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My son needs a suit. Can we get one for work and play?

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The question

My son is attending a wedding this summer and needs a suit, which he could also use to make client calls at his new sales job. He's a recent grad and his budget is limited. Is it possible to buy one good suit appropriate for all occasions?

The answer

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Indeed it is. That's what's so brilliant about classic men's suits: They are all-purpose. Nowadays,wool is so fine and lightweight that a suit can be wearable for most of the year. The key is to keep it dark.

Even if the wedding is in August, resist the temptation to buy a pale grey or cream suit; a light-coloured one is useless after Labour Day. So here's what you need: One single-breasted, two-button suit, in mid-to-dark grey, charcoal (i.e., very dark grey, not black) or navy. Avoid pinstripes or other patterns for the time being (you can get those on your second suit). This suit will be 100-per-cent high-twist wool and have at least one vent in the back (I prefer two) and modishly narrow lapels.

The trousers will be very narrow, with a flat front and a low rise. No cuffs. Your son will also, of course, need a pair of shiny plain black leather lace-up shoes. With this basic uniform and a few shirts and ties (buy at least two white shirts, one blue and one pink), he can do lunch, boardrooms, weddings, funerals and nightclubs. Presumably without the help of mom.

Russell Smith is a novelist. His recent memoir, Blindsided, is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a fashion question? E-mail

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