Men should consider buying two sets of pants and match a different shirt and tie combo to each set. This provides a full suit with a variety of wear options. Some occasions only call for the pants, shirt, and tie. Others require the more formal jacket as well. Mix and match ties with shirts and create an variety of looks.
Purchase a strong suit jacket in a neutral color. Avoid something seasonal or memorable such as light yellow or strong purple. Then, find a matching pair of dress pants and a straight skirt. These can be in the same color palette but different shades to add interest to the suit. For example, a chocolate brown jacket can pair with a lighter taupe pant.
As with the men, look for a bold shirt for underneath that can be changed to create different looks. Details around the color such as stitching or lace can create an interesting detail without a lot of cost.
Plan ahead. While purchasing, avoid pinstripes since they limit the variations of the suit combinations, but do purchase ties in interesting but subtle patterns. Often if one tie holds a few different colors, it can pair with different shirts, offering more variety. If a pre-paired suit is the only option (sale or discount pricing), purchase plain black as it can later be combined with a variety of pieces.
Avoid the sales pitch of the 'complete suit' which includes a vest. Men's magazines suggest that the vest only be worn on the most formal of occasions. Spend the money on an extra set of pants instead.
Another area to avoid, the ill-fitting but lower priced suit. "If it doesn't fit, don't buy it, even if it's on sale. Never sacrifice fit for color, fabric, or price. Don't get caught up in an embarrassment over the sizes," cautions MBA Style Magazine.
Don't be afraid of change. It's not the generation of the Sears pre-paired suit of our grandfathers anymore. In The New York Times' article 'Two Easy Pieces: Buying a Suit' the writers explain, "The two parts of a suit do not come glued together. You can and should wear them separately. We used to call this stretching a buck. We now call this process fashion."