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Thread: Good basic suit for interviews and llfe's big moments

  1. #1
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Good basic suit for interviews and llfe's big moments

    I am looking at replacing my suit I have had since college. I am looking for a good basic suit that I can use for interviews (mid-level senior planner positions), weddings, night out. Are pinstripes too formal/conservative for a municipal planning office? Solid colors? Thoughts well-dressed planners of Cyburbia?!

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I bought a couple suits from JC Penney's right out of college. I still have them. They cost $300 for the pair. One gray and one black. They have treated me well.

    Last year my wife determined that I need more suits and that my existing suits are getting worn. We went and bought 2 suits "of quality" from Men's Warehouse for $750 for the pair. They are already falling apart one year later.

    Personally, I don't think the price point does anything for quality unless you are into silks or other fabrics. I would go to JC Penneys and buy a gray suit (you can go brown or black belt, lots of shirt options). You can go charcoal or light gray. I think you will enjoy the suit, the price, and the versatility.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  3. #3
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    The last two suits I purchased were a tan number from a Calvin Klein outlet and a Ralph Lauren dark colored pinstripe from macy*s on line. About $200 each. For a traditional suit, stick with solid gray or charcoal colors. (I spent way too much on the last charcoal gray suit I bought from Dillard's.)

    I'm fortunate that I'm a 44 regular with the jacket and 34X32 on the trousers. Easy fit...so to speak.

    As an alternative, go with a navy blue sport coat and khaki slacks. That's a classic planner look. But avoid brass/gold buttons on the jacket.

    Men's Warehouse: Hink's right; run from MW like it's the plague. I had one and it was horrible. I don't know why I bought that.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    #1. MEN MUST have every suit and jacket professionally altered. Even if you buy a suit or jacket off the rack take it in to a PROFESSIONAL TAILOR. Quality construction and attention to detail (cut, fabric) are the highlights of a MAN'S wardrobe. Most of my business formal clothes have a 7-8 year shelf life before they start showing SOME signs of wear.
    #2. Learn how to WEAR a suit or a jacket properly by using GOOD POSTURE. You need to have good #2 to do #1 anyway. You should have good posture anyway but a suit or jacket forces you even more so.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

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  5. #5
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Thanks for all of the great advice. I am a weird size mixture so I have to purchase suit separates. Today we went to the mall to check out the 4th sales and I ended up getting a nice classic charcoal Kenneth Cole suit. I have been pleased with their dress pants and I hope I will be happy with their suit. The suit jacket fit a bit tight as it was a slim fit suit but it could be taken out a bit if need be. All in all I got out the door with a coat, pants, shirt and tie for $173.00. Not bad IMO!

    Thanks for the idea RJ, the navy sport coat and khaki slacks may be a future purchase as I would like something a bit more formal for my Commission and Council meetings.

  6. #6
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    #1. MEN MUST have every suit and jacket professionally altered. Even if you buy a suit or jacket off the rack take it in to a PROFESSIONAL TAILOR. Quality construction and attention to detail (cut, fabric) are the highlights of a MAN'S wardrobe. Most of my business formal clothes have a 7-8 year shelf life before they start showing SOME signs of wear. ......
    I totally disagree. If it fits, wear it. I've had suits altered and it didn't fit any better than the suits I purchased and noted on above.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Richmond Jake View post
    I totally disagree. If it fits, wear it. I've had suits altered and it didn't fit any better than the suits I purchased and noted on above.
    But you have excellent posture and wear a standard size. I have to side with the issue that suits may not automatically fit everyone. Just from my experience of being a "petite" female who can't wear 95% of the women's clothes out there. How many times have you nodded towards some guy and told me how crappy their suit looks????

