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Full Version: How much should I be spending on suits (and how many do I need)?
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My job doesn't require a suit so I don't have one. I've just been wearing chinos and OCBDs to Mass since I was broke, but I finally got a decent job and have some spare money, so I want to start dressing better for Mass. But, I have no idea how much I should be spending tbh. Can anyone give me a general idea on this?
Good question and I don't have the answer. I typically where chinos, a dress shirt and tie, and my dress shoes to mass.

I have a black suit I bought about 15 years ago that I wear to funerals, weddings, and to Christmas and Easter masses. I think I paid around $300 back then.

About a year and a half ago I took my two grown sons to Indochino as sort of an early Christmas present. They were measured and given a bunch of options to fit their builds and tastes. A pleasant experience for them. They got their suits about 6 weeks later in the mail and they look great on them. You can get them fine tuned if you go in for a final fitting after you get the suit. I paid about $600 a piece for their suits and they look sharp. You can go cheaper there if you like.

You can do the thrift store thing as well, and get it tailored. I've been looking around for something like that myself.

EDIT: As to the question of how many... If you don't require one for work I would say get a charcoal gray suit. That should cover just about every occasion. Dark blue (navy) would work as well, but my choice would be charcoal gray.
I agree with jack89. I have a navy and a charcoal suit, and I get more use out of the charcoal.

I've been interested in the indochino route, but mine both came from eBay. I have Brooks Brothers 1818 (not their cheaper outlet line) and paid $150-200 each, plus some alterations. Brooks makes three or four different standard fits (madison fits me best), and you should know what measurements you need based on a jacket you already have that fits well. Sleeves can be shortened or lengthened (if there's enough material), and of course trousers can be hemmed. Waists can be taken in (harder to let out.) Shoulders cannot be easily tailored, so be sure on your jacket size. I have not had any success with goodwill or other thrift stores, as I am rather tall. If you are of average height you may have better luck, but often the suits will look dated.
I definitely agree with jack89 and sempervirens; navy and charcoal will be your most versatile options. The color will depend on your hair color and complexion as well. I am a pale guy with light hair, so navy tends to work better. 

Another option I will recommend is to go with an online made-to-measure company. I buy my pants, shirts, jackets, and suits from a company called Luxire (www.luxire.com). I don't mean to shill for them specifically, but I have purchased a lot of clothing from them, and they do great work. Their clothing is very inexpensive for the quality; the investment is in time to get a pattern that fits you well. Canvassed suits start at $350, and I have not found a better value for the price anywhere. The company is in India, but I have met the owner, and he is great. Good communication as well and they will occasionally do trunk shows in the U.S.

There are some other online companies as well that offer similar services. Take your time, figure out what you like, and buy quality. Men's clothing is meant to last for decades. And it is good motivation to stay in shape so your clothing still fits!
Agree with Jack also.  I like a black suit though myself.  Don’t forget about the accessories, some nice and soft color ties and shirts.  Pretty much Everything works with black, navy, and charcoal.   Pattern tie with a solid colour shirt, and solid color tie if you have checkered or striped shirts.
If you only get one, get black, and get it tailored. Tailoring can make most anything look good.
I dress well on a budget, so I feel qualified to answer your question.

There is no need to buy a new suit (unless you are getting one tailored for marriage etc.) I have plenty of pre-owned jackets that look better than my new jackets.
In this day and age, one only needs to spend a mite of money to look good. Shop at thrift stores and eBay, Etsy etc. for used clothing. I have bought good-quality clothing made by reputable fashion houses for cheap just because they are used. There is no need for stigma against used clothing. No one will be able to tell you bought used clothing if you shop smart.

I assume you know your measurements. For example, if I wanted to buy a new jacket, I would type in ebay "suit jacket 44L". Customize your searches as you see fit. Obviously, as VoxClamantis wrote, you will indeed want to get your suit(s) tailored. Many articles of clothing will look serviceable without tailoring, but some will not. I have a pair of pants that is way too long and baggy for its size.

As for how many suits you *need*, it depends on your circumstances. It would be prudent for any man, however, to at least have a few different suits--one for fall/winter (dark colors, heavy materials), one for spring/summer (light colors, light materials), and one for the whole year (medium colors, breathable but warm material). Get a black, dark gray, or navy blue suit for serious occasions like funerals. Feel free to experiment with suits you will wear to different functions! It is a wide, wide world in menswear. The idea that a man must only wear this or that color is a uniquely Protestant one. It is admirable to break away from the Calvinist monotone.
The order of priority for suit colors, based on traditional formality and general usefulness and versatility:

1. Black
2. Navy
3. Charcoal/grey
4. Lighter blue or brown

I would strongly recommend starting with black. It is traditionally the most useful color for the widest range of circumstances requiring formality, whether church, weddings/funerals, events, jobs, or interviews. Start with solid black, not pinstripe. I would first get wool in a medium weight so it can be used in winter, and if you have nothing else for summer, you can take your jacket off.

For the other colors, if you move onto buying more, start solid before you get anything with a pattern.

And I agree with the above two posters: get the suit tailored. And if you're on a budget (which it sounds like you are), certainly start with used.

For those who can, men should have: at least one crisp, white dress shirt; a pair of black dress shoes (and then brown shoes); a black leather belt (and then a brown leather belt); and a tasteful tie (safe to go with a solid color and made of silk).

After you have the basics, then do whatever you want.