Matt and I have been planning a suit-shopping excursion for a while, but every time we make a date, something seems to come up! Honestly, I think he was a little nervous to begin the process at all. You see, Matt’s a casual guy. Like, suit-hating, tie-refusing, button-down shirt-denying casual. Which is a shame, because he cuts a dashing figure in more formal attire, if I do say so myself. Plus, I love me some men’s fashion. I have a subscription to GQ and read it religiously. Weird, but true.
Because he’s a Freemason, Matt owns a tux; however, he avoids wearing it at all costs. It is neither well-fitted nor of good quality…it’s an off-the-rack penguin suit that he throws on with a mixture of disgust and resignation as he flies in the door from work and scrambles to make the 7pm meeting (he never makes it). So, while opting to use his tuxedo would have been an easy way for us to save money, it wasn’t feasible. Furthermore, attire that formal didn’t really fit the vibe of our wedding. Renting a suit has its upsides, but the garment would not be tailored to fit him, and as I noted in my dress post (here), tailoring = amazing fit. Plus, a man needs at least one suit, darn it! Thus, investing in a suit was the best option for us.
The details: Our budget for Matt’s attire was $400. We were looking for a mid-weight wool suit in navy, with a subtle pattern to help set him apart from the wedding party. On the advice of one of my fellow BSB bloggers, Dana, we decided to hold out for the Black Friday deals. Our first stop was Jos. A Bank, and lo and behold, he found his suit! It’s a navy herringbone number from their Tailored collection, fit him like a dream, and it was within our budget. Win, win, and win. You can see a very similar suit here.
Sane and Budget-Savvy Shopping Tips
Bring a friend: The style options for men’s’ suiting are as varied as bridal gowns, and can be just as overwhelming to the untrained eye. If you want to learn more, I would suggest visiting a men’s fashion website, such as GQ.com or Esquire.com. Both are great resources as you sift through various styles, fabrics, patterns, and the like. Our experience has shown me that the sales representatives in this arena are very aggressive, and, in order to expedite the sale, tend to drop clients into one of three style options based upon their build. While this may be helpful for some, remember that your hubby will be wearing this suit on one of the more important occasions in his life. He deserves to look and feel amazing, and should take his time to find the fit, cut, style, etc. that flatters him and makes him happy, rather than settling. To that end…
Be prepared: Even if your guy is suit-clueless, he should able to provide the sales representative with some basic information to help guide the search, such as level of formality, color, and style trends that are desired/detested. And be firm! Suit shops tend to be busier than bridal boutiques, so unless you’re shopping high-end, expect less-than-personalized service. That’s why it’s important to make your needs/wants clear. To determine his, Matt and I spent an afternoon at Kohl’s, where he tried on various suit separates. We were able to rule out three-piece suits (too formal), classic and slim cut pants, and anything with a pleat. This definitely helped to streamline the consultation process, which is a major win when you are bargain shopping on a busy sales day like Black Friday.
Quality is key: The majority of suits are made of either wool or synthetic fabric. For a suit that stands the test of time, natural fibers are your best bet, because they’re breathable, retain their shape, and move/fall better than their synthetic counterparts. Regardless, if you’re looking for a suit with staying power, test the fabric. Bunch it in your hand. If it relaxes with little to no wrinkling, it’s a good pick.
Fit is everything: If your sweetie is not fashion-conscious, this can be a bit daunting, but the fitting process is invaluable in helping your man find the perfect suit. Department store suits tend to fall into two style categories: Classic, which has very little definition through the torso/waist and relaxed-fit, pleated pants, and Slim, which features narrower a yolk, a very straight, narrow torso, and slim-fit pants. Slim is a no-go for him, and he drowns in the Classic style. If you’re lucky, you *may* stumble across an Athletic fit suit (that elusive, in-between option for the guy with a normal to slightly bulked-up build). We were not lucky. When we visited Jos. A. Bank, the sales rep immediately pegged Matt as a Classic fit man, despite our protestations. One look at a man drowning in navy herringbone, and he quickly changed his tune! Enter the Tailored fit, that company’s version of the Athletic fit. It was perfect! Also, don’t be afraid to purchase suit separates. If you’re fortunate enough to find a suit that fits well in the waist of-the-rack, great! But, if your guy’s waist (like Matt’s) is much narrower than the standard 6″ drop allotted for in men’s sizing, finding a pair of pants in the right size and cut can make all the difference. Usually, suits and separates can be purchased at similar or identical pricing.
Don’t skip the tailor!: I can’t say it enough: tailoring=amazing fit. Just like a gown, men’s suiting will usually need some alterations. Either arrange for tailoring through the store or a trusted source.
A good point to keep in mind: while most areas of a suit (lower leg, arm, waist, torso) can be adjusted, it is very difficult for a tailor to alter shoulder width or shorten the length of a jacket. I would suggest asking the sales rep for assistance in order to ensure that leave with a jacket that hangs well through the shoulders and falls at the right point across the hips.
Matt’s suit cost $325, plus tailoring. It was originally $900, so I’d say we scored quite the deal! Because the sales representative took the time to find a cut that complemented Matt’s frame, alterations will be minimal-around $25.00. He owns the shoes and cufflinks he’ll wear that day, so that leaves $50.00 in the budget for a tie and dress shirt…plenty of room for a budget-savvy fashionista to work with. 8-)
I hope you’ll find these tips helpful! Do you have any words of advice for grooms (and the partners that love them!) searching for the perfect suit?