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Should I buy a Brooks Brothers suit?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Big Iron, Dec 12, 2014.

  1. Big Iron

    Big Iron New Member

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    A little embarrassing to admit, for someone who has even a slight interest in fashion, but the only suit I own is an off-the-rack Macy's special. I believe it was $200 about 12 years ago, and looks like it.

    Needless to say, I don't wear suits very often, maybe once a year. I've known for a year now that I needed a new, quality suit, and I could afford around $500 for it. I actually want two for versatility, but baby steps. This 30% off sale they're having at Brooks Brothers has piqued my interest, and I could swing it right now. My main issue is that I'm seriously lacking quality casual wear, and a nice winter jacket (looks, not function), but it seems like I should jump on the opportunity to buy a BB suit in my price range. I should be able to afford to invest in my casual clothes next month, if I buy this now.

    What do you guys think?

    If you think I should go for it, additional questions:

    • Color: Should I go with navy for versatility, until I can also afford a black suit? I can't think of a time I'd ever have to wear a suit for work, so it will most likely get used for weddings or other social events. Does this mean I can go with black first? Is there a color that could do both well, or is it too much of a compromise? Which would you go with?
    • Material: As I said, this will be mostly for social events. I also tend to run hot. Is there a material which is versatile enough to be worn to summer weddings, but work adequately during the winter months (isn't that what topcoats are for anyhow)? Which would you go with?
    • Value: Any comment on whether it's a decent quality and a decent value at this price point? I don't need one right now, so if I could get something much better for a $200-$400 more, I can save, but I'm a long way off from buying a $1k suit.

    Thanks guys!
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2014

  2. velomatt

    velomatt Well-Known Member

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    Navy, without a doubt.

    As for whether to get a brooks bros suit, I think if you find one that fits you well and you like it, and it is well constructed, you're not going to regret it. 3 season would be the way to go.

    I was visiting a girlfriend over a weekend back in 2003 or 2004, and had some snow problem, such that I couldn't fly home, and had to fly directly to a client on Monday morning. Since I didn't have a suit with me, and needed on for Monday, I bought a cheap suit in brown (since I already had several grey and blue suits, and didn't want to drop a lot of money). It didn't fit great (because the selection there wasn't great, and I wasn't willing to pay a lot, and I was under a time constraint), but was adequate.

    After a few wearings, I regretted buying that suit, and it still hangs in my closet to this day, never again worn. I really should take it out and burn it.

    The moral of the story: If you're going to buy a suit (especially if it is your only suit), don't be pressured by time or sales. Focus on the construction, the fit and the fabric. Even if you spend a few extra hundred bucks to get something that is great (vs. good), that is a few nights out on the town. The suit can last a decade.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2014

  3. Big Iron

    Big Iron New Member

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    Thank you for the reply, that makes perfect sense.

    As for the construction, is there somewhere I can read about how to tell what I'm looking at?
     

  4. atlrus

    atlrus Well-Known Member

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    Always, always, own a black suit first!

    Since you don't wear suits in your daily life- funerals are the only time you need a suit. For a wedding you can rent a tux, not so for funerals. And believe me, you will have your share of them, such is life.

    Now, if you are happy going to funerals in your chinos, and want a special-occasion suit, don't buy navy. That's for business only, never seen someone pulling off navy outside of work. Look for light brown, light blue or light gray, especially if you are under 40.

    As for BB - my advice is to go to Mens Wearhouse or something similar, get yourself a nice fitting black suit, and get a navy suit for free. Make sure you tailor them properly. Then, find out which color suits you best (brown, gray, etc.), look for tailors in your area and have a bespoke made for those rare social occasions - fancy restaurants, theatre, etc. You can get nice quality perfect fit for under $1k, depending on where you live, of course.
     

  5. 12345Michael54321

    12345Michael54321 Distinguished Member

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    I've nothing against navy, but grey would be an equally acceptable choice. (I say this, despite the fact that I tend to look better in navy than in medium or dark grey.)

    As for black... look, the whole "Black suits are horrible" thing has been discussed so many times here on SF, that I can't see any point in going over it yet again. I will say that I wear suits most days, both for professional purposes, and for social occasions. And I have done so for decades.

    During this time I've purchased many suits. So many that I couldn't begin to tell you how many there have been. And not a single one of them has been black. And never once - in all the thousands of days I've put on a suit - have I thought to myself, "I wish I owned a black suit."

    No, not even for funerals (where a charcoal suit is a perfectly satisfactory alternative to black).

    Admittedly, I don't go clubbing, where I'm led to believe a black suit might be a smart choice.

    I pretty much agree.

    A nice, properly fitting, navy or medium grey or charcoal Brooks 1818 suit is a perfectly fine suit to buy, own, and wear. It's a good, safe choice.

    However, it's really nothing special. Even on 30% off sale, it's not a "bargain." It's not really any better than various other suits selling for roughly the same price (or even a somewhat lower price). If you put two men in front of me - one in the Brooks suit and one in a JAB Signature Gold suit he picked up on sale for $350 - I probably couldn't tell from looking at them which suit was which, assuming both fit well.

    So basically, you're paying in part for the Brooks Brothers name. Which is okay; lots of products come at a price premium for their brand name. And like I say, there's nothing inherently awful about the Brooks suit.

    Anyway, Big Iron, I'd point out to you that with suits, NOTHING trumps fit. A $500 suit that fits you perfectly will tend to look better on you (and feel better when you're wearing it) than will a $2500 suit which is just a little off. Fit is absolutely key, and it beats out considerations like S110 vs. S150 wool, or half canvas vs. full canvas, or pick stitching or working buttonholes or designer name or anything else.

    So whatever you wind up getting, make sure it fits you correctly. And no, you can't rely on the salesman selling you the suit to tell you this, because plenty of salesmen aren't competent to judge, and many others aren't honest enough to risk losing a sale by telling you the truth. Nor are most wives and girlfriends able to tell if the suit fits you correctly. No, you've got to educate yourself about what constitutes proper fit, then trust your judgement.

    (To an extent, proper fit is somewhat subjective. Some men prefer a trendy, modern fit, which sometimes strikes me as being ridiculously short and tight. To them, my suits probably seem dated and baggy. You must decide for yourself where on the "style" spectrum you're comfortable, but if you rarely wear a suit and might therefore be expected to keep a suit for a fair number of years, I'd urge you to seriously consider a moderate and traditional style.)

    Oh, it can be a slightly off in some minor ways. That's what alterations are for. If you need the waist taken in a little, that's no big deal. If you need the shoulders taken in a little... that can be sort of a big deal.
     

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