Over the past couple years, it's become one of my most linked pieces, and I still occasionally get emails about it from folks, thanking me, or asking for more specific advice etc...
Part of my advice, was that everyone, geek or not, should have a proper wardrobe of business attire appropriate to their situation; and at least a couple of GOOD suits.
A couple days ago, someone asked me specifically about business attire, what a "good" suit meant, and how to buy one.
As it happens, I have a fair number of good suits; and as I'm a very large man, I had to learn how to go the extra mile to get a good one.
I was a consultant working in Manhattan, San Francisco, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong etc... If you didn't have the wardrobe, you couldn't get in the door; or if you did you didn't get a C level to listen to you.
In that environment, business casual didn't cut it; nor did just an "acceptable" or "ok" suit; I needed GOOD suits.
It's just another uniform. Another set of expectations, that are basically arbitrary; but if you want to play their game, you play by their rules... because that's where the money is.
Of course, I haven't worn any of them for five years, except at funerals and weddings. Now, I work full time from home, my general work attire is jeans and a t-shirt, or sweats.
I don't think of dressing well as some burden though, and neither should you. A man shouldn't be more concerned for his clothing than doing his job well; but he should absolutely take pride in dressing well.
I really enjoy wearing nice clothes, dressing well, and looking good; and if you buy the right clothes, you should too.
... Funny thing though...
I've given this advice a number of times, and you'd be surprised how much resistance I get. Sometimes resentment, sometimes just dismissal... sometimes actual anger; with some folks insisting, vocally and vociferously, that this whole idea is pretentious, or pompous, or obsolete.
Well, as much as some might like to believe that, it simply is not true; at least not in western culture, in 2011.
I want to highlight this very important principle:
Some situations simply require dressing well. Not only that, but dressing well and APPROPRIATELY, is both a duty, and a privilege, accorded gentlemen.
To be a man, you need to know how to wear a suit. In the broader sense, you need to understand what is appropriate to wear, when; and how to select and wear it properly... it's just that simple.So, down to business...
If you can buy off the rack, you can get an ACCEPTABLE suit, from a decent maker, for $500-$700 at a discounter, on sale. The top end of suits that Mens Wearhouse sell, run around $600, and are acceptable.
...But you shouldn't.
Or rather, you should make a decision. Do you want an acceptable suit, a decent suit, or a GOOD suit?
For some reason, there's a dividing line between acceptable suits, and decent suits, at about the $799 line (and we're going to talk about the details of decent suits in a bit). Less than that, you don't get a particularly good fabric, or particularly good workmanship. More than that, and generally, you do.
The dividing line between a decent suit and a good suit, generally seems to be between $900 and $1200; depending on the retailer, the fabric, the season etc...
A guy my size, if you want a GOOD suit, it generally has to be custom made (or semi custom, and well tailored a la Brooks Brothers), and that starts around $1200 and goes up over $5,000.
If you CAN buy off the rack, no matter how much you spend, buy your suits a bit too big, and always have them tailored down to you; they'll fit 100 times better, and you'll look 1000 times better.
Same thing for good shirts. You can buy a decent, all cotton (though not good cotton) off the rack shirt for $40 to $70 at a discounter, but they run $70 to $300 custom made (though if you buy 5 or 10 custom shirts at once, you can often get them considerably cheaper; perhaps as little as $50 for a simple design in an inexpensive fabric).
If you can buy off the rack, buy them big and have them tailored down.
Look for cuff and collar detail, buttonhole detail, hem detail, quality stitching, a good fabric (I like silk, pima cotton, or sea island cotton - which are genetically the same, just grown in different places - . Sadly, Egyptian cotton has lost much of the meaning it once had), and well sewn buttons with a solid feel to them.
I personally like plain weave poplin, twill (I especially like herringbone twill in dark solids), or royal oxford (very nice in a light or medium blue with white cuffs and collars).
