Author Topic: How much for a good suit  (Read 30913 times)

cosmie

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How much for a good suit
« on: June 04, 2012, 10:10:37 PM »
As some of you may know, I'm a college student; as such, I've had little experience with professional clothing. Soon I'm going to start being involved in business meetings with corporate partners, vendors, and other external partnerships, and need to acquire a suit for such times. I have a fairly extensive supply of ties, a few dress shirts and slacks, and a few quality belts, but I've always simply rented a suit and shoes when the need arises. Since these meetings will be occurring fairly regularly, that's no longer feasible. Plus, I should probably start interviewing for internships in my field of study and outside of my cushy student-employee position at the university, which will also require one.

When looking up advice online, many recommend suits in the $800+ range to get a quality, durable suit that will last. Is this true, or is this typical anti-Mustachian consumerism?

Likewise, I see many people say that a good pair of shoes will run $300+, and that anything less will fall apart within a year or so. Again, is this true, or is it more anti-Mustatchianism?

A lot of you Mustachians are professionals, so I'm curious: what do you consider an acceptable level of cost for a business suit and shoes?

Different but related question: Any of you have advice on finding affordable but quality suits and shoes? Or traits to look for? I can afford the prices mentioned if that's what's necessarily to get something decent that won't fall apart, but I'd prefer not spending more than is actually necessary.

smedleyb

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2012, 10:45:08 PM »
Spend $300, but pay extra to get it professionally tailored.  Tailoring is 90% of the battle, IMO.

Buy a couple suits.  Throw in 3 shirts and 3 ties -- all interchangeable -- and you have a good start.  Here's GQ article to use as a touchstone:

http://www.gq.com/style/wear-it-now/201206/interviewer-suit-boss?mbid=social_tumblr_gqfashion#slide=1

NYC Stach

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2012, 11:14:00 PM »
You need only buy one suit (in either navy blue or charcoal grey, preferably 2-button) to get you started.  Figure that this suit will last you for 3+ years and be appropriate for any occasion, from job interviews to weddings to first dates.  Considering that, you don't want this one item of clothing to look and/or feel cheap.  You want to present the best image possible.  The most important thing, which is most often overlooked, is fit.  Even if you find a $5,000 designer suit you love at a thrift store for $10, if it doesn't fit right you will not look good.  My recommendation is to spend just enough for quality construction ($300+), and a couple extra bucks ($100+) for a tailor to make sure everything fits well.

Regarding shoes, I recommend buying the best quality shoes you can afford.  I started out buying low-cost shoes and replacing them every 6-12 months.  Finally, I realized that quality will last much longer, and look better as well.  I have a pair of shoes now that originally cost me $250, which have been re-soled twice, and still look and feel great seven years after I bought them.  A simple pair of brown or black (this is a personal choice) lace-up oxfords will be appropriate with either of the suits mentioned above.

The key to building a Mustachian friendly wardrobe is knowing what you want and being patient enough to wait for it at the right price.  For your suits, go to a department store and try on different suits to see what you like.  Try different brands, cuts, and sizes until you get a good idea of what looks good on you.  Then wait for a retailer to have a sale (about every other week), and buy exactly what you know you want if they have it.  Don't be swayed by the salesperson in the two sizes too big suit trying to sell you anything he can.  The same applies for shoes.

Your location will influence the availability of finding great items at a decent cost.  Some great places to start your search are: Nordstrom Rack (larger metro areas), Suit Supply (NYC-my personal favorite), J.Crew, Banana Republic (hit or miss depending on your size/shape, but frequent sales), and your local Macy's (large selection).

Donovan

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2012, 04:40:51 AM »
I've had the same, JCPenny bought suit for about 6 years now and have yet to worry about it falling apart.  Could it maybe be tailored better to me?  Perhaps, but the construction quality has never hindered me in any performance or interview that I've needed it for.

