Law School Discussion

Men: Buying a suit...

Men: Buying a suit...
« on: April 25, 2008, 06:36:32 AM »
OK, so here's where I get to admit that I've made it this far in life without purchasing a real suit. Sure, I've had jackets, nice pants, plenty of shirts and ties, but never a complete, solid suit.

I'm in an area where there are plenty of stores to chose from. Any brands/stores that stand out as being ones I should check out first?

What do I need to know? Where do I begin? How much should I expect to pay for a well-made, well-styled, well-fitting suit?  I have a fairly thin, athletic build, so I don't doubt I'll need some alterations to make it fit properly...what to look for?

Re: Men: Buying a suit...
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2008, 06:46:10 AM »
Men's Warehouse is where I have purchased my suits.  I knew nothing about how a suit is supposed to fit, different styles, etc. and their sales people told me everything.  I went to several department stores prior to MW and none were nearly as helpful.

Re: Men: Buying a suit...
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2008, 06:50:36 AM »
I went in last week to get fitted for a suit actually ... I stopped at Men's Warehouse and the prices were steep and the salesmen attempt to shove merchandise down your throat! Before even settling on a suit, the salesman was trying to pick out a blazer, shirts, ties, etc ... I went to Boston Store instead and found the exact suit I wanted with a helpful salesman, was fitted, and picked out a nice shirt and tie for $300 after discounts. They had a great sale that knocked off $200 from the price of the suit and I received an additional 20% of when opening a Boston Store credit card!

Re: Men: Buying a suit...
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2008, 07:22:42 AM »
My wife said that one of the attorneys at her office buys his on and then has them tailored.  I'm not sure that I would want to do that until I was more familiar with styles, sizes, and my likes and dislikes, but it's something to think about.


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Re: Men: Buying a suit...
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2008, 07:48:12 AM »
Honestly, at this point there's no need to go out and buy a top name brand suit. I have one from Bachrach, but I've been wearing it for going on 4 years now.

Check out the department stores. There are suit sales ALL the time and that will be your best bet. The people are generally helpful and much more friendly than a place like BB, CK etc.

Price-wise, look to spend anywhere from $150-$800, depending on your budget and what kinds of deals you can find.

Re: Men: Buying a suit...
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2008, 07:49:52 AM »
As an aside:

I'm planning on attending an "Incoming Students Reception" that is being hosted at a law firm and the details are brief - it just gives a time (5:30-7:00pm on a weekday evening) and requests an RSVP.  It says nothing about dress, so I'm assuming a navy or gray suit is the best way to go?!? 

Anyone think otherwise?


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Re: Men: Buying a suit...
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2008, 08:18:16 AM »
If you're buying suits for the first time, there are some things you need to know -

1. You need at least two. One dark, one light. A black suit works well, then a medium blue or a gray suit, and you're covered for winter and spring, and for daytime or evening time. Once you've made some money and can buy more suits, then you can get into summer fabric weights and winter fabric weights.

2. Most people do not look good in brown suits. There are exceptions, however. Dark brown can often be a winner.

3. There are many different cuts of suit, but for most men there are only two - single or double breasted. Single breasted suits button down the middle. Double breasted suits are like what David Letterman wears, with one leaf (side) going over the other leaf, and the buttons are off center. Pick whichever you like. Bigger (read - chunkier) men tend to look better in double breasted suits.

4. It's worth the extra investment to get the suit cut the way you want it if you're buying it off the rack. If the store will do it for you, that's fine. If not, take it to a good seamstress/tailor.

5. The waist, shoulders and sleeve lengths are not easily changed. MAKE SURE THESE FIT when you buy the suit. The waist is easily taken in (made smaller,) but not easily made wider.

6. Unless you're really small and skinny, stay away from thick shoulder pads. Most men have broad enough shoulders.

7. Pants should break (sit) just high enough to settle on the tops of your shoes. Proper pants fit means the legs will cover your socks when you're standing, but the legs will ride up a little when you sit. Suit pants aren't supposed to be baggy like jeans. If they are, you'll look silly.