I'm very conservative about patterns, but a little more agressive with color. I like either a finely patterned or finely striped white or off white; a medium to light blue solid or fine pattern with white collars and cuffs; or dark solid colors (particularly dark reds, blues, grays, and greens). I don't care for larger stripes or patterns, or anything with contrasting color patterns.
Again this is a matter of preference, but you can't go wrong with what I've chosen, because they can go with almost anything, and will look good, without looking garish.
Also, I prefer a one button cuff or french cuff, a solid yoke double side pleat (I have very broad shoulders) and a long tail (I'm very tall), a pointed no button breast pocket, and a single button longpoint collar (I hate button down points, and they shouldn't be worn with suits; and I prefer narrower ties and tie knots).
Really it's a matter of what looks good and feels good for your body type. If you're tall and skinny, a long point collar can make you look skeletal for example; and a short point spread collar may be a better choice.
You need good shoes. Really, you do. And you need to spend the money for decent shoes, or you're going to be very unhappy all day long... and possibly forever.
At least I can buy normal size shoes (I'm a 12-1/2, so I usually have to buy 13), so good shoes and dress boots only run from $300 to $700 usually; and I can buy straight from the shops, I don't need them custom made (which would run from $300 to around $2000).
And yes, you really do need to pay about $300 or more for good dress shoes or dress boots; at least at "normal" pricing (you can get huge discounts at times).
Any mens dress shoes that sell for more than about $89 and less than say $279 before discounting, almost certainly won't be worth the money.
For less than $90 you wont get anything particularly good either, but from $60 to $90 you can get shoes that wont actually hurt your foot, or fall apart when worn twice a week; and they're cheap enough you don't care that much (you should never wear a single pair of dress shoes more than twice a week, because the leather needs time to recover from your sweat, oils, environmental moisture etc...). Just don't expect them to last more than two years, be particularly comfortable, or look particularly good.
Cheap shoes are uncomfortable, they will fall apart, and most importantly, they will actually injure your feet, knees, and back; by providing improper support, and encouraging poor posture and gait.
Let me put in a whole hearted recommendation for GOOD shoes, and especially good custom shoes. You can't ever go wrong taking care of your feet properly. Feet and knees, when they go bad, they never heal properly.
The best part is, dress shoes don't have to be uncomfortable. Properly made and well fitted, even the most formal shoes can be both comfortable and supportive. Also, properly made shoes can last your entire lifetime. A $90 pair of shoes will have to be thrown away in a couple of years; but well made shoes can be resoled for around $60 whenever necessary, and last as long as you are willing to take care of them.
Buying an Alden, or a John Lobb, or even spending a few couple hundred bucks to get the Korean cobbler in the hole in the wall in koreatown (and yes, if you look around, you WILL still find cobblers who make custom shoes, and their prices are actually very reasonable) to make you a custom pair of shoes; is worth ten times that in comfort and support for your feet.
Ties... I hate'em. Corporate nooses etc... But they are required.
Ties are all over the place in both price and quality, so the best advice I can give you, is never buy anything but good quality silk; and preferably in a conservative pattern (express yourself with bold color if you want, but not with wild patterns. Too much chance they'll clash with whatever else you're wearing).
A typical mid range to high end silk piece will run from $100 to $700. I generally prefer not to wear them if I don't have to, but I've got a dozen decent ties, and so should you.
Money money money...
This can get expensive... no kidding. You can easily spend $5,000 on just one days worth of business wear.
The folks out there who made fun of the sex and the city gals for wearing $700 shoes, thinking that was ridiculously expensive and frivolous, obviously never priced mens business and formal wear.
On the other hand, you don't always need to spend a fortune.
For all of the businesswear essentials I mentioned above, if you wait for the right time and you're the right size (common enough to stock, but uncommon enough to not sell within a few months), you can get very good stuff as much as 90% off the normal price (not MSRP, which is much higher).
I've never been able to get a suit or shirt this way (my size being what it is), but I've managed to snag some really great shoes and boots (most fine shoe retailers will stock a few 13s, sometimes - rarely - 12-1/2s; but there isn't much demand for shoes above size 12). I've grabbed deals down to $70 from $700.
