The EJ’s guide to choosing an affordable, quality graduation suit

 A suit for the grads is a must. Getting it right requires a little planning, some expert advice — and your mammy.


After spending six or seven years in the same school uniform, it’s time to suit up, and look sharp for your graduation.

Choosing a suit for the grads is a big moment is anyone’s life, and it’s usually the very first suit you will buy.

Back in the day, graduation attire was the hire of some god-awful tuxedo - and a cumberband (it’s a long story!)

Times, fashion, and the rules for formal dress have changed. But that doesn’t mean you have to go all Dumb and Dumber or Liberace to stand out from the crowd.

The two boys in Dumb and Dumber chose Orange and Powder blue with top hats while Liberace liked bling and big frilly collars.

We wouldn’t recommend either look - but at EJ Menswear we do have the insights to make your big night a success.

In the 1980s, things were very simple. You asked the ould lad for €100 and got down to your nearest formal wear rental shop. Nobody bought a suit. Ever.

But those days are over. “People used to be have to be bet into a suit. But the tux is almost dead in the water,” says Tom Clarke – one of EJ’s resident suit experts.

Tom’s no slouch himself when it comes to dressing for the big occasion. “People now generally buy a suit. They want longevity, other uses, they want something edgy and exclusive – and to be a trendsetter.”

EJ’s helps them to tick all the boxes – including exclusivity. “It’s all about the hair and the shoes and the image – and they want to be different.”

You might hear a lot about obesity epidemics and talk about a sugar tax, but these days young lads these days are fitter and leaner.

“We are selling lots of small sizes and extra small as well as shaped and cropped cuts,” says Tom. That’s a huge change from 30 years ago when average sizes were 38, 40 and 42. Now we’re selling 36s and 34s.”

Like all the team in EJs, Tom knows his suits from his ensembles. He knows his 6th Sense from Lambretta, Herbert Frogg from Mulish, he knows what matches and contrasts, when to go plain or patterned, when to choose burgundy shoes home or quietly slide them back on the shelf.

“With Pinterest and Instagram to inspire them, young men are opting for suits and ensembles in all kinds of styles,” says Tom.

No matter the budget, the team have grown fairly handy at matching expectations with lads looking at the likes of Conor McGregor and Cillian Murphy in ‘Peaky Blinders’ to find their own wardrobe inspiration.

“A lad came in there and handed me a picture of Ronaldo and said I want to look like that,” recalls Tom.

“Ok, so Ronaldo was probably wearing a three grand suit but we had the fella looking pretty smart by the time he left.”

But where do you begin? Plain suit or patterned? Tie or no tie? Pocket watch or flower pin? Classic white shirt or a splash of colour? How do you stand out from the crowd —for all the right reasons?

“We try to give everyone a good quality suit or ensemble at a good price. You also get the expertise of our team to make sure the big night is a success. Come on in and have a chat with the guys.”

Below are EJ’s and Tom’s top tips in getting it right for the Grads.

 1. Suit First

Start with the suit, then match the accessories. You can choose a full suit or you can mix things up and pair a blazer or jacket with a contrasting waistcoat and plain chinos. EJ Menswear has a huge array of brands. Liberace, god rest him, would have loved us.

2. Fit is Key

Thankfully EJ’s has an in-house tailoring service – use it and make sure your new gear fits your shape perfectly

3. Mix and Match

It’s easy to get it wrong – check how the different garments and colours sit together and only match the tie if it suits the suit – not the girls’ dress. Stand up for yourself and start as you mean to go on!

4. It’s what’s on the inside

You won’t be leaving your jacket on all night so put just as much thought into the shirt and waist coat, if you’re wearing one.

5. Tie it up

Whether it’s an ordinary tie, bow tie, or cravat, only match the tie if it suits the suit. Remember it’s YOUR graduation, so stand up for yourself and if the dress doesn’t match the tie then you can either go mismatched or herself will have to wear a different dress!

6. Shoes

Remember to leave some budget for the bottom of the house. Often lads splash out on a snazzy suit and then have no money left for a decent pair of shoes and that’s something the ladies pay attention to.”

7. Listen to Mammy

She’s probably bankrolling the whole enterprise so take her opinion on board. You’ll be thinking Punchestown races with the new threads; she’s not - she’s got that college or job interview in mind. Compromise here.

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