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Buying my first suit

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by mlg321, Sep 10, 2011.

  1. Texastyle

    Texastyle Senior member

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    Unless you can nab something off the B&S, Ebay, or thrifting then you are going to have a hard time getting a decent suit and then having it tailored for 400. Whatever you find, just make sure you get it tailored afterwards because it will make it look like you actually spent a lot more.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2011
  2. hpreston

    hpreston Senior member

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    If you are looking for just the suit for $400 you may be able to find a decent sale, or something on the B&S forum, or eBay.

    If you are looking for the complete outfit (suit, plus shirt, tie, and shoes) for $400, you are probably going to need to hit some thrift stores.
     
  3. Square101

    Square101 Member

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    As long as you don't have problems wearing another mans shoes, its never bothered me but some people don't like it, definitely go thrifting and look around on ebay for shoes. I spent the summer in Denver going to thrift stores a once or twice a week and was able to pick up 4 pairs of shoes that would normally run $300-$400 for $10 bucks a pair and then found two others on ebay for cheap as well. Since you live in a large enough area you should definitely be able to find some good and even possibly great quality stuff for cheap at thrift stores if you are patient and do your research before you go.
     
  4. RSS

    RSS Senior member

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    You can certainly find something in that price range. If anyone laughs at you, they are working through their own insecurities.

    If buying new I would look for a suit on sale to get the best value.

    As this is your first suit, I suggest buying it in a bricks and mortar store rather than via the Internet. Only after you really know your size and some key measurements (coat: length, chest, waist, arm, shoulder. trousers: waist, length, & inseam.) should you attempt to buy on-line ... and even then only if you aren't overly particular about a 'perfect' fit. Personally I'm not ridiuculously picky and have had some very good luck over the internet ... including 40 or 50 'gently used' Savile Row (the street, not the company) pieces.

    Thrifting in some of the better shops (a place akin to Good Byes in San Francisco) can result in some nice finds. You can likely pick up a very good quality 'lightly used' suit for a few hundred dollars ... one with an original retail value of $1200 or more.

    Cptjeff is dead on with his above comment ... as is the rest of his post.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2011
  5. AlexE

    AlexE Senior member

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    If you have some time to check different sales (I assume you don't need it within the next week) that should be possible.


    • Make sure you know your belt size and get your arms + neck measured in a good clothing store so you know your shirt size. Go to discount stores or check websites and look out for shirts from cotton (polyester will make you sweat) and find a silk tie and a basic belt.
    • Don't buy shoes online since you wanna make sure that they really fit. Looking at endless there are a bunch of things under $100 which are probably OK for your purposes, e.g. http://www.endless.com/Bostonian-Me...1&nodes=242120011&sort=price&colors=519114011]
    • For suits you need to check thrift stores or sales until you get lucky and find something which really fits you.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2011
  6. zackhyde

    zackhyde Member

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    I can get you there for under $400.

    But first, a point of clarification. To be absolutely clear, a "suit" is a two-piece garment sold with a single price tag. If a suit costs $100 or $1,000, you will be getting a jacket and a pair of pants, typically hanging on the same hangar. With a suit, the jacket and pants are always made of the same fabric--otherwise, it is not a suit.

    It can also look dressy to wear either a blazer or a sport coat and nice pants. However, if you do that, you should NOT try to match the jacket to the pants. They should complement each other, not match. Navy jacket over grey pants, or houndstooth jacket over navy pants, would be acceptable.

    When you get a first suit, keep the jacket with the pants. Don't try to wear them as separates if you're a novice. (Incidentally, if you do something that destroys your outfit, you will thus only destroy one suit, not two.)

    Now, your goal with $400.

    First, shoes. I recommend the company Johnson & Murphy (J&M) and the shoe that they call the 'Melton'. Around here, you can always find these in places like Discount Shoe Warehouse for about $169.00. You may also find them at Macy's or similar department stores. You can likely buy them from the J&M web site or from Amazon or similar.

