The Law (of) Suits: Insurance for Men
In this blog, on this site, I usually explore ways to think about spending rather than ways to actually spend. That’s not my blogcallojob (blog calling or job) to tell you how to spend.
But I’d like to pop a sales tag of conversation for fellow men, or women with fellow men in mind, reading this right now and speak plainly. I’m about to tell you how to spend money on something for which the worth cannot be measured.
It brings smiles, impromptu favors, more respect, more enigma, better service, attention — usually the right kind — and did I mention smiles and respect.
Not the automobile — the suit.
Recently I was riding home with a soon-to-be jobless, soon-to-be former colleague. One word: awkward.
But before he dropped me off, I asked where he was headed, and he said to the mall. And, curiously, making my own judgment on what one could be buying when one knows one won’t have a job, I ask, for what?
He says a suit.
A light goes on and I nod because it makes sense. I nod proudly, in fact, at him. I say to myself, smart man. I nod in whimsical favor because he’s thinking about investing in his future rather than moping over his present. I nod because he wants to plunk money down for something that in most cases brings the immediate return of self satisfaction as well as the intangible prospect of being in the right place and the right time, looking darn good.
He mentioned he didn’t want to “over do it” expense wise. Of course I understood that and then proceeded to rattle on about what could be done. I proceeded to monopolize the convo on what the pros and cons were of different aspects of suit procurement.
Suits, I don't remember saying but will say here, are like insurance for the professional and non-professional but skilled American man. They are insurance for the man who wants to make inroads into achievement and stand out with a statement on who he is when wearing that suit.
It’s like a financial plan: better to be impeccably prepared (overdressed) than woefully underdressed (unprepared).
Now let’s say you’ve paid your rent and gotten your groceries and have all your necessities and you’re a grown, able and responsible man with $300 to $500 and are in the market for a suit.
Okay, you’re like my friend. After asking him what he planned to spend, without revealing too much of the young man’s business, I went into a diatribe where I leaned back in the passenger seat and expounded wisdom using the famous pyramid hand gestures that most pseudo experts use on talk shows. This is the essence of what I said.
Suit up premium
Heck yeah: Classic is called classic for a reason. For instance, classic American clothier Brooks Brothers recently harkened us back to the era of smartly-clothed ad executives from the popular television series Mad Men. The classic look remains just that and outlasts any fashion week. Plus the clothes usually last longer and are of better quality.
Uhhh but wait: The issue here is that suits that are tailored to your specifications and/or made of fine fabrics from top labels, usually begin at $400 per suit. Maybe not the extravagant purchase you want to make right now but there are always sales and alternatives. Maybe you’re a forward thinker who sees their world beyond the recession or even sees opportunity in it. Maybe you want to go make an unmistakable statement. But maybe you don’t which brings us to our next alternative.
Suit up quickly and bountifully
Heck yeah: If you happen to live in a place with a population greater than half a million, there should be at least one or two places that have this type of sale: Three suits for “x” amount of dollars in a package. In other words, what you would pay for one Brooks Brothers or discount Italian or English designer suit, you can get three off-brand no-frill wool or down-market fabric suits, which you can freak just right if you have the right style sense.
This is probably the greatest stitch-for-stich value because it gets you through the week and month and maybe even the year and allows you to mix and match if you have a pre-existing and respectable shirt game and at least one good pair of shoes.
Uhhh but wait: You may be sacrificing quality, which is kind of like buying liability without getting uninsured motorist. After four or five trips to dry cleaners, it’s literally a wrap for these types of suits. I’m not talking about the plastic coating to protect them from the elements. I’m talking about fabric thinning and the appearance of nappy lent beads on your suit. There's not an afro-pick or lent brush in the world that can remedy this type of wear and tear. But that brings us to the last alternative.
Suit up without a suit
Heck yeah: If you’re easing into the game or just a novice or a stylish but not a “suit” man, you know how to accessorize on the cheap. Get a really nice blue or black sport coat or blazer, even a gray or solid brown one: or all four if you go to a thrift shop.
I’m talking blazer now chums. This is not to be confused with a suit jacket but an actual coat, which that 9 times out of ten won’t match your pants directly. You can use your style to go for the professorial, business casual look and perhaps hunt Ebay or your local thrift store for “pre-owned” quality coats that will compliment brand new pants. Get brand new pants — don’t be a tightwad on that.
Also if you’re not going to get a full suit, don’t be a tightwad on shirts either. They should be dry cleaned or brand new and if you’re considering your budget, why not buy a shirt that no one else has from a site such as ShirtsMyway.com. This site claims to have 7 trillion different designs. With that many variations, you will have your own style and through bulk save money by not having to go to the mall and be bilked by someone trying to get a commission. You design it and you order it. No plug here as I don’t own a single shirt from that site but I like the idea and am considering it.
Back to the stand-alone blazers. Save on the coats, up the quotient on the pants and shirt and it’s the cheaper, less high-maintenance alternative. You can wear them with ties or with an open-collared dress shirt and maybe just maybe on rare occasions throw it on with jeans and sneakers if you believe you can pull it off. Or if you believe you can wear a straight face if you don’t pull it off.
Uhhh but wait: You should be able to pull this off if you want to earmark this as a professional style. Remember, it’s not a suit and shouldn’t be carried off as one. If the pants are the same color as the jacket, please let them be close to the same fabric and if not, know your ledge. Shiny silk blazer and corduroy pants might get you unemployed as fast as the trickle-down effect of your company’s falling earnings. Corduroy and silk pants might get you beat up or laughed at so hard you feel like you’re getting beat up. Double polyester — let’s not discuss that.
Why are you still reading this? Go get a suit, no okay wait…look. This is mostly tongue and cheek and there are bigger issues in the world I know, but at the same time, if you’re a professional or professional aspirant between 25 and 50 years of age, you should own a suit.
If you are not independently wealthy through some sort of athletic ability, pop song, technological innovation or government defense contract — in which case you might wear a lot of Hawaiian shirts and khaki — you need to have at least one dark blue or black suit.
If not, you ought to be thinking of a good mix of what was described up here. Are you a grown man or what?