As for shoes, if you can happen to find a Goodwill store in a nice area you can pick up great shoes for next to nothing.  My old dress shoes finally wore out after 6 years of fairly heavy use, and I immediately found a great used pair at Goodwill for next to nothing.  The caveat is that this Goodwill was just a stones throw away from some of the fanciest neighborhoods around here, so it did have unusually nice things just laying around.

erwannabe

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2012, 04:49:35 AM »
Get it tailored in Thailand.  Can get a quality suit made for you at the off the rack price for a cheap quality suit (or less).

You can do this without actually going to Thailand, as the tailor can (and will) send you samples of material, then you choose they make it and send it to you wherever you live.  You will need to get measured (they have instructions) and send them through.  We have a tailor in Thailand we use who we met on a trip there.  He has made stuff for friends completely by email/post (he sends samples for you to chose from) and they have been very happy with the results as well.  You can chose: fabric, buttons, lining (they have some really cool stuff), cut.  Even send a picture of a celebrity wearing a suit you like and they can make a copy that is tailored to you.

Quality will last for years.

PM If you want to know our tailors details.

velocistar237

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2012, 06:16:17 AM »
Consignment stores usually have good suits, while suits at Goodwill are typically odd patterns or worn out, though Portland, Oregon, has an upscale Goodwill downtown, and other towns might also. I second the tailoring, it is essential. For shoes, double-check your size and go on ebay.

http://thriftygent.com/

arebelspy

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2012, 06:44:13 AM »
Men's Warehouse has BOGO sales that can be quite good.
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cosmie

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2012, 03:10:21 PM »
Thanks for the great replies! :)

My recommendation is to spend just enough for quality construction ($300+), and a couple extra bucks ($100+) for a tailor to make sure everything fits well.

That was about the level I felt comfortable at, so I'm glad that level is also requisite of quality construction.

Quote
Regarding shoes, I recommend buying the best quality shoes you can afford.  I started out buying low-cost shoes and replacing them every 6-12 months.  Finally, I realized that quality will last much longer, and look better as well.  I have a pair of shoes now that originally cost me $250, which have been re-soled twice, and still look and feel great seven years after I bought them.  A simple pair of brown or black (this is a personal choice) lace-up oxfords will be appropriate with either of the suits mentioned above.
Well, I can afford any price point necessary to acquire something of quality. What do you look for in a shoe that tells apart one that will last from one that won't (i.e. an inexpensive but quality shoe from an expensive cheap shoe)?

Quote
The key to building a Mustachian friendly wardrobe is knowing what you want and being patient enough to wait for it at the right price.  For your suits, go to a department store and try on different suits to see what you like.  Try different brands, cuts, and sizes until you get a good idea of what looks good on you.  Then wait for a retailer to have a sale (about every other week), and buy exactly what you know you want if they have it.  Don't be swayed by the salesperson in the two sizes too big suit trying to sell you anything he can.  The same applies for shoes.
That's the problem: I have patience, but no idea what I want. Hence my solicitation of advice before going into a store and becoming a salesperon's dream customer.

Quote
Your location will influence the availability of finding great items at a decent cost.  Some great places to start your search are: Nordstrom Rack (larger metro areas), Suit Supply (NYC-my personal favorite), J.Crew, Banana Republic (hit or miss depending on your size/shape, but frequent sales), and your local Macy's (large selection).
The only one of those we have around here is Macy's. There's also a local place called American Outfitters, a Brooks Brother's in the mall (which I haven't been to), and a Men's Warehouse.

I've had the same, JCPenny bought suit for about 6 years now and have yet to worry about it falling apart.  Could it maybe be tailored better to me?  Perhaps, but the construction quality has never hindered me in any performance or interview that I've needed it for.

As for shoes, if you can happen to find a Goodwill store in a nice area you can pick up great shoes for next to nothing.  My old dress shoes finally wore out after 6 years of fairly heavy use, and I immediately found a great used pair at Goodwill for next to nothing.  The caveat is that this Goodwill was just a stones throw away from some of the fanciest neighborhoods around here, so it did have unusually nice things just laying around.
I've actually looked at the JCPenny suits, as there's one very close to here. There didn't seem to be anything wrong with them from what I could tell, but after trying on a few I just didn't particularly like them. I didn't like the way they sat on my frame.

