Let us once and for all, definitively, answer the question on how many suits a man needs.
It all depends on your environment, your budget, and other considerations that you have to make. So that’s not very helpful and because of that, we put together four different profiles of different men with different needs and requirements, and we walk you through exactly what kind of suit you need, what style, what color, what fabric, so you always look the part and you have exactly the right suit for the right occasion.
Is It Necessary To Own A Suit In This Day And Age?
I have to unequivocally say yes. We all go to interviews, we go to weddings, we go to funerals, maybe sometimes galas, or evening events, where a suit is required. Also, it’s not a good idea to just borrow a suit last-minute because that will always go wrong and an ill-fitting suit even if it’s a $10,000 suit will just look really bad and disadvantageous.
Just the other day, I got a call from an entrepreneur friend who had to attend an evening event that required at least a suit. Now, he didn’t have one. He had a sports jacket and he just thought he can walk into a mall, buy a suit, and that’ll be it.
The problem is, a suit always requires tailoring and alterations which in turn take time and so it pays to always have at least one suit in your closet that fits you at any given point in time.
Four Archetypes Of Men
In this guide we distinguish between 4 types of men who covered the entire population. The man who normally never wears a suit, the chap who sometimes does, the gentleman who wears suits daily and last but not least the suit lover. Which cateogory do you fall into?
1.The Man Who Normally Never Wears A Suit
You’re a student, maybe an IT professional, or just in a job where a suit is not required of you, ever. Maybe you work in a very casual office, or you work from home, but a suit is just never something that has come up. In that case, I suggest you invest in one dark suit.
I suggest you go with a single-breasted suit in a medium to lightweight that you can wear year-round so I suggest between 270 and 300 grams or about 10 ounces. You also should invest in a worsted wool which is a very fine wool but it’s very different than a flannel wool.
Why Do You Need A Dark Suit?
Well usually, the only events that require you to wear a suit are in the evening or they’re quite formal such as a wedding or a funeral, in that case, dark is always your friend. Because of that, I suggest a dark navy suit or a dark gray or charcoal suit. Pretty much between those two colors, you should choose. Do not go with a black suit because black is harder to combine with other items and in a suit, it looks bad when combined with blue tones which are very predominant in menswear.
If you choose a suit that is too heavy, it will drape well but you’ll be too warm in the summer and if it’s too lightweight, it will wrinkle too easily and you look disheveled. Because that, invest in a solid dark suit; make sure you get notched lapels not peak lapels with your single breasted one because it is very traditional. I suggest you go with two buttons, you can also go with three buttons that roll on two. It’s a very classic silhouette.
For your trousers or pants, I suggest you go with either a pleated front or a flat front and cuffs because the weight of the cuffs pulls down the pants. If you want to, you can also add a matching vest or waistcoat which allows you to wear a three-piece suit which is more formal. You can also skip the vest and just have a two-piece suit and it simply gives you more options but it doesn’t cost a whole lot more to upgrade.
Unless you go with a custom tailored suit, you will always have to have alterations. They’ll cost you usually between 50 and 200 dollars depending on where you live and what extent you need in alterations.
2. The Man Who Rarely Wears A Suit
You maybe work at a very casual office but every once in a while, when you have client contact or a business event, you’ll need to get out some suits. In that case, it pays to have at least three suits otherwise, it would look like you only have one suit and you wear the same outfit over and over again which is never advantageous.
Dark Navy & Dark Charcoal Suits
I suggest you get one of them in double-breasted because it’s more formal and another one single-breasted with notch lapels because it’s less formal. Ideally, you want maybe the navy suit to be double breasted because you can wear it as a blazer separately. With those two suits, you’re covered for summer and spring weather, as well as for fall and for a winter, they work very well, they’re unpretentious, they’re very professional, and you’ll always be well respected and look at the part. For the gray flannel, you want something a little heavier about of 350 to 400 grams. For the worsted navy suit, you go something with a little lighter about 270 to 300 grams just like in the other suit before.
A More Casual Suit
Brown tones are ideal for a more casual suit. It could be a Glen check with an over plaid, it could be a small houndstooth or just something that’s a little lighter in color that has a pattern.
