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Off 5th vs. Suitsuppy

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

So, starting a new job in Feb. where it's suit and tie almost everyday except Friday.  I believe sportscoat and trousers are acceptable, but from what I saw after three rounds of interviews, I only saw guys suited up. 

 

Anyhow, for the past 12 years, I worked from home (Chicago) working for a Boston based business.  So, my business clothes mostly consisted of PJ's, jeans, and t-shirts.  Being in sales, I do own many business casual outfits, but only 1 formal black suit.  In my industry, blazer and trousers is the norm, but mostly nice slacks and a button and maybe the occasional sweater. 

 

So, I am looking to build my wardrobe, but it's been such a long time I have shopped for this kind of stuff, I needed some help.  This website has been great in educating me on many things.  I thought I had a decent fashion sense, but am now dated.

 

First things first, I need to add two suits, solid Navy and Charcoal are my first buys.  Budget for 2 suits, (1) pair of brown shoes, 3 white dress shirts (I have plenty in different light blues and many other non trad colors/designs), 4 ties is $1,500.  I know, not a lot for most on SF, but I am not going to drop a ton right now.  I am gonna get a sense of what the office is like and after 6 months, want to add navy pinstripe and med gray suit.  

 

My biggest decision right now is to either bye OTR at Off 5th Saks, they are currently running BOGO on their suits.  I know, the Hugo Boss and Ermenegildo Zegna offered here are not the higher caliber suits offered at flagship Saks, but at ~$800 for two suits, I believe offer good value for a decent suit, even though it is most likely fused.  However, after reading here about Suitsupply, for $1K, I can get two decent half canvassed suits. 

 

I tried on the suits at off 5th the other day and I believe they fit great in the shoulders.  I have a pretty ave body, 42R 34"waist so in the past, buying jackets have been pretty easy OTR.  However, if spending $350 more can get me that much better quality, I would easily move budget that way. 

 

Figure, if I went with the Off 5th option, I would have about $700 left.

     - $350 for a pair of brown AE shoes, some kind of wingtip (already have Black AE Park Ave)

     - $350 for three white shirts and ties (probably gonna go cheap on ties, tiebar.com, and probably BB oxfords)

 

If I went with SuitSupply, I can sacrifice quality and get shirts at Land's End and maybe Cole Haan shoes. 

 

Not too worried about paying for tailoring, my Mom is a Tailor and can get the suits just fine.  However, I believe SuitSupply includes fitting?  Maybe I am wrong, but if I order online and ship to store, they will include tailoring? 

 

Any help here from you guys would be great. 

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 13

Look around the internet to find pictures of people wearing suits that fit the way that you want your suits to fit. Go into the stores, and try on a few different styles and sizes until you get a fit that's close to what you want. Don't make any decisions until you have a little knowledge. $350 for one pair of shoes when you have a $1,500 budget for your entire wardrobe probably isn't the best idea.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the comment. 

 

Why $350 on shoes.  From what I have read, one place one should not try to skimp on are shoes.  My current AE Black Park Ave are over 5 years old and still look brand new since I take good care of them and they don't get a ton of wear.  However, I have gone through tons of J&M's, Cole Haan's, Hugo Boss, Mezlan, and yes even Kenneth Cole over the past 10 years.  I want to get a quality pair and don't mind spending a little more there.  Looking at Strand's, Larchmont's, and McCallister's.  Don't have an outlet here in the Chicago area, so I have been searching online and eBay for a decent pair of seconds, but the best I have found are $279 for the Walnut Strand.  I was thinking wingtip, but I do like the look of the Strand.  I think more versatile. 

 

I have been looking all over the major department stores and discount as well as other big retailers (BB, Banana, J. Crew) and have tried on many different suits in my price range ($300-$500).  I also went into SuitSupply and it was hard to walk away without nothing.  Pretty aggressive sales associate and I quite liked how the suits fit (esp. the Napoli), but didn't pull the trigger because I really didn't know much about how these suite compared to the other ones I tried on.  Also, a bit more tighter than what I am used to, but I guess that is the style these days. 

 

I don't know much about fashion or quality.  Before this, I thought OTR Canali, Z Zegna, Armani were at the top of the list.  My first suit was a Kenneth Cole, followed by Calvin Klein and Hugo Boss.  I still have my black Hugo Boss from Norstrom from about 7 years ago and it still is in great condition after many uses.  

