A Man’s First Suit: What To Buy & How To Wear ItPaul Anthony2023-02-21T01:34:26-05:00
There comes a time in every man’s life in which he must emerge from the cocoon of boys’ clothes and start dressing like an adult. In the USA, this is often commemorated with buying your first “good” suit, often at the tail end of college. You have to look good for graduation photos and job interviews, right?
So, what should your first suit be? This article will discuss the nitty-gritty details of what you should look for in your first suit. You’ll also discover the best places to buy it and learn why there are certain ones that will be more versatile for a first purchase.
In this guide to buying your first suit, you will learn the following:
For your first suit experience, we strongly recommend that you try Indochino. What better way to get started than with a custom suit made just for you? Although it sounds expensive, Indochino has custom suits that can be made for as little as $300!
Furthermore, they have their own stores throughout North America. While you can create an account and submit your measurements online, we’d highly recommend making an appointment and getting yourself measured by a professional at no extra cost. They’ll also be able to advise you on your first purchase.
Whether you go in-store or decide to place an order online, we have a discount code that’s valid for both. Just use “BESPOKEUNIT” before paying for an extra 10% off, which can be used in combination with other deals. However, please bear in mind that it’s valid for purchases above $399 USD or $539 CAD.
"Indochino is one of our favourite custom suitmakers thanks to their fantastic value for money and physical presence with showrooms."
Black Lapel and Indochino are often neck-and-neck when it comes to choosing between the two. While Black Lapel offers fantastic fabric and construction quality as well as an excellent fit before alterations, Indochino’s value for money is extraordinary.
Indeed, Black Lapel is a little pricier, which is why it comes a very close second given that we’re recommending your first-time suit. After all, you likely have some sort of budget!
Nevertheless, you can enjoy a very similar experience with Black Lapel as well as benefit from a $50 discount with our code “FTOBESPOKEUNIT“.
Sometimes we wonder whether Fokke de Jong realised that Suitsupply would take the world by storm when he started his brand as a student in 2000. Indeed, the Dutch label is one of the world’s most famous menswear brands today and often worn by celebrities on the red carpet.
With contemporary garments and stylish designs, Suitsupply is a forward-thinking and modern brand for a young gentleman. Furthermore, Suitsupply lives by certain values and is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation.
While their suits can be expensive, they have an excellent selection of “wardrobe starters” that start at $359. The concept is much like our capsule wardrobe and is very useful if looking for your first suit.
Hawes & Curtis is a heritage shirtmaker from Jermyn Street, London. It’s a well-known brand in the UK and has become something of an establishment. While it’s best known for its shirts, it also retails excellent suits in a variety of styles.
Although it was founded in 1913, its styles are contemporary and relevant. In fact, it’s a great example of British tailoring, and you wouldn’t be disappointed if you picked up a few specimens for yourself!
If you need shirts, don’t forget to check them out. They often have multi-buy deals on where you can pick up four for under $200.
Like Suitsupply, Charles Tyrwhitt was founded by a student. However, Nick Wheeler began his venture in 1986. While this sounds like a long time ago now, it’s actually quite recent for a Jermyn Street brand.
Nevertheless, Charles Tyrwhitt has gone on to be part of the Jermyn Street family and well-respected among its peers. Like the similar brands above and below, Tyrwhitt focuses mainly on shirts, which are also available at a 4 for $200 deal.
Nevertheless, Charles Tyrwhitt’s suits are definitely worth your attention. Even their cheapest suits are either made from 100% woolmark, which is an authority of quality, or merino wool. Therefore, you can rest assured that they’re crafted from good fabric.
Despite the name, Ted Baker was actually founded in Glasgow, Scotland. Since it first opened its doors in 1988, Ted Baker has gone on to be one of Britain’s most popular designer labels.
As it emphasises contemporary styles and modern cuts without stepping into the pitfalls of being fashion-forward, Ted Baker produces a young and energetic image. Therefore, it’s perfect for the young professional man when investing in his very first suit!
If Jermyn Street’s offerings are a representative of British tailoring, Brooks Brothers is the same but for the USA. A cherished New York brand, Brooks Brothers has been the instinctive choice for professional men for many years.
And for good reason. After all, their suits are well-made with an excellent selection available to you. While Brooks Brothers can quickly become expensive with some suits going over the $1,000 mark, there are more affordable choices too.
For instance, they have plenty of suit separates with the trousers on sale for $140 and matching jackets at $358. As a result, you can own a Brooks Brothers suit for just under $500. Alternatively, you can shop for separates but that’s not the plan for today.
There are a number of reasons that we selected Hugo Boss over a number of other designer brands. Firstly, they’re more affordable whereas others tend to quickly become very expensive.
Meanwhile, suits are the lifeblood of Hugo Boss. Ever since the end of the Second World War, the German brand transitioned from uniforms and workwear to affordable menswear. After all, they were the new suits of the post-war workforce!
Creating practical and well-crafted suits, Boss quickly become a celebrated brand. Today, they represent the more conservative and serious side of men’s High Street fashion.
We realise that not every budget can accommodate an investment of several hundred dollars. Even if we say that it’s worth it in the long-term, we understand that it’s not always realistic.
Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions without you feeling that you’re wearing a sack! Stacy Adams is a well-known brand that’s celebrated for its affordable yet extremely stylish garments. Their shoes are probably the most iconic of their products. However, they retail and excellent selection of suits too.
That being said, Stacy Adams is renowned for its brash and forward-fashion designs. Therefore, take care in picking something that’s not too excessive and versatile enough to wear for different occasions.
Another affordable option is JCPenney. While we understand that it may not strike you as the most fashionable brand, they do offer great value for money given the very reasonable prices of their garments.
Furthermore, you can buy your suit and trousers separately. This provides you the option of getting the sizes that best fit you as well as just purchasing separates. If you’re on a budget, they’re well worth checking out.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 ca