What Goal Should A First Suit Accomplish?
In a word, versatility.
Your first suit will probably be your only suit for a long time. It has to work for weddings, funerals, job interviews, dates, and other events. It needs to be worn in any season at any time of day or night.
Your first suit must be your everything suit. A veritable workhorse.
How Much Should My First Suit Cost?
Chances are that you’re on the younger side of things, which means that your budget will be less than a guy who’s older and perhaps more financially secure. And that’s totally fine!
You can spend as little as $300 on a good-looking suit. In fact, as described above, you can have a made-to-measure suit with that very budget with brands like Indochino!
Overall, we advise spending as much as you can comfortably afford. For some guys, this is $400. For others, it’s $800.
Indeed, we realise that this is sometimes much less. However, don’t fret. While the fabrics may not be as nice and the cut won’t be as polished, even a $150 suit can achieve what you need.
As you go up the price point scale you’ll likely see higher quality, but even a “cheap” suit that’s well-treated will last long enough for a return on your investment.
Don’t forget to consider how frequently you plan to wear the suit. If it’s only coming out of the closet a couple of times a year, minimize your spend as the wear-and-tear costs will be much lower.
Conversely, if you just got a job that needs you in a jacket and tie everyday, you’ll want to invest in a higher quality and more expensive suit since it’s going to see a lot more action.
Finally, if you buy an off-the-rack suit, make sure you factor in alterations to your final price. Fit is the most important aspect of looking good, and you can make a $250 suit from Macy’s look like something four times its price with some strategic tailoring.
What Color Should My First Suit Be?
Your first suit should either be solid navy or solid charcoal grey. Charcoal may be the most versatile choice of the two. However, this poils down to personal preference.
Either colour serves as a tabula rasa in terms of outfit building, and both form the backbone of the capsule wardrobe. Both can be worn effortlessly with basically any colour shirt, tie, pocket square, or other accessory. So, why do we advise grey over navy?
In short, it’s a matter of shoes. We admit that there’s ongoing debate on the subject, but we feel very strongly that grey suits pair equally well with black or brown shoes.
Navy suits, on the other hand, pair best with brown shoes and not as well with black ones but that depends on the shade. We perceive this as an advantage for charcoal, and thus recommend it over navy.
If you’re looking for quality dress shoes, we have plenty of guides through the link above. Nevertheless, our current favourites remain Beckett Simonon and Ace Marks.
Beckett Simonon produces ethically-made shoes for under $200 from Argentinian calfskin leather. You can also benefit from a 20% reduction with our exclusive code “BU20“. The downside is that their shoes are made-to-order so it takes a while for them to arrive.
If you’re in a hurry, we would instead suggest Ace Marks who offer excellent quality with a variety of exciting yet elegant styles. They’re a touch more expensive but their shoes are made in Italy and are dispatched almost immediately.
Details Of Your First Suit
Being the complex garments that they are, you need more information than just fabric colour to make an informed decision as to what your first suit will be. Below, we list out some of the main aesthetic details that your first suit should have.
It goes without saying that any suit must fit well for it to have its intended effect. As such, we won’t be getting into the particulars of fit in this article, but we have complete guides for suit fit and alterations if you need to take a look.
Again, these are compiled with versatility as the end goal. Some general guidelines before we move on to the individual garments:
It’s important that your grey suit be a shade of charcoal specifically. This is a darker shade of grey that ranges a couple of shades shy of black (in fact, many folks mistake it for black at a quick glance).
Save medium and light greys for your third or fourth suits. If you choose a navy suit, it should be discernibly blue, but still dark.
Your first suit should be made from worsted wool in a nine-ounce weight. This is measured in ounces per square yard, meaning that one square yard of your suit fabric will weigh nine ounces.
Nine ounces is generally considered the sweet spot that keeps you reasonably warm in the winter while still being breathable in the summer.
The overall cut should be timeless, neither conservative nor ultra-modern. Nothing super skinny, and try to avoid boxy shoulder pads.
First Suit Jacket
- Two-button single-breasted stance with top button approximately 2″ above the navel.
- Notch lapels as opposed to peak lapels are more versatile.
- 3″-3 1/8″ wide notch lapels, which aren’t too skinny or too wide. The ideal width depends on your body type.
- Side vents.
- Flapped pockets (no patch pockets).
- Self-coloured or grey smoke buttons.
First Suit Trousers
- Plain front is recommended, but pleats are fine too.
- Plain bottoms or cuffed corresponding to plain front and pleated, respectively.
- Avoid flap pockets.
Your first suit doesn’t necessarily need to be a three-piece suit. It doesn’t hurt to have a matching vest, though, as you can pick and choose when you wear it. If you do decide to buy a matching waistcoat, aim for a simple 6-button single-breasted one without any lapels.
We realise that lapels on waistcoats have become very fashionable these days. Once you’re into your second or third suit, it’s a great option to have. For now, consider buying one without so you can still wear it anywhere.
Shirts For Your First Suit
If you’re just buying your first suit now, the chances are that you don’t yet have many dress shirts close to hand. This can be another challenge but we offer plenty of resources to help you.
Since versatility is key, we suggest grabbing a selection of two to four shirts. If you focus on white and light blue shirts with classic spread collars, it should cover all the bases. At first, you may want to prioritise barrel cuffs.
However, if you have a selection of several, a few double “French” cuff shirts can’t hurt and will offer some cufflinks opportunities.
Our guide to dress shirts will offer more details and suggest our top 10 favourite brands like we did here. Currently, we’re particularly fond of Eton Shirts. This Swiss brand specialises in elegant barrel cuff shirts with a distinctive Scandinavian minimalist feel.
Otherwise, there are the classic Jermyn Street brands like Hawes & Curtis that we already mentioned!
Events To Wear Your First Suit To
With such a versatile suit in your wardrobe, you’ll be able to wear it to just about any event, such as:
- Job interviews
- Professional meetings
- Networking events
- Nights out
- Fancy family get-togethers
- Random days at work when you feel like killing it at the office
- Mad Men-themed parties
Accessories For Your First Suit
Don’t forget to grab a couple of accessories for your suit so you can complete the look! However, try to acquire accessories that will suit the occasions that you have ahead.
For instance, we wouldn’t advise wearing bright red socks to a job interview, but you can certainly do so to a wedding. If you to learn more about socks, our dedicated guide will help.
We’re also currently big fans of Boardroom Socks. A family-run business since 1837, they produce US-made socks from their North Carolina mill. Having been made with businesswear in mind (hence the name), they’re the perfect choice for wearing with a suit.
Meanwhile, there are many other accessories like cuff links, pocket squares, lapel flowers and much more! The preceding links will take you to guides like those. However, if you’re looking for a place where you can pick them all up in one convenient location, The Tie Bar is a solid choice.
They have a huge selection of all things accessories and their prices are really good too. We often splurge there when our wardrobes need refreshing.
We can’t stress it enough: your first suit has to be one of the biggest workhorses in your wardrobe. It’s going to pull a lot of weight, and you have to select one that will have you appropriately dressed at all times.
Part of making the suit last as long as possible is proper care. See our care guide if you need some pointers.
Furthermore, you can also check out Bespoke Unit’s full list of detailed Suit Guides where we cover everything that you need to know about buying suits including off the rack, made-to-measure, custom, bespoke and more.
Finally, looking good isn’t just about wearing a good suit, and we have various guides to help you in that regard. Knowing your face shape and colouring is important, as is proper grooming and what shoes to wear. When you have time, take a look through these other sections of our site to truly enrich yourself!
Now that you have read our primer on dress codes, consider reading some of our related content: