Hopefully this guide will save monkeys some money and avoid the fuckups I made. Basically, you can score expensive $$$ clothing for way way less than what you would think. This doesn't mean cheap, but it does mean you should be able to find $8000 suits for ~$700 - $1200 by the time you finish with this guide and shirts that are $500 - $700 for ~$100/$150.
We're going to be searching the vast universe of the interwebz to find you dope shit at great prices, so please obtain the below first:
- You need to know the measurements of a shirt that fits you best.
- Measurements of a suit jacket that fits you best.
- Measurements of pants that fit you best.
- Some level of patience.
- A good tailor you trust. You don't want someone nuking your Attolini/Kiton jacket!!!
For the measurement portion, here's a good guide: How to measure a garment. There are also loads on YouTube if you're still lost.
Since you almost always want things tailored after buying them, here are some general rules of thumb...
- Nailing shoulders on a sportcoat/suit jacket are the most important thing as an error in fit here will cause the most issues for your tailor.
- A lot of pants can easily be let out, but bringing them in can be a little tricky since pocket positions start moving.
- If you're in good shape and have a solid V taper, you WILL run into issues buying suits because you'll end up buying a "large" suit jacket that comes with pants that are too big in most cases. Can be a huge pain.
- If you're in-between sizes or unsure what size to go with, always size up because it's easier to bring something in than to let it out.
Where to search:
- Lyst.com - Good aggregator. Can sometimes miss things though. I like starting here usually.
- The Real Real - Used site but look for NWT. That means new with tags/unused.
- eBay. Look for items that are new with tags or have a factory defect. A defect can be something as small as a tiny discoloration which can makes an 80%+ discount (!!!) totally worth it. eBay is where you'll likely find the best deals.
- Discount retailers/outlets. Yoox, Shop the Finest, Barney's, Nordstrom Rack, Saks, etc... can have good deals occasionally.
General Notes on Wardrobe Construction:
- Think every piece through when you first start buying. Try to pick up pieces that work well with other things you own.
- Blues, browns and greys are nice because they pair up with a variety of colors.
- Knits can be hard to take care of and fragile.
- Don't buy trendy bullshit, at least initially. Focus on classics. This is where you'll get the best bang for buck too. Grab a sportcoat that's a season or two old and save some srs $$$.
Brands to Look For (Traditional Business Clothing)
- Cesare Attolini - Some of the best clothing available. Their cut is more structured than what you'd usually find from an Italian made suit. Not as structured as a British made suit but definitely moreso than say...Kiton/Isaia. Anything made by them is amazing. I've had great experiences with their suits, shirts and jeans. With patience you can find a full Attolini suit for $800 - $1400. Keep in mind these usually have a sticker price of $8000+ new. Shirts/pants can be found for $100 - $200 all day long.
- Kiton - Same deal as Attolini quality wise except with more of a classic Italian slim fit. I've had great experiences with their sport coats and pants. Generally easier to find at lower price points NWT than Attolini too.
- Oxxford. Very well made American suits. Personally not a fan of the cuts but quality is on par with the above.
- Brioni - I don't have much experience with them outside of a few suits but they tend to have more of an "old man friendly" cut. Good if you're on the heftier side of things. I've been more impressed with the Kiton and Attolini pieces I've picked up but Brioni is very good quality wise too.
- Isaia - My favorite brand. Great quality and you can find their stuff at amazing prices NWT. Just scored an unworn $3000 sport coat for $400 the other day that was about a season old and I probably overpaid slightly. They have a classic Italian slim fit and are known for their fun patterns. Amazing sport coats. Shirts are solid quality wise too but I'd probably rather opt for Attolini/Kiton before Isaia.
- Zegna/Tom Ford - Zegna has a ton of different quality levels. Stay the fuck away from ZZegna. Their Couture line is really nice but I've never had great luck finding good deals on Zegna stuff and IMO it's kind of boring. Throwing Tom Ford in here because his stuff is made by Zegna. Hard to find good deals on because he's a little trendy right now. Pretty aggressive cut, generous lapels, etc...IMO you're definitely paying a bit of premium for the Tom Ford brand.
- Eton. Just throwing this in here for their shirts. They are my favorite because of the built in collar stays and wrinkle-resistant fabric. Amazing shirts and you can find them new for as little as $40. I prefer them to my Attolini shirts, especially when travelling, just because of how easy they are to take care of.
- Brunello Cucinneli - I love their clothing. Known for their knits but they have tons of gorgeous pieces. If you're in an office environment that allows business casual then look here for sure. I have a sport coat from them that I love too.
- Paul Smith - Makes some fun stuff. They've had a few different sub-brands and quality on those can be hit or miss. I have a shirt and wallet from them, both well made but for the price I would rather more Kiton/Attolini.
- Canali - Well made. Have some experience with their jackets but IMO you get more bang for buck when buying NWT elsewhere.
- Etro - Cool shirts and widely known for their paisley patterns. Not impressed with their suits/sportscoats for the money personally. They have some really cool overcoats and jackets that I love. Only buy at steep discounts!
- Eidos - Made by Isaia as their less formal line of clothing. Have put out some really cool pieces and can be found cheap NWT on eBay.
A note on accessories:
I recommend buying most of your accessories like watches and ties used - ESPECIALLY watches. Get good at feeling out watch prices and buying them, and you can make some decent cash while owning great pieces. I have a 6 figure watch collection that I can flip for 30% - 40% more than I paid. All it took was some patience. Ties you can find all day at a fraction of what they go for new.
Hope that helps!!!