The One Essential Suit

Cary Grant was quoted as saying, “All it takes are a few simple outfits, and there’s one secret – the simpler the better.” For busy people, that should come as welcome relief. With that thought as a baseline, what would be the one suit you would have in your closet, if you could have only one? That suit would have to work overtime and do well in a variety of situations and settings. That suit should get an award!

In years past my answer would have been – without equivocation – a darkblue/navy solid. While that is still a good answer, today I would strongly suggest that one consider a solid, darker shade of gray as that one essential suit. Why the update? Gray tones are especially in step with the times in which we live. The versatility of gray – from somber to social – is unmatched. Why solid? The simpler, the better, right?

Just last week I was helping a young man pick out his first serious suit. It was a college graduation gift from his grandfather. He really liked a subtle windowpane cloth that was among the options on the table, but we kept coming back to that solid dark gray. It just made good sense. Not to mention that his mother agreed, and who really wants to argue with Mom?

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The darker shades of gray (no reference intended toward the series of books that have been recently published under that title) are also uniquely neutral, so you can wear any other color with them and be confident that they are complementary. Yet another option would be to split the difference between navy and dark gray and order up a char blue suit. A great suit color for sure, and one that you won’t readily find off the rack in a store. However, your Tom James clothier can offer you a wide variety.

With regard to style, most men will be best served by a two-button, single breasted coat, with either a center vent or side/double vents, and a flat front pant (with or without cuffs). You may want to add a personal touch by choosing the inside lining of the jacket, or the finishing touch of beautiful horn buttons and working buttonholes on the sleeves; but otherwise you will maximize it’s usefulness by keeping it simple and straightforward with regard to details.

Note: I am not, of course, suggesting that you should have only one suit. The one suit idea is a hypothetical. Most men should own a whole range of suits in a variety of colors and patterns. What I am saying is this: If you don’t have an updated dark gray solid suit in your arsenal, consider putting that at the top of your list for this season’s wardrobe additions.

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