The Basics of Building a Suit Wardrobe

Words | Kane Griffiths

A guide to creating a functional and versatile wardrobe in a 'new normal' world.

The one aspect of menswear that every man should conquer is the suit. Whether it's for weddings, work or funerals, at some point, every man will need a suit. As the Greek philosopher, Epictetus proclaimed "know, first, who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly".

Considering your purpose, climate, and personal preferences will give you the knowledge to make a smart investment when It comes to suiting. Here we'll look at building a basic suit armoury to take you through any season and occasion.

The Fundamentals

If you wear a suit every day, rotating at least five gives you flexibility for different situations and seasons, at the same time making them last longer in-between wears.

Most men who work in a corporate environment will need something conservative in block colours, like charcoal and navy. These colours are the most versatile, so you can dress them up and down with different accessories depending on the situation. Plus, if suiting is your day-to-day armour, you don't want to worry about mixing it up to often.

The key to these options is to focus on fit.

Once you have two suits in navy and charcoal, you can add another in light to mid grey and any blue shade that suits your complexion. A mid-grey with a pinpoint weave gives some subtle variation to the fabric and looks equally good with a shirt and tie as it does with a long-sleeve polo or a crew neck knit.

If you're going down the crew neck look, it's best to stick with navy, earth or monochrome colours like dark charcoal or black with a grey suit. Lighter blue fabrics are best suited to the warmer months and reflect the colour tones of the season.

If your workplace has a business casual dress code, opting for an autumn inspired blazer in burgundy or green adds a nice depth to your look and adds variety to your wardrobe.

Another business casual fundamental is a merino wool knitwear sweater in either a crew or V-neck cut. These create the quintessential professional casual look when paired with a collared shirt underneath suit pants and suede shoes.


With the modern workplace going through a suit recession, cotton and linen blends offer just enough formality but gives you the option to forgo the tie and add a polo or use the jacket and trouser as a separate.

Long sleeved linen shirts are another business casual wardrobe staple, providing breathability during the warmer months. Shirts in this material are lightweight while still allowing for a clean and casual fit. They can be styled over the top of a white t-shirt, underneath a blazer, or on their own with their sleeves rolled up for a smart casual look.

In Summer, construction is just as important as fabric, so our half and unlined jackets reduce the overall weight whilst increasing breathability. The addition of patch pockets also helps to soften the jacket's formality while being a great utility for your phone, wallet and headphones.

Wool flannels are a staple for the cooler months. In Melbourne, keep the fabrics light enough for unseasonable weather and reserve heavier cloths for your coats.

A grey flannel suit is a crucial piece as it offers comfort in winter and the texture in the trousers give enough depth to the fabric, so they're versatile enough to match a navy blazer whilst not appearing like you’re wearing two different suits.

Australian’s travel (well, they used to) for business more than any other nation, so opting for high-twist wool can be a great investment.
High-twist cloths are made of wool fibres that are spun a couple more times than usual to give better durability and crease resistance, so you don't have to rely on the dodgy hotel press to keep it fresh.


Proportion is everything. Half a size small, and you'll look like you still haven't worked
off the Christmas Turkey, while half a size too big and you'll look like you stole your suit from the old man.

Wearing a suit should never become a burden, so striking a balance between being comfortable and creating a flattering silhouette is essential. Alterations are inevitable, so investing in some now, particularly if they are on the tight side, will save you on repairs down the track, around the crotch area especially.


Subtle windowpane checks and chalk stripes should draw the eye but shouldn't make you stand out from across the room like a Peacock from Pitti Uomo. These options are perfect for business casual workplaces or after work drinks where you can dress down the jacket with neutral coloured chinos.

Pairing a patterned blazer with simple colours like tan, khaki, or beige avoids patterns clashing and lets the jacket be the focal point.

At M.J. Bale, our range is curated for the Australian climate. Our jacket style favours origins from Southern Italy like our soft shoulders and wider lapels.

The jackets in our Classic and Collection ranges come lined with Bemberg, a fibre that wicks away sweat and breathes easily, so the wearer can feel comfortable in warmer climates or if he forgot about the presentation at that 9 a.m. Monday morning meeting.

As for our cloths, we favour worsted fabrics from Vitale Barberis Canonico, a Woolmark Gold Weaver who has been creating textiles since 1663.
These fabrics offer breathability, crease resistance and natural stretch found only in Australian Superfine Merino wool.

We also have seasonal fabrics from Loro Piana, which are often blended with linen and silk that are perfect for Spring and Summer.

The world of menswear can be unnecessarily confusing, but these ideas will help you form a well-rounded wardrobe for any occasion.

Remember your work environment, climate, and personal preferences should always guide your decision, rather than the newest trend. As a wizened Greek philosopher remarked, "know, first, who you are".

Our Melbourne tailoring specialist Kane spends most of his weekends trying to lower his golf handicap and manages our George Parade store in Melbourne.