Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

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tidalwave10
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Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by tidalwave10 » Sat Dec 28, 2013 8:35 am

Being an IT person in my 40's, I can count on one hand the number of times I've had to wear a suit. The one suit I bought as a much younger man no longer fits--not sure if I even have the jacket. However, I need a suit for two weddings (just as an attendee). And it may not hurt to have a suit around for future job interviews--however, never seemed to need one to land job offers. Fortunately I can go to work in jeans and a T-shirt and absolutely hate dressing up; even "Business Casual" makes me uncomfortable. And ties--I consider them a vestige from another time (e.g. may as well add a top hat, cane, and pocket watch). For those who enjoy Dressing to Impress: good for them; not for me.

Anyway, frankly, I'd be content with a suit from a thrift shop. But I'm not sure how to get the right fit / what size I am. What are my options for buying a new suit at US-based retail store like Men's Warehouse, Mall anchor stores, Kohl's, etc? What can I expect to pay, and what's a good "all purpose" style / color to buy? I'd like to have a mostly no muss, no fuss experience with no or minimal Up or Cross Sells by a salesperson--I can imagine being offered a suit at a reasonable price, then they make their profit on shirts, socks, shoes, etc. Although it may be a fashion faux pas, I think I'll stick to my Rockport pro walkers. I'll err on the side of looking not exactly right over paying any more than I need to for clothing I don't want and will rarely wear. At least for my wedding I could rent a tux and all the accoutrements. :-) Would have preferred eloping on a beach in sandals, but the wife wouldn't go for it.

Thinking looking for a suit may be similar to looking for a used car--and I'd rather know up front what to expect. Might it be "better" for me personally, given the info I've provided above, to visit a retail shop that doesn't specialize in men's formal ware? Or the reverse?

Inexpensive to me would be USD $200 or less. And I'm based in Central North Carolina FWIW. Would be nice if the suit didn't appear "cheap"--but I'm sure that's highly subjective. I'm not brand conscious. However, if I do find myself in a thrift shop, what labels might I look for? Don't mind luxury if someone else has already taken a huge depreciation hit. :-)

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by HomerSector7G » Sat Dec 28, 2013 8:47 am

I have bought a lot of suits and sport oats over the years. One upon a time I wore a suit to work everyday. Now a sport oat and slacks is more often the norm. I am a big fan of quality but cannot imagine paying full price. I would guess that 2/3 of my suits and sportcoats have come from the Nordstrom Rack, generally off the clearance rack. You shouldn't have a hard time getting a quality suit for less than $200 there. I see there is one in Durham and one in Charlotte, but NC geography is not a topic I know well.

I have found that most of what they carry is quality stuff that has been moved out of their mainstream stores (as opposed to say kohls, which has cheaper stuff in every sense). I have had very good experiences with Hickey Freeman (my top choice for timeless, very well made suits with quality materials), Joseph Abboud, and to a lesser extent Calvin Klein. The 'house brand' (John Nordstrom) is also excellent.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by HomerSector7G » Sat Dec 28, 2013 8:49 am

And in terms of color, if you have one suit it pro ably should be plain navy blue. Grey would be a fair choice too.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by VictoriaF » Sat Dec 28, 2013 8:56 am

tidalwave10 wrote:For those who enjoy Dressing to Impress: good for them; not for me.
If you don't like dressing up, it's your choice. There is no need to hypothesize about the intentions of those who do.

Victoria
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hudson
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by hudson » Sat Dec 28, 2013 9:05 am

I also despise wearing suits...but you gotta have one...I can get by with unconventional shoes. I got my last suit at JC Penney. The price was right for me...not quite at a linux price. At JCP, they'll have your size and someone to coach you.
http://www.jcpenney.com/men/suits-sport ... cmJCP_C=D5

It hurt to buy that JCP suit about 10 years ago, but I've gotten through too many weddings, funerals, and command performances...and it's still good as new....kind of like Windows 7.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by RNJ » Sat Dec 28, 2013 9:38 am

I've had good luck at Men's Warehouse. Reasonable costs and quality. Helpful salespeople. Can't go wrong with navy/dark blue or gray. Also, spending an extra $25 or $50 at a MW can go a long way in purchasing a suit that is of noticeably better quality (i.e., it will look better on you and will last longer). If you need socks, belts and/or shoes, buy them elsewhere unless they're on sale.