As for shoes, I've taken a look at a few of the thrift and consignment shops around here. I live between two of the nicer areas of town, but all of the nearby thrift stores were pretty disappointing. The consignment shops had a decent selection, but prices were outrageous. If I knew what to look for, I could probably find bargains there. But without knowing anything particular to keep an eye out for, I could just as easily waste my money.

http://thriftygent.com/
That's a great site, thanks! :)

For shoes, double-check your size and go on ebay.
I've never had luck buying shoes online. My size is right in-between a 9 and a 10, and the size that fits the best seems to fluctuate with brands. Plus, my feet run on the wide side. I'm not sure if that'd be a particular problem with dress shoes, as they seem to run wider than sneakers anyway.

Men's Warehouse has BOGO sales that can be quite good.
I noticed they're running one right now, actually! I may go check out the Men's Warehouse here this weekend.

velocistar237

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2012, 03:18:54 PM »
The consignment shops had a decent selection, but prices were outrageous. If I knew what to look for, I could probably find bargains there. But without knowing anything particular to keep an eye out for, I could just as easily waste my money.

http://putthison.com/post/2817493175/chest-canvas-and-the-pinch-test-id-been
http://putthison.com/post/1454913425/a-loosey-goosey-brand-guide-for-thrifting-suits

I've never had luck buying shoes online. My size is right in-between a 9 and a 10, and the size that fits the best seems to fluctuate with brands. Plus, my feet run on the wide side. I'm not sure if that'd be a particular problem with dress shoes, as they seem to run wider than sneakers anyway.

I wear a 9E in Allen Edmunds, and I got away with buying a pair of AE Park Avenues in 9.5D for $70 on ebay. (The color was not quite what I expected, but I guess that's what I get for buying online. If I ever get tired of it, I'll hit them with some Kiwi shoe polish.) I first went to an AE store and tried on a few pairs.

nolajo

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2012, 04:46:23 PM »
Tailoring is a big part of the experience, but you need to be aware of the base requirements. The jacket has to fit across the shoulders and back, even buttoned, and the pants should fit your butt and leg circumference. A tailor can handle adjusting the waist or the length of the legs or sleeves, but they often can't do much about the other bits. (Clarification: they can typically take in the legs of pants if they're a bit too big, though if they have to take it in much it could distort the line of the pants. Also, there's often so little seam allowance that they can't let it out the legs much.)

Using those guidelines, I was able to take a wool suit from H&M of all places which was cut for a crazy tall Swede and get a great suit. The tailoring in that instance actually cost more than the suit, but all told it was about $150. Admittedly, as a woman who works in a business casual environment though, my suits don't get the same sort of wear that many men's do, so I would potentially pay more for higher quality wool if I knew I would be wearing it everyday.

skyrefuge

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2012, 06:50:46 PM »
Figure that this suit will last you for 3+ years and be appropriate for any occasion, from job interviews to weddings to first dates.

haha, I think most Mustachians wearing a suit on a first date would be prosecuted for Bait-and-Switch!

arebelspy

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2012, 06:51:18 PM »

Men's Warehouse has BOGO sales that can be quite good.
I noticed they're running one right now, actually! I may go check out the Men's Warehouse here this weekend.

Don't let their salesmen oversell you.  Be firm.
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James

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2012, 07:15:20 PM »
Don't let their salesmen oversell you.  Be firm.


I agree, it's easy to get sucked in wanting to buy quality and get it right the first time, so you let your guard down.  All of a sudden that $300 has turned into $450 because it is just the right suit.  Then the tailoring is on top of that so you just go with the house tailer and the suit never fits just right.  (yes, I'm speaking from experience I'm ashamed to say)


I think the $300 for the suit is a good number, and I think you can get good quality shoes for under $200.  I have some Echo shoes that have been worn to countless meeting and all over Europe.  They are very comfortable and set me back around $165 eight years ago.  Quality is rarely cheap, but the returns really diminish as you go higher.  If you aren't wearing these every day, and it sounds like when you do wear them it won't be for the full day, then you really don't need to aim too high to start with.  If you get to the point of wearing them daily then you will probably want a second set anyway, and in that case you can step up in quality for that purchase.




cosmie

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2012, 05:07:15 PM »
Just wanted to give a little update.

