There are a lot of reasons to get your prom suit right. First, it’s going to be a big night for photos, so you obviously want to look your best. Second, there’s a good chance that this will be your first ‘proper’ suit. Make the right call and you’ll have something you can wear for years. Most important of all is the fact that prom is the last hurrah of school, the big one, the Oscars of your entire teenage years. You owe it to yourself to go out in style.
With all that said, our formative years are gloriously full of very poor decisions, and if you’re not careful your prom suit could go the same way. It’s easy to fall prey to short-lived trends or, worse yet, your dad’s two-piece – and nobody wants to look like a 7-year-old at a wedding. As with all tailoring, the secret to a choice prom suit comes in the fit, says James Doidge, head of menswear design at M&S. “Fit is so important. My advice would be to get measured in-store for a suit to ensure you get the best size for you.”
(Related: 6 Mistakes Men Make With New Suits)
The Right Fit
At the age of 16, you’re likely blessed with a Clark Kent metabolism. So take full advantage with a specific cut.
“A slim fit is the best streamlined option,” says Doidge. “It nips in at the waist and straddles a line between boxy fits and skin tight.” Which means you accentuate all the right parts – your shoulders and chest – while cinching in the middle for a more flattering outline.
(Related: How To Pick The Right Suit For Your Body Shape)
Set The Tone
Like all style decisions, colour should be a huge consideration says Doidge. While pastel pinks make for a millennial-ready sweatshirt, they won’t lend themselves well to tailoring.
“Stick to a classic colour palette of black or navy to ensure your suit is timeless. Lighter colours are also welcome over summer months, like light greys and neutrals, while vibrancy should be limited to ties and pocket squares.”
To Tux Or Not To Tux, That Is The Question
James Bond’s suit of armour – the tuxedo – is a sharp, timeless choice. Though it’s not the only option. By opting for a monochrome suit as opposed to a full dress two-piece, you’ll widen the scope for future use – important when investing in an outfit that’s a cut (and a price tag) above your off-duty clobber.
(Related: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Suit)
Post-prom, there’s likely to be a family wedding. And following that, job interviews. So it makes complete sense to double up and nail that all-important cost-per-wear ratio.
Not For Hire
Realistically, this is likely your first opportunity to buy a proper suit. Hiring may be seem tempting on cost, but if you can stretch your budget, you’ll own some threads that belong to you outright.
You can’t expect a hired suit to fit perfectly off-the-peg. Plus, unless you want to ditch your deposit, you can’t take it to an alteration service, either.
To really make it your night, pick up a prom suit of your own. Below, we’ve selected the best at every budget.
Amsterdam-based Suitsupply has long been a menswear go-to. Not only is each piece firmly centred upon classic design, but good quality fabrics will ensure a longer shelf life – two things that’ll serve you well if you intend to wear your suit beyond the coronation of prom king (which you should, considering the sizeable price tag).
Havana Blue Plain Suit available at Suitsupply, priced £299.
Though frequented by city workers and office drones, Moss Bros is a brand just as relevant to the younger dresser. And for that, we have the brand’s accessible pricing to thank. For just a fraction of competitor prices, you can flex a Bond-esque suit with satin-smooth peak lapels that doesn’t compromise quality.
Skinny Fit Black Tuxedo available at Moss Bros, priced £159.
There’s a reason M&S has enjoyed immense popularity for over 133 years. Yes, the lunch meal deal is partly to do with this. But over on the apparel department, quality is the main reason. Expect prom suits that are traditional in style, timeless in approach, and a go-to choice favoured by the likes of David Gandy and Oliver Cheshire. This slim, modern cut in navy can be re-used for almost any occasion.
Navy Slim Fit Suit available at M&S, priced £99.
Topman is huge, both in name and size. And it’s that depth of stock that makes it perfect for prom suit shopping. In addition to an archive of different sizes – skinny fit, slim, relaxed, even (whisper it) muscle fit – there’s a broad choice of designs for classicists and trend-followers alike. Consider this in-between loose two-piece by noted name Charlie Casely-Hayford the perfect midpoint.
Charlie Casely-Hayford x Topman Weekend Suit available at Topman, priced £200.
Much like Moss Bros, T.M. Lewin shouldn’t be overlooked as mere nine-to-five clobber. For prom suits, the British suiter-upper boasts versatile tailoring – such as this classic black two-button – that may well double-up for an internship interview in a couple of years (it’ll sneak up sooner than you think, trust).
Milner Black Suit available at T.M. Lewin, priced £99.
Prom suits needn’t be old-fashioned, nor expensive: so dress your age and not your chest size with ASOS’ tailoring range. The retailer’s growing output slams trends within a perfectly accessible range, ensuring your bank account won’t take a hit (or, rather, mum and dad’s). Case in point: this tuxedo cut slimmer than many you’ll find on the high street.
Slim Fit Tuxedo available at ASOS, priced £182.
If you’ve more cash to play with (and why the hell not considering how much your sister’s prom dress cost), Reiss is a step up from typical high street quality. Plus, for the extra budget, you can take advantage of an in-house alteration service for a much better fit. Try this double-breasted jacket to accentuate your upper body and stand out from the crowd.
Arno Navy Double-Breasted Check Suit available at Reiss, priced £395.
One-stop multinationals may not seem like the coolest of places to shop, yet Next has many a secret weapon – including its prom suit selection. The British chain boasts a classic tuxedo for well under the £100 mark, meaning there’s leftover change for any alterations.
Black Tuxedo Suit available at Next, priced £89.
In tailoring, you only look good if you feel comfortable. Which is why Ted Baker – purveyor of fine suits since 1988 – has crafted an extensive range with multiple feel-good fabrics. After all, if you’re not confident in brand new threads (like the breathable wool on this grey number), it’ll undoubtedly show on the big night.
Debonair Wool Suit available at Ted Baker, priced £339
So you’re opting for a designer suit. Nice work. But there’s no use in spending extra cash on one that’ll age far worse than a skin tight NME number circa 2006 (trust us, we’d know). Instead, head classic with Hugo Boss – one of the most respected names in tailoring – to stay current next year and beyond.
Virgin Wool Tuxedo available at Hugo Boss, priced £550.
River Island recently relaunched its tailoring line. And better yet, each piece is above and beyond the usual high street fare thanks to razor sharp cuts, classic fits aplenty and the odd novelty feature – a perfect touch for prom suits. A blue check will turn heads without leaving you open to accusations of full peacocking.
Blue Check Suit available at River Island, priced £125.