Ok, so what exactly do you need? Obviously it's not just suits.
What you need overall, if you're working every day in a professional businesswear required environment; is probably 20 decent shirts, maybe 10 good suits (I prefer to buy my suits with 2 pairs of pants), 10 good ties, 5 pairs of undress pants (semi-casual slacks, flannels, kakhis etc...) two or three sportcoats or blazers, and five good pairs of dress shoes or dress low boots, with five matching belts.
You can get away with less, but if you do, you'll be dry cleaning things far too often. That will both cost you a fortune in cleaning fees, and it will wear out your clothes much faster.
Basically, you should never wear the same suit twice in a week, and try for two weeks if you can.
If you're lucky, the weather co-operates, and you buy your suits with two pairs of trousers, you can get four wearings between cleanings (two for each pair of trousers); and so long as you don't wrinkle the suit too badly (thus the weather needing to co-operate), twice even with one pair of trousers.
That will let you go a full working month without the cleaners if you have 5 suits with two pairs of trousers each, or 10 suits with one pair each; and casual Fridays.
If you're only going to wear a suit rarely though, I wouldn't wear the same suit more than once a month; because people will remember the last couple times they saw you in a suit, and you don't want to duplicate. Also, don't fall into the habit of wearing the same suit on the same day.
With that rule in mind, if you only need to wear a suit once a week, you can get away with four suits total; so long as you clean and care for them properly. Even if you only need a suit once a month though, I recommend you at least buy four or five good suits, in a couple different colors and patterns.
I think every man needs at least one solid black suit, one solid charcoal gray suit, one solid dark navy suit, one discretely patterned or striped navy, or medium gray suit; and one lighter colored suit, generally patterned or striped, in either light gray, beige, tan, or taupe. Herringbone patterning looks very good with light gray, nailhead patterning looks particularly good with tan, beige and taupe.
You can experiment with other colors and patterns (I have "lighter than navy" blue and dark green suits for example; and several suits in various shades of gray navy or black with stripes or patterns), and buy suits for particular occasions (white suits for summer semi-formal parties for example; or black tie and white tie formal wear); but not before you fill in the basics.
This gives you the full spectrum of formality across your business attire; and with proper shirt and tie pairings lets you always wear something appropriate even when you haven't picked up from the cleaners. A solid black or dark navy suit, with a plain white shirt, and appropriate tie and shoes; can even substitute for real formalwear in a pinch.
As far as the old "if you're only going to have one" question goes... don't. You're a man, you need more than one suit.
At the very least, you need a black suit, a charcoal gray suit, and a navy suit (all solids)... and really, add a pinstripe gray or navy suit to that to at least make four, if you can't swing five.
AS to which to buy first, if you have to stagger your purchases... Ok that's legitimate... Buy the charcoal suit first, it's the most versatile; unless you are specifically buying a suit for a wedding, funeral, or formal event; in which case, buy the black.
Also, you need two decent watches; a bracelet model, and a SIMPLE leather strap model. You don't have to spend a fortune, just something that looks good, and is of acceptable quality. Invictas mens dress watches would be a typical example.
Oh and while they aren't absolutely necessary; I personally think everyone should have at least a couple french cuffed shirts, with cufflinks; and some tiepins.
That's really what I consider the minimum wardrobe of business attire, when you work in a setting where good business attire is required; not only by dress code, but simply to be taken seriously.
That said, you don't need it all at once. You can probably start with half of that (so long as you don't wear the same suit more than once a week) and build up over time. You'll just be hitting the cleaners more often while you do.
The only pic I have of me in a suit is... damn, about seven years old now:
That's a Fioravanti suit (custom made; but in that photo not properly pressed), a Brioni silk shirt; and you can't see it but I'm wearing a Breitling Navitimer, and John Lobb low dress boots. In that pic I'm probably wearing $15,000 (I commissioned two Fioravantis, for $10,000, and at the time that was a steal. They can run up to $25,000 a piece).
