This guide to the best suits under $1,200 explores everything you need to know before you invest in your next suit, including construction methods, fabrics and customizable options. The suits are ordered by price for easy shopping.


In the past few decades, the dress code for the American workplace has lurched in a decidedly casual direction. Many offices swear by ‘Business Casual’ and jobs that do require suits are limited to specialized professionals — like lawyers or accountants — or sales positions.

Of course, this laid-back trend in business wear doesn’t signal the end of suiting; many occasions still warrant a well-tailored wardrobe. If your workplace doesn’t require a suit, it’s still a good idea to own a versatile fallback for nice dinners, weddings, conferences and job interviews. On the other hand, if your job does require a suit, it’s worth owning a few different options you can rotate through during the week.

Even a brief survey of men’s suiting can be overwhelming for the unprepared. Countless brands offer a bevy of variations padded with technical jargon and tailoring terms. While made-to-measure and bespoke suiting options cost thousands of dollars, you can find good-looking suits for less than $1,200. So, whether you are investing in a suit for the first time or just looking to round out your wardrobe, a calculated approach will, more often than not, yield a better result.

J.Crew Ludlow Suit

Courtesy
Best Affordable Suit for Men
J.Crew Ludlow Slim-Fit Suit
J.Crew
$650.00

  • A timeless suit with proper proportions
  • Can be tried on at just about any J.Crew store
  • Colors are updated annually

  • Runs a little slim

First introduced in 2008, J.Crew’s Ludlow suit is a timeless design fit for a range of occasions. This version is cut from 100 percent wool fabric from one of Italy's most storied mills. The jacket features a notch lapel, two-button closure, double vent and partial lining. It has a trim silhouette that is slimming without feeling overly trendy. Like many affordable options, it’s made overseas, but the fabric and fit set it apart from most competitors. The jacket ($425) and pants ($225) are sold separately.

What to Look for

Before you start shopping, brush up on suiting terms, construction methods and fabric types.

First, narrow your price range into $500-and-under or $500-to-$1,200. There are major differences in quality and construction between the two categories, so it’s best to set your expectations before researching brands. While both of these categories exclude fully handmade construction, there are elements you can look for to ensure a quality suit. Look for options that utilize well-made fabrics. They should also have half-canvas or full-canvas interlinings. Suits with fused (glued) interlinings, while highly affordable, are rarely worth even a small investment.

Another element to consider is purchasing off-the-rack versus made-to-measure. If you decide to buy a stock suit, it would be well worth your money to invest in a few alterations to make the most of your investment. In the sub-$1,200 price range, a number of brands offer made-to-measure programs, altering a stock pattern to your specific measurements. While these suits boast a superior fit from the first wear, quality ranged from brand to brand. “If somebody wants to do [made-to-measure] they should go to a real tailor, not to a salesperson that just knows how to measure,” said Sam Wazin, a respected tailor in New York City. “A salesperson wants it to fit you — shoulders, sleeve length, waist and length in the pants — but a tailor thinks about the details.” Tailored suits sit at the upper end of the price range but offer the best fit and details for the money.

Before you start shopping, brush up on suiting terms, construction methods and fabric types. You’ll have a better idea of what you’re paying for and won’t be as easily swayed by fancy marketing jargon. Do your own research and try to get hands-on whenever possible. To save you time in your search for the ideal affordable suit, we compiled a list of the 10 best suits under $1,200 below.

Important Terms to Know

We explain everything from back vents to the differences between RTW and M2M.

Back Vents

These slits are cut into the back of a suit jacket. Traditionally, you will find a single vent that sits on the middle seam of the jacket or a double vent — the two slits offer mobility on either side of the torso.

Bespoke

This is the most expensive type of suit because a new pattern is created for the individual customer. Small nuances in their body are accounted for, and as such, the fit is often the best.

Functional Button Holes

This refers to the buttons on jacket cuffs actually being usable, not simply decorative. As a cost-cutting measure, many manufacturers will sew buttons on a sleeve where buttonholes are not open. If you have a jacket like this, a tailor can alter it to be functional.

