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Suit buying 10

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Well, this is like the millionth question I've asked on this forum, but I've gotten enough good help to get working on my day to day wardrobe, now on the important stuff. I read most of the suit threads here, but I have a few specific questions before I go out and buy one. I'm a college student looking for a nice suit to wear out to formals, fancy dinners, job interviews, etc. I already have an inexpensive charcoal pinstripe hand me down from my dad which I can wear out to parties and clubs without worrying about getting some beer spilled on it, or any other occasion when I just need to be in a suit, but I want to get something nice for my first suit purchase. 1. Any recommendations on what kind of suit to buy? I went to a few local mens' stores and the advice was to get a solid navy or charcoal suit, and that's what I'll do (I think I'd prefer a 3 button). In terms of brand/quality I'm not entirely sure yet, but seeing as this is my first suit I'll have some help from my parents, and I should be able to go as high as $1000, though I don't know if that's reasonable at this time. On one hand it may be impractical to go all out now when I could just go to Joseph A. Bank and get a solid, respectable looking suit for around $300 with lots of money left over. On the other hand, my dad is of the position that one should be willing to splurge for quality when buying a suit, and I go to an Ivy League school and will be looking for a summer job in New York (possibly in something fashion-oriented, but I'll save that for another post), so I might have a higher standard of dress to worry about. In the high end of my budget range ($800-1000) I've been focusing on Canali, as they generally have nice modern Italian cuts, no fused front, and seem to have a lot of bang for the buck. Is that reasonable for a guy my age or am I getting ahead of myself? Another minor debate I had on style was flat front v. pleated trousers. I converted all my everyday/evening pants to flat fronts to look a tad more sleek and stylish, but all the salesmen I talked to told me to stick with double pleats when buying a suit. 2. Any recommendations on where/when to buy? Right now I live in Houston, which has a fairly good selection, but I leave for school in a few weeks and then I would have the chance to go to New York and look at the suits there (pm me if you want to give shopping advice for NYC, but keep in mind that I've never been there before and won't have a car, limiting my options). I guess it comes down to whether it's better to buy now and pay a little more with a little less selection and save some stress and leave myself time to get it fitted or whether I should invest a hefty chunk of time and take a trip to NYC hoping for a better selection and price. I think I'd do best sticking with reputable mens' stores, as all my TJ Maxx/Marshall's and outlet store experiences have cost lots of time and turned up nothing of worth. 3. The last question revolves around alterations and their necessity. I realize the significance of a suit's fit, but at the same time I'd like to be able to account for growth and not worry about outgrowing a suit I just bought. Given my age (19 in a month), I'm not expecting anything too dramatic, but I did get an inch taller and gain 20 lb since last year (this didn't affect my clothing size too much). Right now, most of the suits I've tried off the rack fit all right with a little bit of room, not noticeably baggy or big, but just a tad roomy. I was thinking that since the suit would be more for special occasions than everyday wear I could get away without altering it or with asking the tailor to leave a little extra room. I don't think I'll grow enough in the next few years to put me off from buying one completely, but it's something to keep in mind.
post #2 of 17
I agree with your dad, and you are right on about Canali. A great suit for a great price. But you don't have to spend $1,000 to get one. You can get terrific Canali suits for $699 if you have any outlet stores nearby. I do agree you should go conservative, say Navy, as it is the basic building block for a nice wardrobe. As for alterations, I have several Canalis that I bought a few pounds ago when I was wearing 40Regs. Now I wear 42 Regs, and when the 40s got too tight, I took them to the place I bought them and htey let out almost an inch in the jacket and in the pants, and they look great and fit great again too. If the suit is a little roomy, you can always have it taken in and then taken out easily when you gain weight, which is inevitable for most folks as we get a bit older.
post #3 of 17
Considering that you're in Neiman Marcus' home state, you might take trips to the Last Call outlets in Austin and Dallas to see if they have any suit bargains that fit you. Unlike TJMaxx, et al., you actually can occasionally score an amazing deal at Last Call.
post #4 of 17
pm me if you want to give shopping advice for NYC, but keep in mind that I've never been there before and won't have a car, limiting my options Sorry, no specific shopping advice (I haven't lived in NYC since '93)... but it's obvious you've never been there. Not having a car in NYC doesn't limit your options.... -having- one does You'll see what I mean once you're there.
