I gather that every woman ideally ought to have a little black dress (LBD) in her wardrobe. It’s versatile and can be worn in a wide variety of contexts, from a ball to a funeral, an after dinner engagement to the opera. I’ve no idea whether that is true, or whether women up and down the land have this stock item in their wardrobes.
However, I can say that the male equivalent to the LBD is the plain charcoal suit. This is why every man needs a charcoal suit. It is extremely versatile. Every formal shirt you possess can be worn with a charcoal suit. Because it is a plain suit you can wear striped or checked shirts with it, and shirts in a solid colour work equally well.
This is a suit which is equally at home in the boardroom as at a wedding, or indeed at a funeral. It can be worn for everyday work situations or for the special occasion. Merely changing one’s shirt or tie is enough to enable this versatile suit to adapt to a different context. It can be worn in very formal contexts with a white or blue shirt with black shoes and a striped tie and cuff-links, or in slightly less formal contexts, say with a pink, lilac, or pale green shirt with dark brown shoes, with or without a tie.
Moreover, if you are someone blessed with footwear covering a wide colour palette you can also wear navy, olive green, or burgundy shoes with a charcoal suit with appropriate shirts to match or indeed clash.
The charcoal suit’s genius lies in the fact that it is very smart but not necessarily very memorable. So if you wear it multiple times per week no one will notice that you’ve been wearing the same suit repeatedly. This is especially true if you dress it up with different shirt, tie, and pocket-handkerchief combinations each time.
I am told that less than 40% of British men wear a suit to work and that 30% of men do not own a suit at all. If you only have a single suit in your wardrobe (a situation that cries out for a 5-year project) make sure it fits you properly, and make sure it’s plain charcoal grey. You won’t regret it.