Affordable Navy Suits – The best of the best

Finding the foundation for under $400.

From the Mailbag:  Finding a good, affordable, navy suit.

Hi Joe,

I was wondering if you could recommend a navy suit for me?  I’m looking for something slightly less traditional than the standard navy color. (I can barely tell the difference between most navy suits and the charcoal suit I wear).  Something like J. Crew’s cashmere suit.  If that were in my price range, I’d get that.

- Jay

Not that long ago charcoal was the foundational suit color for most.  But in the last few years, the much more British looking navy suit with brown or even lighter cognac shoes started penetrating the American Male style psyche.  And for good reason.  Navy is more, uh, colorful than charcoal, but it remains plenty sharp and business ready.  The key is to keep it solid if you’re looking for your foundation suit, so skip the pinstripes, plaids, and ignore those tonal stripes.

A couple options follow that fulfill the following:  They’ll be wool, viewed as affordable by most, the navy won’t be too dark, the shoulder pads won’t be wildly obtrusive, and the off the rack fit will be slimmed down instead of a boxy traditional fit.  More suggestions from you guys are welcome in the comments.
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B.R. Tailored Fit Italian Wool Navy Suit Jacket & pant – $353.30 at 30% off ($505)

Size shown: 38R, which is getting tight on my frame.

This thing should be the flagship for Banana Republic suiting, but they’ve got it buried at the bottom of their website’s suit page.  Helped a friend choose a suit for his wedding and this one won easily.  Here’s why it’s one of if not the best navy suit available under $400:

  • The fabric is sourced from an Italian company and it feels noticeably different in your hands.
  • It’s lightweight, and while 100% wool, there’s enough spring and natural stretch to it that you’d think there was some synthetic mixed in there to provide that give.  But there’s not.
  • Navy, but not ultra-dark.
  • Armholes are good and high, side vents in the back, and the button stance is great.

It comes in their closer, “tailored” fit, so be prepared to size up and have the waist brought in if you’re between sizes.  Good news is that it’s not categorized as one of their “monogram” suits, which are often excluded from codes.  Their regular line gets excluded sometimes too, but wait and you should be able to get a decent discount.

 

Bar III Dark Blue Pindot – $357.00 ($595)

Size shown: 38.  The 31 waist/thighs were a squeeze.

They call it a pindot but it’s more of a worsted/navy on lighter weave.  Bar III is the one Macy’s house brand that fits real slim, has high armholes, and has subtle shoulder pads.  Peaks on the lapels are nice and small.  Fabric doesn’t feel flimsy in the least, and it’s an obvious step above Hilfiger trim fit and Alfani RED when it comes to material and construction.  Button stance leans lower which is good.  Moves real well.  Leans pretty dark, but the dots underneath gives it some visual texture/depth.  Always on sale, and currently 40% off.  A warning:  This really is an extra slim fit.  A 38 jacket comes with size 31 pants (that’s called a 7″ “drop”) and they are tight.

 

Indochino Essential Navy – $379 (and you get the $75 alterations credit)

Also seen at the top of the page.

You either love them, hate them, or understand that their sight unseen custom tailoring is a risk that often pays off thanks to the $75 re-tailoring credit.  You’re taking the risk for the minimal shoulder padding, higher than average armholes, and ability to customize the lapels, vents, add a ticket pocket, etc…  Indochino covers up to $75 in alterations if your suit isn’t perfect.  So instead of expecting perfection out of the box, think of it as a $300 off the rack suit with some expected tailoring.  Super 100s wool moves extremely well and feels super smooth in your hands.  A real dark navy though, so not for those who want something that leans more noticeably blue.

 

The Splurge:  Suit Supply Napoli Wool 110s – $469.00

Well worth it, IF… you can swing it.

There is a camp that believes buying a fused or partially fused inexpensive suit is a poor use of money.  Those people don’t quite get that spending $300 is a stretch for plenty, and there are a ton of us who have had terrific success with fused/partially fused suits over the years.  But if you do have the ability to lay $400 or more on a suit, go with SuitSupply.  They deliver incredible construction, fabrics, and off-the-rack-fit for the price.  This one is cut in their “Napoli” silhouette, which isn’t their tightest, but it’s going to be a real nice base for your tailor to work off of.  Some might be able to skip tailoring on the jacket.  Incredible bang for the buck, if you have the buck.  In person review of one of their $469 suits can be found here.

Now only if J. Crew Factory could make a Thompson Fit in navy, and we’d all be set.  Any additions to this list?  Got a lead on a dark blue but not quite navy suit (so lighter than these) that’s afforable?  Leave it all in the comments…
Also receiving votes:  Alfani RED (low-ish armholes), Hilfiger Trim Fit (strong-ish shoulder pads)
Other places scouted:  Kohl’s, JC Penny, Jos. A. Bank, & Nordstrom Rack