Hemline

The hemline of many suits is left unfinished and you need to have it tailored to your liking. First, you must decide if you want your trousers to have a slight break, a full break or no break. Trousers with no break stop around the ankle area (or higher) and don’t bunch up. Trousers with a slight break or medium break will hit the top of your shoes and slightly bunch on themselves. Trousers with a full break rest on top of your shoes and bunch up on themselves. If a trouser is unhemmed, you may also choose to have a cuff or no cuff (your choice here can complement your suit jacket).

Lapels

The two flaps of fabric that sit beneath the collar of your suit jacket. They typically come in three different styles: notched, peak and shawl collar. A notched lapel has a triangular cut-out at the upper chest where the lapel meets the jacket collar. A peaked lapel is generally more formal. The lapel is wider than the jacket collar and forms a ‘peak’ where the two meet. Unlike the others, a shawl collar is typically only found on tuxedos and extends from the collar with no peak or notch.

Made to Measure

With this style of suit, a brand modifies its standard patterns to better suit the customer’s body. A customer’s measurements are sent to the manufacturer to produce the suit, and the result is much better fitting than ready-to-wear options.

Pockets

The pockets on a suit jacket come in a range of styles that fit different settings. A jet pocket is a simple pocket sewn into the suit lining with an unadorned slit opening — it is the most formal. In a similar style, a flap pocket just adds an extra flap of fabric that hangs over the pocket opening. A welt pocket, similar to a jet pocket, is finished with an extra piece of fabric around the opening which reinforces the pocket. The most casual pocket is the patch pocket, sewn onto the exterior of the jacket like a patch would be.

Ready to Wear (RTW)

This refers to an off-the-rack suit that is not adjusted to your body’s measurements.

Trouser Seat and Rise

The seat of a trouser typically refers to the width and the rise refers to the distance between the crotch and the waistband. The rise dictates where your pants will sit between the waist and the hips.

Understanding Construction

Want to know whether you need half-canvas or full? Find out here.

Fused

In order to produce more affordable suit jackets, brands sometimes glue a fusible interlining to the fabric of the suit. This is far less expensive than hand-stitching a canvas inside the jacket and does help to keep the jacket’s shape. Over time, though, the interlining can become unstuck, giving the jacket an appearance of bubbling or rippling. This jacket also won’t conform to your body over time like jackets with traditional horsehair canvases, and it is less flexible in day-to-day wear.

Half Canvas

In this style of construction, a fusible interlining runs the length of the coat, but the material is stitched to a canvas that covers the chest and extends to the top of the pockets. This partial canvassing gives the jacket a more natural shape that helps it age.

Full Canvas

The full-canvas construction relies on a canvas that runs the entire length of the jacket. The fabric is stitched directly to the canvas and the jacket will move with you as you wear it. It will also age more gracefully than fused or half canvas styles because canvas distributes tension at stress points like the shoulders and chest and allows the suit to breathe.

Unconstructed or Unstructured

As the name implies, this jacket has no interlining. It is the most casual type of construction. It is not designed to hang like a traditional suit jacket and the outer fabric conforms to your body and drapes naturally.

What You Need to Know About Fabrics

It's important to consider the season in which you're wearing said suit.

Weight

Consider the setting and time of year you will wear a particular suit when considering fabric weight. Lightweight fabric, between seven and nine ounces per square yard, are typically worn in warm climates and summer weather. Mid-weight fabric, normally around 11 to 12 ounces, is good for the majority of the year in a range of climates. Heavyweight fabrics, though rare at 14 to 19 ounces, are made for colder climates and winter wear.

Wool

Wool is the most common suiting fabric because it is breathable, versatile and wrinkle-free. It can be blended with a range of other fibers including cashmere, silk, cotton and linen to produce different textures. Worsted wool, made from fibers that have been combed to ensure uniformity in the spinning process, is also common in suits. Labels like Super 100s, 140s, 160s or 180s denote the number of times the worsted wool has been twisted when it’s made. Generally, the higher the number, the lighter and smoother the cloth.