If I remember correctly, I was on my way out to Ruths Chris in midtown Manhattan.
It may be incongruous to think of me that way; but you have to remember I AM a senior technical executive at a national bank, and I didn't get there by accident.
Yes, I wear jeans and a golf shirt 90% of the time, but not always. When I took that picture, I was working every day with the CISO of a fortune 50 pharmaceutical company in midtown.
I've still got that suit actually, and the shoes. A good suit like that, never goes out of style. Of course the gut has expanded somewhat since then (like 140lbs), but I'll eventually get back down, and good shoes can last a lifetime (if you take care of them properly).
I'm sure that some of you reading this look at those numbers and think "that's insane", but it's part of the job.
You wouldn't think anything of a professional mechanic having $20,000 worth of personal hand tools and rollaways would you (never mind the big stuff, like lifts, analyzers etc...)? Well, it's the same thing in big business.
As I said above, it's all about what's appropriate, when, and where.
In the silicon valley, or Arizona, you wear dockers and golf shirts; and if you wear an expensive suit, they don't trust you. In New York, Boston, New Jersey, or Chicago, you wear $5,000 worth of suit and shoes, or they don't take you seriously. In San Francisco, it depends on the company.
At ANY bank or insurance company, no matter where it is, if you're meeting with someone above "manager"; unless you're going to crawl around on the floor afterwards, you're wearing a suit.
When a fortune 500 companys CTO/CIO/CSO is personally signing off on paying you $75 to $750 an hour (the broad range for high end technical consultants. "Business" consultants often charge far more) to implement a $20 million dollar project, he wants you to look like a guy they pay $300,000 to $1.5 million a year (i.e. like him... and it is almost always him).
I don't play golf, which is a severe handicap (sorry for the pun) in that world; but I know my alcohol like the best of them (a big plus), I sail (generally a plus), I know fine shotguns (generally a plus), and I know how to dress and act the part (required, not just a plus).
Now... For the politically incorrect part...
What exactly is a good suit, and how do you get a good custom suit, without paying as much as a small car?
Two ways to go for custom that won't kill you on cost: Find a local tailor who can make a good suit; or send out overseas.
If you're going local, the best advice I can give you, is to go with the little asians. Otherwise you're looking at $2500 per suit minimum.
I mean you can go into any number of boutiques in NYC, LA, San Francisco etc... and get a spectacular bespoke suit made for you; and they'll pull the pretty woman routine on you if you want... but you're going to lay out $2500 minimum and probably a lot more.
Though... If you live near one, please; go to Brooks Brothers, and get a real, great, classic American suit from them. You don't need full custom, just a properly cut and fitted piece of good material, and you won't be paying all that much more for it than off the rack from Macys or Nordstrom.
Is it the worlds best suit? of course not. But it's a very good suit, and it's a long American tradition.
Brooks Brothers is the oldest mens clothier in America, founded and continuously operating since 1818. Brooks Brothers absolutely defines American male business attire (though of course, most of their clothing is made overseas).
Every American man with a business wardrobe should own a Brooks Brothers suit. If you're only going to own one suit, it should either be custom, or Brooks Brothers.Your best bet in getting a custom suit, is to pick your fabric first.
Find a suiting fabric or three you REALLY LIKE, in an 90 to 120 twist/fineness. Though 80-140 are suitable for suiting, you probably want to keep it to between 90 and 120;
To my mind, you really only want worsted wool, cashmere/wool blends, or silk/wool blends (usually 10-12oz weight; though you can go as light as 8oz for a summer suit, or as heavy as 14oz for a winter suit), for a general wear suit.
I don't recommend going with linen, any synthetic, wools other than worsted (no tweeds or flannels please), or pure silks or cashmeres (which are ungodly expensive, don't hold up well to cleaning, and actually make a worse looking suit).
You can look at various fabrics, threadcounts, and weights, at any gentlmans clothier. In general, the finer the threadcount, the more expensive the fabric; but also the less wear it can take, and the more it will rumple.
