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Need advice for next suit purchase!

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hey everyone, I'm facing a bit of a dilemma trying to pick the color of my next suit. As background, here are the suits I currently own:


  • Navy blue wool 
  • Grey (medium) heathered wool flannel
  • Grey (light) wool-linen 
  • Grey (dark, borderline charcoal) wool 


The grey suits get me through most occasions - the darker one for business meetings, wool-linen for summer weddings, heathered wool flannel for cooler weather. I just picked up the navy suit (J.Crew Factory Voyager) to replace an older one, and intend to use it on long business trips where wrinkling is a concern.


I was entertaining the idea of getting a 3-piece black suit for more formal occasions. I'm aware that for black-tie "required" you must wear a tux, and for "optional" you might be able to get by with a 3-piece black suit dressed up with white pocket square and black tie (not bowtie). Is this true? I'm trying to see if a black suit could be more versatile. i.e. funerals, business, more formal events. And I don't attend that many black tie events (can count to date one so far) so I could just rent a tux when need be. Wondering if a black suit is a "must-have" or not.


Otherwise I was considering a dark charcoal worsted wool suit which could be used for semi-formal and business occasions. Curious what other options could be outside of these.


Any help would be most appreciated!

post #2 of 6

You don't need the black suit.  A charcoal or midnight navy will serve the same purpose.

post #3 of 6
I wear a suit almost every day, and have for decades now. So I've owned lots of suits.

I've never owned a black suit. Never felt particularly inclined to shop for a black suit. And have never thought to myself - not even once - "Gee, I wish I had a black suit." (No, not even at funerals. A charcoal grey suit is perfectly appropriate to wear to funerals.)

As for your understanding that for a black tie optional occasion, you might want to wear a 3-piece black suit... No.

Wearing a black 3-piece suit with black necktie is not somehow preferable to a non-black (navy, charcoal) suit, at a black tie optional event. One could even maintain that it's an inferior choice, because it's basically trying to be sort of, kind of, a tuxedo, without actually getting it right. Far better to wear a conservative non-black suit, with non-black tie, which isn't pretending to be something it's not. The black 3-piece suit in this case is virtually falling into the sartorial equivalent of the "uncanny valley," where its resemblance to a tuxedo is close enough to elicit distaste.

As for which suit you should buy next, I'd suggest you first make a choice - will it be almost exclusively for business, or almost exclusively for non-business.

If the former, I'd probably seriously consider a navy pinstripe. If the later, maybe a tan or olive suit (depends on where you are, what your coloring is like, etc.). Maybe a windowpane.

If you refuse to buy either a business suit or a social suit - if you demand that your new suit be a jack of all trades, fine. Personally, I dislike this sort of thinking, because the broader the role the item is intended to serve, the less likely it is to be an excellent choice for any one of its intended purposes. It's sort of how when you buy a Swiss army knife with 27 tools built-in, it's handy. But the built-in saw is unlikely to perform as well as a single, stand along saw. The 4 built-in screwdrivers aren't likely to perform as well as 4 full-size screwdrivers, etc.

But if that's your choice, and if you like grey suits, go ahead and get a dark grey (charcoal) suit. Or if your existing suits are all single-breasted, maybe consider buying a double-breasted.

So, bottom line - no, a black suit is absolutely not a "must have." And in my opinion and experience, is not even a "want to have."

And if you want a tuxedo, buy a tuxedo. You could probably pick up a Brooks Bros. or Ralph Lauren or somesuch tuxedo on eBay for pennies on the dollar. And it'll look better than the typical rental tuxedo. And much better than a black suit.
post #4 of 6

Your dark grey and navy suit should work for the situations described. If you want to add some variety, how about a subtle check



post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tips!

Think I'll shy away from the black suit and get something else.... Just got word tonight that a wedding I'm attending later this year is black tie so maybe the tux is the wisest investment. would rather have it when I need it than not. Plus hope to have it for life and get some mileage out of it eventually.

After that I'll seriously consider a patterned grey suit. Again appreciate the advice guys!
post #6 of 6
Decades ago I asked my cutter, Colin Harvey, to make a black funeral suit for me. He replied, "I'm sure you mean charcoal grey." To this day there is no black suit in my wardrobe. Even my dinner suits are midnight blue.

12345Michael54321 offers excellent advice when it comes to color and pattern.
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