There are few guys who don’t aspire to one day own a walk-in wardrobe filled with every type of suit, but we’re often in the dark as to how to get there. For the remainder, suits are a necessary evil: an insurance policy for professional and social occasions that you want to spend the bare minimum on.
Whichever camp you fall into, allow us to illuminate you. This is a guide to building a tailored wardrobe. Not in the IKEA sense, more along the lines of what to buy, and in what order, to most economically cover your event bases and get maximum bang for your sartorial buck.
1. The Plain Navy Two-Button Suit
The tailoring equivalent of the little black dress, if you buy just one type of suit, make it a plain navy two-button with a notch lapel. You won’t get more use out of anything else.
2. The Plain Grey Two-Button Suit
The other type of tailoring workhorse. The cavalry. Just when your navy suit was about to give up the ghost (or just head to the dry cleaners), grey rides to the rescue, ready to make you look good.
3. The Dinner Suit
Black tie invitations may be few and far between — as infrequent as one a year, even — but they will come, with increasing regularity as you get older. And when they do come, they’re invariably for occasions when you want to look and feel at your top: a swanky work party, a wedding, a long-overdue Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
4. The Summer Suit
It’s common knowledge that a pair of board shorts goes far better with the summer season than a suit. However, that’s not to say the warmer months don’t cater for the man who needs to dress with a touch of formality. The trick to staying cool when the weather is not isn’t just in choosing the right type of suit, but the right textiles. Tightly woven fabrics such as twill and artificial fibres may be less prone to creasing, but they restrict the amount of air that can circulate through the garment, making ultra-lightweight open-weave linen, seersucker or hopsack a far better choice.