More on Mens Clothing

Mens clothing is a lot less complicated then women’s, but I’m still surprised at the number of men who just don’t understand what the various pieces are. I saw this time and again as I looked around for prices and info for my last post. Here are some definitions and comments on them.

Suits are either 2 pieces, trousers and jacket without a vest; or 3 pieces, with a vest. The most common variety is the 2 piece, which is what I have. I prefer 3 piece suits but they are hard to find and tend to cost more. All the pieces of a suit are made from one fabric. That fabric is usually a good wool of some kind or, more these days, a cotton fabric. You usually will not see really high end fabrics in a suit. In many mens fashion spreads you will see jacket, trouser combinations, these aren’t suits and will often cost much more then most suits.

Jackets, Sport Jackets or Blazers are cut much along the same lines as a suit jacket. They often have more decretive buttons, and are made from different, and often much more expensive, materials then suits. It should come as no surprise that Jackets often cost more then suits. Hickey Freeman’s cashmere and silk blazers cost more then any of his Worsted Wool suits.

Trousers, slacks or just pants follow the same rules as Jackets. It is less common to find a pair of trousers that cost more then a standard wool suit, but it does happen.

A complete outfit is often confused with a suit in ads. Some handsome man is wearing a knockout outfit and when you check the prices it adds up to some crazy number. Its the prices of the individual items that is important, not the total. Except when that isn’t true. If you buy a suit you will be wearing it with other things. The total cost of all the other parts usual adds up to some significant percentage of the base item, lets say a suit. But, you may already have them, so you don’t necessarily have to buy them again.

Advice for buying a Suit, if you’re not Average Sized.

A fellow I know is interested in buying a new suit. So he did what all reasonable people do, he asked for advice. So I’m going to give him some.

Men’s clothes in the last 10 years are suffering the same issues as women’s. There is a proliferation of crap at the bottom of the market, the middle is disappearing and the high end, though reaching down to the middle, is still pricy. What are you to do? Sym’s, and the other discounters are disappearing. My opinion is bite the bullet and crawl up the ladder a bit, especially if you are a big size or getting a little older, or, like me, are both.

Once you’re over 6 foot 3 or 4, you just can’t go unnoticed anymore. You’re not just wearing a suit, you’re wearing a lot of suit, so every problem with the suit will be as big as you are. If you walk up to someone, they don’t see your face, they see your lapels.

This post is not for young bucks starting out. Stop thinking of yourself as a version of who you were 20, 30 or more years ago. A young man wearing an inexpensive suit is just starting out, a mature man wearing a inexpensive suit is … well, it has a series of negative connotations. You are either the poor relative begging for scraps; desperate to not look your age or you’re cheap and miserly. All clothing is a means of communication, you have to be clear in what you are saying in your dress as much as your words. You don’t need to drop 5 figures on a bespoke suit. Dropping a hundred on an el cheapo suit won’t work either.

As for brands and stores, like I said above, unfortunately, more and more you are getting what you pay for. The quality of the sewing  for cheaper clothing from Men’s Warehouse is sad. Of the several pairs of pants that I’ve bought from them none fit right, all of the fabrics are cheap. I have had to have every one repaired. If you’re not near a tailor this can be an issue. I treat the pants like cheap jeans, though they have lasted longer then any pair of regular jeans I have owned, but they look no better. Jo. A. Bank has also slipped in quality. I was saddened last time I went. I hear there is still good stuff at reasonable prices, but I didn’t see it, and how hard are you willing to look.

If you need Extra Long, you are pretty much stuck with Rochester Big and Tall or you have to shop online. Regular Long (is that an oxymoron?) is still available at your usual suspects: Brooks Brothers or Dept. Stores like Macys.