    The J&M Melton may be one of the least expensive shoes you can buy that puts you over the line from really cheap, mass-made crap, and into the field of durable, reputable shoes. They can be re-soled. they will last a long time. The Melton is a black, cap-toe oxford with a thin leather sole. It will look great in any situation in which you wear a suit. they should be easy to keep shined.

    If you don't find or want the Melton, look at it online nonetheless, and then go look for something similar. Learn the difference between open lacing and closed lacing. Closed lacing looks more formal. the Melton has closed lacing. You should choose somethign with closed lacing.

    Now, turning to the suit. First, go to a department store that sells suits. Try on a bunch until you know your size. Hopefully, there will be a jacket size that fits you off-the-rack. For instance, I fit right into a 42L. But put on a bunch of jackets and look in the mirror. Pay attenttion to the shoulders. You should not look like a Marvel super-hero. The jacket shoulders should natrually follow yoru curves, not protrude up and out at all.

    The tops of the sleeves should not really show any puckering or wrinkling because the shoulder pads in teh jacket go up or off your shoulders at all. that would be an indicia of a too-large jacket.

    Once you know your size, go home and search for examples on ebay. Here are some brands that are reputable, but that you shoudl find at affordable prices used or new on ebay: Zegna, Canali, Hugo Boss*, Hickey Freeman. Some Style Forum members will excoriate you if you mention Hugo Boss. Hugo Boss suits with a "black label" that says "Boss" should be okay for a first suit, though. I have had really good luck with Hickey-Freeman. They tend to be very corporate and relatively un-interesting. Zegna and Canali are Italian makers with a more luxurious feel and maybe a little more interest in colors and fabric choice--but still completely acceptable for all office jobs.

    You may have luck with Brooks Brothers, but be forewarned, BB has made some very weird suits. There are ones with un-lined jackets, for instance.

    When you find an ebay acution for something in yoru jacket size, see if the inseam is as long as, or longer, then yours. If so, bid on it or buy it.

    I have found a variety of Canali, Zegna, Boss, and Hickey Freeman suits in my size with a buy-it-now price of around $100 to $140.

    Use Yelp to find a local tailor who gets good reviews for altering men's suits. Take your suit to him, and explain that you are on a budget and, for now, only want the pants made the right length. This should cost under $25.

    Spend the remaining $100 on: undershirts, dress socks, white button front shirt from Nordstroms or similar (do not get shirts with buttons on the points of the collars--those are casual in the Americas).

    If you have Nordstrom Rack in Montreal, you should be able to get a white Nordstrom dress shirt in "tailor fit" (less puffy and tent-like than regular) for $30. Get two.

    There you are. Under $400.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. lemmywinks

    lemmywinks Senior member

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    If you have access to Uniqlo you can get a suit for like $130. Should fit better than Jos A Banks off the rack.
     
  8. cioni2k

    cioni2k Senior member

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    Am I the only one that thinks black shoes DON'T go with everything? I own about 5-6 pairs of brown shoes and one pair of black and I rarely ever wear the blacks. Brown goes with anything except Black. Try wearing black shoes with shades of green, khaki, brown, etc. without looking dumb.
     
  9. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I too wear mostly brown shoes but if I had to have one pair of shoes that was going to have to serve me well in different social and business situations, I'd probably choose a black one. Depends on your industry some.
     
  10. RSS

    RSS Senior member

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    I rarely wear black either ... but the most essential pair of shoes is black in that everynow and again a degree of formality is not simiply suggested by required: funerals, opera, that not-quite-black-tie charity event, an Episcopal Church wedding, etc., etc., etc. Wearing brown shoes to sucn an event is just not done by those who care to dress appropriately.

    From this point of view ... everyone needs a pair of black cap toe Balmorials for the not-quite-but-almost formal events. For everything else a pair of brown derbys works well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
  11. bubble_republic

    bubble_republic Member

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    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 http://www.redflagdeals.com. 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.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2011
  12. mlg321

    mlg321 Well-Known Member

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    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?
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2011
  13. Sentinel

    Sentinel Active Member

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    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.
     
  14. caseyfud

    caseyfud Senior member

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

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