Just as man cannot live on bread alone, it would be just as unwise to live on one or two suits. While it’s important to have the basics covered, wearing only the basics is the sartorial equivalent of having macaroni and cheese every day for lunch. Sure, it’s easy and it requires little effort. But if you don’t expand your repertoire, you’ll get bored quickly and could end up with a case of indigestion.*
Your Second Suit
Besides whichever suit you didn’t buy after reading the Your First Suit (link here once article is active), now you can start getting into some patterns and textures. Consider the following in a two-button, single-breasted stance:
- Navy pinstripe
- Navy herringbone
- Charcoal pinstripe
- Charcoal herringbone
These four options will provide you with the versatility you still need at this point in building your suit collection while offering additional visual interest. Be sure that the thickness and spacing of pinstripes syncs up with your bodily proportions. From a high level, this means big guys shouldn’t wear tightly-spaced thin stripes and small guys shouldn’t wear widely-spaced, thick stripes (work in links to body type articles when they’re complete).
The Third Suit and Beyond
After acquiring these suits, you can start to think about seasonality and branching out into other colors, materials, and patterns. Here is a list of some common colors and patterns that we suggest as you move up the suiting ranks:
- Medium grey wool: Another versatile suit that can be worn anytime of year for any daytime purpose.
- Light grey wool: A smart option in the warmer months. Pair it with a pink shirt and a blue tie for the ultimate in springtime pizzazz.
- Charcoal grey flannel: References to The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit aside, a good charcoal flannel is essential if you’re a businessman who lives in a part of the world where winters get painfully cold. You’ll still need an overcoat on grey February days, but it’ll make your life a good bit more pleasant than your typical suiting weight wool.
- Navy flannel: Same as above, but navy blue. A can’t-miss cold weather option.
- Black: Good for mourning and evening social occasions. Good to have in the rotation
- Tuxedo: Not a “suit” per se, but if you attend at least one black-tie event a year, you should own and not rent.
- Brown: A smart substitute for charcoal that goes into and out of fashion but deserves a place in the permanent menswear canon. Favored by Ronald Reagan, oddly enough.
- Olive/Taupe: These heathered-looking greenish/brownish suits are common in the business world but should be purchased only by men who already have a few suits in their closet. The reason for this is that their versatility is limited: they only pair well with brown or oxblood-colored shoes, and they tend to look best with white or light blue shirts.
- Chalkstripes: A beefed-up version of pinstripes, these look best with the nubby look of flannel.
- Windowpane: Essentially an oversized check, this is a pattern that will not let you blend into the crowd. You will stand out, so you’d better be sure that everything is tailored to perfection and that your accessories are on point.
- Khaki: Anywhere there’s a summertime means you need a lighter-weight suit. A cotton khaki suit (or even a cotton navy or grey) is a fantastic option that will minimize instances of you sweating to death.
- Linen: Do you wear suits just because you like to? Do you happen to be getting married on a beach in Mexico? If yes, then you need a linen suit in tan, bone, or even white.
- Double-breasted: Don’t call it a comeback, they never really left. Well-dressed men have been wearing DB’s for well over a century, and you can too. Just make sure it’s not one of your first suits!
Suit Acquisition Advice
As you continue on your wardrobe-building journey, it’s important to remember to take your time. Buy one suit at a time and give yourself the chance to live in it for a while. Many men hate shopping so much that they go once every eighteen months and re-stock their wardrobe only to find that they hate half of hat they buy. A smarter way to stock your closet is to go slowly and give yourself the opportunity to learn whether or not you like something. While you might fall in love with that cobalt blue number with the red rope stripes when it’s on the hanger, you might find that you’re not too crazy about it when you wear it. This translates to lost money and time, so you’re better off easing your way into it.
*Not really. But you will get bored.