Good luck!

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BL
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by BL » Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:20 am

Don't forget a nice shirt, at least. If you have one that you insist on wearing, wear it when you are trying on the suit.
Try on suits at a good thrift store, especially those in expensive parts of the city; you may find excellent quality that someone has grown out of. Do you have any friends who have "expanded", but were your size? A good suit can last forever, and classic styles seem to last forever, too.

Google something like "what to look for when buying a suit" for some ideas before you start shopping. You can learn from them even though you don't buy an expensive suit.

Edt: Would a more versatile sport coat meet your requirements? Also, finding a tailor might be worthwhile.
Last edited by BL on Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Abe
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by Abe » Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:45 am

I had the same problem. I very seldom wear a suit but need one occasionally for funerals and weddings. I "outgrew" the only suit I had for years. I found one at a thrift store for $15.00 that was good quality and it looked as if it had never been worn. Other than the pants were a little long, which I had altered, it fit me perfectly. If you are willing to spend a little time looking, I think you can do the same. There are a lot of nice almost new good quality suits out there. You probably will not be able to find one that is a perfect fit, but a tailor can alter it for you. Usually, you have to do this even when you buy one new at a store.
Slow and steady wins the race.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by killjoy2012 » Sat Dec 28, 2013 12:28 pm

As someone who also works in IT and needs a suit or two for the occasional reasons you've listed, I'd tell you to just go to Macy's or Nordstrom's Rack when they're having a "Mens Sale" or some other clearance event. You can get a nice suit - Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, etc. for 50-75% off the retail sticker price. e.g. A $500-800 suit for $150-$200 out the door and it's going to look 3x better and wear 10x better than a Men's Warehouse suit. I had to get a black MW suit in emergency when a family member passed, and several of the suit hems were falling apart after 2 days of visitations, the funeral & wake (e.g. 4 days of use).

The Macy's or Nordstrom Rack suit is not going to be as nice as an Armani, Burburry or Brooks Brothers suit... but you're also talking an order of magnitude price difference. If you wear a suit daily, that's one thing to spend that kind of money. Entirely different for the once per year guy who may get 10 uses before the suit no longer fits or is outdated.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by hicabob » Sat Dec 28, 2013 12:30 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
tidalwave10 wrote:For those who enjoy Dressing to Impress: good for them; not for me.
If you don't like dressing up, it's your choice. There is no need to hypothesize about the intentions of those who do.

Victoria
It seems to me people "dress up" either because they are expected to in that particular situation or they want to impress. What other possible reason would there be? I think OP is spot-on.

thesofine
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by thesofine » Sat Dec 28, 2013 1:40 pm

It seems to me people "dress up" either because they are expected to in that particular situation or they want to impress. What other possible reason would there be? I think OP is spot-on.
I'll help you think outside the box. Below are just some reasons someone may want to break away from office conformity and dress-up a little:
- Maybe because life’s too short to blend in and they don’t want to settle for average. I am always struck by how much people blend in at work, whether it be t-shirt and jeans or suits.
- Some people find fashion as a way to express themselves. Think of it as art coming to life.
- Some people think it is fun. (I don't attempt to understand all the things that bring people joy).
- It improves your self-esteem. Cancer patients are sometimes told to take pride in how they look and it may improve their mood. If dressing well doesn't give you a lift, then you're doing it wrong.

Sometime people think fashion is a outward expression, but psychologists have found that dressing up does improve your mood and confidence. Also, one should remember that conformity goes both ways, but not necessarily fair. If an office uniform is collared shirt and slacks, people may be less supportive of an under-dressed colleague who wears stained sweatpants and t-shirt than an over-dressed colleague who shows up in a tuxedo.

