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Buying my first suit - Page 3

post #31 of 34
Originally Posted by mlg321 View Post


I need to buy a suit for school to attend information sessions, do presentations, and for other activities. I only work 15 hours a week part-time while I pay for school so I really don't have much money for this but since it's required I have no choice. Do any of you have recommendations on what brands to look for that aren't expensive? I realize that buying some unexpensive stuff will not bring forth quality but is it still possible not to look too bad?

I guess I need one pair of pants, a shirt, shoes, a tie, and a jacket (or blazer? not sure what to call it). I know the fit is important so I'll probably take it to a tailor (how much should that run me?).

Is it possible to find some stuff at thrift stores? I live in Montreal so if anyone knows places I'd appreciate recommendations.


As a fellow Canadian (Toronto) who was in your situation several years ago, I'll give this a shot.

It's definitely possible to have in-expensive, somewhat-low quality clothes while looking great. The most important factor for you will definitely be how well your garments fit on you. To 99% of the population having well-fitting clothing will be sufficient, especially given your situation. (Side note: As a Canadian, beware of purchasing anything online from the USA. If the product isn't made in America, add an additional 30% or so for taxes and duties.)

I'm going to assume you have about two or three weeks until info sessions begin, so that puts a significant constraint on your time. That rules out most online purchases, as you'll have to invest time and effort into becoming competent at this skill.

Suit: Charcoal/Dark Grey, Two-button, Single/Double-vented, Notch lapel, $200-300 + $45-70 tailoring + taxes
This is probably the most boring setup you can have; that said, it's the most practical. Grey-scale clothing is much easier to co-ordinate with other colours. It would be best to check stores similar to Mexx for sales that bring their suits down to around $200-300. Unfortunately for us Canadians, our brick-and-mortar choices are much more limited than our American neighbors. Mexx often has 40-50% sales on its suits, so hopefully one pops up around you soon. If not, I suppose you could try out H&M, but beware since last time I checked they had some tacky designs.

When buying your suit, pay special attention to the following:
- Check the tag for the suit material (usually in the inner chest pocket). If possible, stay away from pure polyester, although you may have to resort to a wool blend.
- Make sure the shoulders of the suit fit you correctly. They shouldn't be too bulky nor should they extend past the tip of your shoulder blades (check out the forum for more details on this). Of all the tailoring work to do, this tends to be the most expensive and troublesome to perform, so shoulder fit is crucial.
- When trying on the suit, button the top button--if you get stretch marks across the chest, it's too tight. On the other hand, it shouldn't feel like a sack.
- The length of the suit arms can be tailored for the most part (~$35) by a competent tailor.
- On the pants, go for no pleats if your build allows it. A tailor can hem it to the correct length for your ($~10). Tell the tailor not to cuff the hem.
- If the pant wait doesn't fit, err on the slightly looser side as you can get this tailored for about $15-25.
- The pants should sit such that the top of the waist should lie a bit higher than half your height. If it sits at half or lower it'll make you look stubby. If it can't rise that high without interfering with your crotch area, then go the next size up (if feasible) or look for another suit.
- DO NOT even consider a shiny-looking suit.
- If you can spare the money, the tailor can take in the sides your suit jacket to create a more fitted (aka hourglass) look if your build supports it. I would say this is a key factor in how people will perceive your suit. This may run you about $25.

As for the shoes, I'm not too knowledgeable about finding cheap ones with your limited time/experience, but go for black. Black shoes are more versatile. In addition, cheap black leather/pleather isn't as obvious as cheap brown leather/pleather. On that note, never get brown pleather shoes. And while I (and most other forum users) have a dislike for square-toed shoes, I'll be honest with you--the vast majority of the public likes them. Since your target audience finds them acceptable, I would have no problem getting them if that's your only feasible option. If you're tight on time and money, you can pick up some decent black pleather shoes at Spring for about $40.

I DEFINITELY recommend looking online for coupons or deals, such as at You can filter to their apparel deals.

I will probably attract some flak for my suggestions, but to the best of my knowledge, this is the most feasible option given what you have told us.
Edited by bubble_republic - 9/14/11 at 4:20am
post #32 of 34
Thread Starter 
Thank you!! And since you are a fellow Canadian, I assume you know the store Moores? If so, what do you think about it? If I'm not mistaken their stuff isn't too expensive, right?
post #33 of 34
Moores is a good place for serviceable ties, but that's really about it. From what I've seen of their suits, the price is fairly high for the quality. Both are low, but I don't see the value. One name I don't think I've seen mentioned in this thread is Jack Victor. If you hunt around for a sale, you should be able to find them in the $300 range in brick and mortar stores and they're a fantastic value for that price.

As for shoes, if you can't get a good deal on something in a higher tier, look for a sale on Rockports. They're always on sale somewhere. They're certainly not on par with Allen Edmonds, but they are comfortable and well made for the price.

if you're not in too much of a hurry, eBay and this forum have some great deals. Unfortunately, the best way to buy online is to start with a jacket that fits perfectly and base your measurements on that. If you're an odd size, you'll find things like the shoulder measurement will be more important than the chest.
post #34 of 34
Originally Posted by GBR View Post

Are you not over egging this? Surely given your means and the low level of what you are doing a decent pair of trousers, a 'dress' shirt as USA apersons would describe it and a tie is enough?

On Styleforum we tend to be about more than dressing just well enough.
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