Best Suits For Men: GQ’s Ultimate Guide
Every man should have a suit in his wardrobe. There we’ve said it.
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There really is no exception. Gay Talese, former journalist at The New Yorker, once said, “Putting on a beautifully designed suit elevates my spirit, extols my sense of self and helps define me as a man to whom details matter,” and it will do the exact same for you. Even if you don’t work in an office, whether for a wedding, job interview or funeral, it’s likely you’ll need a smart, tailored look at least once a year.
And, sure, while a decent suit will make you feel a million dollars (figuratively speaking), with so many suits out there, chances are you could fall flat and end up looking pretty awful. Every leading style figure has at one time or another donned a suit, whether it’s Harry Styles or Donald Glover (and, to be honest, they know how to get it right).
With that in mind, we thought it was about time we compiled the ultimate GQ guide to suits. So whether you’re in the market for a wool suit fit for the winter months or a wedding suit that won’t break the bank, we can (and will) help you out. And before you hesitate and think you won’t be able to afford any of the suits below, you’d be wrong. We’ve got you covered with the best suits for men, no matter your budget.
For your typical wedding, formality should be at the forefront of your mind. "A versatile, ever-smart-suit-that-flatters-your-proportions three-piece suit" is the best option and the one that Ben Clarke, head cutter at Richard James, suggests men go for. If there is a colour scheme, it's best to stick to it. If in doubt, a plain mid-grey will go with anything, while navy is versatile and flatters all complexions. If you do decide to opt for a three-piece suit, then always remember that when wearing a waistcoat, there is no time or place for a belt.
"Sunny-weather weddings lend themselves to more casual styles in lighter tones with softer constructions (less padding and canvasses). Soft linens, cottons and summer wool frescos all come into play during the summer," explains Clarke.
And while a wedding itself may break the bank, as a guest your suit doesn't need to. Whether you head to high street favourite Marks & Spencer or Alexander McQueen, there is something to suit every budget, without compromising on the fit.
With the turn of summer comes the ability to change up your suiting. Summer suits, when put in contrast to their winter-friendly compatriots, should be by their very nature lighter, cut from more porous fabrics such as linen, silk or fine merino wool and styled in pale, sun-reflecting shades, to reflect the warmer climes. You could even go down the route that John Legend favours and go for suits in vibrant shades such as yellow and purple.
When wearing a summer suit, you also have the opportunity to play around a little more, perhaps switching out a shirt for a vest (as Harry Styles and Kanye West like to do) or by going shirtless completely, as seen on the catwalks of Louis Vuitton and Dior.
Sure, you might not be a fan of the cooler weather that the winter months bring, but there is one good thing about it: you get to wear a wool suit. Softer and therefore more wearable than tweed, it is a happy medium between comfort, style and warmth and, as a result, is our go-to between the months of October and March (give or take a few, remembering we still live in temperamental Britain). Essentially, wool is a better idea than, say, linen in the cooler months because it will keep you a hell of a lot warmer.
Wool is also a good idea because, rather than its polyester counterpart, it is less damaging to the environment. When you want it to, wool will biodegrade in a matter of months, without causing microfibre or plastic pollution. It's a win-win (unless the sun is scorching).
A linen suit is a warm-weather must-have. Lightweight and loose, the mighty linen suit is constructed in flax fibre and has an extremely low thread count (a blend of fine cotton at around 200 and a fine linen around 80-150), which means it is a lot lighter than other suits (the wool suit in particular). Our advice is that if you have a business obligation that will take you to warmer climes, then the linen suit should be exactly what you opt for.
Whether you wear a linen suit for a formal day look with a pair of sandals and an open, linen shirt (Chris Hemsworth does this well), or wear it with a crisp white shirt and tie, you can guarantee that a sweaty back will be at the back of your mind.
Historically, the lounge suit was the less formal version of morning dress or morning suit. Today, however, that has changed. Ben Clarke suggests that "these days, I would say that a lounge suit is simply a suit of two or three pieces that has each been cut from the same cloth. After the Second World War the waistcoat rather disappeared because of cloth rationing and so the two-piece lounge suit was born."
