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So, it’s that time again – you need to purchase some new uniform.
But this time it’s different. We’re moving into the big boy leagues, and joining a sixth form college. With this change, you may have wondered, ‘what are the best suits for sixth form’?
The best suits for sixth form are in traditional, easy to wear and match colours, such as navy blue or charcoal, and will preferably feature traditional styling options, such as two buttons on the jacket, and a double vent. They fit well, with little extra fabric, but have enough to ensure comfort.
This suit guide will cover all aspects of finding a good suit for the purpose of 6th form, and will cover the best colours, styling options, brands, and fit you should be looking out for.
What to Look out For When Buying Sixth Form Suits
The suit should still observe proper suit fit.
In summary, the suit should be tight enough so that you don’t have a lot of extra fabric, but loose enough that it is comfortable.
In my opinion, for Sixth Form, suit fabric shouldn’t really be at the top of your priority list.
Anything from 100% polyester to 100% wool will do.
However, for 6th Form alone I would personally recommend a polyester-wool blend. This helps with the durability of the suit, while retaining some natural breathability, and the ability for the suit to hang properly.
To add to this, some blended suits have the ‘machine washable’ property, which will help reduce dry cleaning costs.
However, 100% wool will be more luxurious and look better, and will give the purchase greater versatility.
What Colour(s) Should You Buy?
As aforementioned, your first suits for 6th form should be in darker, classic colours that are easy to wear and match.
This would include:
- Navy Blue
- Medium Blue
- Medium Grey
Not only will these darker colours help reduce the visibility of any inevitable stains or scuffs, but they are more formal, and are closer to the typical dress code of being ‘business appropriate’.
On top of this, they are more versatile, so if needed, you could wear the same suit to a non-school related formal event.
I would recommend staying away from black, as it is too formal, less versatile, and provides too harsh of a contrast against most skin tones.
For your first Sixth Form suit, I would recommend conservative styling options such as:
- A two buttoned jacket
- Double vent
- Notched lapel
- Slight trouser break
Second or third suits can mix things up a little, but I feel that the first suit your purchase should be as typical and versatile as possible.
Best Sixth Form Suit Brands
I am fortunate enough that I have been able to test a lot of suit brands (even in my 6th Form days), so have a pretty good idea of what will work for you, and what won’t.
Here is my list of the top 7 brands I feel you should consider for Sixth Form suits, with my most recommended at the top, and least at the bottom.
#1 – Charles Tyrwhitt
Now, I probably carry bias on this one, as I have worked for Charles Tyrwhitt for a year.
However, I know the brand extremely well, which gives me the ability to vouch for them with confidence.
Charles Tyrwhitt’s staple all-year-round suits come in at £250 for the jacket and trousers, which is on the upper end of the budget for some people.
However, for this you get:
- Usually 100% wool from a non-historic fabric producer.
- In some cases ‘full canvas construction’, meaning the jacket is held together with stitches, rather than glue. This prolongs the life of the suit, eliminates the problem of the glue bubbling up over time, and makes the garment fall better.
- Classic and versatile styling.
- Attention to detail, such as working cuff buttons.
- The option of ‘extra slim’ to ‘classic’ fits.
Like most suit companies, they have a mega end of season sale twice a year, usually in January and July, where you can fetch seasonal suits for as little as £125. This is, in some cases, a complete steal.
As they are a specialist suit retailer, their sales assistants are generally very experienced and knowledgeable with suits, and go the extra mile to provide high quality service.
To add to this, they offer a tailoring adjustment service (at additional charge) if the jacket or trousers needs alterations, so you can ensure a perfect fit.
And importantly for Sixth Form, they offer a 6th month worn or unworn refund or exchange policy. So, if anything happens to your suit in the first 6th months after purchase, they’ll replace or refund it free of charge.
#2 – Hawes and Curtis
Like Charles Tyrwhitt, Hawes and Curtis is another speciality suit and shirt retailer, and dates all the way back to 1913.