post #5 of 17
I recommend Off Fifth (the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet).  I bought a navy three-button Corneliani suit there this past weekend.  After applying a 15% off coupon I got from the salesman and an additional 10% off for opening a Saks credit account, the total came to less than $500.
post #6 of 17
I could definitely help with where to find a bargain in that price range in either Texas or NYC. E-mail me off list if you'd like a thorough list of places to look.
post #7 of 17
Quote:
1. Any recommendations on what kind of suit to buy?
Your first suit should probably be an unvented three-button roll-lapel (the lapel rolls down to the middle button) with flap pockets in solid navy wool. Not exciting, but presentable anywhere. Embellishments that would be nice are side vents and a ticket pocket, or third, smaller hip-level flat pocket. Except on a riding jacket, you don't want a centre vent in back. Besom pockets (just a "lip" with no flap) are OK but I'm not a big fan.
Quote:
I could just go to Joseph A. Bank and get a solid, respectable looking suit for around $300 with lots of money left over.  
You're far too young to buy an American sack suit. (I think Bank is like that, but I've never seen that store. Others are Brooks Brothers and J. Press in the budget range, Hickey Freeman and much of Hugo Boss's stuff in the mid-range, and Oxxford in the high end) You can buy one of those when you turn fifty. You want something with a more structured silhouette.
Quote:
In the high end of my budget range ($800-1000) I've been focusing on Canali, as they generally have nice modern Italian cuts, no fused front, and seem to have a lot of bang for the buck.
Canali and Corneliani are good choices in your pricerange. The "designer" suits that are similarly priced (Armani Collezioni, Zegna Soft, Helmut Lang) are not as well constructed, with fused fronts and lesser wools.
Quote:
Is that reasonable for a guy my age or am I getting ahead of myself?
Sure, when I was an undergrad (not Ivy/Oxbridge, but usually ranked higher than most Ivies, blessed with much better weather, and unparalleled in the realm of basketball ) the only suit I owned was a midnite blue 3-button roll-lapel, side-vented Zegna Napoli in their 15milmil15 wool. (Had two dinner jackets, too, for uni balls and sorority formals.) I stopped being an undergrad about a year and a summer ago. :-)
Quote:
 Another minor debate I had on style was flat front v. pleated trousers.  I converted all my everyday/evening pants to flat fronts to look a tad more sleek and stylish, but all the salesmen I talked to told me to stick with double pleats when buying a suit.  
Moot point. You won't find flat-front trousers on the suits from the two firms above.
Quote:
3. The last question revolves around alterations and their necessity.  I realize the significance of a suit's fit, but at the same time I'd like to be able to account for growth and not worry about outgrowing a suit I just bought.  Given my age (19 in a month), I'm not expecting anything too dramatic, but I did get an inch taller and gain 20 lb since last year (this didn't affect my clothing size too much).
While I didn't have a big growth spur at 17-18, my sizes didn't change in college. Peace, JG
post #8 of 17
Advice. September is right around the corner and this is when most of the trunk shows are. It would be a very good idea to wait for them since you'll probably be able to get a Made-to-measure suit for the price of an off-the-rack one. Check all the high-end stores in your area for the dates fo the shows.
post #9 of 17
i think i read that you are 19-20? you might want to spend, at most, $500 on your first suit, and spend whatever extra money you might have from parents, savings, etc. on other things you need. i think the majority of the guys on here are, like myself, clotheshorses who have considerable knowledge about tailored clothing. however, as this is your first suit, i wouldn't buy a Canali or other 'nice' suit just yet....why not wait a while, until you're out of college and on your way in the business world? i remember an ad for Lafroaig scotch, that said "please don't let this be your first bottle of scotch." like scotch, a finely tailored suit is to be appreciated for its stitching, handwork, rolled lapels, etc.....might not be the ideal choice for college get-togethers, running the risk of a beer stain, etc. just a thought.
post #10 of 17
So even in the Style Forum, where people are hidden by user names the Ivy Leauguers feel they must drop this point at every turn.  Get over yourselves.  Wasn't the Unabomber a Harvard product? (CJDEVITO, I must agree that when in New York, being tied down with a car is the burden.  One parking space for every 5,000 cars it seems.
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Advice. September is right around the corner and this is when most of the trunk shows are.
