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Thread: Thoughts on first suit

  1. #1
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    Default Thoughts on first suit

    --My apologies right off the bat for the rather long post--

    Hey Folks,

    It's about that time. I graduated from college in 2010, and have been getting by without a suit, but I feel like my wardrobe is sorely lacking without one. I recently got a good steady job, so I'll finally have a little disposable income for a relatively high quality suit. I'm kinda short (5'7) and lanky, so I've found that even as far as dress shirts go everything looks baggy, even with the small sizes (I recently found out that Banana Republic has dress shirts that fit me, at a nice discount! See below). I've been doing a little research, and I'm thinking a navy or charcoal single breasted 2 button suit ought to cover most of my needs for now (I figure that should cover formal events/any other job interviews in the relatively near future). I think right now my limit is about $500, and I'd hope that would be enough for a good quality item that should last me quite a while.

    So, here's my question, and it may be heresy (as I really can't afford stuff like Brooks Brothers and such). SWMBO is working at Banana Republic right now, and that means that both her and her domestic partner (me ) get a 50% discount on clothing there.

    Anyone have any experience with the BR Monogram line? It's a slimmer fit, which should be good, and it sounds like they're made with quality material (italian wool). However, I started looking into it, and realized that after alterations even with the discount I'd be spending about 400 on a suit (I'm looking at that as a good price, by the way--let me know if I'm wrong). Big problem is that they don't have a solid navy or charcoal option if I'm going for the style listed above. Plenty of black or lighter grey (and plaids or stripes).

    With that in mind, I've been looking at other options, and something that popped up in my google searches was My.Suit. They're a company that has vertical integration, manufacturing suits and then selling them directly from a storefront in NYC, thus cutting out middleman prices. The suits are made to measure as well (you get measured in the store), and pretty customizable. Seems like their entry level option is $500.

    I'll be planning on checking out both options in person, but basically I'm trying to find out if anyone has any thoughts on the quality of BR Monogram suits (perhaps they'll get new styles/colors in soon and I could hold off a bit to use that hefty discount).

    Alternatively I'm curious if anyone has had any experience with My.Suit or similar options like Black Lapel or Indochino. Ideally My.Suit would be the best Made to Measure option for me as I'd be able to actually go in and try out sample suits, and feel the various fabrics in person.

    Other options are also welcome. I know that there will be plenty of opinions :)

    Thanks in advance for your help!
    --Travis

  2. #2
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    I can't comment on the quality of the specific brands mentioned ... no experience there.

    But your instinct about charcoal or navy is spot-on ... and no pinstripes. IMHO, the gray works better than navy, as you can next buy a navy blazer for slightly less formal events (& dress down with chinos or jeans &c). Even if you lighten the charcoal a bit to moderately dark or mid-dark gray, it should be fine.
    Be there or be square. Only I can do both!

    "My lord, I will use them according to their desert."

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  3. #3
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    Ditto on skipping the pin stripes. I got my first real suit in December from lastcall.com. They're the outlet for Neiman Marcus, one of the high end retailers of men's clothing in the US. I got a $1,500 Hickey Freeman suit for $350, and they run deals like that all the time. I wore it to an interview in February, and now I'm moving to Hawaii for the new job in 6 weeks. Can't say I owe it to the suit, but I definitely felt confident in a high quality item that fits me like a glove.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the tip! Unfortunately everything on lastcall.com right now is either pinstriped or too large.

    I've been trying to update my wardrobe in general recently, just because I didn't really feel confident in my more formal wear. Turns out a lot of it was too baggy, so I've been going through a process of culling all of my clothes to find out what stuff is actually form fitting/flattering, and tossing a lot of my wardrobe into a pile for goodwill. It's a long process, but I already feel loads better in just the few new dress shirts I've already bought.

    Also, in case someone wants to see links to the original items I was looking at, here they are:

    http://bananarepublic.gap.com/browse...scid=421241002

    And I guess MySuit doesn't have links to specific suits, but that's because you basically design your own suit. The build a suit function is actually pretty addictive :)

    http://mysuitny.com/website/default.aspx
    --Travis

  5. #5

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    Some of the stuff at Banana Republic is good to go, some is not amazing IMHO. I'd say a grey or navy suit is a winner to start - you could also get away with a nice black suit too. As someone who just graduated a few years ago, if you have no immediate need for a suit...perhaps a blazer or sport coat is a better first investment. Jos A Bank has some nice stuff and usually has discounts.

  6. #6

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    Before you get rid of everything you might want to take it to a tailor. I recently lost some weight and was planning on buying a new wardrobe, but I took a few things in and all of a sudden it fit and looked right. It is also significantly less expensive. I would also suggest taking your new suit to one. The little adjustments will make a huge difference.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by saf View Post
    Before you get rid of everything you might want to take it to a tailor. I recently lost some weight and was planning on buying a new wardrobe, but I took a few things in and all of a sudden it fit and looked right. It is also significantly less expensive. I would also suggest taking your new suit to one. The little adjustments will make a huge difference.
    Great idea! If the style is still relevant or to your taste, then having your clothes altered can be a great option. I went and had some shirts re-cut for about $16/each (cheaper than retail places like Macys) and was able to support a great family-run operation in Minneapolis. Any new clothes I get go straight there to be altered, and has saved me money in the past just changing up existing stuff.