"The world is governed more by appearance than by realities, so that it is fully as necessary to seem to know something as it is to know it." -Daniel Webster

Hope this helps. /thesofine

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VictoriaF
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by VictoriaF » Sat Dec 28, 2013 1:45 pm

hicabob wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
tidalwave10 wrote:For those who enjoy Dressing to Impress: good for them; not for me.
If you don't like dressing up, it's your choice. There is no need to hypothesize about the intentions of those who do.

Victoria
It seems to me people "dress up" either because they are expected to in that particular situation or they want to impress. What other possible reason would there be? I think OP is spot-on.
Esthetic need, expression of personality, demonstration of taste, display of body, feeling good, signaling status. I-can-wear-what-I-want attitude is also signaling of status.

Victoria
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tidalwave10
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by tidalwave10 » Sat Dec 28, 2013 8:07 pm

Thanks to all for the purchasing suggestions. Sorry for opening the conversation in a way that could require virtual asbestos suits if developed any further. :-)

Random Poster
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by Random Poster » Sat Dec 28, 2013 9:46 pm

Lands End sells, in my view, rather decent suits and pants-jackets combos. Hemming can be inconsistent, but the stuff lasts a long time.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by bdylan » Sat Dec 28, 2013 9:59 pm

If you're looking for a suit for less than $200 then go to men's wearhouse, kohls, JC penneys or wherever is cheapest around you. Find the cheapest suit possible and invest the difference in a tailor. You're not getting good quality at that price point (nor do you need it) so get a decent fit.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by jlawrence01 » Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:25 pm

I bought my last suit in 2005. I knew a JC Penney's store that had an Italian tailor. I think the cost was $200 after alterations.

However, JCP no longer seems to have tailors in most of their stores. However, they do have coordinated separates. You match up a pair of pants in your size with an identical jacket in your size. It eliminates the need for a lot of alterations.

I had a friend who swore by this approach. He needed a 50" tall jacket and a 34" waist - a combination that you just will not find in any suit store.

tidalwave10
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by tidalwave10 » Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:29 am

Thanks rp, bd, and JL. @JL, purchasing coordinated separates sounds like a great idea.
jlawrence01 wrote:I bought my last suit in 2005. I knew a JC Penney's store that had an Italian tailor. I think the cost was $200 after alterations.

However, JCP no longer seems to have tailors in most of their stores. However, they do have coordinated separates. You match up a pair of pants in your size with an identical jacket in your size. It eliminates the need for a lot of alterations.

I had a friend who swore by this approach. He needed a 50" tall jacket and a 34" waist - a combination that you just will not find in any suit store.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by goaties » Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:41 am

The Goodwill stores in our area (yes, I'm in central NC too) have often yielded me some spectacularly nice clothes for practically nothing. That's because we live in a place with a lot of wealthy people who like to toss out perfectly good things! Yay! Each one I've been in has a fitting room, so you can figure out what size you are. Pants are easily hemmed, so what you are looking for is good fit otherwise. Depending on your complexion, black, dark blue, or grey are good all-purpose colors.

If you strike out there, JC Penney is currently under threat of bankruptcy and is running some amazing sales.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by 4stripes » Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:38 am

Call Benetton at South Pointe mall to see if they carry men's. They make sharp looking suits for under $500.

You're 40 too, time to gentleman up. You will be judged in a floppy Ill-fitting suit. Try bringing a sartorial friend with you, or pay some savvy college student for an hour to help you out. Remember, the most important thing for a suit, or any article of clothing, is fit. The jacket should not hang past your thumb joint is a good starting place.

The choice is yours!

Image

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by leonard » Sun Dec 29, 2013 4:13 pm

If you have an occasion you actually need a suit - it must look good. A job interview for example - you don't want a cheap, ill fitting suit to cost you a job offer. A couple extra hundred for a tailored fitting suit is well worth the cost. Consider it an investment if you must to rationalize it.
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by DFWinvestor » Sun Dec 29, 2013 5:49 pm

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Jos. A Bank. I bought two of theirs a few years back and have been very pleased.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by bhsince87 » Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:35 pm

My favorite suits were JC Penney specials from 15+ years ago. But alas, we outgrew each other… :(

I did a Men’s Wearhouse buy one get one free deal 7-8 years ago. I bought one dark blue suit and a light gray one for less formal occasions. I’ve never worn the gray one, so that was probably a waste.

