I was asked for advice the other day on where to buy a suit. In common with many other important questions in life the answer is, of course, ‘It depends.’
There are multiple variables to be considered. For whom is one buying a suit? A flamboyant personality may require a different suit from a more conservative one. If he is unusually shaped he’ll need a supplier with a large range of sizes. If his body happens to conform to standard suit sizes he will have rather more options.
Why do you need a suit? A suit for a wedding will be potentially different from a suit for work. And if your work happens to be as a caped crusader then your suit could be even more specialised….
When will the suit be worn? Is it primarily a summer/warm weather suit or is it a suit for the other 10 months of the year?
What is the size of the budget? A man with under £100 to spend will be shopping on the high street; the man who has £250 may go to Jermyn Street; but the man who is looking to spend over £1,000 will go directly to Savile Row. He won’t ‘Pass Go’ or ‘Collect £200’ (with a budget that size he probably doesn’t need to).
Where do you live? If you are in the North of England, Scotland or Wales you may have come across Slaters Menswear. If you live in London, chances are you simply haven’t. If you live in the US, the Caribbean or Italy of course your answer to the question will be different again.
You begin to see why ‘It depends.’ However, let’s assume that it is not a suit for a particular special occasion. Rather, it’s an all-round suit to be worn to work or to formal events; smart enough for the occasional wedding and capable of being worn year round. Where might one go to buy a suit?
First, of all make sure that you know your size. If you don’t you need to get yourself measured pronto. Also see How Can You Tell if Your Suit Is A Perfect Fit? You should also have given some thought to what style of suit fits you best. Will it be two-button or three? Slim fit or regular fit? Single breasted or double breasted? Pin striped or plain?
The question of budget, of course, remains significant. So here are my recommendations in budget categories.
It is perfectly possible to purchase a decent suit for under £50. The best ones are likely to be those which have been discounted but there will be one or two which are pitched at the price from day one. The important point is this: if you buy a cheap suit it must never look cheap. Try Slaters, Primark, Matalan or F&F @ Tesco.
This is a slightly tricky price bracket in which to operate. It’s not expensive enough to enable access to really well tailored suits. However, it’s not exactly low priced. Try Paul Smith or House of Fraser.
At this level you are able to access the Savile Row experience. The greater the + after the £550 the deeper that experience. This is where made to measure suits come available and if you are prepared to go into 4 figures bespoke hand made suits as well.
Well heeled (and deep pocketed) gentlemen might like to try Gieves & Hawkes or Anderson & Sheppard. However, at this price range you really ought to speak to someone whose handmade suit you’ve admired and ask him if he will recommend his tailor.
What do you think?