Cotton

Another popular fabric for suiting, cotton is breathable but wrinkles and creases more easily than wool. These fabrics are great for more casual settings and are appropriate for unconstructed jackets.

Linen

Lightweight and breathable, this fabric is great for tropical temperatures. Like cotton, linen wrinkles easily, so it is best utilized in a casual setting.

Cashmere

Incredibly soft and very breathable, cashmere is a luxury fabric when used on its own. Many brands incorporate cashmere into blends to soften the feel while not inflating the price tag.

Silk

Silk is naturally breathable, temperature regulating and durable. While not often used on its own, it adds a soft touch along with the aforementioned qualities when applied to a blend.

Polyester

This synthetic fiber is inexpensive and used in a variety of suits at low prices. It doesn’t breathe well and wrinkles more easily than wool. Many brands try to split the difference and use a wool-poly blend to incorporate some of the benefits of wool into an inexpensive fabric.

How to Take Care of a Suit

Ordering the suit is only half the battle.

Storage

It's important to store your suit inside of a garment bag — and ideally one that isn't clear. While clear garment bags still protect against moths, they bags leave your suit exposed to sunlight, which can slowly change its appearance over time. Not only should the suit stay in a dark area, but it should be cool, too. Humidity can cause mildew.

For more tips and tools for storing your most precious garments, visit our guide to treating your closet like a collection.

Before and After Wearing It

You should steam your suit before and after you wear it out. You do it before to remove wrinkles, but that's also why you do it after wearing it. If you're sitting for a long time at a convention or a wedding, you'll earn more than a few wrinkles. It's important to remove them after wearing the suit — even if it's the morning after — so they don't settle in.

midsection of doctor using mobile phone
Viorel Kurnosov / EyeEmGetty Images

New to steaming? Learn how to steam and iron in our easy-to-follow how-to guide.

How We Tested

suits hanging in a closet
Evan Malachosky

Suits from each brand were worn by our editors to assess several metrics. They were worn to the office, weddings, around town and to plenty of dinners, where they were tested for their durability, comfortability, formality, and, of course, whether they are equal in quality to the price paid. The best of these are represented here in our guide to the best suits under $1,200. In most cases, the suit comes together as a full set. Sometimes, though, you must buy both pieces separately. Those pieces are noted and linked to.

The Best Suits Under $500

Just because a suit is affordable doesn’t mean it has to look or feel cheap. In the sub-$500 price tier, you can find jackets with half-canvas constructions and fabrics from reputable mills in Italy, stretch-focused options from rent-to-own outfitters and even luxe linen suits from modern brands.

Suit Shop Navy Blue Suit

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Suit Shop Navy Blue Suit
suitshop.com
$199.00

  • Slim fit is flattering for most folks

  • Synthetic materials used give the suit a slight sheen

Sure, the $199 price tag might raise some red flags — "is this site a scam?" for example — but Suit Shop's selections are very real. This one is made from a mix of recycled polyester, polyester, spandex and rayon, with tight, tailored shoulders and straight-fit pants. But you can customize the suit to your liking by picking your fits, slim or modern, as well as your lengths, short or regular. Be warned, though, the pants come with an unfinished hem. You'll have to sew them yourself or make a trip to a tailor.