I also had them both tweaked several times at a local seamstress. Very inexpensive, but a huge improvement in fit.

I’m an engineering manager, and I lived about 10 years in central NC myself, (now in PA) and I would warn that it is indeed possible to own “too much suit” in some parts of the country.

If someone came in for an interview for an engineering job wearing a $1k+ suit, it would be a mark against them. Not saying that’s right, but it’s reality, and something to keep in mind.
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Para45
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by Para45 » Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:49 pm

hey man, i am here in Durham, N.C. , what is your height /weight... ?

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by englishgirl » Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:52 pm

I just have to brag:

My bf and I went "suit" shopping this weekend for him for a family wedding. I put suit in quotation marks because we didn't really care if the jacket and pants matched, just that they coordinated. After doing some googling on what to look for, we first went to the thrift store in town that is well known for better quality stuff. I figured the jacket was the most important item - if we could find a jacket that fit well, we could always match the pants to it. We did do measurements before going, but we knew to look at the shoulders and cuff length as the most important things. Amazingly, having trawled through the jackets for a while, we came up with a Jos. A. Bank jacket that fit perfectly. It is charcoal grey with a very fine blue stripe. Then we found a navy blue shirt that had never been worn (it still had the original labels attached). Total for the two items: $12, most of that being the cost of the shirt. The jacket ended up being $1.48 + tax. Score! We didn't find any pants that worked well with the jacket and shirt at the same store, and anyway, many of the thrift store pants were pleated, which dated them a bit. Goodwill and Marshall's didn't help us out, but at Ross we found Calvin Klein charcoal grey pants with the same color blue stripe as the jacket, but where the stripes were much much narrower than those on the jacket. The pants were $30. In my opinion, they look awesome together.
Sarah

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by Mill » Sun Dec 29, 2013 9:09 pm

Im like the OP and rarely dress up. I despise it. I was dating a woman who INSISTED that every man should own a suit, so one of our dates was to Kohls to go suit shopping. I found reasonable matches, and with the Kohls card and a couple coupons, I got everything (shirt, pants, sportcoat, belt and tie) for $200. Also, I learned that at Kohls, the price marked on the items is always wrong (on the high side). I guess they do this to make you think youre getting a good deal.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by bhsince87 » Sun Dec 29, 2013 9:25 pm

Mill wrote:Im like the OP and rarely dress up. I despise it.
Yes, same here. But I think owning a decent suit, and wearing it when appropriate, falls into the "plays well with others" category.
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by Pajamas » Sun Dec 29, 2013 9:28 pm

It is possible to get a good suit at a thrift shop, on eBay, or on sale at a good men's store.

The major problem is you need someone who can make sure that it is of decent quality and, even more important, that it fits correctly, since you say you can't judge that yourself. You are probably better off in most situations not wearing a suit than wearing one that doesn't fit right. The odds of finding one second-hand that doesn't need adjustments are very slim.

So unless you have both someone who can judge the quality and fit for you and a good tailor lined up to alter it, you should go to a decent men's store or department store and get one on sale.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by bhsince87 » Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:09 pm

Pajamas wrote:It is possible to get a good suit at a thrift shop, on eBay, or on sale at a good men's store.

The major problem is you need someone who can make sure that it is of decent quality and, even more important, that it fits correctly, since you say you can't judge that yourself. You are probably better off in most situations not wearing a suit than wearing one that doesn't fit right. The odds of finding one second-hand that doesn't need adjustments are very slim.

So unless you have both someone who can judge the quality and fit for you and a good tailor lined up to alter it, you should go to a decent men's store or department store and get one on sale.
I agree with most of this, but eBay? I buy a lot of stuff on eBay, but buying a suit their seems like going very far out on a limb.
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by bottlecap » Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:49 pm

hicabob wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
tidalwave10 wrote:For those who enjoy Dressing to Impress: good for them; not for me.
If you don't like dressing up, it's your choice. There is no need to hypothesize about the intentions of those who do.

