So many times I have been asked ‘what is the first suit I should buy?’. My answer is almost universally the same thing: a solid navy or grey suit. But the answer does not stop there, there really is much more to it. To best help you guys get the best suit you can, I’d like to share some advice on how to buy your first suit. In an effort to be somewhat concise (and keep the video under 20 minutes), I’ve boiled the list of tips down to seven. However, many of these tips are equally applicable to your eleventh suit, not just your first.
First things first, yes, you do need a suit. Even if you are only going to have to wear one once a year (or even less), you need a suit. You never know when you will have a dinner, wedding, funeral, court date or other event to attend that will require you to wear a suit. It’s best to be prepared.
As many of you know, I prefer to go custom/made to measure when it comes to suits. Although I realize that for some guys off the rack may be preferable for any number of reasons. Speaking of, each of the three suits featured in this post are made to measure from Oliver Wicks (link).
I remember when I went to buy my first suit by myself. Like so many misguided college students (and men in general), I found myself at Jos A. Bank. At the time, I was getting ready to interview with each of the Big Four accounting firms it would have been inappropriate to show up in anything less than a suit for the occasion. Looking back on those times, I can say with strong confidence that I looked terrible in the suits and that I feel bad for the interviewers who had to look at me in those suits from the other side of the table.
Now, at the time of that fateful visit to Jos A. Bank, I arrived armed with very little knowledge about how to shop for a suit, how a suit should fit and what I should be looking for in my first suit. Foolishly, I took the advice of the salesman and in-house tailor. Lesson learned. That was the last time I ever let something like that happen. To make sure you guys don’t make the same mistakes I did; let’s talk about some of the do’s and don’ts of buying your first suit. Again, many of these tips can be applied to any suit you buy.
So we’ve covered a few best practices on how to buy your first suit, now let’s put them into action. When first talking with Oliver Wicks about doing this post, we discussed doing a post along the lines of ‘3 Suits a Man Should Own’, but I think it is more useful to talk about how to buy your first suit. So each of the three suits featured could function as a first suit. Each of the three suits is pretty simple, maybe a fun detail or two on each suit, but they are mostly simple suits. They are also quite practical and flexible, by that I mean they can be dressed up or dressed down and worn across any season. They also do not have stand out details like aggressive patterns or fabric types. So you can easily wear the same suit a number of different ways, which I think is important for a first suit, or if you only plan to have one suit.
First, let’s talk about the slightly lighter than navy suit (Oliver Wicks doesn’t have that same fabric anymore, but this royal blue (link) is something similar in color). All else equal, it is less formal than a navy or dark grey suit. To dress it down, an oxford cloth button down without a tie is a possible option. Or as shown here, dress it up with a solid blue shirt and solid tie.
For an in between look, go for a striped shirt, silk knit tie and loafers.
For something a little more formal, opt for a solid dark grey suit (link). The first look is about as formal as it gets; a bengal striped shirt and a solid burgundy tie with black shoes. This look could be great for a formal workplace or formal cocktail party, although for what its worth, I’ve always thought grey to be more at home at the office rather than at a social event.
But fear not, the dark grey suit can still be dressed down. One option would be to pair it with turtleneck sweater, this look would look particularly at home in a social setting. Or for a formal ensemble with a little more personality you could pair the suit with a blue shirt and polka dot tie, as seen below.
Lastly, we have the solid navy suit (link), which is a pick and pick weave. I think solid navy is the best option for the greatest number of guys. It works in almost every setting and it complements blues and browns better than grey does. On a personal note, I have three solid navy suits in different fabrics and together they are easily the most worn suits in my wardrobe. For a more dressed up look go with a solid white shirt and solid navy tie with monk straps or oxfords. The simplicity of the ensemble may seem boring, but when everything fits and you look superb, there will be no time for boredom. In fact, if I could have only one suited look for the rest of my life it would be the navy suit with navy tie and white shirt. Sometimes, less is more.
But the navy suit is easy to dress down. For example, take this look with a pink gingham shirt and navy polka dot knit tie.
Lastly, we have an in between look. More formal than the second look, but less than the first. A little more to it than the first look but not quite as much as the second.
You will never be wrong to have a suit in your closet. In fact, you should always have a suit in your closet. You never know when you will need one and this is one of those situations where it is best to be prepared. Whether you are buying your first suit or your only suit, it is best to buy the best you can afford and to buy the best suit for your body and complexion. I am of the opinion that for the largest number of guys, a solid navy suit will be the best option. But for others, a slightly lighter than navy or dark grey suit may be the ideal. Whatever color and fabric you choose, keep in mind the aforementioned tips, as they are a great starting point for most guys. If any of you want to share your own experience with your first suit; or have questions, advice or comments, please hit the comments section below. Thank you for reading.