One of the challenges of living a simple life is trying to bridge the gap between what you want and what you can afford. I’ve often been rightly accused of possessing champagne tastes with a Budweiser wallet.
That problem is especially evident when it comes time to buy a suit. A well-made suit is a thing of beauty that can bring a man pleasure for many years. It makes him look taller, more intelligent and accomplished. It can also make him much poorer. So trying to find a beautiful suit that costs less than a mortgage payment can prove to be highly frustrating.
Suits can be so expensive that many men have given up on them. In fact, with famous business icons like Mark Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook appearing at events in casual clothes, a guy may well ask whether he actually needs a suit.
Here’s the simple answer. Are you a grown man? If the answer is yes, then you need a suit. You are not Mark Zuckerberg or Tim Cook. A great suit instantly confers upon a gentleman an air of respectability and trustworthiness. And a well-fitted suit is simply the sexiest, most flattering outfit a man can wear. Period.
Fear not, dear readers. There was a time when a man who wanted a moderately-priced suit was relegated to wearing a boxy, scratchy offering from a huge, impersonal department store. Those days are over. A cheap suit no longer need be cheap. You can find a gorgeous suit for yourself (or your significant other) and still pursue the dream of finding a simple life. You just have to know when and where to buy it.
- Here’s a short list of retailers that sell truly magnificent suits at magnificent prices.
In 2008, J. Crew became the leader of a revolution with the introduction of their Ludlow line. Before that time, modern, stylish suits featuring fine construction and fabrics were the domain of the fortunate, well-heeled few. No longer. Ludlow suits are crafted with such details as pick-stitching and canvas linings (for a better, longer-lasting fit). The wool is woven at renowned mills like Italy’s Vitale Barberis Canonico, which has been in business since 1663! Yes, many of the suits are assembled in China, but that just means that you can purchase a first-rate garment at a cut-rate price. Best of all, the store staff is as knowledgeable and gracious as any you’d find at a posh men’s haberdashery.
Normal retail price: $650
Sales: J. Crew’s classic four-season suits rarely, if ever, go on sale. However, their cotton and linen summer suits, as well as their tweed and flannel winter suits, will often be found on sale at about 30% off in July and November. That means they’ll cost between $300-400. A steal! As with all retailers, you should also check out the Black Friday and after-Christmas sale.
BANANA REPUBLIC MONOGRAM
Banana Republic sells quite a few suits. Many are quite pedestrian, with fused linings that bubble and pucker over time. However, their Monogram line is a breed apart, with many of the features, including fine Italian fabrics and full canvas construction, that distinguish the Ludlow suits. These are beautiful garments, at once modern and timeless, that are built to last.
Normal retail price: About $700.
Sales: Here’s a secret you’ll only find here: Befriend a BR salesman, and he/she will place you on their Friends and Family list. At least three times a year (in April, August and November) there’s a Friends and Family Event, where those on the list can buy up to five regular-priced items at half off! Usually, Monogram suits are excluded from that promotion, but not in November. That means that, in November, you can purchase a beautiful Monogram suit for about 350 bucks! Also, BR may put their Monogram suits on sale on Black Friday or the day after Christmas.
Amsterdam-based Suitsupply prides itself on being able to compete with any suit at any price. In a blind test conducted by experts enlisted by the Wall Street Journal, Suitsupply’s $614 suit was compared with a $3,625 number from Armani. The result? The experts found little differences in quality between the two. ‘Nuff said.
Suitsupply has only 19 locations in the U.S., but never fear–at their online store you can select up to three sizes, pay once, and return the rest for free. You can’t lose.
Sales: Suitsupply’s suits never go on sale. However, the prices, ranging from $300 up, are comparable to J. Crew’s and Banana Republic’s sale prices.
These are just a few of the retailers offering fine suits for far less than you’d think. Club Monaco, Jack Spade and even the venerable Brooks Brothers now offer moderately-priced options. So now you can have your champagne for the price of a Budweiser.