Victoria
It seems to me people "dress up" either because they are expected to in that particular situation or they want to impress. What other possible reason would there be? I think OP is spot-on.
To show respect for the occasion and the person whose "occassion" it is. Not all understand this. I suppose you could also say that the only reason to wear colors is to "impress", too.

I second JC Penney's. You can get something there for relatively little and the suits are just fine.

JT

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by tidalwave10 » Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:09 pm

Thanks again to all for the assistance--much appreciated.

@4stripes, great visual "fit" comparison.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by livesoft » Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:15 pm

englishgirl wrote:…, we came up with a Jos. A. Bank jacket that fit perfectly. It is charcoal grey with a very fine blue stripe.
My one suit is from Jos. A. Bank. When I bought it more than 20 years ago, they claimed that they didn't change fabrics very often so that if the slacks wore out, then one could buy the same slacks in the same fabric years later. Thus, you might pop by the store with the jacket and see if they have an exact match.
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by hicabob » Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:20 pm

bottlecap wrote:
hicabob wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
tidalwave10 wrote:For those who enjoy Dressing to Impress: good for them; not for me.
If you don't like dressing up, it's your choice. There is no need to hypothesize about the intentions of those who do.

Victoria
It seems to me people "dress up" either because they are expected to in that particular situation or they want to impress. What other possible reason would there be? I think OP is spot-on.
To show respect for the occasion and the person whose "occassion" it is. Not all understand this. I suppose you could also say that the only reason to wear colors is to "impress", too.

I second JC Penney's. You can get something there for relatively little and the suits are just fine.

JT

Which would come under "expected to in that particular situation". I still stand by my statement. :beer

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by joe8d » Mon Dec 30, 2013 10:51 pm

I second JC Penney's. You can get something there for relatively little and the suits are just fine.
3rd that.
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by hicabob » Tue Dec 31, 2013 8:19 pm

Here's a possibility I ran across and this thread came to mind ....

http://slickdeals.net/permadeal/111008/ ... -wool-suit

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by cvn74n2 » Wed Jan 01, 2014 7:33 am

I have found Ebay to have good quality suits for very reasonable prices. You will need to know your size and dimensions (sleeves, length, waist) to accurately judge how much tailoring the suit may need after purchase. In my closet I have Oxxford, Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece, Armani, Zegna, and Ralph Lauren (Lauren and University) suits that cost under the $200 ceiling. Some needed alterations but even with alterations costs ($10-$50 depending on extent), I would still be under $200 except for the Zegna. Now some here may say you can't trust the seller but I have found all the suits to be properly labeled with no hint of fraud. I think most of the suits are either from the recently deceased or found in thrift stores. In either case, a good laundering with tailoring will make you look sharp with a good shirt and shined shoes. I recommend a solid charcoal gray worsted wool - it should provide you years/decades of use.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by SHB » Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:08 pm

So much hate for traditional business wear jeesh. I wear a suit and tie to work every day and wouldn't have it any other way.

If OP is to have one suit with a $200 budget I suggest spending 50-75 (whatever you can do in NC, I liek in NYC so I'm sue its cheaper down there) on alterations and budget the remainder for a suit. If its not somthing you will be wearing all the time dont worry about types of fabric (as long as its 100% wool, NO POLYESTER!). You just want it to fit well on the few occasions you do wear it. So find a reputable alterer (not your dry cleaner silly) and budget more for alterations than you would think.

Know your suit size and check out Styleforum.com, their marketplace is full of deals. That forum is the sartorial version of Bogleheads.

Good luck

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by BL » Thu Jan 02, 2014 4:49 pm

I would suggest you do some looking first by trying on conservative suits at various price levels, starting with the most expensive to get a feel for what is quality, and working on down a ways until you can't stand the lack of quality. Note the size that you need. If a standard suit fits you well, you could probably use that size where ever you buy, including thrift stores and Ebay. If you find your sizes in separates, you are still ok, but would probably need to buy in a store if they are different from the standard suit sizes. If you can find a tailor, you might want to go to him for advice first.

