Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
For some men, adulthood can turn into a race against time — the moment you need your first nice suit. We get a head start now, though, thanks to mostly chill work environments and lax dress codes. But you can’t outrun the moment when you absolutely need a suit for an important job interview or the wedding of a well-heeled friend, or for when you’ve been called to guest star in the show Suits.
There’s a couple routes you can take at this point. You can do what you should do and just invest in a suit. Alternatively, you could rent a suit (don’t) or a tux (this is okay). Or you could just buy a blazer or the less formal, typically unstructured sports coat, dress it up, and hope that you get away with it. Here’s where you can find something to wear to that formal event you’re going to.
Just Buy the Dang Suit
Death, taxes, and buying a suit. These are just the things life inevitably throws your way, so embrace the moment. You should really just buy a suit, because once you have one, you can be finished with it. To that end — and I’m sorry to deliver this bad news — you should spend a decent chunk of change on your first suit. That means somewhere in the neighborhood of $550.
You can find suits that come highly recommended in this price range at places like Bonobos and Suitsupply. J.Crew’s whole rise to prominence a half-decade ago centered around the fact you could go there and get the best bang for your buck on a suit. Oh, and Todd Snyder, the dude who helped mastermind those suits, now has his own brand that offers $600 off-the-rack beauties.
The other good thing about buying a suit is that you can get it tailored — make it truly yours. But, twist, you can also head straight to Indochino, a brand that customizes your suit based off your measurements from the jump. (You can even customize little details, like the suit lining, if you’re into that kind of thing.)
The Lone Blazer or Sports Coat
In most modern-day situations, you can probably get away with only investing in a formal top half and pairing it with dark wash jeans. This includes interviews at chill, lax, young companies and most weddings in Williamsburg.
If you simply came here to find a cool sports coat, please see this Engineered Garments Bedford Jacket (normally $384, currently on sale for $246.99) and be on your way. And psst, this price for a sports coat of this quality isn’t really half bad. Especially considering the beautiful items I could urge you to splurge on: a Boglioli Camel Slim-Fit Corduroy Blazer ($1,185), a Gucci Burgundy Slim-Fit Velvet Blazer ($2,300), or an Isaia Sanita Wool-Cashmere Two-Button Sportcoat (on sale for $1,209).
But let’s be real. The realistic option for most people is going to come from a place like Zara or H&M. Zara’s come in the type of atypical patterns you’d never want to spend real money on, like this Camouflage Blazer (on sale for $79.99) or this Patches Blazer (on sale for $79.99). You’d be smart to split the difference, though, and get something nice from, yes, Banana Republic. The Cotton Sweater Blazer ($168) or Slim Gray Glen Plaid Sport Coat ($250) are good options at this price point.
Or *Shudders* Rent
In that situation when you really need a suit but don’t want to own one, you can indeed do a rental. Maybe you’ve heard of The Black Tux and/or Menguin — these companies are “disrupting” the suit industry, and have most likely been described as the Everlane/Warby Parker/Uber of suit and tux rentals. One of them has a horrible name.
But both of these companies are much better options than Men’s Wearhouse, which pretty much dominates this industry. Both of them rent a wide variety of core tuxes and suits, and I admit it could come in handy if you’re looking to try patterns and colors outside the kind of thing you’d want to make a forever buy on. Maybe you’re dressing up as Obama at a costume party and need a The Black Tux Tan Suit ($110). It’s possible you need to see for yourself that, no, you’re not Ryan Gosling in-shape or handsome, so you rent this white “Savannah” number ($95) from Menguin. Either way, while renting a suit is certainly the option I’d recommend last, at least it’s no longer the horrible, ill-fitting mess it once was.