5 Tips for a Quality, Dapper and Affordable Suited Look for Work

As someone who works lives in a suit! I literally wear a different pair of socks, pocket square and suit combination every day! I don’t know how I do this when I work long hours, have a young baby, wife and step daughter.

You may ask “When do I have the time to go shopping, to refresh my wardrobe and make sure that I’m looking my best at every stage!” The answer isn’t dry cleaning as we can’t afford that so shirts are being washed constantly, including trousers so they take a battering.

Years ago I used to be someone who worked in menswear fashion as an area manager, working with some of the top brands including Paul Smith, Ralph Lauren and Ted Baker. Obviously with my big discounts I also wore designer clobber and this went on for a few years after too. My philosophy was expensive clothing lasts for ages and at the time Primark was something new but value clothing was just terrible and didn’t last long at all.

When I went into business the same rules applied – I bought the best and still have some of my 8 year old shirts now.

After extending our family, buying a house and growing up times have changed considerably. I can’t justify spending £150 on a shirt any more. I also can’t spend £400 on a new suit as everything has to be economical for me, for my family and now frugal is my new middle name. At the end of the day I’ve got to ensure there’s enough money to put food on table.

The way that I dress has changed and I don’t mean by how I look, it’s more about what I wear. While it’s just as important to look the part instead of spending £400 £500 £600 on an outfit I will pick a few pieces that are quality and dress them up in a in an affordable outfit.

When I saw affordable, that word no longer means poor quality. I remember a time when you could say something was “Value” and because it was cheap it didn’t last as long and you expected that. I buy affordable and as you can see from the pictures, affordable doesn’t look cheap and I can tell you they last too! Even when I put in the washing machine ssshhhh. :)

I’m wearing a Matalan suit as I type this and it has to go through 3 1/2 hours of driving a day, multiple hooks and pegs, the rain in Manchester and of course the frantic arm waving movements from when I’m doing a presentation. I love this suit! The cut of it is perfect, I’m tall with big shoulders but it also fits in at the waist so they’ve taken some thought into the large sizes and not just increased all sizes by the same rate. The trousers take wear and tear and while I’ve bought others from the likes of Topman and Primark, They always seem to have problems with the stitching and I normally need to take them back.

For anyone reading this who’s gone through the same journey as I have and hasn’t been able to splash on expensive clothes. You can buy affordable, look impressive and with the addition of my tips below, stand out above the rest!

Tip one – find a shirt with good quality collars.


They have to be at least an inch wide and they’re a real distinguishing feature of a good quality shirt to those of inferior quality. Those that aren’t firm might look good in the packet and when washed will look as good as dead. I tend to find those that have larger collars that when gone through the washer will still look as good as shirts of superior pricing. Also just a quick tip when you do go to your local supermarket buy yourself a very cheap bottle of starch. Less than a pound and makes your collars solid. It really does make a difference when wearing a tie.

Tip two, contrasts don’t work.


For those that like me have a long commute or have to drive along way to a meeting make sure you turned up looking fresh by handing your shirt up and in the car. But what colour combination? I always find blue and black do not work well. So a blue suit with black accessories and shoes. As you can see from my images I’m wearing a grey suit with a brown belt and matching shoes of the same shade. Brown/Black and Blue/Black restricts what you can wear. Also make sure the browns are the same shade. The last thing that you want to do is have two different shades of Brown in this outfit.

Tip three, pick a size that is restrictive.

There’s nothing worse than looking at someone in a suit and it looks like they’re wearing their dad’s. Sizing is difficult and I’ve provided a suit measuring guide from Matalan to give you some indication. Remember you don’t need to be able to do star jumps in your suits and I don’t think I’ve ever lifted my arms above my head. So snug is ok and will give you a slimmer outline and look very very smart.

Tip four, pocket squares and matching ties.

If you cannot pick out a pocket square and matching tie (I don’t mean literally matching more complimentary) the guys are Matalan know what they’re doing and have perfect sets of ties and pockets squares. The ones in the picture came together, they are both the same shapes and actually work really well with this suit. The only thing I’m missing is a tie clip. A pocket square really does make such a big difference and can make you stand out for other people. If you’ve got that extra special meeting and need to pull out all the stops pick a pocket square and be bold! I don’t put too much effort into how the pocket square looks whereas I know some people are very rigid. I pick the middle out the pocket square wave in the air and push into the top pocket. Remember every time you buy new suit the pocket square pocket is sewn together. I suggest getting in there with your fingers and open up.

Tip five, don’t be scared of accessories.

For this outfit I’ve coupled some nice wine coloured socks matching the scarf so is important to stay warm in the winter. I like to add a bit of colour and when I’m talking about colour I’m not talking about huge contrasts in colour. Complimentary colours! So as you can see here the wine colour really works well with the brown shoes and the brown belt. You know it just raises the game a tiny bit.

So thank you very much for our for having a look hopefully these tips can help and give you some kind of support when looking to pick up that new suit for work, for a wedding or event. If you don’t need a new suit, just add a couple of tips from the above. Tie and pocket square combination, or same colour socks and scarf. This whole outfit was less than I previously paid for a single shirt. You can now get some really good quality clothing at really good prices.

Hopefully I’ve giving you some tips that will make sure when you go out shopping you can pick yourself up a really dapper outfit. Thank you very much to Matalan for providing me the opportunity to review their suit range. All of the tips, comments and opinions in this article are completely mine.

Take a look at the video below for some inspiration and click on the link to have a look at The Men’s Suit Buying Guide and spark your creativity.

If you need any advice or are looking for any tips drop me a question in the comments below and I’ll see how I can help.

  • Claire Thomas

    Phil, you dapper chap you! I love the idea of pocket squares – I wonder if I could get Andrew into them? Great suit though, I love that we can get such good value these days. I haven’t been into Matalan in a while, I must go and see if the ladies work stuff is as lovely.