When men buy suits, they have a few options, and let’s look at them one by one:
1. “The Hand-Me-Down” – In the words of Coach Boone (played by Denzel Washington) in the movie Remember the Titans, “Borrow one from your father. If you don’t have a father, find a bum on the street and trade him for his.” Sage advice for high school football players, but probably not a great option for the regular working class.
2. “The Men’s Store Suit” – This option includes going to Men’s Warehouse or Joseph A. Bank’s and buying a suit off the rack. The jacket is way too bulky and the pants are probably pleated, but that’s okay because you’re going to get three for the price of one. What a deal! Except that no matter how you get the suits tailored, you’re still not going to look great. So you’ve spent $400 on one suit, got two free, but are still unhappy. That’s what happens when you buy a mass produced suit from a warehouse.
3. “The Mall Suit” – These are the suits that you find at stores like Banana Republic and J. Crew. They’re the “slim fit” at BR, and according to one suit at J. Crew, it’s “a tailored, modern cut.” I’m sorry. How is it tailored if you don’t know my measurements? But I digress… These suits boast of being imported and of better quality. I would hope so considering some of the jackets go for as much as $425 and the pants up to $225. So, you decide to get one, but now you’re out $650, with a slim fit suit that still isn’t custom tailored to you. Sure, it’s modern and cool looking, or at least that’s what their websites tell you.
4. “The Designer Suit” – You can find these suits by designers like Hugo Boss, Armani, and others at Macy’s, Nordstrom, and other department stores. Some sell for $695, while other jackets (yes, only the jacket) sell for $995. Some suits sell for more than $2,000. But that’s okay, “It comes with free tailoring!” you say. I’m sure these suits are nice, and I’ll be honest, I’ve never bought one, so I can’t really tell you. But for $2,000 I hope I’d be getting a really nice suit. But you’re out $2,000, probably the equivalent to your mortgage payment.
5. “The Custom Made Suit” – Simply put, these are the “couture” shops that will make you a custom made suit exactly to your body’s dimensions. The problem? While the “basic” suits start at $700, most cost more than $1,500. See last sentence of “The Designer Suit.” This picture to the left is a photo taken from Enzo Custom Suits in Washington, DC. As mentioned above, the starter packages are cheaper, but don’t scroll down to see how much their normal stuff costs.
In the fall of 2013, I met a US Army Captain, who, strangely enough, was the direct descendant of an infamous criminal from early in the 20th century. He was a smart guy and we got to talking one day…on the topic of men’s fashion. He was proselytizing about option 4, listed above. “You know what you gotta do, man, is get like a really nice Hugo Boss suit for like…$800,” he told me. “It’s going to be great, you’ll love it.”
I don’t know if he had a business interest in Hugo Boss, but he seemed passionate about it. Others joined in the conversation and started to listen to his description of his suits and how nice they were. $800 for this suit, $900 for that suit. They were expensive, but he loved them.
“Parker, when you get done with your deployment, you going to get some of these suits?”
What I didn’t tell him, yet, was that I already had a new wardrobe of finer clothing. Because I didn’t fall into the trap of the five options above, I had a sixth option, and it was the best decision about men’s clothing I ever made.
6. “The Thailand Suit” – On my way home from Baghdad in August 2012, I stopped off in Thailand, and spent four days in Phuket with one of my best friends. While there, I looked up the best tailor on the island, and I found it: Magnifique Tailor. According to TripAdvisor, Magnifique, at the time, had 149 five-star ratings, 6 four-star ratings, and 1 one-star rating. That was pretty damn good. (Take a look now, it’s even more insane.)
I walked in and met the owner, Nick. He gave me a drink and helped explain how his process worked. So, I jumped in. I picked my fabric, my jacket and pocket lining, my cut, my stitching, everything I wanted. Then, he took my measurements. “Come back in four hours,” he told me. After a massage, I returned, they had my base cuts ready to go. I donned them, and they took more measurements. “Come back in two days,” Nick told me as he took the fabric off of my back.
Two days later, I returned. “One more measurement, then you’ll be set,” he said. He put the almost-final cuts on me one last time. The first felt like a glove. It was custom fit to me, and it was perfect. The second was the same–amazing. We confirmed the final details, and I was about to pay. “Actually, Nick, how about one more?” I was so happy with how everything looked and felt, I wanted a third suit. “Black pinstripe with a crazy lining.” And that’s what I got. “These will all be ready tomorrow before you fly out,” he said.
32,000 Thai Baht later, I had three custom made, well-built suits, seven custom-fit shirts, and four ties delivered to my hotel in time for my departure. How many greenbacks is that? About $900, the same price that my army friend wanted me to pay for a “really nice suit” off the rack. The suits are incredible, and four years later, I have no complaints.
Some people say, “But I don’t have the money to fly to Thailand to get these suits like you do.” That may be true, but there is a better option. Nick and his team are coming to the United States and plan on being in Washington, DC the last weekend in September (the 24th through the 26th). He did the same thing last year, and I introduced seven friends to the wonderful world of Magnifique. They’re all extremely pleased. One of my friends liked it so much that he wore it on his appearance on Jeopardy! in May (not joking).
I’ll be seeing him next month to place some new orders myself. If you’d like to join, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll make sure you’re on the list and you can meet Nick and decide for yourself.
Think about it. Custom-made suits with every detail specified by you for a fraction of the cost of a suit in the US. Seems like there’s no question…