Far too many of us have a suit, or suits, that don’t get used much. It’s probably because something was on sale and we thought we’d wear it more often than we actually do. The solution? Prioritize. Here’s what to buy first, and what to hold off on until later when assembling a suit collection. Not everyone needs all of these. Heck, not everyone “needs” more than one or two of these (if that, in our increasingly casual culture). But if you want to buy a suit, or two, or three, here’s the order to buy them in, starting from the ground up.
#1. The Plain Charcoal Wool Suit
- Suitsupply Napoli Fit Charcoal Wool Suit – $399
- Spier & Mackay Charcoal Wool Suit in Slim or Contemporary – $348 shown above
- B.R. Slim Italian Wool Suit Jacket & Pant – $340ish when 40% off ($568)
- Bonobos Daily Grind Charcoal Suit Jacket & Pant – $128 FINAL ($400)
Plenty would favor a navy suit as your first suit, but the argument here is that charcoal looks more appropriate at a funeral. It’s also more sober/conservative for job interviews. Make it a two button, notch lapel. If your job requires you to wear a suit daily, you’ll want more than one of these.
#2. The Plain Navy Wool Suit
- Spier & Mackay Navy Wool Suit in Slim or Contemporary – $348 ($348)
- Suitsupply Napoli Fit Navy Wool Suit – $399
- Black Lapel Custom Midnight Blue Suit – $499
Again, many would opt for a navy suit over charcoal for their FIRST suit, and that’s fine if that’s what you choose. But we’re putting it second due to the funeral factor (and let’s hope that doesn’t become a factor).
#3. The Light or Medium Gray / Tropical Wool Suit
- Spier & Mackay Medium Gray Sharkskin Wool Suit in Slim or Contemporary Fit – $348
- Bonobos Jetsetter Light Gray Wool Suit – $550
- Suitsupply Light Gray Lazio Fit Tropical Wool Suit – $359
- Jomers Italian Wool Gray Suit – $250
You’re looking for something you can wear to a summer wedding, but the fabric makes it noticeably more dressed up than seersucker or linen. Also, you can wear these in fall and winter to add a bit of brightness to an otherwise cold and dark wardrobe. Look for lighter weight, not just lighter in color. Also look for less lining. Still favor a notch lapel and two button jacket.
#4. The Subtle Pattern Wool Suit
- Black Lapel Custom Super 130s Blue Windowpane Shadow Check Suit – $699 shown above
- Spier & Mackay Blue Check Suit – $398
- Suitsupply Napoli Fit Charcoal Striped Suit – $399
Slow your roll Sparky. We’re not talking fat chalk stripes or massively contrasting plaids here. Something subtle. Say, a blue on navy plaid. Or a fine pin stripe. A dark charcoal base with a white pinstripe could make you look like you stepped out of a Dick Tracy comic. Less can be more. Especially when it comes to suit patterns.
#5. The Lightweight Cotton or Linen Summer Suit
- J. Crew Linen Cotton “Unsuits” – $200ish (when in stock)
- Suitsupply Havana Fit Linen Suit Separates – $598
- Brooks Brothers Regent Fit Seersucker Suit – $498 (wait for a sale)
- Black Lapel Light Blue Linen Blend Custom Suit – $499
For when it’s unbearably hot. Don’t worry about the wrinkles. Fabric that’s super light and breezy is supposed to wrinkle. It’s expected, and part of the charm. Favor linen and seersucker suits over chino. Some chino suits can lean a little dense, and thus, won’t breathe nearly as well.
#6. The Wool Tuxedo
- Black Lapel Custom Midnight Blue Tuxedo – $599
- Suitsupply Havana Fit Shawl Collar Tuxedo – $599
- Spier & Mackay Super 120s Wool Tuxedo – $498
There are very few places to rent a good looking, decent fitting tux. (Here’s one.) This is pretty far down the list because most guys these days don’t have black tie events to go to until later in life… if at all. Ever. But if you’re getting married or attending a big event and want to look your absolute best? Buy a tux. Have it tailored. It’ll be a great investment. Even if it’s an inexpensive tux, a little tailoring can go a long way. Peak lapel is timeless. Shawl is a bit more dashing. And finding a tux for cheap can be a tough ask. Retailers assume you’ve got cash, being that you’re shopping for a black tie event.
#7. The Tweed or Flannel Winter Suit
- Suitsupply Havana Fit Light Gray Flannel Suit Separates – $598
- Spier & Mackay Chocolate Italian Flannel Suit – $498
- J. Crew Ludlow Slim-fit Unstructured Suit Jacket & Matching Pant in Italian Wool Flannel – $400ish when 40% off (but often excluded) ($676)
The thick, wintry stuff, for when it’s unbearably cold. Some people live in climates that’ll never necessitate a suit like this. Those who do live in climates with a real winter can usually get by with their normal suits, good layering, and solid outerwear. But hey, there is just something about a flannel suit on a super cold day.
This post originally ran in 2017, but has since been updated with current product suggestions.