Menswear Cheatcodes, From a Dude Who Knows
Jian DeLeon writes about men’s clothing and wears men’s clothing, and he recently put together an INTERACTIVE GUIDE for Complex explaining how to buy a suit—how it should fit, what to get tailored, what kind to buy. SUITS. MEN IN SUITS. LOVE A MAN IN A SUIT. (I asked Jian some questions about suits, and he answered them.)
LS: How many suits do you own?
JIAN DELEON: I own two suits and a tux. And a lot more blazers/sportcoats.
LS: What are they? How much did they cost?
JD: One is a charcoal grey J. Crew Ludlow Suit I got on sale for around $400. The other is a navy cotton Club Monaco suit I got for $300, also on sale. I spent about a hundred or so more getting them tailored to my liking—which any guy is going to need to do. The tux is this really crazy tweed tuxedo from this now-defunct label called “hickey.” One of the designers behind it, Aaron Levine, now does the men’s stuff for Club Monaco. I got it from Filene’s Basement of all places for a little over $300.
LS: Is there a rule for how much you should spend?
JD: It really depends on how much you’re willing to. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for, but buying a suit is like buying a car in the sense that it really pays to do your research and learn about what’s “under the hood” so to speak to find out if you’re getting your money’s worth or getting ripped off. Learning about fabrics, construction (“fused” suits are generally crappy and utilize fabric that’s been glued together), and nuances like what “canvassing” is (a layer of material like horsehair woven beneath the torso that allows a suit jacket to effectively mold to your body), really helps you see what you’re paying for. But generally, you can get something deemed “acceptable” by menswear nerds and the general populace between $400-$600, before things go on sale. I know, that’s a lot for most people, but that’s taking into account a compromise of quality and value.
LS: What was your first suit?
JD: The first suit I bought for myself was a bird’s eye three-piece from the H&M on 11th and F St. in Washington D.C. It lasted me like two years before I knew I needed something better, but it did land me a job out of college.
LS: Do you have favorite shops or suggestions for non rich people?
JD: Hands down, the best bang for your buck deal is SuitSupply. They’re a Dutch outfit that have been gaining a lot of steam. They set up shop in New York just a a year ago and have already expanded to D.C. and Chicago. The Wall Street Journal compared a bunch of suits in a range of prices, and the $614 SuitSupply suit had the same characteristics as a $3,600 Armani suit. I’m a big, big fan of the the J. Crew Ludlow suit though. They nailed just about everything most young guys need in a suit, and it’s available in a bunch of quality fabrics. For people who are concerned with where their stuff is made, Club Monaco has a selection of suits made in America in the same factories that produce stuff for brands like Brooks Brothers that fit well and priced fair. This stuff tends to go on sale towards the end of the season, which can knock off 30% or more from the price.
The real steal is vintage though. If you know your measurements (if you don’t, go to a tailor and find out what they are), you can buy stuff off eBay or similar sites for often great prices (like, $200 and under). You’ll want to visit a tailor to get everything fine-tuned. That’s how you get a less-expensive suit to look like a million bucks. Fabric and construction play a part in everything, but the right fit is definitely what makes a suit look good on a guy. And while you have your suits from places like Target, H&M, etc., I tend to advise guys away from those places because this is the sort of purchase where you should expect a certain degree of quality.