If you search for Tim Gunn’s Fashion Essentials on the Web, you will find a number of things he recommends for women. To some degree, many of these things — classic white shirt, jeans, trench coat — work for men as well. But there is one thing on that list that women have had for a long time as an essential, namely the “little black dress”, that men should also have. Except it is the “solid black suit”.
I’ve read that if men are buying their first suit, they should go with a navy suit. Navy suits are great. But if I were recommending an essential piece of clothing for men, it would be a solid black suit.
A solid black suit is tremendously versatile. If you wear it with a white shirt with French cuffs and a solid coloured tie, it is the height of dressing up (save for wearing a tuxedo). If you replace the shirt and tie with a high quality T-shirt or a bold print shirt, you can wear the same suit to a gallery opening or a night club. You can wear it to weddings, funerals, and pretty well any special event in between. It travels well, doesn’t show stains or wrinkles as easily as some other suits, and if you have to pack light, you could add some light gray or beige pants and make the jacket coordinate with those slacks for extra business attire. You can even wear the jacket with the jeans if you want to mix it up.
I think solid black is more versatile than one with stripes. As for the cut of the suit, that should be one that works well for you. Since you want the suit to be versatile, the cut should be versatile as well. And get the best one you can afford, especially if you will be wearing it often.
There are lots of great articles of clothing a man should have in his wardrobe to look his best. A basic black suit should be one of those.
To see what I mean: if you want to see just how elegant such a suit can look, you can check out this post with Tim looking great as usual in a solid black suit. Meanwhile, this post on the new line of Comme des Garcons wear at H&M illustrates how to make such a suit look more casual.