8. Shirt sleeves should peek out a little (but just a little) from jacket sleeves. This is both aesthetic and practical. The shirt cuffs will provide color, and they keep the jacket sleeve cuffs from rubbing against things (including your hands, where they'll pick up dirt.)

9. Speaking of shirts, they are just as important as the suit. Keep the fit slim so they don't billow when you tuck them in. There are many different collars for shirts, some broad, some small. Some collars go well with suits of certain types, others don't. You need a white shirt, a blue shirt, and a striped shirt of some kind. DO NOT WEAR A TIE WITH A SHIRT WITH COLLAR BUTTONS. This is a pet peeve of mine - button collars are only on shirts designed for casual wear, i.e. to be worn without a tie. Shirts designed for ties will have semi stiff or stiff collars, with collar tabs either sewn in or with little pockets for the tabs.
10. Get the basic fit down first, and worry about other things later (like pocket squares, french cuffs, cufflinks, tie bars, etc.). Also, do not wear loafers with a suit. Again, loafers (even the ones with the tassels) are casual shoes. Even monkstrap shoes (shoes with the buckle on the side and no laces) are better than tassel loafers.

Hope this helps!

Re: Men: Buying a suit...
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2008, 08:22:48 AM »

Re: Men: Buying a suit...
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2008, 08:44:16 AM »
Never buy a black suit as your first suit.  Navy Blue as your first and Charcoal Gray as your second.  Remember law firms are very conservative.  You can find decent suits on sale at places like Macy's for around $300 or so.  But remember there is a very direct correlation between the quality of your suit and the amount that you pay for it.  Much more so than any other type of clothes.  Also, as long as you don't see yourself chunking up over  the next three years and can afford it I would recommend buying a nicer suit rather than a cheaper one for several reasons.

1) It is going to last a lot longer.  Higher end suits are much better constructed than suits at places like Men's Wearhouse, which are cheaply glued together.

2) If one has any sense of suits and how they are suppose to look, a person can immediately tell the difference between a high end suit that is well tailored and a lower end suit that is not.  I just prefer to go with the former look as it is quite obvious if possible.  However, that being said you are still a law student and nobody is really expecting you to have such a nice suit.  However, even if you don't get a real good suit at least get well tailored.  (Sleeves show 1/4 inch of cuff, etc.)

3) Again, if you buy a nice one it will last you 10 or 15 years.  I haven't had mine that long but my Dad still has high end suits in perfect condition from the early 90's.  They just last a lot longer and the style doesn't change.

Another thing I recommend is not to try to get stylish with your suit.  Law firms are conservative and therefore dress the part.  I think Brooks Brothers sells great suits that meet this build.  And if fact, that is what I have.  You can even find them on sale in the $800 range or less sometimes.

Also, I don't know I recommend getting a real nice white custom fit shirt and some really awesome shoes and a belt to match.  Shoes are ever important and people instantaneously notice nice shoes.  But again this is purely a luxury purchase as they are quite expensive, but just thought I would throw that out there.  If you are looking, I recommend taking a look at Allen Edmonds.  They will last you a lifetime.

Well, that is my 2 cents and take it for what it is worth.  I know it is expensive but if you have the funds it might be worth it.  I got my setup from parents for a graduation gift last year and it has really come in handy.

Re: Men: Buying a suit...
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2008, 09:16:30 AM »
I would definitely recommend going to MW for your first suit.  Make sure you don't spend over $250.  You won't be able to tell the difference b/n a more expensive one and no one else will either.

Make sure to get a black suit as your first suit, it is the most versatile.  Some people will recommend a navy or grey, but black is a power suit.  I like a jet black suit with strong pin stripes, it really does command respect. 

A good way to tell if the fabric is good is by pinching the cloth; if the cloth doesn't rebound and slightly wrinkles, it's good quality. 

As far as shoes go:  Don't worry about getting rubber soled shoes, after all, no one can see the sole!  I recommend Kenneth Cole Reaction. 

I'll be happy to answer any other questions, hth.