  • Materials: 38% recycled poly, 38% poly, 19% rayon, 5% spandex
  • Care: Dry clean only

    Buck Mason Carry-On Suit

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    Buck Mason Carry-On Suit
    buckmason.com
    $300.00

    • Wrinkle resistant, which means you can pack it or wear it on a plane

    • Jacket is a little boxy

    Sold as separates, Buck Mason's Carry-On Suit comes in four colors and alpha sizing, aka XS-XXL. And although it's made from 5.5 oz cotton twill, there's plenty of stretch courtesy of added spandex. That makes this an ideal, hence the name, suit for traveling, commuting or casual (yet semi-formal) lunches, dinners or dates. It does, however, have a slightly modern fit, meaning it's a little oversized and kind of chore coat-ish. You'll have to buy both parts separately — here's the jacket, and here are the pants — but they work best together. The pants, however, are basically chinos and pair well with hoodies and T-shirts,

    • Materials: 97% cotton, 3% spandex
    • Care: Machine washable on cold

      Alex Mill Linen Mercer Suit

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      Alex Mill Linen Mercer Suit
      alexmill.com
      $390.00

      • Parts can be worn as separates

      • Comes across as a little too casual for weddings and such

      The Alex Mill Mercer Suit, comprising the linen Mercer Blazer and the linen Standard Pleated Pants, is definitely the most casual suit on this list. Alex Mill styles them separately a lot of the time, but they totally can, and should, be worn together, but you get the added versatility of two parts that can work on their own, too. Both are made from 100 percent linen, soft yet comfortable and traditional yet plenty modern. Each comes in two different colors, too: navy and flax.

      • Materials: 100% linen
      • Care: Dry clean only

        Alton Lane Holt Dove Grey Performance Suit

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        Alton Lane Holt Dove Grey Performance Suit
        altonlane.com
        $399.00

        • This classic grey color suits most settings

        • High stretch might feel odd for someone used to traditional suits

        With its Holt Dove Grey Performance Suit, Alton Lane combines the comfort of performance fabrics with the formality of something more traditional. This option is soft to the touch and stretchy once on but polished and put together just the same. Plus, you can customize your fit to your unique body shape using the brand's proprietary online fitting tool. It's comprehensive and capable of capturing your true size, even if it differs wildly from top to bottom.

        • Materials: 66% wool, 28% polyester, 6% elastane
        • Care: Dry clean only

          Indochino Hereford Cavalry Twill Suit

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          Indochino Hereford Calvary Twill Suit
          Indochino
          $449.00

          • Half-canvas construction proves lightweight but still molds to the wearer's body over time
          • Customization tool is easy to follow even for novice shoppers

          Featuring a half-canvas construction, this suit is made with a midweight Super 110s wool fabric (which is breathable enough for everyday wear). With Indochino’s array of customization options, you can have this suit your way and fine-tune details from the lining to the number of vents to half-canvas or unstructured constructions and more. Though Indochino’s range of fabrics is extensive, this one is just plain black.

          • Materials: 100% wool
          • Care: Dry clean only

            Pangaia Organic Cotton Oversized Suit

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            Pangaia Organic Cotton Oversized Suit
            pangaia.com
            $470.00

            • Sustainably made

            • Oversized fit isn't for everyone

            If the rest of these suits are too blasé for your taste, try Pangaia's Organic Cotton Oversized Suit on for size. It comes with a roomy, modern fit, but the shoulders are emphasized for traditional flair. Needless to say, this still looks like a suit, even though it's made from organic cotton and comes in three statement-making colors: black, bright green and powerful pink.

            • Materials: 100% organic cotton
            • Care: Dry clean only

              Black Lapel Wool Custom Suit

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              Black Lapel Wool Suit
              blacklapel.com
              $499.00

              • Black Lapel offers quality at an affordable price

              • Customization tool isn't as easy to follow as Indochino's

              This dark-blue suit is cut from versatile wool. Like Indochino, Black Lapel allows customers to customize their suit and get a made-to-measure style for under $500. Choose from one-button, two-button and three-button closures. Pick between notch and peak lapels (in normal or slim cuts). Choose your vent and pocket styles. Black Lapel offers a range of other custom options, including the inner jacket lining, pant cuffs and pleats. For the price, it represents a highly customizable suit.