If you really want something that is not conservative, remember it will be out of date rapidly, so unless it's just a few dollars, it is not a smart buy.

Borrowing from a friend might still be a good option.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by Ricola » Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:13 pm

Aesthetics, ethics, and many good things in humans are contagious.”
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by brianH » Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:56 pm

Just went through this myself as an IT person looking for a new job. Wore the suit once before getting the job and was overdressed, but I digress. I bought a decent Tommy Hilfiger worsted wool one from Macy's for $200 out the door after a bunch of discounts.

As others have mentioned, fit is key. I tried on about 30 suits before finding a "separates" that fit. My waist is "thin" compared to my chest size (American suits are cut for, ahem, larger men), so I had to do separates to find a 8" drop (difference between chest and pant.) I also went with a "athletic" cut which tapered more in the waist. About the only thing that could be tailored is the sleeve length, but I haven't bothered. I kept this guide in mind while shopping: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/09/2 ... it-visual/

tidalwave10
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by tidalwave10 » Fri Jan 17, 2014 7:24 am

Thanks again to all for the assistance. Here's what I chose to do:

Time was running out. And I didn't want to overthink things. So one rainy Saturday afternoon, I visited three thrift stores (one which has a used book section organized by category--I'm a used book fiend and enjoy the Hunt).

All-in cost was $30 total for:

* An Italian-made (Florence) sports coat (not quite black but close)
* A Christian Dior sports coat with an additional Belk's label (darkish gray)
* Two pairs of Claiborne slacks (darkish)
* Two shirts

In this case, I didn't place a dollar value on my time; frankly, because I wanted to hit the thrifts for used books and this was a great excuse to do so and a pleasant way to wile away an afternoon.

Tried on lots of sports coats and the fit seemed good enough. Certainly didn't look like the What Not To Wear gentleman on the left in the Fit Photo posted earlier in this thread; in other words, no bunching-up (for lack of a better term).

My new motto in both work and life is this: "The perfect is the enemy of the good" -- attributed to Voltaire. Perhaps what I purchased was Good but not Great. But good is sufficient for my purposes.

I do have some follow-on questions: for a Suit to be considered a Suit, how closely in color and fabric should the slacks match the sports jacket? "Must" they be identical? If not, and one must "err" on the side of slacks not exactly matching the color of the sports jacket, is it generally better for the slacks to be darker than the sports jacket or the other way round?

Personally, I think a nice pair of blue jeans go well with a sports jacket. And I've already stated, at least in spirit, that I dislike, and feel uncomfortable in, stuffy / formal clothes--that's just not me. But neither am I a tank top wearing ill-shaved "slob". :-) Nothing against such folks--I'd rather judge people by actions than appearance. But I do understand that people are often assessed by level and manner of dress--especially with nothing else to go on. It's one of those mental shortcuts people take. And probably why some of the most effective con men are often the best dressed--to inspire confidence and enhance authority.

Leemiller
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by Leemiller » Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:10 am

bdylan wrote:If you're looking for a suit for less than $200 then go to men's wearhouse, kohls, JC penneys or wherever is cheapest around you. Find the cheapest suit possible and invest the difference in a tailor. You're not getting good quality at that price point (nor do you need it) so get a decent fit.
Sorry but a tailor can't make up for cheap material. Some guys are an off the rack size and don't new much more tailoring than a hem, my husband is one of them.

Leemiller
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by Leemiller » Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:14 am

tidalwave10 wrote:Thanks again to all for the assistance. Here's what I chose to do:

Time was running out. And I didn't want to overthink things. So one rainy Saturday afternoon, I visited three thrift stores (one which has a used book section organized by category--I'm a used book fiend and enjoy the Hunt).