They are similar to CT in many ways, with the company lending towards conservative suiting options and a base price of £250.
On top of this:
- They also have a mega sale at the end of each season, with sale suits coming in as little as £99.
- They again pay attention to the details, with working cuff buttons, and colourful piping in the lining, and under the lapels.
- An alterations service, sometimes in-house (making turnaround quick).
- I am aware that they offer free trouser shortening in store.
- The option of ‘extra slim’ to ‘classic fits’.
- The suits are usually made from 100% wool from a non-historic fabric producer, though the quality of the wool is potentially slightly higher than Charles Tyrwhitt’s.
Having said this, the last time I had a suit from Hawes and Curtis, I burned through the trousers quite quickly.
They also have a range of speciality women’s business clothes.
#3 – Next Own Brands
Next is a very accessible brand, with many shops on the high street.
I feel it has a more consistent suit quality, look, and feel compared to similar non-suit speciality retailers.
- Full price suits fetch for as little as £85, though these models are 100% synthetic, and I wouldn’t recommend them.
- They sell medium priced suits for around £140 which feature a wool-blend fabric. I feel these are reasonably priced for what you get, and are perfectly suitable for Sixth Form.
- However, the Next ‘Signature’ line comes in at £200-£230, and is usually made of 100% wool from either British or Italian mills. This is a very good price for fabric from Britain and Italy, and is usually found in the £400+ price point at other retailers. This wool choice is impressive.
Some of these ‘Signature’ suits even come with high-quality details such as a half-canvas construction and working button holes, and in a choice of a ‘Slim’, ‘Tailored’, or ‘Regular’ fit.
Though the prices are great, Next isn’t a speciality retailer, I don’t believe offer an alterations service. On top of this, the sales assistants are unlikely to be experienced with suiting, and will likely not be as helpful as someone who works in a speciality store.
#4 – Marks & Spencer Own Brand
Marks and Spencer is again an accessible and trusted high-street suiting location, and produces a wide range of different suits at different price points.
Their entry level offerings are similar to John Lewis’ selection (covered later), featuring wool-poly blends at prices sometimes as cheap as £59.25 in the sale (though for that prices, I doubt the quality).
However, for suits over £249, at selected stores they offer free trouser and sleeve shortening, and waistband increasing and decreasing alterations.
Again, even their small range of luxury suits don’t feature details such as working buttons, or high-quality jacket construction, meaning other entries on this list will probably give you better value.
#5 – John Lewis Own Brand
I have owned a John Lewis own brand suit in the past, and, despite my expectations, I was very impressed.
What’s more, I was on a budget, and managed to pick it up for £100.
For this, I got a 70% polyester, 30% wool fabric, and traditional styling options.
It was the same colour as my other suit for Sixth Form from Hawes & Curtis, and when asked, no one could tell the difference between this suit, and one that cost 1.5 times more.
The polyester wool blend did me many favours, as it was more resilient to the elements than my 100% wool Hawes & Curtis suit, and got me through walks home through torrential rain.
- It came in a ‘tailored’ looser fit, but wasn’t oversized, and ensured comfort.
- On top of this, my particular suit was ‘machine washable’, which, though I never used the feature, will help reduce dry cleaning costs.
- As a caveat, many of the suits lack details such as working cuff buttons.
As John Lewis is not a speciality retailer and doesn’t seem to have a consistent range, it is hard to comment on their overall quality and value.
For the same reason, the sales assistants will again not be super knowledgeable about suiting, and I don’t believe they offer an alterations service
The specific model I own is discontinued, though I have found a similar machine-washable poly-wool John Lewis suit, but with a slightly higher price.
Given my previous positive experience with John Lewis suits, I would recommend you to look into them, especially since they have some 100% wool suits for £200.
#6 – Moss Bros
I’ve never owned a suit from Moss Bros, but a friend of mine is a big fan of them, citing that “you can’t get anything better for the price and durability”.
