Advice on buying a first suit...

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Bob Movies, Apr 5, 2003.

  1. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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    Everbodies advice is real good, I'd stay away from a top name suit and spend the money somewhere else, like alterations. A "cheap" $500 suit that has been truly custom tailored to you will look light years better than a $2k Armani off the rack with the standard alterations.

    I'd also spend the money on the other parts of a suit, if you buy a fairly conservative suit you can dress it up quite well in other ways. For instance I bought a regular $500 suit, had a tailor go over it with a fine tooth comb, I have a mix of about 7 shirts, about double that in ties, a few pairs of shoes, etc.

    I still follow the above today since I rarely need to wear a suit, but I need to have one for those occasions. And what I may wear to a funeral probably doesn't work for a wedding which neither work for a business function.

    Andrew
     
  2. Max Knight

    Max Knight Supporting Actor

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    Here is a secret about looking good in a suit:

    It's not the cost of the suit, it's the fit.

    A cheap suit that fits perfectly will look far better than an Armani that doesn't fit quite right.

    I think you would be far better off finding a nice custom tailor and getting a bespoke suit than spending a lot of money on a designer suit. Bespoke is a lot less than you think. Here in NY I know a great place where I can get three suits, any fabric, for $1200. The tailor is great, and has even provided former Mayor Giulliani with suits.

    Go find yourself a good custom tailor, buy three suits (the minimum you need to wear a suit every day). Also buy your shirts from him (say, 5 white, 3 light blue, 2 with some sort of nice pattern). Buying all that together should get you a good discount. You will have spent far less than if you went to a good department store or boutique, and everything will fit perfectly. Then take some of the money you saved and buy yourself a nice pair of Gucci loafers or lace-ups (clean look only, no extra junk on them) and belt, and a bunch of nice ties (try a department store for these). You will be very stylish and women will flock to you [​IMG]

    Later on you can add a sport coat (get two, one for fall/winter one for spring/summer, go to your tailor of course), and a few more shirts and pants.
     
  3. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Max's advice is good. The tailoring can be worth more than the suit, if you've got a good tailor. Stay away from the Armanis while you're building your suit collection. Once you're pulling in the 6 figures you'll be able to do all the Armani you want, but no sense promising what you can't deliver in the meantime.

    Men's Wearhouse is a good place to start if you're a student or otherwise presently on a tight budget; just make sure that it's properly fitted (that means the back of the coat, the seat of the pants, etc., not just the length of pants). Take a savvy female friend with you if you're unsure of what to look for and ask for in the fitting. Many women will jump at a chance for clothes shopping, even if it's not for them.

    By all means, insist on a conservative, classic look for your first half-dozen suits. You can go stylish once you've got that many won't-ever-go-out-of-style suits in the closet.

    Most men wear brown poorly. Stick to dark blues and dark greys. A white suit is good for laughs but that's about it. [​IMG]
     
  4. Bob Movies

    Bob Movies Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks again to everyone who's replied so far!

    Can anyone recommend a good tailor in Toronto that I could visit to get a bespoke suit? Or, for that matter, a good tailor who could make my adjustments?

    And, if I do have to end up buying from a department store due to reasons of cost, what should I tell the tailor when I bring in the suit? Do I tell him that I want "extra" adjustments, or do I tell him that I bought it at a dept. store but I would like to have it "fitted"? If the store offers to hem the pants for me should I take them up on the offer or should I have the tailor do everything? Should I ask for "the works"?

    Thanks again to everyone who's replied, you're really helping a beginner out!

    Bob

    P.S. The answer to this question is probably "get it custom made" but I'll ask anyway. Atmost of the stores I've been to, there's some debate over whether I wear a size 38 or a size 40 jacket. On the brooks brothers website I saw that you can buy size 39 there. Is 39 an uncommon size? I don't want the jacket to be too big or too small.
     
  5. Luis Esp

    Luis Esp Supporting Actor

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    I would start at Harry Rosen, from there check out the finer men's clothing stores in Toronto and ask the sales associates for names of tailors.

    You could also check the yellow pages for the name of some tailors, but be sure to check the quality and the hand of the tailors.

    Some tailors tend to have an old hand, and no matter what style of suit they create, it has an "old" look rather than a classic look.

    Another source would be Toronto Life magazine. They usually release a pretty cool guide of where to get the finer things in Toronto, also check online, they might have links at their site.

     
  6. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Oh, and Andrew Markworthy's advice way above about stuffy rooms was particularly good. Some of your first suits (even though you're in Toronto) should be lightweight--ask for 'tropical weave'--for this very reason. You can always slap a coat on outside, but it makes a poor impression to be sweating in your suit. [​IMG]
     
  7. Scott_lb

    Scott_lb Supporting Actor

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    I've been building my professional wardrobe for about two years now, and here's my two cents:

    1. I think you'd benefit from going over to a Barnes and Noble (or whatever store is in your area) and checking out a book called "Dress Smart" in the fashion section. It's written by some guy from some fashion magazine, and he gives the lowdown on EVERYTHING related to such issues (shoes, jackets, pants, etc.). That way you can learn a lot about the entire subject of men's professional fashion from one good resource.

    2. I typically shop at Bachrach (www.bachrach.com), the largest privately owned men's retailer in the United States. I understand you live in Canada, however, you can get some very good sale prices from their Internet site as well. For example, I recently purchased a pair of $190 shoes for $48, got a $65 tie for $9, a $375 suit for $200, and a few $78 dollar shirts for $19 each. I realize that you'd likely prefer to try a suit on before actually purchasing it, however, the book states that it's typically best to find one manufacturer of suits that you like and fit you well and stick with them (so I do). They look great, are of high quality, and the customer service can't be beat (in person, that is). I guess it would be a gamble for you to purchase a suit (likely on sale), head over a local quality tailor and see how things turn out.

