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Help me look my sharpest in DC (Please)

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hi. I'm a student who has recently fallen in love with suits, but still has a lot to learn. These forums have helped me to finally break free of laymen mistakes like buying polyester suits and jackets (which I'm now so embarrassed over that I have donated almost all of them) and am only now understanding the finer points of buying suits, like fabric quality, fused vs canvassed, etc. Even though I'm a student, I really want to own a genuinely nice suit. I'm studying political science, so I'm in DC a few times each year. When that happens, I'm standing in the same room with, for instance, the Under Secretary of State, or people like Hans Blix (whom I had my picture taken with) or Zbigniew Brzezinski (whom I spoke to at a Q & A last year as well). ------------------------------------------------ MY DILEMMA: I want to stand in the room with those kinds of influential people and look sharp. I don't want them to think "look, another college student here as a tourist" when I come over to them. I want them to think "wow, that's a well-dressed young man." So - how? I know Men's Wearhouse and the like are out of the question here. Jos. A Bank didn't impress me much either - expensive and overly padded. So where should I be looking? What brands? I think I can figure out dress shirts, accessories etc. on my own, but as far as getting a stand-out suit goes, I could use some guidance. Not too crazy about my options in Richmond, VA - Franco's carries Canali and the like, but never for less than a thousand. The Nordstrom's here carries Hugo Boss as their "nice" slim fitting suit (just the jacket, actually, at 800 dollars). Slim fit is a big selling point for me - mainly the shoulders (anything with shoulders over 18" is probably not worthwhile). So if I wanted something off the rack, I'd probably have to travel, and the chances of getting something nice at a worthwhile discount are low. I'm open to buying online from trusted sources, including this board's members. Lightly used is fine, as long as it isn't dated. I'd like to stay in the low-to-mid hundreds and make sure that I get the most bang for my buck before pulling the trigger. So - any ideas what kind of options I'd have in terms of brands and quality? Thanks in advance. JN
post #2 of 18
Thread Starter 
Also, in case this comes into the equation: I measure at around 5'11" and take a 38" chest. I'm a slim guy - around 150, and that's after gaining a good deal of weight since February. My neck is 15" and I take a 34/35 dress shirt - I'm pretty sure the exact measurement was around 34. My waist is tricky - I can easily fit into a 32 - possibly even lower if I had to - but since I have digestive/breathing issues, I need my pants much looser than most people do. So the ability to let pants out to at least 33 1/2 is very important.
post #3 of 18
I can't speak for shopping in Richmond, but once you're in DC, try Potomac Mills mall, about a half hour south out of town in Woodbridge, VA (also like an hour and a half from Richmond I guess). Probably the best place for thrifting in the Washington metropolitan area. There you've got Saks Off 5th, Nordstrom Rack, NMLC, etc.

Frankly if your clothes are within a size of being well-fitted, you'll be in the 90th percentile of best dressed in DC. It's a disgraceful mess here.
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
It's funny you should say that - because I was shocked at the number of wealthy, powerful people I've run into in DC who were wearing suits that fit them horrendously.

Nonetheless, I'm a young guy in rooms filled with old farts who tend not to take me seriously. So dressing significantly better than they do would probably be a help - it certainly won't hurt.

Have been meaning to get to Potomac Mills for awhile - hadn't considered thrifting there. Sounds like good advice - so thanks.
post #5 of 18
Well, certainly don't overdress. You probably don't want to look like a peacocking macaroni in contrast to the conservatively dressed politicos, do you? Wear conservative colors and patterns, and just pay extra close attention to fit and quality, and you should be doing well. Dressing over the top, or wearing fashion forward fits will result in them taking you far less seriously than if you were poorly dressed. You're not out to show them up, I suspect, but rather to not look sloppy. I'd highly recommend picking up a copy of Manton's book (The Suit - Machiavellian something-or-other) and/or some of Flusser's books (Dressing the Man, Style and the Man) if you haven't already. And of course, lurk here plenty.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Sure - not looking for anything too ostentatious. Like you said, conservative, but high quality and a genuinely good fit. That would be perfect for what I need. Will definitely look into the suggested reading material.
post #7 of 18
What would be your budget? Do you have any preferences in mind-single breasted or double-breasted? Any particular style or brands you like?

