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 Western world, 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. This is so that you can easily weed out suits that don’t make the cut when you’re out shopping, saving you time and money.
Note: 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.
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 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 well-established. Thankfully, this is okay! You can spend as little as $300 on a good-looking suit. Depending on the company and the season, you can have a made-to-measure suit created just for you for around $500!
Conceptually, we advise spending as much as you can comfortably afford. For some guys, this is $400. For others, it’s $800. As you go up the price point scale you’ll likely see higher quality, but even a “cheap” suit that’s well cared for will last.
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. If you just got a job that needs you in a jacket and tie everyday, you’ll want to consider a higher quality (and thus more expensive) suit since it’s going to see a lot more action.
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. We advise that charcoal is the preferred option.
Either color 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 color 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 but not particularly well with black ones. We perceive this as an advantage for charcoal, and thus recommend it over navy.
Details Of Your First Suit
Being the complex garments that they are, you need more information than just fabric color 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 no 90’s shoulder pads.
- Two-button single-breasted stance with top button approximately 2″ above the navel
- 3″-3 1/8″ wide notch lapels (nothing skinny, nothing wide. Depends on your body type)
- Side vents
- Flapped pockets (no patch pockets)
- Self-colored or grey smoke buttons
- Plain front is recommended, but pleats are acceptable
- Plain bottoms or cuffed (corresponding to plain front and pleated, respectively)
- No flap pockets
Disclaimer: Your first suit does not 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.
- Six-button single-breasted with no lapels
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
Accessorizing Your First Suit
Be sure to accessorize your suit in a way that fits the occasion.
We wouldn’t advise wearing, for example, bright red socks to a job interview, but you can certainly do so to a wedding. A funeral requires a white or blue shirt, but a pink checked shirt will look awesome on a first date with that navy jacket.
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.
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 coloring 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!