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Maybe I'm just old fashioned and definitely a dying breed but a suit is a separate type of garment even from a dress shirt and slacks. I couldn't tell you what size my suit is because they are all measurements: chest, shoulder, inseam, out seam, the extra fabric to let out, etc. You can take in a garment, but I'm not sure how you can take it out. A good alteration should allow the wearer to gain or loose a few extra pounds without drastically changing the shape or drape of the fabric. If the suit is tight now where do you expect the extra fabric to come from? A sport coat and slacks is slightly less formal (and intimidating) than a suit not the other way around.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  9. #9
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Maybe I'm just old fashioned and definitely a dying breed but a suit is a separate type of garment even from a dress shirt and slacks. I couldn't tell you what size my suit is because they are all measurements: chest, shoulder, inseam, out seam, the extra fabric to let out, etc. You can take in a garment, but I'm not sure how you can take it out. A good alteration should allow the wearer to gain or loose a few extra pounds without drastically changing the shape or drape of the fabric. If the suit is tight now where do you expect the extra fabric to come from? A sport coat and slacks is slightly less formal (and intimidating) than a suit not the other way around.
    Right now I'm faking it until I make it, but I agree with what you've said. You really should have the suit (pants and coat) tailered to really make a good suit into a great suit. I've seen some people wear ill-fitting suits and they look sloppy. Their examples show me that the devil is in the details, and tat a good suit can really can make you feel like a "million bucks," especially since suits are fading away from the norm.

    I have a pretty traditional suit style; I prefer solid color fabrics (mixed with striped shirts or ties), and I love black shoes.
    And that concludes staff’s presentation...

  10. #10
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    My advice is that if you don't already own a suit or are replacing the one suit that you do own, and want something that is very versatile, I would suggest avoiding pinstripes and getting a dark navy blue suit. It will be suitable for interviews, all work functions, weddings, funerals, church, etc. I also agree with the voices saying to have it professionally tailored. It is very unlikely that it will fit you perfectly off the rack and a cheap-o suit from H&M or Target will often look better than a high end suit from Brooks Brothers if it is fitting you correctly (shoulders, waist, rise, button stance, etc.).

    If you want to get your money out of it, avoid patterns, stripes, and other fashiony things like three or four buttons instead of two (unless you are extra tall or it's a "three-roll-two") or excessively padded shoulders. Not only will you not wear it as often as a solid color, it will run the risk of being out of fashion much more quickly. After a solid navy suit, I would suggest a solid grey (either light or dark) and then maybe a tan or lighter blue. If you really are dead set on pinstripes, the lighter and thinner the pinstripe the better IMO.

    I work in a municipal planning setting, and the only guy I ever see wearing pinstripes regularly in our office is the head of our department. But, he came from the private sector as a real estate development layer, so... Most of the men in our office who wear suits on any sort of regular basis wear solid colors 80% of the time. I rarely wear a suit to the office and usually elect to wear a sport coat instead. If you don't want solids, you might consider something like a bird's eye, houndstooth, or puppytooth pattern. If the pattern is small/tight enough, it will look like a solid from any distance but somebody closer to you will be able to see the pattern and texture. I have a houndstooth suit that I got when I was still in the Marines more than a decade ago and still wear it quit often... again, I get much more use out of it than a pinstriped suit that I got just a few years ago.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    A tailored suit is made to measure, cut directly from fabric. It is not the same thing as an altered suit, which is altering a ready-to-wear garment made by someone else. The former is far more expensive than the latter. A two-button jacket (either by itself or as a suit) drapes differently than a three-button. It's not to say that one is "looser" than the other it's just a personal preference. A lot of off-the-rack jackets and suits are also missing a rear vent which is the cut in the back of the jacket for sitting down. I notice that a lot of jackets with missing vents tend to wrinkle far more easily in the lower back. Suits and jackets should not have exposed stitching, loose threads, or loose buttons. That's okay if you want to be fashionable or casual but not in a business setting.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 06 Jul 2012 at 10:18 AM.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Tobinn's avatar
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    Sports Coats and Suits

    I own two suits (medium charcoal grey and sort of a brownish taupe, respectively, and a sports coat, brown. All from Men's Wearhouse (plus several pairs of pants and about five or six shirts and a tuxedo). The newest thing I have is the sports coat (about two years old). Everything else is about 10 years old and hold up very well. I haven't had any issues with anything from MW. I wonder if there was a quality control issue at one point given the other posts about MW clothing not wearing well. In fact, I've worn the tuxedo to three or four formal events and dozens of times for bartending (side gig) over the last eight years or so and it still looks terrific.