The lounge suit, as we know it today, is something of an umbrella term, covering both two- and three-piece suits. When you read a dress code on an invitation that reads "lounge suit" rather than "cocktail attire" you can expect that your office suit is more than up to scratch, rather than tailored eveningwear.
Essentially, most suits you see on the high street or in the office are lounge suits.
While you can get some great tailoring on the high street right now, unless you're built to model-sized specifications, chances are an off-the-peg fit will always be a little off. And that's why made-to-measure is a great invention.
Made-to-measure means that while you get the opportunity to fully customise your finished garment, this is a suit that's taken from a ready-made fit pattern and then altered by a tailor to fit you. If you're looking for a suit that fits like a glove, then you're probably going to want to go down the made-to-measure route.
Nowadays, most brands offer a made-to-measure service, from Paul Smith to Gieves & Hawkes.
If you have a black-tie event, then you're going to need a tuxedo. The classic tux (AKA the penguin suit) is sharp and fitted and comes in a variety of ways. A traditional tuxedo comes with a single-breasted jacket with jetted pockets. Typically a tuxedo features peak lapels or shawl collar, which are equally authentic and correct and usually come in silk, satin or grosgrain. Notched lapels aren't seen as typically acceptable for a black-tie event.
Today, the tuxedo has come a long way from its 19th-century origins and the red carpet at awards ceremonies have become awash with different variations. The blue tux is a popular option (Armie Hammer and Donald Glover favour a more colourful-hued suit). Then there's the bolder, mismatched tux, which has seen the likes of Timothée Chalamet don black slim-fitting tuxedo trousers with a patterned tuxedo jacket.
Then there is the white jacket tuxedo. The rules of white tie are akin to those of black – just make sure everything fits and avoid notched lapels (a bow tie is customary). With all that in mind, below we have picked the best suits you can get your hands on right now, to fit any occasion…
In search of a suit with a soupçon of artistry? Husbands is waiting. The French tailoring brand offers technically perfect products that contain nods to the cultural greats: from pinstripe three-pieces à la Serge Gainsbourg to single-breasted navy suits à la Jacques Dutronc. We advise starting your relationship with the latter: a fully canvased, two-button blazer paired with straight-cut, high-waisted trousers. Styled with a navy knitted tie, slim patent belt and leather Chelsea boots, this will get you on the road to real French style. $1510 at husbands-paris.com
Drake’s x Aimé Leon Dore
Quite possibly our favourite tailoring collaboration of 2019, Drake’s and Aimé Leon Dore’s cotton twill suit is the perfect stepping stone if you’re wanting to introduce colour to more formal outfits. The tawny-brown two-piece has been cut for a relaxed fit, featuring a double vent around the back to prevent any creasing while you’re out and about. Our favourite detail has to be on the trousers, though: adjustable side tabs which act like a belt and nod to traditional tailoring techniques. Top it off with a navy wool overcoat to turn heads. $780 at drakes.com
We have a lot to thank The Beatles for, including how they made a very good case for the slim black suit. Sounds like the easiest tailoring to buy, but you want to make sure the trousers a) don’t fit too much around your thighs and b) have a waistband high enough to meet the bottom button of your blazer. Our top suggestion? A trip to Prada and an investment in this light-stretch technical suit. With well-constructed shoulders, classic notch lapels and a very flattering structure, we can say with confidence that The Fab Four would be loving it. $2365 at prada.com
In search of a well-made suit that won’t break the bank? Your best bet is to choose a less fitted, more louche design. If that’s what you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with Cos: this wool-mix blazer has a tonal melange quality, finished with full lining, notched lapels and welt pockets both inside and out. The trousers are finished with a single, neat pressfold on each leg, adding a touch of formality to an otherwise casual suit. Good for stylish excursions day or night and best worn with chunky boots and a black turtleneck. Jacket, $235. Trousers, $100 at cosstores.com
Oliver Spencer x Mr Porter
