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. 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.
#1. The Plain Charcoal Wool Suit
- Suitsupply Napoli Fit Charcoal Wool Suit – $399
- Spier & Mackay Charcoal Wool Suit in Slim or Contemporary – $358 shown above
- Kent Wang Charcoal “Trial Suit” Separates – $795
- B.R. Slim Italian Wool Suit Jacket & Trouser – $340ish when 40% off ($568)
- Black Lapel Online Made to Measure Charcoal Wool Suit – $599 for the hard to fit. review of Black Lapel here.
- Todd Snyder Made in Canada Sutton Fit Charcoal Wool Suit – $596
Many 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 – $358
- J. Crew Ludlow Suit Jacket & Trouser – $455 when 30% off ($650)
- Suitsupply Napoli Fit Navy Wool Suit – $449
- Brooks Brothers 1818 Made in the USA or Italy Regent Fit Suit – $749.50 if you buy 2 (normally $1198 per)
- B.R. Slim Italian Wool Suit Jacket & Trouser – $340ish when 40% off ($568) shown above
- Todd Snyder Made in Canada Sutton Fit Stretch Tropical Wool Suit – $596
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 Medium (or Light Gray) Wool Suit
- Spier & Mackay Medium Gray Wool Suit – $358
- Suitsupply Lazio Fit Medium Gray Wool Suit Separates – $598
- Suitsupply Lazio Fit Mid Grey Lazio Fit Tropical Wool Suit – $399
- Black Lapel Online Made to Measure Traveler Suit in Gray – $899 shown above
- J. Crew Factory Worsted Wool Suit Separates – $250 – $299 when on sale
Because as shown above, they’re just so darn versatile. You want a noticeable shade (or more) lighter than your charcoal option. If you live in a warm or hot weather climate, try an even lighter, pale, almost dove gray. Also look for lighter in weight, not just lighter in color. Still favor a notch lapel and two button jacket.
#4. The Subtle Pattern Wool Suit
- Spier & Mackay Blue Check Super 110s Wool Suit – $298 ($358) shown above
- Brooks Brothers Regent Fit Open Plaid 1818 Suit – $424.15 ($1098)
- Brooks Brothers Regent Fit Charcoal Plaid 1818 Suit – $1198 (or 2 for $1499)
- Bonobos Italian Stretch Wool Flannel Suit Light Navy Glen Plaid – $350 ($700)
- Suitsupply Mid Grey Check Sienna Suit – $639
- Suitsupply Navy Stripe Lazio Fit Suit – $359
We’re not talking fat chalk stripes or massively contrasting plaids here. Big, wide, garish pinstripes or checks can make you look like you’re off to dump a body in Lake Eerie. You’re after something subtle. A blue or gray tonal plaid. Or a fine pin stripe. Less can be more. Especially when it comes to suit patterns.
#5. The Flannel Winter Suit
- Made in Portugal Willis Brushed Stretch Wool Suit Jacket & Trouser – $526
- Bonobos Italian Stretch Wool Flannel Suit – $350 ($700)
- Spier & Mackay Made to Order Flannel Suit – $498
- Suitsupply Havana Fit Mid Gray Flannel Suit Separates – $638
The wintry stuff. 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.
#6. The Wool Tuxedo
- Black Lapel Custom Midnight Blue Tuxedo – $699
- Suitsupply Havana Fit Shawl Collar Tuxedo – $639
- Suitsupply Black Tie Package – $999 ($1111) suit or evening jacket & trousers, shirt, tie, and shoes
- Todd Snyder Made in the USA Sutton Peak Lapel Tuxedo – $1046
- Banana Republic Slim Italian Wool Tuxedo Jacket & Trouser – $388.20 when 40% off ($647)
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. Because there are very few places to rent a good looking, decent fitting tux these days (yet here’s one.) In regards to style, peak lapel is timeless. Shawl collar is a bit more dashing. And know that 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 Lightweight Cotton or Linen Summer Suit
- J. Crew Linen Cotton “Unsuits” – $220ish when 30% off ($316)
- Suitsupply Linen Cotton Havana Fit Suit – $598
- Spier & Mackay Cotton/ Linen Neo Cut Suit – $498
For when it’s unbearably hot. This used to be higher on the list, but thanks to the advances in tech-chinos (which don’t look like “tech” anymore), when it’s super-steamy, most of us will reach for some tech pants then combine with a barely-there, lightly constructed sportcoat. But if you DO decide to go full summer-fabric suit, 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 super airy tropical hopsack wool, or linen and seersucker suits over chino. Some chino suits can lean a little dense, and thus, won’t breathe nearly as well.
This post originally ran in 2017, but since it’s one of the foundation posts, it gets checked and updated with current product suggestions from time to time.