Will there be any more weight changes ?

I'd try on different suits to get a feel and the size differences for each brand and see how they look on you and then hit the discount stores, the Buy and Sell section here and Ebay.
post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by dragon8 View Post
What would be your budget? Do you have any preferences in mind-single breasted or double-breasted? Any particular style or brands you like?

Will there be any more weight changes ?

I'd try on different suits to get a feel and the size differences for each brand and see how they look on you and then hit the discount stores, the Buy and Sell section here and Ebay.

For someone in his size, double-breasted would look awfully silly IMO. Too much going on for such a small sized jacket.

Re: conservative dress.. A single-breasted 3-button suit (or possibly 3-roll-2 or 3-roll-2.5 depending on your style) in navy, charcoal, or a gray cannot go wrong in any situation.
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by deadly7 View Post
For someone in his size, double-breasted would look awfully silly IMO. Too much going on for such a small sized jacket.

Re: conservative dress.. A single-breasted 3-button suit (or possibly 3-roll-2 or 3-roll-2.5 depending on your style) in navy, charcoal, or a gray cannot go wrong in any situation.

I would agree but sometimes people need to see it for themselves to understand.
post #10 of 18
If you come to DC regularly, you should check out Filene's Basement. There are two that are well stocked right now. One at Metro Center and the other at Farragut North. Plently of Oxxford (close to $1000), but also some under $500 from Canali, Zegna, and Hickey Freeman (make sure you don't buy collection or LTD.) All of those (with the HF caveats) are fully canvassed and nicely constructed. You probably should start trying them on with a 38, but you might even fit a 36 in some of the more traditional American cut HF suits (madison). HF's Vanguard line is cut slimmer and you may wear a 38. Canali size 38 suits usually have 18" shoulders. It may be a little larger in the chest though. I have a 40" chest and Canali's 38 jackets usually fit me perfectly. I also fit 18" shoulder to shoulder. There are plenty of threads recommending alterations tailors in the DC area as well, so just do a search. There may be good ones in Richmond too for all I know.
post #11 of 18
MTM
post #12 of 18
some sf'ers recommend english american for a mtm.
it's located in westminster, md.
search the forum.
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by hatguy View Post
some sf'ers recommend english american for a mtm.
it's located in westminster, md.
search the forum.

Westminster is easily three hours from Richmond, but worth the trip if you'll be in town (and can be back in town several weeks later when it's done to have anything changed). Elio will mail you the suit if changes are needed after your return trip.

I visited two weeks ago and he knew his stuff. I'm reasonably confident of the final product, but haven't taken delivery yet, so take this with a grain of salt. A three-piece in a nice charcoal Holland and Sherry came to $1002 after tax.
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by scurvyfreedman View Post
If you come to DC regularly, you should check out Filene's Basement. There are two that are well stocked right now. One at Metro Center and the other at Farragut North. Plently of Oxxford (close to $1000), but also some under $500 from Canali, Zegna, and Hickey Freeman (make sure you don't buy collection or LTD.) All of those (with the HF caveats) are fully canvassed and nicely constructed.
Funny you should mention this, as the Metro Center store is in the same building where the last conference I was part of was held. I even stopped in, but was too much of a newbie to know what I was looking at.
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dragon8 View Post
What would be your budget?
Looking at 400-600 for something new, 200-300 used. I can dig in for around 750, but that'd only be for something custom tailored that really sings to me. As for what I like - whenever I find a suit or blazer that actually fits in the chest and shoulders, I'm ecstatic. From there it's a matter of quality.
Quote:
Will there be any more weight changes ?
It's a possibility. Main reason why I'm hesitant about MTM.
Quote:
I visited two weeks ago and he knew his stuff. I'm reasonably confident of the final product, but haven't taken delivery yet, so take this with a grain of salt. A three-piece in a nice charcoal Holland and Sherry came to $1002 after tax.
What kind of options does EA provide closer to 750? Vest isn't a necessity. I understand that they're connected to Tom James, whom I've spoken to here in Richmond. They have generic, made-in-Colombia suits at that price range and I've heard mixed things. Feedback for EA seems more positive, but the only pictures I've seen posted here looked like the jacket was too big.
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