When you've found the fabrics you like, get some large samples (buy a half yard of each, not just a small swatch); so you can see how they drape and crease, and so your tailer can get a good feel for the fabric.
Buying suiting fabric can be a hassle if you aren't in the trade. You're going to have to hunt around, and probably order from online; or find a co-operative tailor o specialty fabric shop (not Joannes).
Once you've got a fabric picked out, go to a gentlemans clothier, or clothing resale/consignment shop; and find a suit cut and style you really like (even if it's not in your size or desired fabric). The important part is the style, and the cut, and that you can afford to use it as just a pattern and not a suit.
If you DO find a suit that is both cut well, and mostly fits properly or just a bit large, even better. Have it retailored for you so its fits perfectly, and use IT as a pattern.
If you don't know suit cuts well enough to understand how a cut will look on you when you upsize it to yourself, that's when you should really lay out the cash that first time to get a serious suit from a well known, good mens outfitter (again, Brooks Brothers is in every major city).
Personally, I think the Italians do the best job of suiting big men, and the English the best at suiting thin men; and of course, Brooks Brothers takes the designs of both, and puts an American slant on them.
Of course, if you already have a really nice, well cut, good fitting suit; you can use it as a pattern for your tailor to copy (or maybe even improve on).
Then, and ONLY then, go looking for a tailor. You really need to know what you want, before you talk with them.
Find a Korean, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Thai, or Chinese (from Hong Kong, Shanghai, or Taiwan only) tailor... or if by some miracle you can find a Scottish, English, Italian, or Spanish tailor still plying their trade; and I mean a real tailor, suiter, or gentlemans outfitter, who makes actual custom clothing.
Indian tailors who learned in the English tradition can be great... or not. I've had mixed experiences. IF they were trained in English style, they generally understand how a suit should be tailored, but they may have an odd view of what looks good and right (Indians generally prefer narrower collars, and slightly longer sleeves for example).
You might also find Czech, Pole, Turkish, Iranian, or Armenian tailors around who know suits; but they're even rarer in the U.S. than those I mention above.
Now, how to "size up" a tailor (pun intended): Find one who can tell you your measurements without the tape... but who gets out the tape anyway, because for a full custom suit, there are over 20 measurements they need to take.
If you're lucky, they already make custom mens suits.
You probably won't be that lucky.
Most of them don't do suits anymore in the U.S. but they'll often do custom traditional dresses (often for little girls, weddings, dance recitals etc...) . They probably DID suits back in their original home, but the market for it is poor here.
So if you see they make really well made dresses (look at the seam stitching, the cleanness of the seams and lines, the cleanness of the cuts inside, and the quality of the lining attachment and finishing), that's a strong indicator they are at least a good tailor (doesn't mean they can make a suit).
Then talk to the guy (or gal... seems to be about equally distributed among the Asians. The other nationalities are almost all men) for a while. Now if he is anything like any Asian tailor I've ever dealt with, he will tell you he can, and has, done absolutely everything, and can do it all for you, in a week, for almost no money at all.
That's not the point.
What you're looking for is how comfortable they are with what you want. If they have suggestions. If they seem to be able to really talk the talk. If they can tell you what's wrong with the suit you've got, and why it isn't cut properly for you or fit properly. If they lament the fall of the mans suit, and how nobody does good work anymore. How they spit on the young generation etc...
Seriously, a good tailor... they tend to be a bit eccentric, and sometimes a bit ornery... They tend to be traditionalists, and craftsmen. Like any other craftsmen, they are bound to see most of what passes for quality in their trade as crap.
Now, this part is important if they don't already make suits: See if they make good shirts already, or have them try to make you one if they don't.
If they can make a good shirt, that doesn't necessarily mean they can definitely make you a good suit, but it's a good indicator; and if they CAN'T make a good shirt, they definitely can't make a good suit.
Some tailors will want a suit to work from. They may actually take it apart to copy the pattern. Some tailors will just want to look at the suit, or even just of pictures, because they have their own process and technique. Some may have their own cuts and patterns already; but make sure they show you a suit similar in size and cut to what you want before you go with their pre-existing designs.