  8. #8
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    I'm no expert on suits, but I have several, and I've learned a few things about getting good quality at affordable prices.
    I love Brooks Brothers and you can usually find a great deal on their stuff at an outlet center or on their mailing list and their sales. You can often walk out of BB spending ~$450 on one of their suits.
    If you need something sooner rather than later I recommend trying one of the discount suit shops, (I noticed you are in Brooklyn and if NY is anything like the city of angels then you should be able to find one of these shops). I have a could of suits that I picked up from one of these shops and they are italian made, wool, look excellent, and VERY afforable. Don't know who name on the label is, but does that matter? Not to me.
    Shirts - I recommend non-iron, (Nordstrom Smartcare, Brooks Brother's Non-iron, etc.) I am not a fan of having to spend a couple hours a week ironing. This tip it SOOO worth it. Also look for the shirt cut that fits your body style (slim/athletic cut).
    Shoes - Don't just wear any old pair of shoes. Spend the money you save on the suits (at the discount italian suit outlet) on a pair of shoes that will make your spouse walk a little straighter because her man looks so good! (I have 4 good sets of dress shoes (2 black/2brown). I looked for several years to find the right shoes, and slowly put them together. I was willing to spend some money on them once I found them, but I will not have to buy another pair of shoes for many years! I simply re-sole them.)
    To finish it off...
    Learn to use a handkerchief and know what a pocket square is (use is optional on the pocket square as a handkerchief may be used).
    Hope this helps! Enjoy!
    If the surf is up south side, you know where you can find me when I'm done shaving.
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  9. #9
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    BR stuff is pretty good in my experience. And $400 is a geat peice on a suit of their quality. They are a bit more modern fit, so keeping it conservative with style is a good call. If it is your first suit (and likely your only one for now), you want it versatile.
    Joey, BOTSS

    "'Tis no man; 'tis a remorseless eating machine!" :pirate:

  10. #10
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    It sounds like I am a similar build to you. What I am realizing is that I need to find a tailor I can trust if I really want to look good in clothes. Off the rack just isn't made for someone that is 5'7" and thin. On the positive side, the whole "Mad Men" revival of well tailored shirts and suits is making some of it easier to find.

    BR off the rack jackets and pants fit me pretty well. I just always thought they were overpriced for the quality. Maybe the Monogram suits don't have that issue. I used to buy my shirts and pants from there (don't need suits everyday) but just grew tired of things wearing out. If you can get 50% off though, it might be worth it for a first after college suit.

    In the last year I've bought two Brooks Brothers "Fitzgerald" cut suits and after bringing the jacket in a bit in the midsection, they fit great. Not too tight where I will looks out of style when the fashion gods decide slim cut isn't in anymore, but looks good on a thin guy. It is a bit more than your budget though, even when I caught a great sale after Christmas, and that was a rare sale I guess. Going to Brooks Brothers also eliminated the need for me to find a tailor, as they had one in store.

    I also looked at Nordstrom, Boss mostly, and had actually bought one but returned it before tailoring. In the end, the price wasn't much less than BB and I didn't think the quality was as high. I almost had a find at a Barney's outlet, a Hickey Freeman where the jacket fit great, but the pants ended up being pleated.

    Jos. A Bank tailored fit was a bit big for me. I was worried there would be too much work for the tailor, but the price might be right for you, and maybe you are a tad bigger in the shoulders than I am. For what it is worth, their tailored fit shirts are also big on me in my normal size.

    Just whatever you get, make sure it is tailored well. I also looked long and hard at those MTM type websites just for that reason. You can buy your suit at Target and it will look good enough if it is tailored well.

    As others pointed out, don't forget about the shoes. They don't need to be AE Park Aves, but make sure they at least clean up well after a polish.

    For shirts, I am currently favoring the Brooks Brothers Extra Slim Fit non-iron. As I said before, I used to get my shirts at BR, but the sleeves were always a little too long for me despite everything else fitting well when I bought a small.

  11. #11
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    This time of year you should be able to find stuff on sale. A good tailor is the key to fitting a suit. I wouldn't hesitate to buy from a place like http://www.ctshirts.co.uk/ and have the final tailoring done near home.
    -Ray
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    tlittle,
    If you're in NYC, then go to L&S Mens Clothing on 45th Street (not too far from 30 Rock). It's primarily a MTM place, but they have lots of suits there and if you tell Izzy that you're looking for a complete outfit for under 500 bucks, then he may have something on hand. A MTM suit would set you back another 3 or 4 hundred bucks over that which, btw, is a great deal but beyond your budget. So, see what he has on the rack. They have a very skilled tailor on prem and make sure the alterations are included.