 

After all this, based on "quality" from my limited knowledge and value, the BOGO at off 5th seems to be my best option.  $650 for two Hugo Boss or $750 for two Ermenegildo Zegna or $800 for two Valentino's.  Not a fan of how the Valentino feels and most of the Ermenegildo Zegna's are a 80/20 wool and silk blend, maybe 90/10 I forgot.  Leaning towards the Hugo Boss which fit nicely and at two for $650, seems like a good value to me. However, if construction and quality of a suit from SS is that much superior to a the possible fused options from Off 5th, I don't mind paying a but more for them, $469 each.  In terms of looks, from my "noob" eyes, both look great, although hard to tell once I get them tailored.

 

So, my question was really about the value of a SS suit, half canvassed comparable fabric vs my options at Off 5th.  If I go the Hugo Boss route, I can get better quality shirts or leave plenty of room for the AE's while still able to get decent shirts and ties.  If I go SS route, it'll be about $300 more, which is about what I would spend on a pair of AE's.  

 

Any insights would be great to help this noob out.  

 

If this job goes great and my wife loosens the leash a bit, I'll add two more suits with a much larger budget next year.  Right now, just trying to get the basics at a great value.

 

Thanks ahead of time.      

post #4 of 13

Do you have any AE outlet near you? Seconds get put up on eBay with varying frequency, so you will probably have better luck with a brick and mortar store. But you're definitely right about not skimping on the shoes.

 

What is your current tie situation? I'd say you would want at least one good tie, either in burgundy or navy (if not both) to wear on days when a tiebar tie will not cut it, then build up from there fazing out the tiebar ties. If you are sticking with paying around 20 dollars each for your ties, go with Brooks Brothers 346 over tiebar ties.

 

If you are getting oxford cloth, there probably isn't anything wrong with getting Lands' End to start off with, especially if that means quality elsewhere (suit, shirt, tie). Also not sure if having three white shirts is necessary.

 

As far as suits go, I've never had any issues with my Hugo Bosses as far as construction goes. Granted, none of them are more than a few years old and I'm pretty careful about steaming and dry cleaning them. I'd take the nicer ties and shoes over Suit Supply if that was the choice.

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

Closest AE Outlet is about 2 hours away.  Maybe I can call ahead to see if they even have my size and style before I make the road trip. 

 

I am pretty decent on ties.  Have a ton from my younger years that I am about to donate, but have about 8-10 standard ones that will work.  Looking to add 2 more solids, repp stripe, and a plaid or check in standard navy/blue/white/red combos.  I meant getting cheap ties at Thetiebar.com, not using "tie bars", my bad.

 

Since I have a lot of bengal/fine striped and window pane shirts, I think I need light pink, a few more whites, and two more blue shirts to get to fill out my rotation. 

 

(2) $325 Hugo Boss Suits vs. (2) $469 SuitSupply, that's really the dilemma.  I am leaning towards the Hugo Boss.  With a tight budget the wife is watching, the extra $300 can go a long way in terms of shirts, ties, and shoes.  

 

I know it's all subjective and from what I read, the SS suits are a great value for half canvassed suit with functional sleeve buttons and above average fabric at that price point.  However, not sure how better it is than what I have found at Off 5th.  I know, go with what feels and looks best, but I like them both and it now comes to budgets and if the extra costs, though minor, is worth the better construction.  

 

I'll keep reading up here to help.  Thanks and great forum, happy I stumbled across.

post #6 of 13

You don't necessarily have to visit a physical store to get Allen Edmonds seconds. You can call them up, and they can ship them to you. That said, I do recommend trying the shoes on before buying, especially from a maker/last that you are not familiar width. One option is to find your size at a B&M store (Nordstrom or AE retail store) and order the seconds via mail.

post #7 of 13

So my cents: 2 or otherwise.
You ultimately need to make your own call on this but some things to keep in mind:

1. Suit supply makes a good quality suit with relatively conservative proportions (business appropriate, without being horrendous)

2. The OTR suits are likely going to need tailoring (sleeves length, pant length ect) so figure that into your calculations (unless they fit perfectly, then dump suit supply and buy saks and save a little cash for the other stuff).