    I've been happy with everything I've gotten from them.

    The sports coat is about the most versatile thing I own - it goes with just about anything other than black and is casual enough for regular wear but gets dressed up enough with a tie for public meetings.

    I don't think I would go for a navy blue blazer ever - just a bit too cliche' for me.

    I've heard that if you need to have one suit make it a medium to dark charcoal grey - matches just about anything and can swing from a wedding to a funeral to a job interview.

    I've worn mine to two out of the three.

    Anyway, I keep going back to MW because, although I'm in there only a two or three times a year, I seem to always get waited on by the same salesperson who remembers my name, where I work, that I have a son and generally what I like and isn't pushy (i.e. doesn't treat me any different whether I'm buying a suit or just some socks). The guy just treats me like I matter without being over the top. I imagine that the level of service is going to differ from store to store but I've been statisfied with the quality, price, selection and style but the customer service completely hooks me.
    At times like this, you have to ask yourself, "WWJDD?"
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Here is my simple guide:

    No matter how much you spend or where you purchase it from:


    The shoulders MUST fit. Meaning the shoulders of the jacket should not be wider than your shoulders. To test, with the jacket on, lean your should against the wall. Your shoulder and the shoulder pad on top should hit the wall at the same time.

    Sleeves should end right at your wrist joint and should allow a little shirt to show (like 1 cm).

    The length of the jacket should be long enough for you to grab the end of it with your fingers with your arms to your side. Basically, the jacket should end around where the plams of your hands are.

    The jacket should not have more than 3 buttons (I recommend you stick to 2 buttons) unless you are an ESPN commentator and/or professional athlete.

    The suit should be made of mostly wool. It can have a little something for stretch but an all polyester suit will make you sweat and look like crap.

    As far as preferences:

    Stick to navy or dark gray and with minimal patterns (pin stripes, etc) this type of suit can be worn for literally any occasion.

    Don't pay more than $300 for anything sold at Macy's, JC Penney, etc (excluding Nordstroms) or $400 at Banana Republic J Crew. If you want to spend more, go to Nordstroms or Saks.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    My advice would be to just completely defer to the wife/girlfriend/mother on these matters. Woman are good at picking out men's clothes and will probably find fault in your own choices anyway.

    What's more, nobody likes men who dress impeccably and pay that much attention to the trivial details of their suits. People will smile to your face but sneer at you behind your back and not take you seriously.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I tend to think if you own just one suit it should be charcoal grey one. It covers most anything from wedding to funeral and we all know public meetings sometimes feel like one. My second choice is blue pinstripe, it works for most business situations.
    I agree with the others, whatever you get, tailor it. I bought a $10 suit from Goodwill and spent $80 bucks on a good tailor. The cheap tailored suit looks better than an Armani suit with no tailoring. The key is finding a good tailor that knows to get the pants, sleeves, chest, neck and collar.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  16. #16
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I like that this thread has resurfaced. I own five suits, and the one that fits me best was actually the cheapest. I'm not a big fan of the navy sport coat, but I have one that I wear occasionally. My first suit was a charcoal color--I think in hindsight that something closer to a medium grey would have been better. One thing you certainly need to understand is the growing number of fits & styles now available in suits--I'd pick something classic that will have more staying power. Also, you need to plan for alterations. Very few can buy off the rack without alterations. Also, get the pants properly fitted & altered--this is the area more than anything where guys screw-up with their suits. And pay attention to how the jacket is vented--and be aware of the climate you work in when it comes to selecting material.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  17. #17
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    I have several suits. My go-to suit, and the color may be debatable, is my solid black suit with light blue tie and pocket square. The shirts with this are interchangeable. I just bought my newest addition, with leather-soled shoes, for $1,000. If you want to look like you know what you are doing without flaunting it buy real leather-soled dress shoes and a decent Swiss-made watch. You can get a Tissot or Victorinox for around $500 and a stainless steel band will go with anything.

