This is probably one of the most common questions I receive, and I believe so as the answer given most often isn’t the correct one for everybody.
If you browse on the internet you will notice that the most frequent suggestion is to have at least one solid navy and one solid charcoal grey suit in your wardrobe.
Although I believe they are a great choice, you should go for a colour you like, that expresses your style and personality.
I want you to hear my story, as I have ended up with a navy suit that it’s not what I like and want to share the lessons learned.
I remember the first time I had to shop for a suit it was for my cousin's wedding, where I was instructed to wear a garment of a shade of blue.
Keep in mind here, that time and location are not on my side because the wedding will be in only a few months time and I’m in a foreign country with no clue about where to look.
So I start going to the main shopping malls but I cannot find anything that I like, too light, too heavy, too short, too intricate, and after a month, exasperated and with time running out, I almost decide for one of the big fashion brand ready-to-wear suits.
Fortunately enough, I accidentally come across a luxury shoe retailer (where I ended up buying my shoes), where the gentleman serving me, understanding my needs and criteria, points me to a nearby shop that sells mainly shirts but has also a small selection of suits. Tired to look around, reaching the deadline and not knowing any other place where to look for, I choose to purchase a navy suit from them.
This is a ready to wear, with only trousers adjusted to the right length, collection the following week.
Although this is a great value suit for its price, I’m not a fan of navy blue and prefer darker, more neutral tones. As I was saying earlier, now I own something that I don’t really enjoy wearing. Also, the fact that I don’t need to wear a suit for my typical work day makes it even more useless to me. Still this event sparked a real interest for gentlemen style and I have since then learned a lot about it and about other colour options I could have chosen for that first suit. So here’s me sharing what I learned with you.
You want to follow this order: learn about fit, fabrics, construction and style first.
Once you have done that you can then think about colours. Then it is only a matter of finding the perfect supplier that satisfies all your requirements.
I can assure you that if I knew where to go for my first suit, I would have chosen a midnight blue suit instead of the navy one, as I like that particular darker tone much better.
Back to the original question, it is true that for an office environment it is better to use safe colours such as navy or charcoal grey. However, I really want to emphasize that you don’t need both if you don’t like one of the two colours, as one can have many different variations in terms of style.
Not all of us have to work in a suit, and If you do you should consider buying more than one anyway.
So what other colour options we have outside the recommended standard? The general rule of thumb is certainly solid and dark colours (black excluded for a first suit: it’s very hard to dress down a black suit, it’s just too formal. Unless of course you are invited to a black tie event, In this case a black tuxedo is probably a must!).
Think about it, what “more formal” occasions require a suit? And which colour will be accepted in those circumstances?
Surely, most of them will accept dark shades of blue, dark shades of grey but also dark shades of brown and even dark shades of green.
Some muted patterns can also be accepted but remember that patterns will stand out more. Also, it is a little more complicated to pair patterns with other patterns, making them a less versatile option compared to solid. We are still talking about your first suit, so It is best not to go for the extraordinary yet. The reason I recommend a dark solid colour suit is versatility. Now that you cover formal occasions with that one suit, you can certainly dress it down.
To summarize things up, remember to ask yourself these 3 questions when you choose the colours of your first suit:
- What purpose should the suit fulfil?
- What would be acceptable to wear in this occasion/s?
- Which variant of what is acceptable would reflect better myself?
I hope I have given you some food for thought and inspiration to use other colour options if you don’t like the two recognised staple colours, navy and charcoal.
Let me know what is the colour of your first suit in the comments, and what is your style!