    As for the type of suit, go with dark blue over charcoal. If you can only have one suit, make it blue, not gray.

    The quality of material and tailoring here is much higher than what you'd get at BR (with all due respect) but at generally lower prices (not taking your 50% discount into account). I've gotten one MTM suit and a couple OTR jackets and pants from here and prefer it over BB by a wide margin.

    good luck in your new job.
    mark

    "Over time your quickness with a cocky rejoinder must have gotten you many punches in the face"-Al Swearingen


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  13. #13

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    IMHO, I would worry more about fit than fabric. Not that fabric isn't important, but it sounds like this suit wont be used regularly. Provided that's the case, you don't need to spend your money on top fabric quality. A middle or low-end suit that is nicely tailored will look much better than a top-of-the-line one that doesn't leave enough room in your budget for alterations. A lower quality suit that is only worn once every two months will still last you years.

  14. #14
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    +1 on the primacy of fit.
    mark

    "Over time your quickness with a cocky rejoinder must have gotten you many punches in the face"-Al Swearingen


    Owes Ouch two kitten carcasses.[Delivered]

  15. #15
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    As a 40 something that once wore a suit and tie everyday I would disagree on the anti-pinstripe advice I was earlier... now there is a big difference between pinstipes and chalk stripes... avoid the latter unless you want to make a big statement. Navy or charcoal grey are your best bet, but navy has one advantage over charcoal... navy is an accepted alternative to black tie for evening wear whereas charcoal is preferably a daytime color. I would go navy and let your personal style be your guide for the pinstipe question.

    As to the basic cut stick with a two button single breasted suit with flap pockect and either a double or single vent back... as this this may be your only suit for a while stay away from trendy things like three button, ticket pockets or British cut suits that tend to be tighter through the arm holes and have a generally higher lapel... unless you really like this look. A lot of the suits cost will reflect the general construction of the jacket and pants. Fused versus canvased jacket and lined or unlined pants.

    http://artofmanliness.com/2010/02/12...nvassed-suits/

    For shirts it is generally accepted that button down collars are ok with blazer and jackets but not with suit. My father gave some some good advice when I was a younger man... save the money on shirts and get good quality neck ties, as that's what people will notice. For shirts I usually get Stafford from JC Penny or Lands End. Both have a great quality to value ratio.

    For shoes go brown if you can swing in, and no squre to Frankensein toed shoes please. Lastly remember your socks should match your pants, belt should match your shoes, no belt and suspenders at the same time and a pocket square can be your best friend and biggest advantage.
    Last edited by ddillas; 04-30-2012 at 05:12 PM.
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  16. #16
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    For a first and only suit, I'd stay clear of stripes of any sort, pin or chalk. A moderately-darkish gray suit will be your most versatile option.

    Quote Originally Posted by ddillas View Post
    As a 40 something that once wore a suit and tie everyday I would disagree on the anti-pinstripe advice I was earlier... now there is a big difference between pinstipes and chalk stripes... avoid the latter unless you want to make a big statement. Navy or charcoal grey are your best bet, but navy has one advantage over charcoal... navy is an accepted alternative to black tie for evening wear whereas charcoal is preferably a daytime color. I would go navy and let your personal style be your guide for the pinstipe question.
    Good point on pinstripes vs chalk stripes. Pinstripes are thin and restrained ...
    ... while chalk stripes are big and bold:



    Unless you have a large selection of suits, chalk stripes will stick out too much with any but the most infrequent wearings.
    Be there or be square. Only I can do both!

    "My lord, I will use them according to their desert."

    "God's bodykins, man, much better: use every man
    after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

    Veteran of the Great Irisch Moos Campaign of 2008-09

  17. #17
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    Navy or dark gray is the way to go, and make sure it fits well, no idea on brands though.

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    I know you might not think Brooks Brothers is within you budget, but they are running a sale right now and many of their "1818" are on sale right now, and for between $450-500. Additionally, if you can wait until Father's Day they run a big sale (usually their biggest after the after-Christmas sale). I would recommend their Suiting Essentials line; you can get 2 suits for $899. However, if you sign up for the BB credit card, you can save 15% off the top, so that brings it down to about $760. But you also save on tailoring costs because they measure you and then have the suit altered. And their half-canvassed, lined to the knee, etc., very nicely put together and in conservative colors (I have the solid navy and solid charcoal suits).

  19. #19
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    Lots of good advice in this thread already- I would echo Ians thoughts on skipping the lighter greys especially if this is your only suit.

    I don't know what it is exactly but the suit from BR you linked to- the guy looks sloppy somehow.

  20. #20
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    i've read nothing but bad things about BR. I got my $1000 Hickey Freeman mainline suit from Nordstrom Rack for $500. Best investment I ever made

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