3. The Man Who Wears A Suit To Work
You need a larger rotation of suits because you can always get them stained and if you let your suits rest, they will actually last you longer. No, by that I don’t mean that they just last longer because you wear them less frequently but let’s say you have a rotation of 10 suits, they will last you about twice as long as if you would buy an individual suit, wear it out, and buy nine more. Yes, you invested the same money in the same number of suits but with the rotation, that will last you just longer. That aside, you will also look better and that’s the reason we wear a suit in the first place.
So if you are a VP, an executive, or a white-collar professional, suits are your office attire, or your uniform, or the wardrobe that you have to wear. For most men in this category, it’s enough to own 10 business suits because that’s a two-week rotation. With ten suits, different shirts, ties, and shoes, you can create many outfits and it will never look like you’re just repeating the same one over and over again. If you’re starting out, you may not be able to afford 10 quality suits right from the bat and because of that, it pays to slowly build up that rotation, starting with the most versatile solid ones that we mentioned earlier. So what are those ten suits?
Suit Staples: Charcoal Flannel Suit & Navy Worsted Suit
First of all, again, the charcoal flannel suit, maybe in single breasted or the navy worsted suit in double-breasted. They’re just staples and classics that you can wear over and over again.
Navy Suit With Peak Lapels
So if the first suit was Navy and single breasted with notch lapels, the third suit should be Navy with peak lapels and double-breasted. You always want to maximize different kinds of looks you have and being able to choose between those two, you can just make a difference on how it’s perceived. Peak lapels look more powerful and are more formal, notch lapels or a little less formal.
Glenn Check Suit
If you want versatility, I suggest going with a more muted overplaid or without one in the first place. Also, I think it’s a good idea to go with a worsted fabric here and whether it’s single breasted or double breasted, is up to your taste. Ideally, you have an even number in your wardrobe but of course, you can choose if you prefer double-breasted, you can have maybe seven double breasted and three single breasted or the other way around. Some people even go all single breasted or all double breasted. It’s a preference. I suggest though that you have at least one double-breasted at least one single breasted suit in your wardrobe that way, you’re just more flexible.
Medium Gray Suit
The fifth suit should be a medium gray, can either be a solid or a fresco or maybe a herringbone pattern.
Lighter Gray Or Lighter Blue Suit
Again, it can be in a fresco if you’re in a warmer climate or something with a little more texture such as a sharkskin or hopsack.
Generally, I suggest to go with a lighter stripe on a dark background, a very popular one is a white or off-white stripe on navy, sometimes you also see gray, but Navy is definitely a classic. If you go with a double-breasted pinstripe or rope striped suit, a lot of people will have associations with the 30s or some gangsters, so keep that in mind when you make your selection. If you want more subdued stripes, I suggest going with chalk stripes which are less pronounced, softer, but very elegant, sophisticated, and classic.
If you want to wear it more to casual outings, I suggest going with a medium brown maybe with a herringbone pattern, something that is distinctly different from your dark office suits. On the other hand, if you still want to wear it to the office, maybe a charcoal brown suit with a needle head or pinpoint is the better choice.
Casual Suit In Tweed, Fresco, Linen, Or Cotton (Depends On Location & Climate)
If you live in a colder climate, a tweed suit is really perfect. If you live in a warmer climate, again I suggest going with a fresco suit or a linen suit or a cotton suit. In terms of colors, you can be a little more daring; you can go with something in green, or petrol blue, or maybe cream, or beige. Keep in mind that lighter colored suits are more prone to stains and adjust your selection accordingly.
4.The Suit Lover
At this point, we can’t talk about need anymore and the sky is the limit. It’s all about how many suits you want and the limiting factor is likely the amount of closet space you have. You guessed it, that’s me and I’m a suit lover. My goal has always been to build a complete wardrobe not just for suits but overall. So I have a complete white tie outfit, I have several black tie outfits, I have several morning coat outfits, I have a stroller outfit, I’ve suits, overcoats, and so forth; and to me, dressing and clothing in suits is just a hobby. Of course, it’s also a big part of my business so it’s very easy to justify more purchases.