              • Materials: 100% wool
              • Care: Dry clean only

                Suitsupply Napoli Suit

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                Suit Supply Mid Blue Napoli Suit
                Suit Supply
                $399.00

                • This best-selling suit looks good on almost everyone

                • Padded shoulders offer a more defined shape but this isn't as desirable of a feature as it used to be

                When it comes to contemporary suits with solid construction at an even more impressive price point, Suitsupply’s one of the first names to come up. Its Napoli Suit comes in a variety of fabrics and this one, super 110s navy wool woven by an Italian mill that’s been in business since 1968, is a perfect four-season option. The jacket features half-canvas construction with a lightly padded shoulder, a notch lapel, two-button closure and flap pockets. The trousers feature a flat front, zip-fly and hook and bar closure.

                • Materials: 100% wool
                • Care: Dry clean only

                  The Best Suits Under $1,200

                  When buying a suit, you’ll find a number of benefits to increasing your budget. Most notably, you have access to full-canvas jackets and top-tier fabrics. At the upper end of the price tier, you’ll also have higher-quality construction in countries like Canada and Portugal. While the sub-$1,000 price point is not enough to access bespoke suiting, you can take advantage of made-to-measure programs from a variety of brands.

                  Bonobos Italian Stretch Cotton Suit

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                  Bonobos Italian Stretch Cotton Suit
                  bonobos.com
                  $550.00

                  • This fuller-fitting suit ignores the slim-fit trend

                  • This khaki color has earned a bad rap

                  For roughly half the price of its premium suit, Bonobos' Italian Stretch Cotton Suit is an incredible value. You pick from four colors, green, blue, pink and khaki, plus your blazer size, blazer fit and your paint waist and pant fit. The result is a tailor-level fit that's ideal for spring, summer and early fall occasions. It's constructed like your favorite fine suit, with its pick stitching at the collar, notch lapel, two-button front, sleeve liners, back vent and functional pockets.

                  • Materials: 97% cotton, 3% elastane
                  • Care: Dry clean only

                    Todd Snyder Sutton Suit

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                    Todd Snyder Sutton Stretch Tropical Wool Suit
                    toddsnyder.com
                    $526.00

                    • Suiting fabric comes from famous mills

                    • Drapey silhouette lacks structure

                    Todd Snyder’s suiting collection boasts Canadian craftsmanship combined with fabrics from respected Italian mills and impeccable fits. The Sutton Suit features a double vent jacket with a notch lapel and a modern silhouette that’s classically trim. While you could definitely pack this charcoal suit for a wedding, you can easily bring down the formality, too.

                    • Materials: 100% wool
                    • Care: Dry clean only

                      J.Crew Ludlow Suit

                      Courtesy
                      Best Affordable Suit for Men
                      J.Crew Ludlow Slim-Fit Suit
                      J.Crew
                      $650.00

                      • A timeless suit with proper proportions
                      • Can be tried on at just about any J.Crew store
                      • Colors are updated annually

                      • Runs a little slim

                      First introduced in 2008, J.Crew’s Ludlow suit is a timeless design fit for a range of occasions. This version is cut from 100 percent wool fabric from one of Italy's most storied mills. The jacket features a notch lapel, two-button closure, double vent and partial lining. It has a trim silhouette that is slimming without feeling overly trendy. Like many affordable options, it’s made overseas, but the fabric and fit set it apart from most competitors. The jacket ($425) and pants ($225) are sold separately.

                      • Materials: 100% wool
                      • Care: Dry clean only

                        Proper Cloth Allen Suit

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                        Proper Cloth Allen Black Wool Suit
                        propercloth.com
                        $795.00

                        • Merino wool is anti-odor

                        • There's a slight sheen to this suit

                        Proper Cloth is another made-to-measure brand that’s built its success on its level of customization, user-friendly website and quality details. Their Allen Suit comes in a variety of notable fabrics, but this version comes in a more adventurous navy pinstripe wool fabric from the storied Italian mill Vitale Barberis Canonico. While the jacket and pants come with a near-endless array of customizable options, we like the Bedford option which features half-canvas construction, a lightweight chest canvas and no shoulder padding for a more natural silhouette.