    3. When starting your wardrobe, I'd start with a dark blue single breasted, then a grey single breasted, then work your way up from there. You can also wear the same suit with different types of shirts that can dramatically alter the way your suit looks.
     
  8. Scott_lb

    Scott_lb Supporting Actor

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    Almost forgot:

    1. In reading my post, I realize I may have made a mistake. Bachrach is either the "largest" or "oldest" private retailer- I forget which (not that it really matters anyway).

    2. A great place to get some great deals on ties is......... TJ MAXX! Although they do indeed carry some crap brands, they also carry Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY, and Kenneth Cole. I've picked up many ties that sell for $45 a 1/2 mile down the road at a major department store for THREE DOLLARS! Here's how it works: TJ Maxx will typically sell these ties at a standard price of $15. When they go on clearance, they drop down to $7. When they go on clearance for a second time (although that's somewhat rare), they drop down to $3. I'll admit that I've picked up more for $7 than $3, but hey, you really can't go wrong either way. And yes, I am a cheap bastard. Being a grad student, I've learned how to milk every sale for what it's worth.
     
  9. Bob Movies

    Bob Movies Stunt Coordinator

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  10. Scott_lb

    Scott_lb Supporting Actor

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    Bob,
    I've found that the best place to find deals on the Bachrach website is to watch the clearance area (duh). Although they always have inventory on clearance, they often have sort of a "double clearance" type of sale (ties for $9, etc.) if you check back often enough or sign up for their email notification. So, right now, I think that their clearnance prices are sort of standard, however, in January they had a bigtime sale and I got some great deals (likely inventory left over from the Holidays).
     
  11. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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    See if you can find a copy of John Malloy's Dress for Success It is rather small and not too complicated, but it give some of the best reasons for purchashing colors and styles. He spends a lot of time on the psychology of colors, stripes etc. and the effect they have people you interact with. Pretty conservative for the time - about 30 years ago - but still appropriate.

    Any time you go to a mens fashion magazine, you at least will be current for a year.
     
  12. Allen_Appel

    Allen_Appel Second Unit

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    I would find your tailor first, and ask him where to buy a suit. Spend a good amount on shoes (but those $500 ones seem a mite steep). A distinctive (not trendy) pair of shoes can set you apart from the rest of the suited crowd. I wouldn't get narrow pointy shoes. As you get older your feet will get wider and good shoes will last a long time. Have them shined regularly. Back when I worked in an office, I liked to wear a conservative suit with colorful shirts (bold ties are merely a baby step). This was in a very conservative commercial real estate office. I nearly got fired for a certain vertically-striped spread-collar Tommy Hilfiger number. (Thomas) Pink are the shirts I longed for, but on my salary I made do with Polo dress shirts. Which now, sadly, mostly hang unworn in my closet.
     
  13. Devin U

    Devin U Second Unit

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    Im another one all for the TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross route for ties especialy. Ive got about 50 brand name ties from them, most for 5 or less. I also like a place called Ascot Chang, I belive it was called. They do mail order custom shirts, starting at like 90.00. Ive also picked stuff up at Bluefly.com on clearence for good prices. Also look at nicer outlet malls. Ive gotten fab Brooks brothers stuff for next to nothing (Im a very concervitive dresser).
     
  14. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    IMPORTANT! Remember to get shoe trees for your dress shoes and keep them in the trees whenever you're not wearing them!
     
  15. Max Knight

    Max Knight Supporting Actor

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    Philip is right! You must have shoe trees for your dress shoes! And make sure they are cedar, not the crappy plastic kind. This will keep your shoes in the right shape, and smelling nice.

    I'm a huge fan of Gucci dress shoes. They are expensive (usually $300-$400), but if you buy a classic pair they will not go out of style and hold up like workboots! Just stear clear of the really out-there ones (unless you want to buy new shoes every season).

    Also, if you start wearing a lot of suits buy yourself a box of the little "Shout Wipes" incase you spill something during lunch. These are little moist cleaning cloths that come in a foil pouch. You can just leave one in the pocket of each of your suits and you will always be ready.
     
  16. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    As for shoes, you cannot go wrong with Allen Edmonds. They run about $300 for calfskin and $450 for cordovan (horse leather). They are the finest traditional dress shoes made, IMHO.

    After you've worn out the heels and soles, you can send them back to AE and they will "recraft" the shoes to like new condition (new soles, heels, liners, etc.) for $95. So, while they are expensive to purchase, in the long run they're a good economic decision.
     
  17. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Another vote for Allen Edmonds. I have three pairs of them and they've lasted me over ten years of everyday use with numerous resoles and reheels, of course).

    I really liked the wingtips made by Hawthorne Classics, but I think I heard they went out of business.
     
  18. Bob Movies

    Bob Movies Stunt Coordinator

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    I've read about the Allen Edmonds recrafting service, and it really seems like they're a high-quality company. Even if the first pair that I buy isn't Allen Edmonds, I'll definitely get some eventually. They've got so many nice styles it's going to be difficult to choose!

    Max - the shout wipes tip is excellent! I'll definitely do that. Hopefully there won't be any horible spills, but just in case!

    Ascot chang shirts are beautiful, hopefully I'll be able to work my way up to their custom made line eventually!
     

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