Wait until you have dropped the weight. You should always strive to buy a suit that only needs the least adjustments (pant length, waist, sleeves). Really a no-brainer here.
posted by Zambrano at 1:07 PM on August 19, 2009

60 pounds is drastic weight. I'd wait it out. As others have said, use it as a reward.

In the meantime, spend a reasonable amount of money on a jacket. A nicely tailored jacket with darker pants will look almost as nice as a full suit. That way you still feel great, but don't have to jettison a suit you love.
posted by gagoumot at 1:10 PM on August 19, 2009

Get the suit. Look awesome.
When you've lost some weight, get a new suit. Look awesome.

I started wearing suits at 220 lbs. understanding that I'd be losing weight and that I wouldn't get to keep them forever. Admittedly, I was saving money by buying second-hand suits from Goodwill and having them altered. $12 suit in good condition + $50 cheap & dirty tailoring = a good short-term solution while I get to my target weight. When I'm leaner and meaner I'll go for the longer-term, better-tailored, more expensive suit.

But all that's an aside.

Get the suit. Look awesome.
posted by lekvar at 1:36 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Well, you guys have done it again. I ask for a simple answer, and you give me things to think about. Sheesh!

But seriously, it's good to know that yes, altering to the degree I described would be ridiculous, and also good to hear the varied perspectives on whether to buy now or later.

I think I'll give the local thrift stores a second look and check out tailors. If I'm lucky, I'll find something wool or cotton in my size, but is there anything else you'd suggest I look for in a used suit?
posted by abkadefgee at 2:11 PM on August 19, 2009

Response by poster: Also, by the way, I found an amazing trench coat the other day for very cheap, but the sleeves are too long. Is altering the sleeves on a mass-market synthetic/rubberized jacket like that feasible? Just a curiosity as long as we're discussing alterations.
posted by abkadefgee at 2:16 PM on August 19, 2009

To answer your second question, shortening the sleeves of a jacket is child's play compared with taking in a suit three sizes as discussed above.

If they're straight-across sleeves, unlined, that is easiest, but even with a) lining; b) buttons/snaps; or c) elastic, it is still quite doable. I'd expect to pay $20ish, depending on where you take it.
posted by Pomo at 3:37 PM on August 19, 2009

You've got a new job and money to spend = awesome! Celebrate that. Look good. Buy the suit or a couple suits. Take some of that money and head to the gym. If indeed you start dropping the weight = awesome! Celebrate that with some new clothes.

I agree with all those above (though I'm guilty of your thinking as well) -- buy clothes to make you look and feel good now.
posted by amanda at 4:28 PM on August 19, 2009

Just to concretize this a bit, I'm just over 5'8" and have lost a small amount of weight in the last year -- about 15 pounds. That was accompanied by a 2.5" drop in waist measurement. Thus I now have a couple of pairs of genuine "fat jeans" that just don't fit. 15 pounds is a quarter of what you're planning on, and you're not much taller than me. Consider what your waist and chest sizes might be at your ideal weight. It's not gonna work.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:41 PM on August 19, 2009

Ignatius J. Reilly: "I have lost about 85 pounds in the last year"
May I just say... eponysterical? Or is that anti-eponysterical?

posted by alexei at 8:10 PM on August 19, 2009

Response by poster: Forgot to post back here and mark this resolved.

Thanks for your help, everyone. I've held off on the suit but been working through a fitness program. Not sure what I've lost yet, but I'm at least able to do more than a handful of push-ups :). I'll keep your advice in mind once I get down a bit further.
posted by abkadefgee at 12:41 PM on November 2, 2009

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