If the tailor wants to take the suit apart to copy it for you, he can either put it back together afterwards, or not; your choice. If he doesn't have to put the thing back together, he will better be able to copy the suit, and it will cost you less money.
Any good tailor should be able to take any decent quality suit you own however, and non destructively copy it. That only applies to decent quality suits though. Cheaper suits won't be able to be reassembled... and may not even survive the disassembly processes to make a good pattern from.
A GREAT tailor can copy a suit just from a couple of photographs. If you find one, keep them, and pray they are training their replacement so that when they die, you don't have to go looking for someone else.
When dealing with western European tailors, generally, you can show them the fabric samples you like and talk about fabrics with them, but it is not 100% necessary to actually buy the fabric and bring it to them. In fact, they may have better fabrics on hand for you.
Though it can sometimes save you money to buy the fabrics yourself, often it will actually be MORE expensive, because you aren't in the trade. Fine mens suiting fabrics are NOT CHEAP. Also, if you buy the fabric yourself, you can guarantee that the tailor is going to charge you more for labor.
They will tell you how much fabric you need to buy based on the cut and measurements. Oh and remember, if you want pattern matched seams in a patterned fabric (where the patterns line up with each other at seam edges... and yes, you want that) you need 50% more fabric. Personally, I prefer solids anyway, and just tend to avoid most patterned fabrics.
With Asian tailors, unless they actually have the fabric you want on hand in sufficient quantities (unless they are a reputable clothier out of Singapore or Hong Kong ) ALWAYS buy and bring them the specific fabric you want.
Again, it's a cultural thing. Call me racist if you want, but anyone who has spent any time dealing in south or east Asia knows exactly what I'm talking about.
As to how much it will cost?
Well, that's entirely up to how much time the tailor takes, what fabric you choose, and how many suits you buy at once (it's best to buy one first, to test the guys out; then buy four or five at once so he can maximize his efficiency).
At todays fabric and labor costs, don't expect to get out of it for less than around $700 a suit... and that's not going to be a very expensive fabric (doesn't mean it won't be an OK fabric), from a tailor with a low hourly rate.
On the other side of things, don't expect to pay more than $2500 unless it's the finest fabric, using an original design from that tailor; who already has a lot of experience in making fine suits, and has solid clientelle, and it's a special style with a complicated and labor intensive technique required.
Just so you understand the elements here, the last suit I had made, more than five years ago; the primary fabric alone (the tailor usually buys the interfacing and lining) was $600.
Now, as I said, the "other" way, is to send your suit order overseas; usually to Singapore or Hong Kong.
There are companies that have fitting shops, or traveling fitters, who can fit you up and send the order out for you. There are also web sites that can show you what you need to do, and you can submit your own measurements.
A great website, with examples of what REAL workmanship looks like is here:
Also, their fitting guide is extremely useful, as is all the general info, and details, about suits and shirts on the site.
What companies like these do, is they outsource the work to tailors in Asia, who still know how to make a good suit. In the process, they save you a fair bit of money.
You can also travel to Hong Kong or Singapore, and get fitted and order while you're there. I have friends who go once a year just to buy some suits. What they save on the suits more than pays for the airfare and hotel.
I've done this before myself; but not in over 10 years. I don't know the current market conditions over there personally.
Prior and immediately after the turnover, there were definitely gentlemans outfitters in Hong Kong that knew what they were doing. At the time, you could get proper fabric in Hong Kong; and you could trust the tailors there to make your garments from the fabric you chose, without substitution.
In Singapore this was also true, and I presume has remained so.
Anywhere else in east asia (excepting Japan of course, but only a masochist who wanted to go broke would use a Japanese tailor); I don't expect a tailor to actually use the fabric I pick out unless I give them the fabric, keep a sample, and tell them that I will not pay if the item doesn't match the fabric.
If you don't, they will make an absolutely beautifully cut and sewn suit, out of the cheapest polyester fabric they can find that looks something like the worsted wool you picked out; and swear up and down that it's exactly what you asked for, and of course attempt to charge you the price for the worsted wool.