3. Shirts: Personal preference showing here, but I get my shirts made to measure. I've just gotten tired dealing with OTR stuff that either a) takes off in the wind like a sail or b) chokes me to death. On the cheap side, tailorstore.com will make you a shirt for something like 50-60 bucks a piece.

4. Ties: unless you can't find a specific pattern you are yearning for, go tiebar. They are cheap and are of good quality (ie they won't fall apart, I won't speak to their super high quality fabrics because, well, it's 15 bucks man, what do you want?)

5. Of all the things you should skimp on, don't make it this part man. Listen to the other guys and go for outlet, but if not, pony up for a sale price somewhere else. Personal preference again here, but I'm going to say that cheap shoes worn daily will fall apart in 6-9 months depending on usage. Quality shoes will double that and will look better and be more comfortable to boot.

post #8 of 13
I just bought two (Edit: Black Label) suits from Off 5th. They weren't Zegna but are made with Zegna cloth...$750 for both. Not really sure who made them so be careful...don't want you to think your getting Zegnas when you're not. All I can see is that mine are made in the USA. They had some made in italy too. Can't tell if completely fused or half-canvassed but either way I'm happy. I'd like to think they're at least half-canvassed but I cant do the pinch test. Getting back from tailor tomorrow and can't wait to get them in the rotation. Never tried suitsupply but I'm thinking if the suits at Off 5th fit you well, are cheaper, and your mom's a tailor that clean up the loose ends then I'd go that route.

If you have Century21 around you I'd go there for ties and maybe shirts unless you can afford MTM. Good luck!
Edited by Ack22 - 1/24/13 at 6:19pm
post #9 of 13

You should be able to pre-order from the suit supply spring collection in a day or two.  They may have some more suits at their $399 price point.  I have no idea how long before you'd get your order though.

post #10 of 13
With a budget of $1500, I would hit Marshall's for the suits. Perhaps I'm wrong, but it sounds like you're not terribly worried about suit quality versus general appearance, at leats for now. if that is the case, I would look for a Ralph Lauren green label suit or even a Brooks Brothers suit that have been flooding my Marshall's for the last few weeks. The RL will be under $200, come in nice fabrics but probably made in China although perhaps Canada (I forget) and glued, and the BB will be under $300 and made in either Canada or USA and half-fused.

For shirts, I would go with TM Lewin and their never-ending 4 for $100 or $120 deal. You can upgrade to the luxury fabric - these look/feel quite nice. Its not Charvet, but they are better than average for work.

I kind of guffawed when you wrote that you didnt want to skimp on shoes and then mentioned Cole Haan. Skip CH, J&M, and AE and just pick up a pair of Tyrwhitt semi-brogues in dark brown. These are quality entry-level shoes made in England by Loake, I believe. The lasts are much more attractive than anything you'll see from the aforementioned brands. I'd even consider picking up two pairs so you don't beat one lonely pair into the ground with daily wearings week after week.

You can probably get a food deal on ties and links at Tyrwhitt or Lewin, enough to get you started.

Remember that black is for morticians and you will be fine.
post #11 of 13
There is an Allen Edmonds 2nd store in Brookfield WI, just west of Milwaukee. I recently bought some 5th Avenues for $220, and some Flatirons for $180. I apparently stumbled onto sales both times, but they seem to have a lot of sales. They are factory seconds, but the flaws were far less noticeable than the damage I inflict after 15 minutes of wear. Take a drive up there, or you could probably call them and have them ship what you want. You've got black covered, pick up a couple of shades of brown or a brown and a burgundy. Maybe wait until after you buy your suits so you can match the colors the way you want.
post #12 of 13

As far as shoes go, I recently picked up a pair each of used dark brown and black AE Byrons off of eBay. They're not PAs, but they are conservatively designed captoe oxfords. After a new pair of laces for the brown shoes and about half an hour polishing, they look like they're new, minus mild wear on the soles. Oh yeah, I paid just a hair over $70 for both of them shipped. If you want to save some money for other parts of your wardrobe, that would be my suggestion. 

post #13 of 13
If you can be patient, I see some great 42R suits at Off 5th in mainline Zegna and Isaia go a pretty fair price. Also, if you see something you like, but they don't have your size, you can ask them to look up if another store has your size. I have done this on sales items.
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