Choosing Your First Suit: A How-To Guide

When the teenage years begin drawing to a close, most men find that – all of a sudden – a suit is needed. Each season brings with it a host of weddings, job interviews and graduation ceremonies and to make matters worse, most men are cash-strapped and bewildered by their formalwear options.

For most occasions, a two-piece suit is standard and nowadays, there’s an overwhelming amount of choice. Most men know better, but £30.00 will indeed buy you a suit from Britain’s favourite town centre bargain bin. The fact is that most people assume that sourcing a good-looking, knockout suit is a recondite art that’s best left to the lucky, privileged few.

When you flick through the family album, you’ll want to remember just how sharp you looked – and not how gawky and graceless you looked. The following tips will ensure you’re on top form when the big days come around.

The basics


Fit can make-or-break even the most expensive suit. The fact is that people often purchase suits that are too large for their frames. Incorrect sleeve length, collars that float and lapels that bow are a real giveaway.

Dependant on budget, you have several options. A bespoke or made-to-measure suit will usually cost north of £600 but will pay dividends in the long run. A tailor-made suit is simply incomparable to the shop-bought alternative and is a long-term investment that, when cared for properly, can look good as new for decades.

For those on a tight budget, the best option is a shop-bought, off-the-peg suit. With a little shopping around, you can pick up a reasonable quality suit for between £110 and £200. A caveat should be issued here, however: in the current age of mass-production and designer brand names, a suit’s price is not always an indicator of its quality.

Skinny fit suits are currently in en vogue, but some believe these give a top-heavy and disproportionate look. For a more timeless look, a classic fit is advised.

Fabric and fibre

Wool and cotton-based fabrics are best, with worsted wool, wool blend, cotton and cotton blend offering slightly more budget-friendly alternatives to top-end cashmeres and silks. Polyester suits are sold everywhere but are best avoided due to their tell-tale sheen and tendency to trap in heat.


Dark colours such as navy blue, black and grey will match most suit and tie combinations and are – unlike more transient colours – unlikely to become dated. Navy blue makes an especially good ‘all-rounder’ as it is dark enough for formal occasions but light enough for semi-formal events. For more adventurous types, unconventional shades such as burgundy can look great and make a statement.

Finishing touches


Pocket squares add a stylish touch and can be worn in several ways. For a more conservative look, fold it into a square and tuck it in neatly. A more casual and style-savvy alternative is to tuck it in and allow it to ruffle naturally. Tie pins are another subtle detail likely to get you noticed, and a sturdy watch is a must-have. For inspiration, see Mullen & Mullen’s range of watches.


An improperly-tied tie can look slack and draw attention for the wrong reasons. A classic Windsor knot is easy and effective. For special occasions, trickier knots such as the Eldredge knot will allow you to rake in the compliments.


Square-toed shoes or those with pointy ends could come to look dated and cheap with repeated wear. An arguably more safe investment is a classic pair of brogues or Oxfords in tan, black or oxblood. Finally, make sure that your shoes and belt match! It’s an important but oft-overlooked formalwear fundamental.