For most men, the first suit is one of the most intimidating purchases. It is quite often a significant financial and emotional investment filled with potential pit falls. Sometimes all the options available ranging from Ready to Wear suits from the high street brands to a custom suit from a bespoke tailor, can feel overwhelming, not to mention all the options regarding the cut, cloth and details.
In this article I will try to give my recommendations as to what you should consider when investing in a proper suit.
Let´s start with the most important part: The cloth. The choice of fabric will ultimately define both the suit and the occasions in which it would be appropriate to wear it. As much as I love the casual elegance in a linen or cotton suit, these fabrics would not be appropriate in the formal situations which generally requires a suit and should therefore be considered when you have covered the essential pieces of your wardrobe.
The first and most important suit to invest is single-breasted, in a mid-weight (11-12 oz) Navy or Charcoal worsted wool. These are the most classic colours that will pair beautifully with white, blue or pink shirts and a variety of ties. Which of these colours you prefer is in my opinion a personal preference and should be based on what complements your skin tone and most importantly; your personal style? I would stay away from stripes and bold checks and go for a subtle herringbone or birds eye weave. Due of the slightly higher weight you can achieve a sturdier cloth but most importantly and better drape.
If you live in a country with a warm or mild climate throughout most of the year, I would also like to mention the high twist wool as an option. It is also a fabric made of wool where the yarn has been twisted which gives it a great resistance to wrinkles and can be woven openly. This makes it much more breathable and the perfect suit for business trips or summer weddings.
You may have noticed that I opted for a single-breasted suit as your first option. The reason for this is not because it is more or less formal than a double-breasted cut, but rather less eye catching. Since the suit is supposed to be versatile enough for business, weddings and everything in between and as classic as the double-breasted might be, it´s a style that has gone in and out of fashion several times over the last century while the double breasted has been considered a bit more timeless.
Some might feel tempted to buy a suit with the option of splitting it up into a sports coat and a pair of trousers. As much as I can understand the wish to maximize the use out if a big purchase like this, my general advice is to keep it as a suit and invest in a sport coat that is made in a more suitable fabric. The best fabric options for splitting up a suit is in my opinion the more casual ones such as linen or flannel, but these would be an investment further down the line.
After establishing what fabric and cut you prefer, the next step is to insure a great fit. Just because a suit should be subtle and versatile doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t fit you perfectly. If you commission a custom suit, the best way to achieve a great result is to communicate what you like and then trust the tailor or salesperson. They generally know their product and as long as you are comfortable with the house style it is better not to micromanage the measuring and fitting process.
If you decide to by a suit of the rack you should always consider a few crucial points: The chest and shoulders are the most important parts that needs to fit well because they are both complicated and expensive to alter at a tailor. Besides that, you should always set aside a part of your budget for alterations. By hemming the trousers to the correct length or slightly shaping the jacket throughout the two side seams will make a suit go from good to great.