Where can I buy a good suit in the Twin Cities?
May 14, 2005 8:19 AM   Subscribe

After getting by without needing a suit all through college, I'm finding that that dog won't hunt in the real world. And my suits from high school all don't fit. Where can a person buy a good suit, as inexpensively as possible, in the Twin Cities?

Are there any secret discount stores I can go to? I know about Mens Wearhouse but that's about it. I walked in there and was shocked to find how expensive they are, and I was baffled by how many choices I had. Which brings me to my second question: what's a normal price range for a good suit, and what should I look for in one?
posted by the_W to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're shocked by the price of Mens Wearhouse, you haven't been shopping for suits very long. Seriously, that's about as low as you can go and expect a decent suit that won't fall apart.

Check out Blue Fly to see how much designer suits go for even at a discount.
posted by falconred at 8:26 AM on May 14, 2005

Ehhh, you might have luck at a place like Burlington Coat Factory, but Men's Wearhouse is actually usually the best bet. You might buy suit there, then take it to a real tailor to adjust the fit.
posted by willpie at 8:37 AM on May 14, 2005

What about online? My guy just got a beautiful suit from Jos A. Bank online - $150 for a wool/cashmere blend.
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:41 AM on May 14, 2005

My brother bought a nice DKNY suit a few years ago at Marshall's in the IDS Center downtown. I haven't been there in a year or so, but I do seem to remember them having a decent selection. Also downtown is Saks, which just changed to an all discount shop. At the Mall of America, you could try The Nordstrom Rack or Filene's Basement if it's still around.
posted by emoeby at 9:24 AM on May 14, 2005

I don't know much about the Twin cities area, but I do know if you can catch Joseph A. Banks during a sale you can do very well.

Also, a good clothing store was going out of business and I was able to snag a couple of good suits (Jack Victor) for about $400 each. They were regulary about $800. While that seems expensive, with proper care (dry cleaning only once and while, pressing more often) they are still the best suits I own. They have held up extremely well compared to my other decent suits.

The other option is buy a couple of sportcoats and some dress pants. While not for interviewing, it would be an accetable alternative for day to day stuff.
posted by szg8 at 9:40 AM on May 14, 2005

I walked in there and was shocked to find how expensive they are, and I was baffled by how many choices I had

Ha, ha. A good suit -- high quality material, good stitching and such -- can easily run into the 4 digits. This doesn't even suggest custom tailoring, where low 4 digits is the bargain bin.

Go back to Men's Wearhouse and plan to spend $600-$1,000. Tell the salesman you need a post-college suit, and what field you expect to be in. They get this all the time, and can help you without embarrassing you. He'll help you into something, and then suggest shirts and ties to go with the suit. When you have everything picked out, a tiny asian woman will appear and chalk off your suit for some alterations.

Do you have nice dress shoes? You should. MW sells some pretty nice shoes; the dance shoes they sell are buttery soft leather and go well with either suit or less formal wear.
posted by boo_radley at 9:48 AM on May 14, 2005

If you're up for a drive, the Unique Thrift Store in New Hope (Northwest 'burb bordering Plymouth and Robbinsdale) is a good spot for cheap suits. See, it's one of the only places the rich people that live in the area can get rid of their old clothes; consequently you can find once-worn $300 suits for about $25. Naturally the fitting part is the hardest, as the sizes tend to run a little large on suits, but if you know your measurments and/or know someone good with a needle, you should be fine. Nobody can tell the difference between a thrift store suit and a brand-new, store bought one, but the difference to you can mean literally hundreds of dollars. So naturally I'd also check out the Ragstock locations in Uptown, Dinkytown, and their outlet, as well as the other Unique in St. Paul. Even though Ragstock might be more expensive you might end up with a steal- my buddy once found a crushed red velour suit that fit him like a glove there, for $20. If that doesn't get you a job I don't know what will.
posted by baphomet at 9:53 AM on May 14, 2005

Nobody can tell the difference between a thrift store suit and a brand-new, store bought one

Some people can. Try thrifting with someone who really knows their clothes. There are a lot of good suits to be found at Goodwill, but you don't want something in a cheap fabric or out-of date style (an issue or two of GQ or Esquire should get you acquainted with current lapel widths). Take what you buy to a good tailor to get altered. Very few guys can get a good fit right off the rack, thrift store or not. No matter how nice the suit, if it doesn't fit, you'll look like you're wet behind the ears.

