What went into the rankings? If a suit looks & feels B+, but it’s super cheap? Then it may rank higher than a much more expensive A+ looking/feeling suit. Cost, feel, fit, and availability all come into play, and final rankings are based on bang-for-buckitude (or, more simply, overall value). And know that we’re stickin’ with wool options here (not that a navy suit in cotton or linen is a bad idea) Leave any additions, agreements, or disagreements in the comments at the end of the post.
A new entry-level line of suiting for J. Crew. Wool/poly/Lycra spandex blend fabric. They’re still claiming these have a half-canvas construction, which is much appreciated. A bit spendy for the fabric level when full price, but J. Crew is always running sales. So wait for these to drop to around $300.
*I know. This isn’t “affordable” to most of us. But they will drop to $488.60 when 30% off. Yes, that’s still pricey. But that’s why they didn’t do better for our top ten. Keep scrolling for the better value options. These are NOT their Made in the USA 1818 suit line. I wish they were. As outstanding as those main line, USA Made Brooks Brothers suits are, they’re just a bit too pricey for this list. They’re a great investment for those who are suited up every day, and can be had on occasion, for a discount, if you buy 2 or more. But for a one-off purchase, the Italian wool BrooksCool suit looks great, moves well, and really does breathe.
No, they didn’t make it that high up on this list. They’re hardly friggin’ EVER on sale. When they do get a markdown, whether by sale section + extra 30% off code (good luck there), or during a “private” Ludlow event, they drop to the mid $400s. Another couple strikes against them is the shorter jacket tail, skinny arm circumference, and too thin for some 2.5″ lapels. It also seems like J. Crew is making more and more of their suits with only a “slim” pant option, which is just too skinny for plenty. Yes, J. Crew is very popular. And many of us love their Ludlow sportcoats. But the suits? Especially in basic navy? Awfully pricey. There are better bang-for-the-buck options. Read on.
Would absolutely be higher… but the price. That’s on the high end for a wool/poly blend, but Bonobos does run sales. Still worth a mention. They’re separates, and the Bonobos fit is something plenty of dudes swear by. That Bonobos fit through the posterior and thighs is just tough to replicate. A lot of guys with either super slim OR super thick legs swear by it (and yes, even those of you somewhere in between). And being that these suits are sold as separates, you’re not locked into some suit “drop” zone. Pick your jacket. Pick your pants. Ta-da. Suit. Meanwhile, the pants come pre-hemmed, which means you might be good to go, no-tailor-visit required. There are better suits out there, especially when these Bonobos Daily Grind suits aren’t on sale, but there are conditions where these could be a win.
You have to play the sales game. Wait for big discounts that land these in the mid to low $200s, because they just aren’t the quality of the nicer wool, better made suits higher up this list. From J. Crew Factory, modeled after the (much more) expensive Ludlow line, the button stance is slung low and the lapels are a slim 2.5″. Some might want beefier lapels, and that’s understandable, but they’re not Sherlock slim either. Fused construction. Fabric could be better, but it’s workable. $250 is a decent price. Sold as separates, so you pick the individual jacket size and then the individual pant size. And the pants come pre-hemmed. These used to dip to $200 if not under a year or so ago, but haven’t done so in recent months.
Quietly one of the better, easy to source suits on the market. They’ve just awfully tough to get at a big discount, which is the target price here. Very much worth it at $280 (which is about half off). But when they’re closer to $350 or $400? Skip it and instead opt for a Spier and Mackay or Suitsupply. Anyway, fused construction, but moves extremely well for a glued jacket. Good off the rack taper at the jacket waist. Plus, these are separates, so you can mix and match sizes of pants & jacket, instead of having to get the pants from a “nested” suit tailored up or down to your frame. Sleeve buttons are non-functioning, but they’ve got some accent stitching around them. Size shown above is a 40R. Also available in a more athletic standard size for the jacket as well as the pants.
Basically a replica of the Suitsupply Napoli option (which we’ll get to further up this list), only in a slimmer profile. Shockingly inexpensive, but also never in stock. Jomers just isn’t a big company and can’t make big orders of these things. So when word gets out that they DO have them for sale? They sell out almost immediately. Fingers crossed for a restock, but I wouldn’t count on it. These might have been a once or twice off miracle.
For the hard to fit types. Online-custom (the companies where you measure yourself, submit your measurements, and then they make the garment to your specs) can be fraught with frustrations. But out of all of those companies, Black Lapel seems to get it the most right. Once you get your measurements in and your first suit (or sportcoat) perfectly made, they’re excellent at replicating the experience. And they often even nail it on the first try too! (Let’s be honest, most of the errors with these companies start with those of us dopes on the customer side not knowing how to wield a measuring tape.) This is a great option for guys with odd proportions, long limbs, or bulky arms and/or legs/or backsides that can’t get into standard commercial suits.
Man, the Napoli is just something else. They’ve been getting rave reviews since they burst on the (Western Hemisphere) scene a few years back, and for good reason. The construction is terrific (half-canvas at this price point), the fabrics are soft smooth and strong, they come in a ton of sizes (short & long too), and they ship and return free. The one knock to some is that the button stance on the Napoli could be a touch lower, but it’s not awkwardly high either. Full review over here, with a size 38R above right (and at the top of the post).
Unbelievable quality for the price. Half canvas construction. Really nice Australian Merino wool. Lined in breathable Bemberg. Lightly padded shoulders. Timeless lapel width. Non functional sleeve cuff buttons make for easy tailoring. And they’re available in either a true-slim fit, or, a more accommodating for those of us athletic fit types “contemporary” fit (as shown above). Free returns only applies to your first suit, sportcoat, or shoes purchase though. So as long as you’re a newbie, returns are free. But after that, you’re on the hook for shipping it back (but by then, you should know your size profile with them). Spier is easily one of the best bang-for-the-buck brands in all of menswear, and their suits prove it.
This post was originally written in 2014 but has since been updated… because stuff sells out super quick these days, and what you can get for your dollar in regards to suits has come a LONG way, to the good, in recent times.