New Suits

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Jan 15, 2008 5:35 pm

I'm looking for some advice on suits.  I had a guy from Tom James come by my office today and show me his wares.  Good stuff, but the suit the guy was wearing didn't look much better than what I could buy and my local JC Penney.  Couple that with the fact that I've never paid $1500 for a suit (heck I didn't even pay that much for my golf clubs) and I could feel my wallet screaming NO...NO...NO... 


So, from a quality standpoint, where do you guys go to buy your suits.  Custom made by local tailor?  Paul Fredrick that advertises in RR?  Lands End?  Sears?  Ebay (where my last suits came from)? 
 
It's been a while since I looked at buying a new suit, so the ones I've got are starting to look worn.  Is there a middle ground between Wal-Mart and Brooks Brothers?  Do you go for quality or quantity?  Just looking for some advice.   
Jan 15, 2008 5:43 pm

I had 5 suits custom tailored from Tom James Co...along with shirts, shoes, belt.  Didn't like the bill, but the suits are great.  Its kind of like investing..do you want something just  for you or something everybody else has?  FYI, my favorite suit is a Kenneth Cole I purchased from Macy's for 800.  But, with your payout..you'd better stick with Wal-mart...sorry Spiffy...had to get a jab in there.

Jan 15, 2008 5:45 pm

Something I forgot...Tom James actually took my off the rack Kenneth Cole and tailored it to my specs.  They through that in with my order...awful nice of them for a close to 7k bill....

Jan 15, 2008 6:06 pm

I've never bought a $1500 suit.  The idea is horrendous to me.  I've bought a couple suits for less than $300 that disintegrated on me in less than a year, but I've bought plenty of $400-$600 sale-priced suits that I felt were an excellent value.  (I almost always buy 2 or 3 at a time during good sales, which my wife alerts me of)

 
I'm sure you'll get folks talking about how great their $2000 suits and $30,000 watches are.  Save your money.  Find good values, save the difference and retire early.
 
Your clients will notice that you have a pretty tie, and a matching coat, shirt, socks, pants, belt, shoes... and maybe even cuff links.  None of these items have to cost a lot of money, but they DO need to work well together (match).  Have your wife help.  I've noticed that when my wife picks out my outfits I get more compliments.
 
You can find decent labels at department stores like a Younkers (like Hart Schaffner Marx) that won't cost you an arm and a leg, but should offer you a suit that should last at least 3 years of regular wear.  I also buy Enro shirts exclusively, as they make a line that looks great and requires no ironing.  These typically cost between $50 and $80 depending on if they're on sale, are machine washable (more convenient and less expensive than dry cleaning), and last a long time.
 
Again, I'm sure that there are folks on this board that think I'm describing an incredibly trashy wardrobe for a professional.  But to me it goes to buying a Bentley or a BMW.  If you pull up to client meetings in a Bentley, it will probably come off as ostentatious.  It also reminds me of a successful trial attorney I once spoke to.  He told me that he's learned to bring his worn and almost ratty briefcase to court and not wear really expensive attire when he's in front of a jury.  Apparently people identify more with a nicely dressed man than an impeccably dressed man? 
Jan 16, 2008 10:07 am

Nordstroms.  simply the best.  Clients want you to look good, you don't have to look like a GQ runway model.

Jan 16, 2008 1:18 pm

I bought two custom made suits about 8 years ago.  To this day, they are still the best fitting, most comfortable suits I own.  They are also the only suits that have made it 8 years.  Most of my suits off-the-rack go about 4-5 years before they look shabby (and I take good care of them).

Now, I had these suits made from a couple of old Jewish guys in Manhattan.  They only cost about $550 at the time.  These guys worked out of a two-room deal in the city.  They were two little tailors that had thousands of yards of material stacked everywhere.  All was by word of mouth, and a lot of wealthy people use them.  So their overhead is nearly zero.
Now, I know several Jones guys in my region that use Tom James.  They love the suits, love the shoes, but don't care for the shirts (I still order my shirts custom from the Shirt Store in NYC (go to their website).  I have not ordered any suits from TJ yet, but when I re-up on my suits, I am considering it.  It is a GREAT investment.  Fit is the #1 thing that makes a suit look great on you, followed by material/color.  You can buy a $2,000 suit that looks dorky on you because it doesn't fit.  You can also buy great fitting suits at Macy's for $250 that look better.  Also, you need to know what STYLE of suit is best for you (single, 2/3/4 button, double breasted, italian, english, etc.). 
Also, I have bought a few no-iron shirts from Land's End, as I was getting sick of getting my shirts sent to the cleaners.  They are actually really nice.  They are 100% cotton (none of that old poly-blend crap).  If you launder them correctly, they look almost as crisp as a professionally cleaned shirt (with no ironing!).
Jan 16, 2008 1:57 pm
henryhill:

Nordstroms.  simply the best.  Clients want you to look good, you don't have to look like a GQ runway model.

 
I have $400-$700 suits and one GQ $2000 armani..whichmay be a bit over the top.  It looks great, has a conservative cut, but others somehow know, and colleagues call me Mafioso when I rarely wear it.
 
Jan 16, 2008 2:41 pm

Please pay more attention to ur shoes than u do to ur suits. A nice squareish toe NEVER pointy unless

I think a "good"/decent men's suit for everyday wear should cost from between $200 to $400. That being said...EVERY man needs to break the bank & buy that "FANTASY" suite in true Mafia style just for those extra important clients etc.



Guys...more than the suit please pay attention to ur shoes particularly. They should cost at least $200. Nice square toe. Stacy & Clinton say buy pointy toes as it makes u taller I say thats tom-foolery...if anything it only makes ur feet look longer. You dont want that.



