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What are my options for a suit like this?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm a recent college graduate moving on to graduate work in the fall. However, as a gift to myself, I've been trying to build up a wardrobe of decent suits. I've read through and taken notes from a few books such as Flusser's Dressing the Man and I've been lurking here for a few weeks (especially to see critiques of the things I've read!) I'm pretty sure I know what kinds of suits I want, but my problem is finding them in my area.

My "workhorse" suit right now is a charcoal Signature three-button SB from Jos. A Bank. I know it's not the highest quality, but it is the best I could get in my town. The nicer Signature Gold from JAB don't have side vents (which I like), and there is only one other suit store in my town that carries more than purple 8x3 pimp suits and isn't a Men's Warehouse.

I'm looking for a quality navy suit, three button SB, rolled to the top button, side vents, and high notches. In most of the stores in my area (central Illinois), I'm lucky if I can even find anything with side vents, and even then the suits aren't particularly good quality.

I made a somewhat difficult trip to Michigan Avenue in Chicago a few weeks ago and browsed through the stores for a few hours, but I was let down by what I saw in most of the stores. The Zegna store is apparently moving away from three buttons (?), and Brooks Brothers didn't have any navy suits in 40R or S at the time. The stuff in the Ralph Lauren store didn't seem to be my style (the suit they found for me rolled down to the middle button, IIRC). My friends were rushing me by the time I hit Neiman Marcus, and I only got about 10 minutes in the Saks men's store.

I have two options that I see available. I can make a two-day trip to Chicago by train and delve through Michigan Avenue to get a good suit off-the-rack and bring it back to be tailored, or I can find a suit online, sight-unseen, and get it tailored locally.

I would really like to go to Michigan Avenue again, but I think I need to be more prepared this time. I'd like to know what brands to specifically look for to find the kind of suit I want. What stores should I look through to find said brands?

As for the second option, I've been searching around and found a few places like Hickey Freeman that I like the looks of. However, I know it's generally a bad idea to trust sizing and proportion to an internet browser. What sort of brands should I look for if I want to buy a made-to-order suit? I get the feeling it would be sort of difficult to find a trunk show in my area, so should I still make the trek into the Chicagoland area to find samples of some of the bigger names?

I'm willing to spend upwards of $1500 on the suit. It's my big gift to myself, and I want to have a really nice suit as the center to my wardrobe. I'm a medium build, and I'm more interested in a conservative style than a fashion-forward look. I'm primarily confounded because not only is this a big purchase for me, but it's time-consuming because of my location. Any help you can offer would be most appreciated.
post #2 of 12
Why a three button suit?
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm insecure about my height. edit: Additionally, I personally find them more attractive and slightly more formal-looking.
post #4 of 12
Why not find a good tailor who can accurately measure you for a suit and get one made by a place like Baron Boutique that has all the features you want? Read through this thread for a discussion and some pics of one of their suits. It would be well within your budget, BTW.
post #5 of 12
I would sugest that you return to Boul Mich and try on suits made by the better makers(Kiton, Brioni, Oxxford, etc.). It'll be an education, in and of itself. Then you may well be equipped to purchase, at discount, from Filene's Basement or even EBay. Of course, MTM is always an option, if required.
post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Menacer
I'm insecure about my height.

edit: Additionally, I personally find them more attractive and slightly more formal-looking.
Two-button jackets are generally more elongating on shorter guys because of the longer lapel and shirt/tie line.
post #7 of 12
Can I make a recommendation based on you saying that you're doing graduate work in the fall? Don't spend your extra money (or run up credit card bills) on a bunch of suits. One or two cheapies are fine, but you'll want that money. If you are working on a professional degree (MBA, JD) you may need the suit. If you're working on a PhD you won't. But either way you'll want some money to be able to eat out once in a while. Save your money until interview time.

bob
post #8 of 12
Bob's advice about the grad school life is very sound. Save the money for meals out, maybe a little travel, and other ordinary stuff.
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by dah328
Two-button jackets are generally more elongating on shorter guys because of the longer lapel and shirt/tie line.
Right. So a 2.5 or 3 rolled to 2 or a 2 button will be fine, but a true 3 will make you look disproportionate and call attention to your height. It's also more of a fashion-forward look, which you say you don't want. Z Zegna is the upper end of brands that will do an OTR true 3 button.

Tom
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Well, you've caught me in my ignorance. I was under the impression that the vertical lines from the two closed front buttons added a sense of height. I remember reading that tall/thin men shouldn't wear the top two closed; does that leave the three button firmly in the realm of the man of average height and build?

I still like the stuffier look of the top two buttons being done (even if it's fashion-forward), but I'll certainly not discount lower-rolled 3-buttons from here on out. I'm still not partial to 2-buttons, but maybe that will just be a phase.

As for the recommendation to save my money for graduate school: An excellent one! I'm using that very reasoning to talk myself out of a lot of frivolous purchases. Something that I did not mention, however, was that these suits are being paid for by my family. These were my graduation gift. I wanted to expand my wardrobe, and I felt that it would be much easier to upgrade in the future if I had a solid base now. These suits will hopefully last me a good long while, which is one of the reasons why I'm trying to stay away from suits on the fashionable side; I'd like their style to last.

Towards the recommendation to return to Michigan Avenue and try on more suits: I would dearly love to. The biggest problem is that I have a limited means of transportation; I do not own a car (nor can I justify the expense in most cases), and a train trip to Chicago would turn into a full weekend affair of train and taxi rides. I would like to learn as much as I can before making the trip, including what places I should look for (such as Filene's Basement!) and what brands to find. I am from southern Illinois and have very rarely visited Chicago, so I am ignorant to its shopping scene.

About the recommendatio to try an internet company: are there any other recommendations for companies to look at? This seems like a fine idea, but I think I may hold off on an internet purchase until I am more confident in knowing what I should look for.
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by GMF
Why not find a good tailor who can accurately measure you for a suit and get one made by a place like Baron Boutique that has all the features you want? Read through this thread for a discussion and some pics of one of their suits. It would be well within your budget, BTW.
Since that thread, unfortunately, they've increased the price of the tropical wool suit and there's no vest included. Just so everyone knows.
post #12 of 12
As to a trip to Chicago, surely there's a ride board at your university and you can atleast get to Chicago for the price of a tank of gas. Look around and find someone from Chicago who would put you up for the weekend. I would think that the many dorms in Chicago would have a plan to house a university student with proper ID for a good price. Then go to Saks, NM, Oxxford, etc and try on various suits.
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