It's a cultural thing like I said above.
I don't expect many people reading this here will get the opportunity, but there are also some spectacular tailors in Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey, many of them ethnic Armenians (the ones who haven't moved to London or Milan anyway).
There used to be a bunch in Iran, but they all pretty much left after the Ayatollahs took over. Most of them seem to live in London now.
There used to be a lot of good tailors in Poland and the Czech republic as well, and they're a lot easier to get to; but last time I was over there I couldn't find anyone. Doesn't mean they aren't there anymore, but you'll need to do your research first.
Of course, you should do your research on all of this anyway.
And of course you want to guarantee a good result, you can always go to the traditional mens suiting hotspots; London, Edinburgh, Milan (and as I mentioned above most of them have boutiques in NYC, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, and Miami...) and you'll get a spectacular suit, but you're going to pay for it.
Oh and don't forget the shirts. If you're ordering suits, they've already got your measurements; and they'll usually give you a package discount if you order a suit and two shirts, and a bigger discount if you order two suits and five shirts.
How about, because you're a grown man; and when a man wears a suit, it should be a good suit, well made, and well fitted.
Do you need another reason?
Unsurprisingly, this post got some negative reactions; as I figured it would... even said it would up above.
To those of you saying "this is ridiculous", remember this is CAREER advice.
If you work in the world where suits are required, they are just as important as a good set of tools to a mechanic; and just as expensive.
Let me tell you right now, in that world, a wardrobe of good suits will get you further than a masters degree from any school outside the top ten.
Yes, that's silly, and shallow, but that's the way it is. If you don't like it, so what, that's the world we live in. Your only choices are to deal with it, or not work in that world.
Reality is a bitch that way.
Knowing how to play golf, and having a decent set of clubs; another career enhancer worth as much as a non top-10 masters.
Again, silly, stupid, shallow, yes... also TRUE. Get over it.
For those of you pissed off that I'm saying you need three suits, yeah, get over it.
If your life never requires you to wear a suit, fine, don't buy one. But I don't know many grown men over 30, who have an actual life, with friends and relatives etc... that NEVER need to wear a suit (even if it is only once or twice a year).
So, when you do buy a suit, don't buy a cheap one. Cheap suits are uncomfortable, poorly made, fall apart with few wearings, and make you look bad. Good suits make you look good, they feel good to wear, and they last forever.
And yes, a $500 suit is a cheap suit (unless it's a good suit marked down to $500, which as I said, you can find with a little effort, if you're the right size, and wait for the right time). Even a $700 suit is probably a cheap suit.
How many times have you heard someone use "cheap suit" as an insult, or part of a dismissive comment etc...
What's your own impression when you see someone in an obviously cheap, ill fitting suit.
Hell, you're better off not wearing a suit, even where a suit is required by social convention, than wearing a cheap suit.
You don't need to spend $2500. That was the whole point of the post. You DO need to spend $800 to $1200. Brooks Brothers suits start at $900, and you get a really decent suit for that money. Remember, cheap suits die quickly, good suits last forever.
If you need to wear a suit more than once or twice a year, you need more than one suit. Three will do. Spend $900 to $1200 instead of $500 to $700 on each and you will be MUCH better off.
If you think you can get by with one suit, fine... but what happens when you have to go to a weeding, a job interview, and a funeral all in the space of two weeks. Are you going to wear the same suit to all three?
Well... you CAN do that if you want; but it's likely that two of those events are going to have common guests, and frankly, that's going to make you look like an ass.
What if you have to go to court, for more than one day. Are you going to wear the same suit each day? What happens when you need it cleaned?
What about a job interview, and a followup interview, or two followup interviews? Are you going to wear the same suit to all three? Because people WILL remember that, and it will be taken negatively.
Until the western world decides that men no longer need to wear suits to formal and semi-formal occasions, and business events, you have to have suits, and you really should have at least three.
That's life, get over it.