Monday, August 12, 2013

Reader Inquiry: Grizzlytendent

Montana Grizzly writes:

I found your blog this morning when looking to see how long a tie should be. I am likely going to be moving into a Superintendency position here in rural Montana. Not exactly the fashion capital of the world. My question is what is the best way to go about buying a new suit. Should I go to a tailor what material is best, most comfortable, what type of suit etc. I am not looking to spend $3,000 dollars but would like a nice one. Thanks in advance.

I'm delighted! 

This is a great time to state my current (and frequently evolving) view on value/material/intangibles.

You absolutely must find a dedicated alterations tailor with menswear experience.  One Weird Old Tip: google ["ask andy" alterations _______ montana"] filling in a place near you.  If that doesn't work, [styleforum alterations _______ montana].  Or Yelp.

I've written on alterations before:
A Brief Guide: A Suit That Fits

When you're just starting out re suits, I remain convinced that Jos. A. Bank is the way to go, with caveats.  Never pay full price for anything--effective 66% discount or better.  Scrounge in the clearance stuff.  Never have them do your alterations. 

Material? 100% wool, no question.  You should have one suit for each day of the week on which you regularly wear a suit.  Obtain in this order: mid gray, navy, charcoal.  Not black.
Social considerations as well.  If you're a superintendent of schools with a lot of public-facing time, you have the same problem that politicians have: they can't look way richer than their clients (the parents, the teachers) do.  Until you get a better feel for your constituency, you may want to stick with the Signature line.  Signature Gold is a huge step up in quality by various measures, but it stands out in a way you might not want. 

Grab an Atlantic magazine with the buy 4 for $80 deal (full-page coupon somewhere in there) on shirts at Paul Fredrick.  They have some good ties as well (only buy on sale), but it's hard to tell from online.  JAB also has some good ties.  Go to the store if possible so you can feel the material.  The more texture it has, generally speaking, the better.  Shoes--Allen Edmonds, from eBay.

Finally: You cannot ever buy anything from Van Heusen ever again.  Sorry.

Let me know if you have other questions.


  1. Dapper Dad makes a few other excellent points: no button-down collars with a suit, 100% cotton shirts only (no polyester!), and make sure you can fit a finger or two between your neck and your collar--but not much more than that.

  2. I have to ask - what's with the hate for Van Heusen?

  3. False economy. The shirts are usually polyester and suffer from collar and cuff pucker after few washings. I've owned my fair share in the past. Their ties unravel and fray before their time, as well.

  4. So, what's your recommended go-to shirt dress brand that's close(r) to it in price?

  5. Paul Fredrick for sure. Charles Tyrwhitt if you have a little extra dosh.


Questions, comments, and style ideas welcome, provided they are expressed respectfully.