Photo: Neil Watson, A&H Magazine
Not everyone likes being told that they’re going to have to buy a suit. You might be such a person. But if, say, your friend asks you to be in the wedding party, asks you to wear a suit - and you don’t have one, you’ve got a couple options.
- Tell them you don’t have the wardrobe - your friend (or their partner) may or may not care.
- Borrow a suit from someone and hope it fits.
- Buy a suit. We're going to focus on this one.
If you don’t own a suit, or the One Suit you have no longer fits, a wedding is a fine excuse to buy one. Even if you don’t wear it often, you’ll get a lot of use out of a solid charcoal or navy suit: weddings, interviews, funerals, or any other occasion when jeans - or an odd jacket and trousers - aren’t going to cut it.
Where to Hunt for Deals Beforehand
Styleforum's Classic Menswear buying and selling forum is a treasure trove of high-quality menswear at incredible prices. But it moves quickly, and if you see something you like it's best to send a message immediately, since the best pieces are, of course, the most popular. You'll have to know what you're looking for, which means knowing your size (most sellers are willing to provide measurements). And there are no returns - so you'll have to be certain of what you're buying. But if you're a seasoned clotheshorse, there's no better place to find a deal on tailored clothing.
If you know your size, you can give eBay a shot. But there are thousands upon thousands of items available on eBay, many poorly-photographed or poorly-described, so be prepared to search for a long time to find something just right. Be certain you actually have enough time before the wedding for what you buy to get to you - and for your tailor to make any necessary alterations. Some power sellers do offer a return option, but it's always best to be sure of what you're buying.
Last Minute Budget Options
Let’s say you waited until the last second. It’s a week before the wedding and you’ve got nothing. Well, that was a bad idea, and we're disappointed in you. Don’t do it in the future. But all isn’t quite lost. Here's where we'd start:
Solid suits start at around 400$. You can order a couple of sizes and return the ones that don’t fit. If you live near one of the B+M locations, so much the better. Just be wary of too-short jackets and trousers. If you can make it past the truly terrible marketing, SuitSupply offers excellent value-for-money for an off-the-rack suit.
Although the narrow lapels are already beginning to look dated, the Ludlow suit remains an option for a “budget” suit at around 700$. But unless you know what you’re doing (you do, don’t you?) you’re somewhat at the mercy of the sales staff. Trust your Styleforum knowledge, and beware any SA who tells you that the fit of your suit is "trendy."
- Nordstrom Rack/Other Department Warehouse
Depending on your location, you might find suits (say, Tommy Hilfiger or Hart Scharffner Marx - maybe some Ralph Lauren) for less than 300$ - or even Zegna for 600-1000$. It’s worth a shot.
First, a disclaimer: you’ll have to sort through a bunch of stuff, and sizing can be a crapshoot if you don’t know the brand. Of course, you can always order a few different suits and return everything that doesn’t fit. That’s the magic of Yoox, after all.
In all cases, make sure that you've read the shipping terms, and that your purchase will arrive on time. You may have to splash out for express shipping - like we said, don't wait until the last minute.
Once you have your suit, a trip to your tailor (don't have a tailor? Time to start reading Yelp reviews) should take care of any necessary alterations before the big day. Many tailors are willing to work with a short turnaround, although some may charge a premium. We suggest avoiding the on-site tailor at your local dry cleaners, and finding a more reliable source.
If you have questions, please see the following resources:
1. What to Wear to (Almost) Any Wedding
2. The Wedding Attire Question Thread
3. What Kind of Suit Should I Buy?