THE SCENE: A Wedding Consultation
Groom: So, I really want something that looks modern & well tailored.
Hands wedding professional an iPhone with an image saved from Pinterest.
Wedding Professional: Looking at image. Ah! Very nice! This looks like a Tom Ford suit that Bradley Cooper wore for the Oscars. Great taste.
Groom: Yep! I just really like the way it looks.
Wedding Professional: Of course. Very well done suit. We pride ourselves in accommodating just about any budget. What did you have in mind for this suit.
Groom: I was thinking somewhere around $100 to $150.
Wedding Professional: ….uh.
The scene above is not an uncommon conversation. There seems to be a disconnect in the relationship between value and quality when it comes to menswear. It’s so easy to search for looks on Pinterest, Google, Instagram or even Brides of Oklahoma. Many times on the women’s side of the wedding industry, the ladies generally understand that runway caliber design comes at a price. I haven’t seen the same understanding applied on the men’s side. Many grooms assume a Bradley Cooper designer look can be created for their $150 budget. Unfortunately, it just isn’t possible. So, let’s talk about it and see if we can bridge the gap briefly by discussing 4 key qualities of a men’s suit or tuxedo that can affect the price.
(guest post by EVERYMAN)
Photo: Aiming Arrow Photography
Like any product, what it is made of matters. For a suit or tuxedo, you generally have two primary options. Synthetic material or natural material. There are hybrid materials that blend the synthetic with natural. Get into the habit of asking what the garment is made of. On most off the rack suits this can simply be found by looking at the tag inside the left breast pocket.
Most suits in your average department stores or mass merchandisers will carry exclusively synthetic or synthetic blends. Look for words like Polyester, Rayon, Poly-Rayon or Polyester/Silk Blend. Remember, these fabrics are easier to make because the material is literally made from chemicals. This ease of fabrication lowers the price point. A suit made of cotton or wool costs more because there is intrinsically more labor involved in producing the material.
DISCLAIMER: You can look great in a polyester suit! Especially on a budget, blended suits have come a long way is both style and construction. Most important is that you know what you’re buying.
Pros of Synthetic Material: Value Priced & Widely Available
Pros of Natural Material: Breathable Higher Quality Fabrics
Tires. They are all round. They are all made of rubber. They all go on cars. However, the way they are constructed can greatly affect the price. So, how is a suit constructed? Two primary ways: fused canvas and floating canvas. Let’s not get into the weeds here. Think about your suit as having an inner layer and an outer layer. With a fused canvas, the inner layer and the outer layer are stuck together, usually through a heat process this makes the suit feel like a solid piece of fabric. With a floating canvas the inner layer and outlier are not stuck together. They are joined by being sewn together, usually along seams, but the majority of the fabric inside floats underneath the exterior fabric.
Pro’s of Fused Canvas: Value Priced & Widely Available
Pro’s of Floating Canvas: The Drape of the Suit on the Body
This one is fairly simple. The more specifically a garment is made, the more it costs. On one end of the spectrum you have off the rack suits, and on the other end you have bespoke.
Thought Exercise: If I am a suit manufacturer and I’m making a suit for a gentlemen who measures to a 40R coat, I’m going to create a suit that I believe will accommodate MOST 40R measurements. This means my 40R will NOT fit some men who measure to a 40R, and it also means for the gentlemen who it does fit that there may be sacrifices being made in other areas of fit. I can speak with certainty that I’ve measured hundreds of men, and even if they share a chest size, their body measurements and body types are ALL different.
Fit Tip 1
More and more off the rack brands are including different fits in their lines. They all use different nomenclature. For example, in one line in my store their regular cut suit is called the “Taylor Fit,” and their more tapered fit is called the “Savvy Slim.” Another line simply calls their regular cut a “2 Button” while their tapered is called “Euro Slim.”
Fit Tip 2
If you can afford to create a custom piece it’s always the BEST way to get the most accurate fit. However, we can’t all afford that luxury. Just be aware that within a certain brand there is most likely multiple fits. Know what you are buying.
Fit Tip 3
Most suits can be tailored. Find a great tailor and make a classic fit suit more tapered.
Great suiting brands have built a reputation because of the quality of the suits they create. Keep in mind, manufacturers have costs outside of just building a suit. Advertising costs, marketing, retail store programs and percentages back to designers can all add costs to a reputable brand. Couple these costs with the fabric, construction and attention to fit these makers put into their suits and you begin to understand the implications of the retail cost to the consumer.
Click here for a list of the top 40 suiting brands for men. Even better, find a local independently owned suiting operator and start building a relationship you can trust.
So… Bradley Cooper. That suit you want to snag was probably made of a very high end wool. It was constructed using a full canvas construction and perhaps even sewn by hand. It was made specifically for Bradley by taking extensive measurements and going through an elaborate fitting process. It was created by a reputable designer with years of experience and expertise. The suit rightfully costs thousands of dollars. My hope is that now you know why.
A great suiting store can help you navigate this sometimes difficult to understand industry. I am happy to work with any gent, on any budget, to create a stunning look they can feel confident in. Admittedly, this post is just the tip of the iceberg. Be sure to stay tuned. In my next blog post I’ll chat about some cheats, hacks and insider tips to get the look you are trying to create for your wedding day at a price that makes sense for the budget.
J Bryson Baker is the founder of www.everymanshop.com and owns and operates EVERYMAN. EVERYMAN is based in Stillwater, Oklahoma, but also operates in the Oklahoma City area. They specialize in barbering, suiting, custom clothing, rentals and all things wedding.