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Paralyzed by Choices

loogoldham

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Hi:

I'm a mid-40s guy who spent his career at web companies thus I've had to wear a suit once every couple of years. My old tried-and-true suit is a size too small and I'd like something a bit nicer. I've also progressed to the C-Suite and need a good suit to wear to investor functions, etc.

I am 5'8 and fluctuate between 168-177#s. Barrel chested and thinner waist. Been called "skinny" but not really.

I've made some decisions:
Navy blue
100% wool (working in Austin and Florida, what type of wool? what #?)
Two button
Notch lapel, standard width
Flat pockets w/flaps
No pleats (!)
No cuffs
One vent?
No shoulder pads
Half break
At least partially canvassed

I've gone over the spreadsheet () and there are just so many choices. I've also seen some videos (e.g. how to make sure a suit fits -- no dent under the shoulder, hand under buttons, doesn't rip when arms fold, etc.) but it all leads to paralysis by information overload.

I thought I'd hit a few shops (Brooks Brothers, Nordstroms, SuitSupply) just to see what's out there, but that would also be comparing apples to oranges to peaches and I just would have no idea if I'm being sold a bill of goods or what not. I'd love to take advantage of that Brooks Brothers online sale if possible.

So instead of just flying out of my house and panic buying I'm hoping to have more guidance on the process.

- What are signs that should make me feel uncomfortable w/the salesperson?
- How do I know when I'm getting ripped off?
- Is it as simple as just going to the three shops and trusting they won't try to rip me off?
- I'd want high-quality fabric that would last 3-5 years with probably once-a-month on average wearings.
- I don't want to "over-buy" a suit -- I'm not a Wall Street guy/high falutin' lawyer. But I do want to dress to impress -- not look like I'm wearing my dad's old suit or a TJ Maxx outfit.
- Disagree with anything I wrote above?

I know, I know. Budget. I guess after tax and tailoring (I don't have a good personal tailor -- would use one at the shop I buy the suit at) I could cross the $1000 barrier. But I love a deal.

Thanks for your help.
 

Stuart Midgley

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With respect, if you're now in the C-Suite, and only buying one single suit (which is certainly enough for once-a-month wear), and going to be wearing it with people who you need to impress, may I suggest upping your budget a little and getting a bespoke (yet not massively expensive) garment?

That way you get a cut and fit that makes you look better than any OTR or MTM suit will ever achieve, as well as fabric reserve to enable future adjustments for weight gain or loss. I'm not suggesting a $5000 Savile Row job either. Find a good local tailor (most major cities have them - you just have to hunt them out) and work with them. And once you've done the work to find one you like, then you do have a personal tailor for future needs!.

By choosing strong low-super-number cloth that doesn't cost too much (and lasts longer and holds shape better than the high super number stuff), having the parts of your suit machine-sewn that don't matter (internal seams, etc etc), and accepting machine-made button-holes (no-one except a tiny number of clothing cognosenti will ever know that there is a hand-sewn alternative) you can get a great suit for a reasonable amount.

I can't give you prices as they vary depending on local costs for the tailors and your currency exchange rate relative to the whatever country the cloth comes from, but I would expect you should be able to do something in the mid-high USD $1000's (EDIT - I meant between $1000 and $2000). And that would be for a twenty-year suit, not a five-year one.

Frankly, avoiding the RTW shop-assistant run-around is as much of the attraction of bespoke (to me anyway) as the quality and fit of the garment itself. I know exactly what's in my suit because I chose it and I chose it carefully.

As to what wool cloth, regardless of RTW, MTM or bespoke, an open weave such as 10.5oz Crispaire or equivalent would match the temperature range of Austin and Florida quite well. You're still going to be hot in mid-summer but spring and autumn will be pleasant and with a modest overcoat in mid-winter you'll be toasty. Those sorts of cloths also hold shape quite well so you'll look sharp, even when travelling, for many years to come.
 
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breakaway01

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It's a very common thing on SF to recommend bespoke or custom because 'of course' it's better than RTW. That is not always the case. "Find a good local tailor (most major cities have them - you just have to hunt them out) and work with them" -- but how should the OP figure out who a 'good' tailor is? It's the same problem as figuring out who a good sales associate is. Actually it's worse, because you can try on a RTW suit and within a few minutes, you can tell how well it fits you. Custom, you really have no idea how it's going to turn out until you've committed to buying it.

You may end up going with a custom tailor but I'd still suggest you just go try on suits at a few different stores first. Wear a dress shirt and dress shoes. If you can bring a friend whose judgment you trust, even better. Don't feel pressured to buy anything. Try stuff on. Most people can tell if something fits well or if it fits poorly. Get a sense for how you want your suit to fit and what you like from a styling perspective. Knowing your preferences will help a great deal if you do decide to go custom. You might also luck out and find a RTW suit that fits you with minimal alterations, who knows?
 

Stuart Midgley

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It's a very common thing on SF to recommend bespoke or custom because 'of course' it's better than RTW. That is not always the case. "
That‘s quite true, without doubt. It’s not for everyone, and not automatically better.