I went to the local Men's Warehouse, and the people there were extremely rude. Went to a local place, and the service was much better. I'm pretty sure I overpaid, but the service was good and the experience let me know how various sizes and cuts fit on me, so it was worth the (rather large) markup. Now I'll be able to shop better for one, and take advantage of online sales from places like Jos. A Banks and such. FYI, I went with one similar to this,  from the same label.

I also got sized on dress shoes and have a concrete idea on how my feet fit into particular cuts of shoes (I didn't get any from there, though).

Fuzz

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2012, 10:27:08 PM »
Go to the Nordstrom's half yearly sale tomorrow, June 16th and spend $449 on a Hugo Boss two button wool suit with a little stretch to it. You don't need to dry clean it as much because it hangs well. It's marked down from $795 and Nordstrom's has good tailors that will take care of you without an extra cost. The salespeople will treat you great and if you don't like you can return it. But you'll like it.

I wear one of these suits every day to work (attorney on a public sector salary) and they hold up well. I've bought one each of the last two sales. I've spent less on suits but don't like them as much, generally because the fit is bad or the style is a little baggy. So I never wear them. Also, I'm vain. Any time you actually bother to put on a suit is a time you want to look good.

Good luck.

Bakari

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2012, 10:10:15 AM »




$25 Goodwill
(I think.  It may have been thrifttown)

I also have a grey business suit (no pictures unfortunately) which was $20 at a different thrift store.
And a full body leather motorcycle suit with built in armor which cost $50.

All seem to have been rarely or never worn, all perfect fit.
I did have to try about a half-dozen different thrift stores before finding the two suits (the motorcycle leathers was just a lucky find, I wasn't looking for it) to get one that fit, and I had to hem the pants on one, but well worth it.

BTW, I did wear that tux on my first date with my current girlfriend... of course, it was Halloween...
« Last Edit: June 16, 2012, 10:13:57 AM by Bakari »

alex109

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2012, 04:45:09 PM »
Yeah, I spent about $120 on about 5 suites and various dress shirts through thrift stores and good will. Many of the suites that  I bought were easily +$200 at retail. Just something to consider...m

grantmeaname

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2012, 06:32:57 AM »
It's been thrown around in other threads, but I wanted to re-emphasize that thrift stores are pretty location specific. I live off the edge of a giant university campus, so there's lots of demand and little supply for pre-worn clothes nearby. If you find a rich-neighborhood thrift store, you're golden. The Thrift Shopper has a clunky design, but a good system of reviews so that you can get the overview of your town's options.

While we're on the topic of website recommendations, Put This On has some really great articles about thrifting... I don't remember who shared it in another thread, but I liked it enough that it bears repeating here.

Sparky

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2012, 04:16:59 AM »
I'm a big fan of going to my local thrift stores myself, but keep in mind I don't actually go to business meetings. My last 'suit' for my buddies wedding cost me a total of 4 dollars, including getting a large frying pan and a cat bed thrown in.

Also, don't be afraid to ask around friends and family members that around the same size as yourself. You might just get lucky and get a nice suit out of the deal.

velocistar237

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2012, 10:24:12 AM »
I've made 50-100 visits to excellent thrift stores over the past year and a half, and I've only once found a halfway decent suit that fit me. I know a guy who thrifts and resells for a living, and he recently bought a charcoal suit brand new because he never finds them. If you found a good one in your size while thrifting, count yourself lucky. That said, I'm not giving up.

cosmie

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #20 on: June 24, 2012, 09:36:31 PM »
Thrifting doesn't work well where I live, with a heavy college demographic. The main state school in town has 30,000+ students, and there are more private schools and community colleges than I can count. So you have to be on the ball in order to get anything worth the time and effort.

Praxis

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Re: How much for a good suit
« Reply #21 on: June 26, 2012, 01:54:24 PM »
I just got back from Europe; bought some amazing suits in the $50-$75 range in street markets in The Hague and southern Italy.  My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw the prices and actually tried them on.  I felt bad cramming them in to my luggage to take home.