Brooks Brothers - A Review

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by J. Cogburn, Apr 9, 2010.

  1. J. Cogburn

    J. Cogburn Senior member

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    I popped into Brooks Brothers in DC last night after work. It was the last day of their sale on 1818 suits (two for something close to $1500) and they also offered an additional 25% off if you opened a charge card with them. Seemed like a pretty good deal to me.

    And I was in dire need. I have lost 30 lbs. over the past seven months and desperately needed new clothes to replace the tents in my closet. Alas, I have about another 35 lbs to go before I'm where I want to be, so whatever I buy at the moment will only be worn through the summer (if all goes well). I tried Joseph A. Banks to fill this bill, but I'm not wild about how those suits move on me. I was on TV a couple of weeks ago and the suit that fit so well and looked so reasonable on me while standing at attention bunched up oddly at the shoulders while sitting down. I looked like a Soviet-era factory worker. Never again. Brooks Brothers will fill in the gap until I can go bespoke late this summer.

    Having scoped out Brooks Brothers suits for a couple of weeks now, I must say that I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, they are no longer boxy, shapeless, or anonymous. Their 1818 suits are cut with some shape; even their boxiest model - the Madison - seems less boxy to me than the Hickey Freemans I tried on a couple of weeks ago while in New York; the Brooks Brothers suits fit me like a glove (all models); and they seemed reasonably well made for a fused half-canvased suit.

    But ... the selection is pretty thin. This seems to be par for the course for upper mid-level American suits. No double breasted models save for one (or perhaps two) in the Golden Fleece line (which was out of my price range given the short life expectancy I anticipate for these suits in my closet). The Regent had double vents, but everything else was single vented. Probably 90% of the suits on the rack were navy solid, navy with a couple of different styles of pin stripe, charcoal grey solid, and various greys with various pinstripe styles. No glen checks. No gabardines. No herringbones. No sharkskins. No birdseyes. No tropical houndstooths. No marine blues. They had only one nailhead (in a very light black & white). I'm sure that they know their customers and are putting on the rack those suits that their customers want the most, but still, I recall a somewhat broader selection of suits about 15 years ago when I last bought suits there.

    The sales associates were very helpful and the service was pleasant. True, they couldn't pass an even rather basic quiz about clothes that members here might construct to test basic sartorial knowledge, but compared to the SAs I've run into in the higher end department stores and JaB, they are Oriental clothes-masters from the far east. They knew their stock well, the house tailor seemed reasonably good, and everybody smiled and hopped-to-it.

    So I give them a B. Given their price point when sales are in play, I can't really complain about the suits. I just wish they had a deeper line-up.
     


  2. intent

    intent Senior member

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    They have a larger selection online for suits.

    Unfortunately, they are still a large chain store and can't afford to carry too much old inventory in the hopes that someone will buy it. They have to focus on their mass customers, who are mostly there to buy an "expensive" suit in black or navy, or dress shirts in staple colours.
     


  3. J. Cogburn

    J. Cogburn Senior member

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    True - but the sales associates all swore that they didn't have access to those suits and didn't know what I was talking about when I asked about their Madison gabardine, muted glen plaid, etc. Guess I could have just ordered those online, but the tan wool tropical was as reasonable substitute for the gabardine I intended to purchase and I decided to go with the navy bead stripe rather than the muted glen plaid I was thinking about. The light grey birdseye that they advertise, by the way, is really a nailhead.

    I understand well. Still, it seems that Ben Silver offers more variety and probably in cuts not all that different from the modified American standard. I don't get to Charleston but once every couple of years, so if anyone has any experience looking over their suits, please dish! They have virtually nothing online or in their catalogues though.
     


  4. NeverFullyDressed

    NeverFullyDressed Senior member

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    BB have a lovely range of sports coats. Have my eye on one or two!
     


  5. KObalto

    KObalto Senior member

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    I'm in Baltimore, and the sales associates are always happy to order any suits BB offers so I can check them out.
     


  6. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Goon member

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    Probably 90% of the suits on the rack were navy solid, navy with a couple of different styles of pin stripe, charcoal grey solid, and various greys with various pinstripe styles.

    You mean moderate colors and patterns? [​IMG]

    Seriously, if these are only stopgap items that you hope to replace by the Fall, those selections are unlikely to lead you astray. Save the panache for later.

    Are you sure that you want to get bespoke stuff after dropping 70lbs? That would be a great achievement, and there might be some merit in letting your body settle into your new weight for a year before commiting to the expense of custom clothes.

    Just sayin'.


    - B
     


  7. WhateverYouLike

    WhateverYouLike Senior member

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    I'm in Baltimore, and the sales associates are always happy to order an suits BB offers so I can check them out.

    The lady manager is incredibly nice.

    Pro tip - all golden fleece items get free alterations. I picked mine up for $299 on sale and I still got everything done on the house.
     


  8. niidawg3

    niidawg3 Senior member

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    I used to like Brooks ... their cuts have been disappointing me lately.
     


  9. J. Cogburn

    J. Cogburn Senior member

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    Vox wrote:

    Yeah yeah. The theory - when I go bespoke - is to start out fairly conventional. I'll be starting out with 10-months weights: a double-breasted midnight blue herringbone; a double-breasted navy bead stripe; a two-button marine blue nailhead; a double-breasted charcoal grey chalk stripe; a two-button oxford grey flannel; and a two-button muted glen check. The fancier stuff will come in for my summer and winter rotations once the mid-weights are squared away.

    But ... the cuts will be thoroughly British thanks to your reassuring prose on that other thread. The first suit will likely be the midnight blue in August and I'll go to Bill Field here in Georgetown for that; a Poole-style silhouette. I'll be in London on business in September and will then hit either Steed or Rubinacci (inspired as I am by you and Foo). After that, it will likely be Chan doing British.

    Again, Vox:

    Locking the weight loss in with some expensive suits greatly increases the cost of subsequent physical slackery. And it also provides a very compelling reward system for staying with this regimin. Sure, I'm taking a chance. But hey - life's short.

    Niidawg3 writes:

    I gotta tell ya - I've spent some time in several of these stores and it's very hard to tell much difference between the silhouettes offered by Joseph A. Banks, Brooks Brothers, Hickey Freeman, and Paul Stewart. The quality of the suits and fabrics of course will differ, but as far as the silhouettes are concerned, they are all modified American and the differences are only in the degree.
     


  10. stant62

    stant62 Senior member

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    Would cop if they offered double-vented suits again.
     


  11. luftvier

    luftvier Senior member

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    Would cop if they offered double-vented suits again.

    I just bought a Madison three-piece and a Regent - both double vented, both 3 roll 2.5
     


  12. JayJay

    JayJay Senior member

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    I just bought a Madison three-piece and a Regent - both double vented, both 3 roll 2.5
    Look forward to seeing pics.
     


  13. luftvier

    luftvier Senior member

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    Look forward to seeing pics.

    By "just" I mean "late February." [​IMG]

    Regent:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Madison:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     


  14. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    The sales associates were very helpful and the service was pleasant. True, they couldn't pass an even rather basic quiz about clothes that members here might construct to test basic sartorial knowledge, but compared to the SAs I've run into in the higher end department stores and JaB, they are Oriental clothes-masters from the far east. They knew their stock well, the house tailor seemed reasonably good, and everybody smiled and hopped-to-it.
    That's true of most clothing buyers [​IMG]
     


  15. ufsteez83

    ufsteez83 Member

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    The slim fit shirts fit like parachutes on me and I'm not small.
     


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