                        • Materials: 100% merino wool
                        • Care: Dry clean only

                          Ted Baker Jay Trim Wool Fit Suit

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                          Ted Baker Jay Trim Fit Wool Suit
                          $848.00

                          • Fully lined for better weight

                          • Lining will get hot in summer settings

                          Fully lined but only half canvas-constructed, Ted Baker's Jay Trim Wool Fit is made in Canada from 100 percent Italian wool. It can be dry cleaned only, and it features a two-button front and notched lapels.

                          • Materials: 100% wool
                          • Care: Dry clean only

                            Hart Schaffner Marx New York Classic Fit Suit

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                            Hart Schaffner Marx New York Classic Fit Suit
                            nordstrom.com
                            $795.00

                            • Heritage brand offers a classic take on affordable suiting

                            • Some might view them as too classic

                            Hart Schaffner Marx is a great entry point for anyone looking for a solid suit made in the States. And they should know, they’ve been in business since the 1800s. The New York fit features a tastefully slim silhouette with half-canvas construction floating chest piece. It has added 1 percent elastane for subtle stretch, which offers less of a synthetic feel than it does mobility.

                            • Materials: 99% wool, 1% elastane
                            • Care: Dry clean only

                              Polo Ralph Lauren Wool Twill Suit

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                              Polo Ralph Lauren Polo Wool Twill Suit
                              ralphlauren.com
                              $995.00

                              • Hand-sewn construction lends a custom-made touch

                              • Wool twill isn't the softest material

                              Ralph Lauren’s Wool Twill Suit highlights the brand’s impeccable silhouettes and tailoring. If you don’t have a navy or charcoal suit in your wardrobe, this one, with its hand-sewn shoulders, half-canvas construction and trousers with side-adjuster tabs, is a good one to consider.

                              • Materials: 100% wool
                              • Care: Dry clean only

                                Bonobos Premium Italian Wool Suit

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                                Bonobos Premium Italian Wool Suit
                                Bonobos
                                $1,000.00

                                • This is Bonobo's upper echelon

                                • For the price, there are probably better options

                                You can shop Bonobos' Premium Italian Wool Suit as separates or one piece. They set the total price at a fair $1,000 dollars, which is well worth it considering its construction, fit and customizability. You choose the color, size and fit of both your blazer and your pants.

                                • Materials: 100% wool
                                • Care: Dry clean only

                                  Wazin Made-to-Measure Suit

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                                  Wazin Made-to-Measure
                                  wazins.com
                                  $1,000.00

                                  • Custom suit for a ready-to-wear price

                                  • Process isn't as easy as SuitSupply's, for example, or Indochino's

                                  Starting at $1,000, this suit offers the best quality for its features. The fully canvassed suit is made to measure in Midtown Manhattan. The process requires one fitting and up to six weeks to complete, but the results are notably better than made-to-measure suits produced overseas. You’re paying for the reputable eye of tailor Sam Wazin and the small details like a slightly curved welt chest pocket. The only catch — you have to visit New York City to take advantage of Wazin’s craft.

                                  • Materials: 100% wool
                                  • Care: Dry clean only

                                    Brooks Brothers Regent Plaid 1818 Suit

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                                    Brooks Brothers Regent Fit Plaid 1818 Suit
                                    Brooks Brothers
                                    $1,098.00

                                    • Made in the USA
                                    • You can get a second suit for only $500 more

                                    Brooks Brothers holds the title of oldest American fashion brand as well as the first to introduce ready-to-wear to America. It's a quintessentially American brand that shaped the country’s style since its founding in 1818. This suit comes from the brand’s premier 1818 collection and is made in the U.S. with Italian wool fabric, full Italian canvas construction and handsewn armholes for better fit and range of motion. The Regent fit is a trim-but-not-too-trim silhouette with structured shoulders and comes with classic, flat-front trousers.

                                    • Materials: 100% wool
                                    • Care: Dry clean only