Good point. Another interesting option would be to try one of the "Shanghai bespoke" suits from Kilgour French Stanbury.(www.8savillerow.com, I think). Sure, it's sewn in China, but I don't see why Chinese people couldn't do just as good a job as Brits. I think Kilgour sends a tailor to NYC several times to measure and fit clients. Cost should be in the three figures, USD. On a selfish note, I've never seen one of the suits for myself, so I'd like to know how they turn out. Peace, JG
post #12 of 17
jst, i completely missed your point in your post.. what was it you were trying to say? did part of your post get cut off? what advice did you have for the young man trying to get help on his suit-buying?
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
cjdevito: heh, I visited NYC once (when I was 8 or so). I guess what I meant is that I'm going to be going to NYC by train (I think the train comes in at Penn Station but I don't know) and being that I don't know the area at all I want to stay in a close radius from my arrival point and don't want to go too far out of the way. GQGeek: I'm not familiar with how trunk shows work... could you elaborate? jst: I don't see what the big fuss is. I mentioned where I go to school (and I didn't even say my specific school because I didn't want to get this kind of reaction) because regionalism and environment are important issues with fashion. Someone who goes to Berkeley obviously will want to aim for a different dress style than someone who goes to Vanderbilt or Duke. But seriously, I don't get this double standard. Nobody ever criticizes people for wearing state school logos but if I were to follow suit and wear my school sweater, that automatically makes me a snob? For some reason I think you wouldn't have accused me of such had I said I went to U of Texas instead (a fine school as well). The_Foxx: Obviously I don't have to have a top of the line suit, but I'm aiming for something that has a "modern classic" look and is a step above the usual "my first suit" style and quality. I'm not trying to be a clotheshorse yet, but I don't want to settle for a generic Brooks Brothers type suit like all my friends have. I definitely would intend to keep the suit I get as long as possible (10 years or more) and as I mentioned already I have a cheap hand-me-down suit from my dad to wear for those occasions where I may risk having someone spill beer on me. Whatever new suit I got would be limited to really fancy school dinners, interviews, and that sort of thing. Anyway, I went out and looked at two Off 5th's today and sadly the offerings were quite poor. Neither carried Canali or Corneliani, and most of the selections were either overpriced low quality diffusion brands (E.g. Mani) or gaudy non-wool fabrics. Boss was probably the best they had to offer (I think the cheaper ones may have been $400-500 but I didn't check the tags that much) and I find it a bit overrated considering the cost and quality. So it's not looking like I'm going to find a Canali/Corneliani for under $1K anytime soon and I may either have to suck it up and splurge or go without a suit. As for other options, I really don't want to buy a sack suit (for the reasons that Joe G stated). I did take a look at an Emporio Armani boutique which had some sleek looking suits for around $700-800, but I found the wool a little thin and scratchy and couldn't help but wonder how much of the price was just derived from the name. I guess it's back to looking, but any more recommendations are great.
post #14 of 17
aybojs, If you are going to NYC, I would suggest that you visit either Century 21 or take a side excursion to the Central Valley, to the Woodbury Commons Outlets. If you can't get an offprice suit there, you can't get it anywhere. (Emporio Armani suits will go for about $400, and Canali suits probably for about $600-800.) And don't worry so much about getting lost in the big city. That's half the fun, after all. And seriously, you are unlikely to get hassled in most parts of any large (North American or European) city as long as 1) you are not too conspicuous, and 2) you are not looking for trouble. And of course, you are unlikely to find Canali suits on sale in those areas anyway. jst: Don't hate. I'm sure that aybojs was very proud of getting into a fine university, and just wanted to share with us. Joe G.: When I was an undergrad, I went to a university that was very proud of being "the Harvard of the North." I don't recall that Harvard ever felt the need to make the corollary statement, if you take my meaning. Apparently we beat them at hockey once.
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
I guess I might add one other quick question. Since it's looking more and more likely that I'll have to wait til I get up east and check out the NYC area to get a suit... how do I deal with alterations? I don't have any tailors near my school so I'd probably have to get it altered by the place who sells me the suit. Making a return trip will be out of the question because of a busy class/weekend schedule and the fact that multiple hours will be required to travel back and forth to New York (even worse if they mess up and I need to send it back). Do most places have some arrangement where they could mail a suit after they finished altering it and would they be accomodating if re-alterations would be needed?
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