    Whoever said all suits must be tailored is correct. There are no exceptions. If you think you have an exception you are wrong. I would rather spend $50 on a suit and $200 on tailoring than $1,000 on a non-tailored suit.

    With that being said, a dark charcoal gray is probably the best all-around suit color but I wear black because it hide its flaws better. I wear a tan/light brown suit for events like Easter or a graduation to keep it dressy but not so "business-like".

    Men have little room for personalization so don't skimp on shoes or the watch because that's all we really get. A $400 pair of Allen Edmonds is going to look better and hold up against style changes more than $75 on-sale from JCPenney.

    Don't wear a blue blazer with khakis for a mid-level interview because it looks too casual. The only salvation for that is if it is winter and you add a sweater to the ensemble and your shoes are good quality.

    Most men dress really bad. Once you get a good suit tailored you'll notice right away how many men at conferences have coats that are two sizes too big and it makes them look sloppy.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    If you are going to only own one suit then go with a solid blue suit. The jacket can be paired with grey, khaki, brown and olive pants. Blue is formal but not as over the top as black. Grey are seen as less formal. You can get away with a blue suit at a formal event that is black tie optional but a grey/charcoal suit will not make the grade. Really, you should have more than one suit. Almost as important is what shirt you wear with the suit. For an interview...white only with a conservative tie. It is safe and conveys professionalism.

    Tailoring is important but like mechanics you need to find one you can trust. It is not uncommon for them to charge for more work than they are doing.

    I am a 38R and for my jackets I only have the sleeves taken up slightly because I like to have 1/4" show of cuff. I am lucky I can buy a suit and need only minor alterations. Suit pants should have either no break or a only one. If the the back of pants cover part of the heel of your shoes then they are too long.

    .
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  19. #19
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    I have several suits. My go-to suit, and the color may be debatable, is my solid black suit with light blue tie and pocket square.
    Rock the pocket square, I think we need to see more of them. It gives some life to the suit.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Scrape the cow muck off your boots, wash your Levi's, starch your denim shirt (washing optional), brush off the white hat.
    Have I been out here too long?

  21. #21
    Cyburbian chupacabra's avatar
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    The closest I've come to wearing a suit was my dress blues in the Navy. Most of my life has been spent in Alaska and Hawaii where suits aren't common or expected. I've been thinking about moving to the Lower 48 again in the next few years and I've actually been thinking about this a bit lately.
    You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    Cool thread.

    My favorite suit is a very, very light gray. I've had two interviews (both of which resulted in job offers) in it. You can't go wrong with a dark, dark blue. I'm 6'4", so I avoid pinstripes like the plague. They make tall guys look a foot taller. If you're trying to blend into the wallpaper as I usually am, looking more conspicuous is not a good thing.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    I have the suit I got married in which was tailor made - I spent about $500 on it and I think it was well worth it. I have another navy suit with faintest of pinstripes from the same tailor but I got it when I was 24. No way I'm ever fitting into that thing again.

    Anyway, I've worn my wedding suit for work purposes a few times but a black wool suit isn't really appropriate (or comfortable) here for half the year so I also have a light gray suit (better for hot weather) and a charcoal suit that I got from Express. With a shirt and tie maybe I spent $350.

    I agree that any suit should be taken to the tailor and properly fitted and, honestly, for the money you're better off having your suit tailor made in the first place. Depending on where you live it could be difficult to find a tailor who can make what you're looking for.

    If you get enough shirts and ties you can get your money's worth out of any suit . . . i would follow the advice of navy blue made from a material that will get you through every season.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    I wear my navy blue velvet blazer I picked up at the Goodwill for $10.99. Sounds like a good deal, but I think it was a bit high given that I had to go through the trouble of tearing out those bulky shoulder pads. I don't use a pocket square, but a pocket protector actually goes well with it.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    Crummin, did you think investing a bit more in your interviewing clothes could help you land a job? Just a random thought.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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