Also invest in ur ties.



The best advice: MAKE IT EASY...LET UR WIFE PICK ur clothes. I see a lot of guys walking around like a cat chewed on something.













Jan 16, 2008 4:51 pm

Why are u using STREET GHETTO lingo like "outside da club". Where u raised "in da ghetto". Please refrain from talkin to me 'like dat".



Also ...just bcoz u kick ur h*** in the thighs doesnt mean that the average man is that ignorant.





Grab me an icecold Grolsch!

Jan 19, 2008 2:14 am

Spiff - Nordstrom Rack is a wonderful place. Great prices for Nordstrom suits that may need a little altering. It's tougher to buy at the Rack because it's hit or miss on stuff so expect to spend some time(a couple weekends) & bringing your honey along to help is a beautiful thing. I've gotten great $800 suits for $299. If I buy a cheaper suit I always improve the buttons on it.



Your color palette & your skin type will determine suit colors and textures. I'm Indian so I avoid tans and blacks and favor greys & navys. I always wear a blue or off-white shirt(to match my off-white teeth). If you're not leaving the office & don't wear a coat when you meet with clients you can get away with a pant separate which gives you more flexibility & allows for some creativity. It saves money & you can keep a blazer in the office if you're caught in a special situation.



Depending on your market you can also develop a great non-tie look these days. Quite a few of my clients are blue collar and don't care or even prefer to see me out of a tie.

Jan 19, 2008 7:25 am

Great advice Ashland. You have made a valid point abt the buttons. And guys dont bring a "new girlfriend" as she might just have to say u look great to keep u/be polite a wife will do. They are brutally honest. Or an old girlfriend...one who has passed the "seven year itch`'phase.

Jan 19, 2008 10:33 am

Go to Bluefly and Sierra Trading Post if you want to find great suits at a good price.  You absolutely cannot go wrong with a Canali or Corneliani suit.  Just take them to a good tailor and get them fitted properly. 

 
You can also check out some of the better men's stores around your town now.  There should be some good sales since the spring stuff is coming out.  A nice blue or gray suit always looks good.
Jan 19, 2008 10:43 am

Can we discuss shoes in the process? I would hate to see y'all walking around in nice pimp style suits & ghett-o shoes!!

Jan 21, 2008 11:30 am

I've been on the Sierra Trading Post site before, but forgot they sold suits.  I've not looked at bluefly before.  Thanks, I'll add those to my list. 

 
My shoes are simple.  Wing tips or cap toes usually.  Black or brown.  I'm pretty boring.  No, traditional would be a better term.   
 
 
Jan 21, 2008 11:17 pm
Spaceman Spiff:

I've been on the Sierra Trading Post site before, but forgot they sold suits.  I've not looked at bluefly before.  Thanks, I'll add those to my list. 

 
My shoes are simple.  Wing tips or cap toes usually.  Black or brown.  I'm pretty boring.  No, traditional would be a better term.   
 
 
You need to look at Allen Edmonds. Spiff, 2 years ago in Beijjing, bought a couple of custom suits while on a trip. The fit is the key. I wear mostly Joseph Abboud and Hart Shaffner and Marx. I have a suit ordered from Tom James....
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jan 21, 2008 11:57 pm

I thought Ashland made a good point as I've adopted the no suit, no tie policy in most cases.  If anything, I've found that it puts most clients at ease.  Although I haven't found any that appear offended, I would like to think that if that offends them, it wasn't meant to be (for either of us).

 
Although a piece of advice I received early on was that you can tell a lot about a man by the shine of his shoes.  If you take the time to buff them up every so often, it shows you really care about what you do because you take the time to make the effort.  Whether my clients adopt that philosphy or notice who knows, but I make sure I shine them up about every two weeks.  Just some food for thought. 
Jan 22, 2008 10:56 am

Noggin - I had a visiting vet tell me years ago that he takes a trip to Beijjing every time one comes up, just to buy suits.  I took a trip to Italy a few years ago and bought a bunch of ties.  Should have looked at shoes while I was there. 

Jan 22, 2008 11:55 am

Go to Bluefly and Sierra Trading Post if you want to find great suits
at a good price.  You absolutely cannot go wrong with a Canali or
Corneliani suit.  Just take them to a good tailor and get them fitted
properly. <<

Canali and Corneliani are nice suits but with a very low rise. Zegna makes the fabric C and C uses  and has a traditional rise, so you are not squeezing your grapes all day long.

Check out NM during Last Call (starts up later this month). You can pick up any of the best suits for around $500 to $1,000 and people will only recognize that you are wearing something exceptionally special.

Shoes? Pick up a few good pairs of Ferragamos. Your grandmother was right about them.  Exceptional quality leather, very conservative look. You pay $300-$500 today but you can keep them looking new (with good care) for at least a decade. Take them in to the cobbler on January 1st every year and pay $60-$90 for tune-up, you'll be glad you did. Gucci fall apart and leather tends to crack after a while. Nordstrom sells the 'gamos under the Zegna label.

What a good to get off the phone and talk clothes instead!

Jan 22, 2008 6:30 pm

St Vincent DePaul, I pay about $16.35 for a suite that someone else paid several hundred $$$ for--I live in a small farm community and they don't get too excited over my suits--being retired military--the shoes always shine! 

 
Yea I cheap--damm frugal you bettcha!  So are my clients.
Jan 22, 2008 8:16 pm

You can have Hart Shaffner and Marx custom make a suit for around $800 that fits like, well, it was made for you.



I'm reminded that Ronald Reagan said that he wouldn't enter the Oval Office in anything but a suit and tie...he had too much respect for the office to do otherwise. I have too much respect for the trust that clients have placed in me to meet them in anything other than a suit and tie.