All-in cost was $30 total for:

* An Italian-made (Florence) sports coat (not quite black but close)
* A Christian Dior sports coat with an additional Belk's label (darkish gray)
* Two pairs of Claiborne slacks (darkish)
* Two shirts

In this case, I didn't place a dollar value on my time; frankly, because I wanted to hit the thrifts for used books and this was a great excuse to do so and a pleasant way to wile away an afternoon.

Tried on lots of sports coats and the fit seemed good enough. Certainly didn't look like the What Not To Wear gentleman on the left in the Fit Photo posted earlier in this thread; in other words, no bunching-up (for lack of a better term).

My new motto in both work and life is this: "The perfect is the enemy of the good" -- attributed to Voltaire. Perhaps what I purchased was Good but not Great. But good is sufficient for my purposes.

I do have some follow-on questions: for a Suit to be considered a Suit, how closely in color and fabric should the slacks match the sports jacket? "Must" they be identical? If not, and one must "err" on the side of slacks not exactly matching the color of the sports jacket, is it generally better for the slacks to be darker than the sports jacket or the other way round?

Personally, I think a nice pair of blue jeans go well with a sports jacket. And I've already stated, at least in spirit, that I dislike, and feel uncomfortable in, stuffy / formal clothes--that's just not me. But neither am I a tank top wearing ill-shaved "slob". :-) Nothing against such folks--I'd rather judge people by actions than appearance. But I do understand that people are often assessed by level and manner of dress--especially with nothing else to go on. It's one of those mental shortcuts people take. And probably why some of the most effective con men are often the best dressed--to inspire confidence and enhance authority.
Yes pants and jacket must either match perfectly or have a strong contrast.

Leemiller
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by Leemiller » Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:17 am

killjoy2012 wrote:As someone who also works in IT and needs a suit or two for the occasional reasons you've listed, I'd tell you to just go to Macy's or Nordstrom's Rack when they're having a "Mens Sale" or some other clearance event. You can get a nice suit - Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, etc. for 50-75% off the retail sticker price. e.g. A $500-800 suit for $150-$200 out the door and it's going to look 3x better and wear 10x better than a Men's Warehouse suit. I had to get a black MW suit in emergency when a family member passed, and several of the suit hems were falling apart after 2 days of visitations, the funeral & wake (e.g. 4 days of use).

The Macy's or Nordstrom Rack suit is not going to be as nice as an Armani, Burburry or Brooks Brothers suit... but you're also talking an order of magnitude price difference. If you wear a suit daily, that's one thing to spend that kind of money. Entirely different for the once per year guy who may get 10 uses before the suit no longer fits or is outdated.
I think this is great advice. My husband has gotten great deals on his suits this way.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by goaties » Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:22 am

tidalwave10 wrote: All-in cost was $30 total for:

* An Italian-made (Florence) sports coat (not quite black but close)
* A Christian Dior sports coat with an additional Belk's label (darkish gray)
* Two pairs of Claiborne slacks (darkish)
* Two shirts

I
You done good!

Unless you want to look like Captain Steubing on the Love Boat, I think the pants are always supposed to be darker than the coat. (actually I just checked, even he wore a white jacket with black pants...so much for my memory!) And a suit is not a suit unless the pants and coat match (same fabric, same color). Unless you are attending a very formal evening wedding, I think what you've purchased should stand in you good stead.

Rodc
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by Rodc » Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:51 am

Leemiller wrote:
tidalwave10 wrote:Thanks again to all for the assistance. Here's what I chose to do:

Time was running out. And I didn't want to overthink things. So one rainy Saturday afternoon, I visited three thrift stores (one which has a used book section organized by category--I'm a used book fiend and enjoy the Hunt).

All-in cost was $30 total for:

* An Italian-made (Florence) sports coat (not quite black but close)
* A Christian Dior sports coat with an additional Belk's label (darkish gray)
* Two pairs of Claiborne slacks (darkish)
* Two shirts

In this case, I didn't place a dollar value on my time; frankly, because I wanted to hit the thrifts for used books and this was a great excuse to do so and a pleasant way to wile away an afternoon.