I’m not sure if I fully agree with that, though.
Unlike the above mentioned Charles Tyrwhitt and Hawes & Curtis, Moss Bros is a suit specialist instead of a shirt maker, meaning their heritage is in providing suiting, and has always been of top priority. Their staff are knowledgeable, and alterations are possible.
I personally shy away from the brand as most of their suits have a more trendy and modern look to them, with thinner lapels, shorter jackets, and a generally tighter fit. However, this style works for some people.
On top of this, they have so many ranges, I find it difficult to figure out what I should be looking at, and what the difference is between them.
In their sale, their own brand suits can be found from £79.95.
On top of this, they also offer a selection of designer suits, such as Ted Baker, which can be found on sale for as low as £129.
Their non-sale range can usually be found for £140-£250, and are usually made from 100% synthetic fabrics, or a blend. At the £200 price point, I would expect 100% wool – Next has demonstrated that this, and more, is possible with their ‘Signature’ line.
To get a 100% wool suit from Moss Bros, you are looking at spending £300+.
#7 – SuitSupply
If you have read any of my other articles, you may know that I am a huge fan of SuitSupply for their more daring and dapper styles, and medium-tier price tag that delivers high-tier quality.
But these unique selling points may mean that a majority of their products may be over budget, or inappropriate for Sixth Form.
However, they do have a basic ‘wardrobe starters’ line that starts at £259 pounds, and, if the rest of their clothes are anything to go by, will be high quality bang for your buck.
Though these ‘wardrobe starers’ are typically in conservative and wearable styles, some of them are seasonal, or feature some of SuitSupply’s famous bold styling.
SuitSupply rarely goes on sale in the UK (in recent times, they have only had one exclusive outlet at the start of the Coronavirus outbreak), so, despite my affection for the brand, I feel that other retailers on this list offer cheaper alternatives for your basic navy or charcoal suits.
But if you are looking to diversify your collection and get a second or third suit, I would recommend looking at SuitSupply to find garments with hard-to-find patterns or styling options, which make you the best dressed man in 6th Form.
Unfortunately though, you cannot mix and match trouser and jacket sizes for most of their suits, so if you don’t have completely average proportions (such as myself), you have limited suit options in this brand.
All in all, though I love SuitSupply and want to make it known to you for certain situations, I feel they don’t produce the best suits for Sixth Form.
#8 – TMLewin & Sons (Dishonourable mention)
I wanted to make sure to mention TMLewin on this list, as I know that, in the past, they have been a very popular choice on many people’s lists of the best suits for Sixth Form.
I may have just been unlucky and had bad experiences with them, but I don’t like TMLewin suits.
They don’t really fit me or any of my friends properly, I feel some of the lower priced suits have bad quality fabric, they don’t have as much attention to detail as other brands, and I believe that most of their suits are glued together, rather than stitched.
And this is compared to a Charles Tyrwhitt suit for a similar price, which fits many people well, and has better quality fabric and construction.
TMLewin’s more premium suits may hold up to the standards of other brands, but this list is looking purely at entry level models, and I believe their solution doesn’t hold up.
To add to this, as of 2020, they are online only, so you won’t have the expertise of sales assistants to help you through the buying process, and adjust the suit to fit better.
When you are looking around and deciding which suit to buy, if you see something you like online, if possible, I would highly advise going into a physical store.
Sometimes companies have ‘in-store exclusive offers’, which can be extremely generous.
For example, when I bought my Hawes & Curtis suit from one of their physical stores, I was lucky enough to get a free shirt and tie of my choosing, and free trouser shortening, all included in the £250 price point.
That is a mega bargain, and I’m sure other companies will have similar promotions every once and a while.
Conclusion – Best Suits For Sixth Form
So now you know some of the best suits for Sixth Form, the colours you should look at getting, and where you should look at getting them from.
The buying process can be difficult for some people, but hopefully this guide will help to give you an idea of what you should be looking for, and where you should be looking.