THE ESSENTIALS: THE CHARCOAL SUIT
If you are wearing suits to work or wear them several times a week it almost goes without saying that you will need more than one. The next essential following the navy suit is the classic charcoal suit.
Charcoal is an extremely versatile colour for the office, going with pretty much any shirt and tie combo. This means you get maximum wear from all your shirts and ties rotating between the navy and charcoal suits. For the office shoe wise it is more versatile than navy as charcoal also goes very well with black shoes, although I personally still prefer brown.
The charcoal suit also doubles as a fantastic formalwear suit if going to a (non black tie) wedding, or the races or any evening event. It spruces up nicely with bolder more fashion forward shirts and ties like its navy counterpart.
The only downside vs the navy is that the charcoal suit or jacket does not look great as a sportscoat separate as it looks too “worky”.
This image shows a perfect office wear outfit with a crisp blue shirt and plain tie, ideal for any office, excluding the no socks look. For more conservative offices wear the trousers a little wider and longer.
This option shows a little more pizazz with a few accessory details like the tie bar to give the charcoal suit a little more lift and sartorial edge. This is ideal for those trying to standout just a little bit.
For those wanting to look like the own their companies, it is hard to go past the three piece. It adds authority and style to the look. Seeing suits like these makes me think of the high fliers of Wall Street, the JP Morgans or the Rothschilds of the world.
Here is an outfit I love. A great patterned blue shirt and matching pocket square with a skinny flannel grey tie. This is a great look for a Saturday at the races or a wedding. You could replace the patterned shirt with a nice pink lavender or lemon shirt too for a more summery feel.
The keys to getting the right charcoal suit are very similar to the navy again. Dark is better, but not so dark it’s almost black. The fabric should be plain or in this case a very subtle stripe is also ok. Textured is great, I am a sucker for a charcoal sharkskin or pic n pic weave. Also herringbones and twill weaves are excellent choices. For those after truly plain, a gabardine in a charcoal is superb too.
Cut is crucial as it enables the suit to “sell” the wearer subtly. Quite slim without being too tight, 2 button notched lapels not wider than 3″ not narrower than 2.5″ will keep the suit classic enough to be worn for several years.
Trouser wise slim but not stovepipe, something with around a 17″ ankle for most people is ideal.
Lastly make a trip to a tailor if buying OTR and have the suit fitted to youth ensure you look your best.
Great places to get a high quality charcoal suit in Sydney would be
Low budget: MJ Bale, their two for $1000AUD is fantastic value for those starting a wardrobe
Medium budget: Hugo Boss they have a great basic charcoal suit and a couple. With a touch more detail
Premium :Zegna, or high quality made to measure from a reputed establishment. (I offer these at Argys in Sydney)
Top of Hill: Full bespoke, again I offer these at Argys in Sydney, other tailors in Sydney who I can recommend include Cutler, Casa Adamo and Bijan. For other cities have a look on http://www.styleforum.net for good tailors near you.