But in this case I suggested it with thought, given the OP is a) in C-level management, and b) looking to wear it while mixing with people at the top of the business hierarchy (i.e. investors), and c) has clearly put a very high degree of thought into the suit process (given his very large spread-sheet) and thus seems (to me at least) close to the typical bespoke buyer’s depth of thinking about clothing.

However, I certainly don’t insist!
 

Sfroide3

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Let's be honest on a few things when it comes to quality suits:

1. Handmade details. It's IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to tell if your sleeves are handsewn or machine sewn without looking inside the jacket. Same for collar, etc. It's only details that suit enthusiastic love to have. I have both SuitSupply, Hackett and Isaia sport coats and it is impossible to tell the difference of which details are handmade without looking inside the jacket itself. All jackets have surgeon buttons. Unless you look very close you can't tell which ones are machine made and which one are handmade.

The real question here is for you to figure out if these "connaisseur" details are worth the money for you. Because no one in your company is ever going to notice them... Ever.

2. People are proposing bespoke. If you can afford it and you like all these handmade process and details, please do it. But don't go with a cheap local tailor that knows no shit about it. Invest 5000 usd for a well-known tailor. There is so alternative from companies like:

https://www.ascotchang.com/en/bespoke/suit

You can have a real bespoke experience but it's going to take a long time for all the fittings because they don't have any stores in the US. You will have to wait more.

3. Whatever suit you buy, if you want it look more expensive than what it is you will need details that are usually found on high end suits. Like surgeon cuffs. It can be added on any suit but expect to add an extra 100-150 usd for this.

4. Most important part that you forgot in your 260 entry excel doc is the fit ... What do you want ? Modern fit ?

A lot of suits that you listed might never be ok because the fit is just not for you. For example, I am a 38 reg in usually all jackets. I can't wear Boggi Milano for example. The armholes are too tight. Going up on a 40 and the shoulders are too wide.

First thing for you is actually to go and try a couple fits from different brands. For example, if you find that the havana cut from suitsupply is a good fit for your body, and you need only little alterations, there is no reason to go custom or bespoke. But if after trying 5-10 fits from different brands you always end up with the same problems, it might be better to go custom. But honestly based on your size and weight, you shouldn't have any problem going RTW unless you have like really bad posture or crazy big arms.

5. You are overthinking the process. 50% of all your listed brands are out of your budget. On the 50% remaining, 50% are fused cheap shit sold at the price of gold. You say you want a nice suit for under 1000 usd. In the US, I see only suitsupply and brooks brother (they have crazy sales going on sometimes for made in the us suits) that actually do quality and where you can actually try the suits ...

6. For the suit details that you are hesitating. "Single vent ?" No way, it's dual. One vent... maybe on a weird sport coat. I would go with a quarter break. The less break the more modern it is. No break with socks showing is not modern, it's ridiculous. The limit is the "no break" touching the shoes. This detail is up to your taste and how much you want to look like your grandpa.

7. When to know when you are getting ripped off ? Hum ... Suitsupply is more pricey in the US than in Europe ... So you will get ripped off anyway if you go there. Is a 10000 usd Tom Ford suit a ripoff by essence ?

8. Don't go MTM if you can avoid it. There is little chance it will actually fit you well at the first try. The few experiences I had with MTM jacket and shirts ended up by a refund or a thrift store ...

9. For the fabric. You live in places considered hot. The real question is: "do you go outside?" If yes, then it's good thing to consider lighter fabric. Otherwise, you are going to be inside 99% of the day. You don't need a fresco fabric to stay under the AC. Don't do any linen blend if you don't plan to steam your suit every 15 minutes. Other than that, any "traveler" fabric would do the trick.
 

paxonus

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I would highly recommend a visit to Brooks Brothers as a first purchase. If you are large chested you should look at the Madison fit. The Regent will probably be too tight. You have a range of materials and styles from a traditional fully lined serge, to a nearly completely unlined and unstructured fresco type material. Get the right fit in the shoulders and have them do the rest of the alterations.
 

Sfroide3

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Madison fit ? Unless you are 90s reenactor I would strongly advise to stay away from that fit.
 

paxonus

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Madison fit ? Unless you are 90s reenactor I would strongly advise to stay away from that fit.
Given certain body dimensions, it may be the best option. I wear a 38 Regent and am 1 inch taller and 30 pounds lighter than the op. He will not fit into a 38 Regent, and a 40 would likely be too big in the shoulders. In any case, nothing compares to going to a store and trying it on.
 

breakaway01

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exactly right. If he does decide to visit BB in person there is no reason not to try all of their models on. I am pretty trim and I have a Madison blazer—didn’t like the skinny lapels of the Fitzgerald and I don’t think they had Regent in my size. I had it taken in a bit in the body and it fits really well.
 

Sfroide3

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Give suitsupply a try too. You will probably find a good fit in these two stores. I own many pieces from SS and BB. The only difference is BB is way more expensive when not on sale (which happens all the time) while suitsupply never goes on sale but is cheaper. Two different approaches of company management. In my opinion, I would never buy BB when it is not on sale. 250-300 usd for flannel trousers made in China ... It's a joke. But I got a few pairs on sale this winter for 130 usd ...

Most important thing is to figure out what fit is the best for you.
 

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