The discussion about colours for your first suit usually boils down to a grudge match between grey and navy.
The reasoning is that it's hard to go wrong with either of those colours in a suit.
It's true, as both are classics in a staple wardrobe.
However, there's something to be said for grey, has an edge over the other, ever so slightly but nevertheless convincingly.
It's a question of versatility, and while even here the race is fairly even, grey has one trump card to play when you're beginning the journey of building your wardrobe.
The trump card is seen in wearing the suit as separates.
The biggest point of versatility in a suit, at least in my opinion, is how well both pieces can be worn as separates. Each choice in the navy vs. grey debate carries pros and cons here.
Jacket-wise, navy is much easier to pair than grey. Navy sport coats and blazers are a dime a dozen, and navy jackets can be paired with just about any colour of trouser. However, navy trousers are notoriously difficult to pair tastefully in a formal setting.
On the flip side, grey odd jackets are not so common. They're considerably less versatile than their navy counterparts, and tend mostly to be worn as part of a monochromatic outfit when combined as separates.
However, the grey trouser is the most versatile trouser in any man's wardrobe. You can wear grey trousers with just about anything as far as a tailored wardrobe goes, and quite frankly I think you could get away with owning only grey trousers, if you were so inclined.
This brings us to a stalemate if you can't just buy one grey and one navy right off of the bat, and you might be thinking well, I can buy the navy suit, use the jacket as an odd jacket, and just buy a pair of grey odd trousers.
And you could.
But is this ideal?
Most suit jackets don't look quite right as a separate jacket. To put it simply, the design is usually austere and formal, as it's designed to be worn as a suit, rather than as a separate.
When a suit jacket is worn as a separate, but it's clear to the viewer that the jacket came from a suit rather than being designed as an odd jacket, it's referred to as an orphaned jacket.
This perception can change if you have control over the design details, such as ordering made to measure. Essentially, the standard suit jacket details of flapped horizontal pockets and jetted breast pocket are likely to look out of place.
Something with patch pockets, on the other hand, is going to be much more at home when worn as a separate. This is something you can specify with a made to measure tailored suit.
Other factors come into play here, like the fabric choice and buttons. A bolder fabric such as a windowpane or colourful tweed can have the suiting standard of flapped pockets and standard jetted breast pocket, while still looking sufficiently happy as an odd jacket, and it's because of the fabric. The same goes with buttons, in the case of something like a navy prep style blazer, where the gold buttons distinguish it sufficiently from a suit jacket.
However, most entry level suiting is going to be of the standard configuration which will have the jacket shouting orphan to onlookers. Hence my conviction that grey is a better choice, because while the jacket might look odd as a separate, the trousers will be perfectly fine.
So how does this affect the choice between navy and grey?
To recap, navy trousers are difficult to combine as separates, having much less versatility than a grey trouser.
While the navy jacket is a staple of any wardrobe as a separate, a navy suit jacket is prone to looking like an orphaned jacket. The grey suit's jacket is just as prone to this issue as a navy suit jacket, however a grey odd jacket is less likely to see wear than a navy one.
If you want to avoid wearing the jacket as a separate in order to avoid the orphaned jacket look, you'll most likely only wear the trousers as separates.
And here, grey far outshines navy in versatility.
Of course, if you're ordering made to measure, we can help you design your suit jacket in a way that'll make it work well as an odd jacket as well as with the suit.
Just let us know when you come in for your appointment!