Tried on lots of sports coats and the fit seemed good enough. Certainly didn't look like the What Not To Wear gentleman on the left in the Fit Photo posted earlier in this thread; in other words, no bunching-up (for lack of a better term).

My new motto in both work and life is this: "The perfect is the enemy of the good" -- attributed to Voltaire. Perhaps what I purchased was Good but not Great. But good is sufficient for my purposes.

I do have some follow-on questions: for a Suit to be considered a Suit, how closely in color and fabric should the slacks match the sports jacket? "Must" they be identical? If not, and one must "err" on the side of slacks not exactly matching the color of the sports jacket, is it generally better for the slacks to be darker than the sports jacket or the other way round?

Personally, I think a nice pair of blue jeans go well with a sports jacket. And I've already stated, at least in spirit, that I dislike, and feel uncomfortable in, stuffy / formal clothes--that's just not me. But neither am I a tank top wearing ill-shaved "slob". :-) Nothing against such folks--I'd rather judge people by actions than appearance. But I do understand that people are often assessed by level and manner of dress--especially with nothing else to go on. It's one of those mental shortcuts people take. And probably why some of the most effective con men are often the best dressed--to inspire confidence and enhance authority.
Yes pants and jacket must either match perfectly or have a strong contrast.
I think in general you need a perfect match, but what do I know? I have not seen the strong contrast approach in many years. Possibly I'm just not hip enough, which would not be too surprising.

Other than some ultra formal occasion a nice sport coat and nice dress slacks are acceptable, perhaps not ideal, but acceptable. I often go this route, though I own a couple of suits. (The first one bought because wife and I were going to a "formal" benefit affair and she wanted me to get a suit rather than wear a sport coat so I wouldn't be a duffus. Of course something a like 30% of the men were in sport coats... But it has come in handy once in a while.)

You done good!
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by Leemiller » Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:57 pm

Ideally the suit matches. If the jacket is cool then jeans work. I'm not saying I've seen contrasting pants and jackets work particularly well most of the time, or that it is particularly hip, just preferably to any attempt to sort of match.

Rodc
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by Rodc » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:25 pm

Leemiller wrote:Ideally the suit matches. If the jacket is cool then jeans work. I'm not saying I've seen contrasting pants and jackets work particularly well most of the time, or that it is particularly hip, just preferably to any attempt to sort of match.

Yeah, close but not exact is generally not a good luck.

I seem to recall seeing suites with two pairs of pants, one a match and the other a contrast. For all I know that was supposed to be a more casual "sport coat and slacks" sort of deal and/or a way to get more mileage out of the jacket.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

tidalwave10
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by tidalwave10 » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:44 am

Mission truly accomplished. Slacks and jacket were perfect for the wedding. Eyeballed other guests and I didn't look out of place. I can see that color of jacket and slacks for a "suit" do seem to match exactly. Actually prefer a slight color contrast between jacket and slacks having seen the difference in situ. Exactly matching color between slacks and jacket appears to me to be stodgy. Not right or wrong in some Final Judgment way. Just don't like the look of it.

Having taken the Thrift Store challenge approach to the Suit Problem, it will be fun in future to browse the Thrifts for additional jackets--maybe one that does look really cool with jeans-a look I like and could live with. Hate the look and feel of slacks. And absolutely hate men's formal shoes--those black, glossy abominations and ones with, what does one call it, tassels? Wing tips? Yuck. My Rockport Pro Walkers did fine--I haul these out of the closet every once in a blue moon for interviews, etc.

Thanks again to all for the assistance and education. I have another wedding coming up this Fall, so the Thrift Play is going to pay for itself several times over.

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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by BL » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:47 am

Good for you! Very Bogleheadish! It is great to stretch the possibilities like you did with successful results.

tidalwave10
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Re: Frugal suit purchase options--need, but don't want

Post by tidalwave10 » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:54 am

BL wrote:Good for you! Very Bogleheadish! It is great to stretch the possibilities like you did with successful results.
Thanks! It was a learning experience and an adventure I enjoyed. :-)

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