I recently found a Brooks Brothers sport coat in my neighbor's trash. Once I get it altered, it's gonna look sharp!
posted by hydrophonic at 11:43 AM on May 14, 2005

Keep in mind that this is one of those things that you should spend the money on once to have something good. It took me a long time to figrue this out, so it's not like I haven't been in the same position.

A good, classic suit can last for yeeeaaarrss, easily making up the original cost, rather than buying something cheap just to have it over with and having to replace it as it falls apart.

As far as stores, I took my boyfriend to Nordstrom's for his first suit. Their salespeople are always knowledgable about the stock and the prices are reasonable. I think in total it came to $400. There's a Nordstroms in the Mall of America. They also do free tailoring, as should any decent store that sells suits.
posted by whatzit at 11:44 AM on May 14, 2005

I've dressed a few of the men in my life at the Men's Warehouse when they were in the pre-designer budget stage. The folks who work there are generally helpful, knowledgeable, and capable of working within a budget. You could get out of MW with a couple of suits, shirts, ties, hankerchiefs, shoes and socks for under a thousand dollars, I'd be willing to bet.

The quality of the suits there has always been more than adequate, and they've held up well after dry cleaning. Do they look as good as an Armani? Well...no. But then, so few people have the right shape to make an Armani look like an Armani...so it doesn't really matter. ;)

Designer suits will run $600 (on sale) and up. Bespoke suits, which are custom tailored, will run a few thousand and up.

Suits are never cheap. Well, the ones that are are just spooky...and nobody wants to be that polyester guy...
posted by dejah420 at 11:58 AM on May 14, 2005

My brother (former lawyer) used to swear by Marshalls. They're an off-price discount store so the selection varies widely from store to store and day to day. He'd get name brand, cheap suits then take them somewhere else to be altered. Even with that he thought it was a good deal.
posted by sevenless at 12:19 PM on May 14, 2005

D'oh, ok I'll preview a little harder next time.
posted by sevenless at 12:21 PM on May 14, 2005

I recently bought a really sharp suit at the Men's Warehouse here in Philly. I tend to look bad in suits. I'm not a big guy and I usually look like I'm wearing a sack. Being a recent college grad myself, I've been very self-conscious about looking like I'm wearing my dad's second-hand suits. But they tailored it really well at the MW. It's a 3 piece so I can adjust the formality of it to any occasion. The whole thing only cost me about $300. The staff is really helpful. They'll help you pick out shirts and ties that match your suit as well as make it look even better.
I wound up liking the suit jacket so much that I wear it almost all the time, even with jeans and sneakers. I'd give Men's Warehouse my vote. If you're worried about the price, just talk to one of the salesmen. Tell them what you're looking for and what your budget is. They'll be really accommodating. I honestly didn't expect to get as nice a suit for the little money that I planned on spending there. Also, they warrantee your alterations (if you get them done there).
posted by Jon-o at 12:38 PM on May 14, 2005

Jeff bought a suit at a place called S&K Menswear in Greensboro, North Carolina right before we moved. We walked in, looked helplessly at the sales guy (he'd never owned a suit and I'd never dated anybody who owned a suit), and in about a half hour we walked out of there with a suit, two shirts, two ties, and a belt for under $300.

I'm still in awe at how easy and cheap that was, but I don't know if S&K is a national chain or not.