Oliver Spencer is a frontrunner in relaxed, contemporary suiting. This traditional, double-breasted piece takes a traditional shape, but is loosely structured in an Onslow Wool cotton cloth blend and is half lined with a cream taped internal seam. The suit’s light shoulder roll, peak lapel and double back vent give it clean lines and a touch of formality. Details include a one-button working cuff and top welt pocket. It is post-Xanax formalism that will facilitate a wide range of use. Jacket, $627. Trousers, $274 at oliverspencer.co.uk
Cord, and in particular the cord suit, is having a small but powerful golden era in fashion. This is evinced by Richard Biedul’s donning of a dark-chocolate cord suit at Fashion Week just gone. What better way to salute this most retro and modern material than your very own chocolate-brown iteration from tailor Sid Mashburn? The jacket is unstructured with a natural shoulder and a partial lining, keeping it relaxed and casual; the ideal Christmas party-stopper. Jacket, $908. Trousers, $425 at mrporter.com
Boss by Hugo Boss
This is the all-bases-covered tuxedo. It comes in a dark-blue colour with a minute pattern across the surface, which steers it slightly away from pure traditional tuxedo and into something more personal. The black silk peak lapel runs with pride down the chest, enhancing an impeccable slim-fit shape. This is a brilliant and modern take on the black-tie get-up. Suit, $777 at hugoboss.com
We love the large Sexton-esque peak lapels on this frame-erecting double-breasted suit by Richard James, a brand that consistently thwack the iron on the head when it comes to modern tailoring and respond intelligently to contemporary movements. This piece comes from the brand’s AW19 Tokyo Calling collection and has a Japanese-inspired Seishin fit (slimmer sleeves, narrower trousers and a slightly shorter jacket than RJ’s traditional Hyde silhouette). Suit, $647 at richard-james.com
A bog-standard grey suit can look flat if done without love. That will never be a problem for Salle Privée, for this piece is textile ardour in tailored form. The beautiful flannel-wool melange fabric is sourced from Vitale Barberis Canonico, an esteemed Italian fabric mill which dates back to 1663, and gives the suit a depth of texture to gawk at. Then there are the finer details, such as the impeccably smart peak lapels and the felted under-collar, to seal your adoration for good. Jacket, $1496. Trousers, $620 at mrporter.com
Don’t worry if you’re too busy working to read the news, we can summarise: pinstripe is back. This charcoal suit by Brooks Brothers is a subtle take on the famously “city” look, but with an approachable and relaxed feel. It comes in a Milano fit, meaning it’s slim through the shoulders, chest and waist, giving it a silhouette that will complement your body’s natural undulations. Suit, $1424 at brooksbrothers.com
Crafted from a luxurious wool blend, this Champagne-coloured suit by Reiss boasts a subtle stretch helping maintain the shape of the garment and increasing the comfort for the wearer. Whether for a winter or summer wedding, this will be a suitable option. Jacket, $124. Trousers, $46 at reiss.com
Finally, we throw you some versatility in the way of this subtle Prince Of Wales check single-breasted suit from Hackett in a soft brown. It's woven in England by Dormeuil using the finest wool flannel. Owing to its lighter shade, this suit can be worn come rain in December and come shine in the spring. Its green check streak will demand a second glance and communicate to the viewer that this is the suit of a sophisticated man indeed. Suit, $720 at hackett.com
Luxurious, refined and simple. That’s what this Brunello Cucinelli suit embodies. The single-breasted, notched-lapel, navy-blue suit is an unwavering stalwart of the tailoring world and when you construct it in a blend of wool, mohair and cashmere, it elevates it to a whole new level of brilliance. Suit, $2955 at brunellocucinelli.com
When it comes to doing something different and making an impact, it's a good idea to take a look at what Maison Margiela is doing. Well, it's all about colour over there and this single-breasted suit should be your summer go-to. Suit, $1235 at matchesfashion.com
If there is one brand that is nailing double-breasted suits right now it's Gucci. Alessandro Michele is championing the bigger-is-better, wide-peak-lapel DB suit and we're totally here for it. What's more, this one comes in 100 per cent wool with a blue bee-patterned satin lining – serious on the outside, fun on the inside. Suit, $3475 at matchesfashion.com
Marks & Spencer
Made from luxurious British fabric from the Alfred Brown Mill, this will keep you warm throughout next winter (and the one after that). With the added bonus of Marks & Spencer's Supercrease technology, you can guarantee you'll remain Clark Kent sharp no matter how long you wear it for. Suit, $170 at marksandspencer.com/ae