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Whether It’s Your Only Suit or the First of Many, Go Navy

Two of the most common questions men ask me pertain to suits: 1.) If I only need one suit, what should I get? and 2.) What should my first suit be? The answer to both is the same. Whether just starting out or starting over, a man should begin with the solid navy suit.

The navy suit is, by far, the most versatile suit that any man can own*. Barring black tie affairs, it can be worn for any situation that asks for a suit: a job interview, day-to-day business, dress-casual, a night out, a wedding, a funeral or any situation where one wants to look like something. The top half can even be worn separately as a jacket – a stunt I pull regularly.

The beauty of the dark navy suit is that it is nondescript enough that it can be made to look like a different suit with different wearings, depending on how, where and with what it is worn. It’s dark enough to be very dressy; it’s got enough color to “pop” with the right shirt or accessories. When light hits a good navy suit just right, it can be stunning. And perhaps more than any other color, dark navy complements everyone’s skin and hair tones wonderfully.

More than any other suit in my closet, the navy gets the most mileage by far. Below are photos of me in the same navy suit:

So whether it’s the first suit for someone who is building a wardrobe or it’s the only suit for someone who wears a suit rarely, go navy.

Read my piece on How I Like a Jacket to Fit.

* Why Not Black?
Black is black. It’s dark, severe and funereal when it’s not in the shape of a tuxedo. Unless one has a well-established reputation for being a wearer of black (Tom Ford), a black suit should really be reserved for a chauffeur, a maitre ‘d, a pallbearer, a Tarantino gangster or a doorman at Barneys. With the exception of my tux, I don’t even own a black suit.

16 thoughts on “Whether It’s Your Only Suit or the First of Many, Go Navy”

  1. I agree, George. The other nice thing about a navy over a charcoal suit is that navy gives a guy with a few years under his belt a more youthful look (which is especially nice for us single guys over 40 ;).

    1. Excellent point, D! Thanks for bringing that up. Navy provides a subtle pop of color that gives an understated vibrance to… well… “grayer” palettes of us gents over 40. ;-)

  2. Good advice, George. I like my navy suit. But I have found that I like my charcoal grey as much and maybe more. I find it almost as versatile. But for me it may have more to do with becoming a greying 50-something, I find it fits my coloring better.

  3. Don’t forget shoes…navy is good with those black or brown brogues. I have a navy pinstripe but I think I’m going to get a plain navy so I can double the jacket as a sport coat (those pinstripes look a little off without the matching trouser.)

  4. All excellent advice. That said, I’ve just always been more partial to a good charcoal over navy… And I find it’s just as versatile in all those same situations. Just my personal preference.

  5. Great read, George, and I totally agree. A navy suit is the bomb. You can do so many things with it (as your photos so aptly prove). Dark gray is useful too in many situations, but it tends to be more somber and, well, older, and just doesn’t look as good with jeans IMO.

  6. Hi George – First off, great read. I find it interesting that you are wearing the suit jacket with dark or light jeans when the jacket is usually meant to be paired with the matching pant. Can you clarify how are able to pull off using a suit jacket to wear over denim?

    My second question is about the Indochino suit, is it the essential navy or premium navy?

    Best,
    Tristan

    1. Hi, Tristan… Thank you. The navy suit is the same color as a navy blazer, which can be worn with almost anything. It’s technically a “cheat” that purists would frown upon since it’s the top half of a suit and not a dedicated blazer, but I don’t really care about that. Really only something I’d do with a navy jacket. Hope that answers that question. The suit in the photographs is Indochino’s Premium Navy.

  7. Hi there George, great review. You’ve truly changed my perception of the navy vs. black suit dilemma I’ve always had. My question, though, is that of your watch in the last two stills. What brand/model is it? I think the color composition is perfect with the outfit. Thank you, sir.

    1. Thanks, Tim! That there is a Timex Military Watch from J.Crew. It has an interchangeable nylon NATO strap. I have about 8 different straps, which are available from J.Crew or Timex. Thanks for asking! All in the details…

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