But if you go into a place like Men's Warehouse, tell them you don't want to spend more than $300 (even if you don't want to spend more than $400) but have no idea what to get, they should help you out. And I second the notion that shelling out that much money for a suit is well worth it. Jeff gets a lot of mileage out of his and he doesn't even have a suit-type job right now, and he will be able to wear it for at least a couple more years. And that wasn't even a super high-quality suit, so if you are willing to pay more for quality and good custom tailoring, you won't have to buy another suit for a really long time.
posted by jennyb at 1:05 PM on May 14, 2005

On the "what do I get" front, I've had good luck with walking into a Giant Suit Store and saying to the little man, "Hi. I need a suit for interviews and work, so I need to look as boring as a German banker."

no offense to German central bankers... I'm sure they go nuts when they're off the job.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:33 PM on May 14, 2005

While it's pretty dependent on what field you're in, I'm guessing from the fact that you imagined getting away without a suit at all, that you aren't in law or banking or one of the professions where your peers will seriously notice the quality of your suit. It may be a bit different for men, but I had a charcoal suit from Banana Republic that fit well (but I have pretty standard measurements) & looked sharp enough for interviews etc, and I only spent around $300? I think, including a shirt & belt... Basically, the blazer was the expensive part; the matching wool pants were maybe $70? so with shirt at $40 or $50, belt another $20, that makes the jacket between $150-200.

Again, if you're in a fancy-dancy world, people certainly will recognize a chain store suit as less than a designer suit; but if you're in an even fancier-dancier world, they'll recognize a designer suit and consider it low-class compared to something custom tailored. It all depends on the expectations of your environment.

Do not just go to a thrift store and pick up anything that technically fits the definition of suit, though. Make sure you're buying something from a reliable manufacturer/designer, and in a current style (unless you are buying a groovy velvet suit for your wedding or something). But if you're just looking for something to wear to the first interview, kinda thing, then I would go with a basic off-the-rack deal from a place like banana republic. It is still an investment, but it will last (I only use the past tense because that suit ended up in someone else's closet when I went back to school -) and be very useful on many occasions.
posted by mdn at 1:41 PM on May 14, 2005

^ not to say don't do the thrift store thing at all - I only meant, do your research or bring along an expert before going that route.
posted by mdn at 1:41 PM on May 14, 2005

bleah. 'scuse my arithmetic. obviously blazer more like 130-170. tho' this was a few years back...
posted by mdn at 1:45 PM on May 14, 2005

You may want to run to Albertville and hit the Brooks Brothers outlet. May cost you $300-$400 for a less expensive model,
posted by Kwantsar at 2:15 PM on May 14, 2005

id say watch marshall fields - especially during their blowout sales ... i saw some nice stuff at the downtown store at the after christmas sales ... they were virtually giving them away.
posted by specialk420 at 3:08 PM on May 14, 2005

Don't discount the traditonal retailers as well. While I've outlet shopped, and picked up suits at the Men's Warehouse and Burlington Coat Factory, some of the best suits, dollar-for-dollar, I've purchased have been at Macy's when they have their deeper discounts -- 40% off or more. You just have to be willing to shop and purchase a suit when you're not really looking for one.
posted by herc at 3:14 PM on May 14, 2005

I'll second Marshall Field's - especially their downtown Minneapolis location. My dad got a wool sportcoat there for $3, marked down from $300. Their sales staff is also excellent.
posted by Coffeemate at 3:16 PM on May 14, 2005

Check Nates in the Warehouse District of downtown Minneapolis, occasional significant sales, for a more serious suit than the Men's Warehouse. The latter is a far from terrible place to get a suit though.
posted by nanojath at 1:09 AM on May 15, 2005

Try K&G Men's Mart. It is in blaine or something. Used to be on Excelsior Blvd. But they have suits for $99 that are 100% wool and are pretty nice. I have 3 and all that's 'fallen apart' in 4 years is one button on my tuxedo jacket.
posted by clgregor at 10:14 AM on May 16, 2005

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