Insanely Cheap Suit in Chicago (Without Looking Insane)?
April 17, 2012 9:57 PM   Subscribe

I know that "nice" and "cheap" are mutually exclusive in the world of suit buying, but my fiance has put off purchasing his wedding suit till the last minute and we're sort of broke.

We are in Chicago, and willing to travel to the distant suburbs if need be. He instructed all of his groomsman to buy plain black suits, and they've done so in spades, but he has been struggling with underemployment for the last month or so and procrastination has won out.

The wedding is in later May and is small and casual, but we are making rare appearances among extended family, and his groomsman are going to look half decent.

Cheap to us is under $150, but a ridiculous bargain (like $75) is ideal. This isn't counting the shirt and tie (we're going to go ahead and buy matching ties for all the guys).

If I had to describe what we were looking for in a nutshell, it's "unremarkable". Nothing to turn heads on any level. Just a normal couple, spanning time.


Any suggestions for off the beaten path, amazing grandpa-ish dives? Weird and time warp-y and/or out of our northwest side comfort zone is fine.

Used is always amazing, but please don't suggest standard thrift stores as while I know it can be done (and prefer to do it that way), that window has closed for us time-wise in terms of the hunt. Also, unless renting is significantly less than $150, I'm not sure it makes a heck of a lot of sense.

We expect to have to do a small amount of tailoring.

Please tell me about the magical place that you, your dad, or your annoying eccentric neighbor buys his gear in the Chicagoland area!
posted by macrowave to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (33 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Try some used clothing stores like Goodwill, in rich or well to do areas.
posted by gt2 at 10:00 PM on April 17, 2012

Nordstrom Rack and sometimes Marshall's, TJ Maxx, or Ross are good places to find decent suits at a discount. They still might be a little out of your budget (I don't recall ever seeing a suit at any of those stores for under $200), but maybe you can find something good on clearance.
It also might be worth checking the Craigslist for sale section? It's a long shot, but I know someone who got a nice suit for super cheap that way once.
posted by logic vs love at 10:05 PM on April 17, 2012

Costco had a nice blazer for 99$ last week. That and a pair of slacks are you're good to go.
posted by jennstra at 10:14 PM on April 17, 2012

Put This On, the best general menswear blog, had a guide to thrifting. A lot of the advice is predicated on the idea that you don't buy anything you need immediately so that you have the luxury of waiting for perfect things, but the rest of the advice should still be helpful.

Part One: Thrifting Philosophies
Part Two: How to Find the Best Thrift Stores
Part Three: Getting the Good Stuff

Good luck!
posted by lhputtgrass at 10:21 PM on April 17, 2012

Try Goodwill, as mentioned above, or maybe H&M? They have a lot of cheap suiting in their menswear department that sounds like it'd be in your price range. It's not armani, but I'm sure you're not expecting that for $75-100.
posted by Estraven at 10:24 PM on April 17, 2012

$75-150, I mean. My kingdom for an edit button...
posted by Estraven at 10:25 PM on April 17, 2012

Have you ruled out Chicago's higher-end charity shops? Specifically, you might check the Brown and White Elephants, which usually have a much wider selection of nice suits in wearable condition and sizes than the Value Villages, Goodwills etc. The Brown Elephant on Halstead maintains a separate room of "designer" clothing (ask an employee to open it if it's closed up), most of which are suits. I find the prices outrageous, but they're certainly within and below your range. If I needed a suit in a pinch, it's the first place I'd check.
posted by pullayup at 10:26 PM on April 17, 2012

I think you can rent it all for 80 or so. If he isn't likely to wear the suit otherwise, renting could make sense.
posted by Happydaz at 10:29 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Check out H&M...there's two near the loop...mostly they're known for cheap party clothes, but their suits are surprisingly nice and well within your budget...and usually pretty stylish and chic, to boot. I got a VERY nice black suit jacket there a few months ago (on sale...i'm an odd small size) for only $20 that i wear all the time. YMMV, of course, but it's worth checking out.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:35 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Gah! I guess I'm really beating around the bush here. I love thrift stores. The Salvation Army in Humboldt Park is my favorite. McKinley Park Unique is my second. I'm more concerned about time contraints and the patience of my fiance, and I'm thinking about those cheap crappy suit places over by Manny's Deli and on the outskirts of the south and west sides...
posted by macrowave at 10:36 PM on April 17, 2012

And H&M is feasible suggestion, as are TJ Maxx and Marshall's. We'll definitely try those. Thanks everyone for the suggestions so far!
posted by macrowave at 10:38 PM on April 17, 2012

also, H&M is a good place to pick up your matching ties...possibly even bow ties...maybe even suspenders and such...match the ties to the flowers or decor for even more stylishness...and the groom's should be a bit fancier...
posted by sexyrobot at 10:43 PM on April 17, 2012

My dad got a great-looking, youthful suit (I believe Sean John brand), measured and altered in-store to fit him perfectly, for my upcoming July wedding for exactly $150 at Macy's, taking advatage of a sale and combining it with one of their ubiquitous newspaper coupons.

I'm just saying that you don't necessarily have to resort to H&M crap but can get something that will actually look good and last a few years for the same amount of money.
posted by halogen at 10:53 PM on April 17, 2012


I have my father's black formal dinner-suit from the late 60s, early 70s, looking for a groom or retro dresser. You're welcome to it for the price of postage (and a photo of the groom).

Size will need to be a match, of course. The jacket's approximately 18" across the shoulders. Would that be right?

Few features: single breasted, one button, jacket; woollen; satin lapel; pleated, baggy, uncuffed, trousers, can take braces; trousers have a not overly conspicuous black braid pin-stripe down outer seam.

My father was 5'8" - 5'9", more thick set that slender. (Trousers have excess hem for leg length alteration.)

I can send you some pics and measurements if it sounds worth your while.
posted by de at 10:55 PM on April 17, 2012

Try Target! Seriously!
posted by shazzam! at 11:05 PM on April 17, 2012

JCPenney's "Stafford Essentials" separates line would run around $130 total for jacket and pants, and are good quality for the price. Easy to fit and buy in the store. Stafford has been their standard house brand for 50 years and is always reliable for their prices. Plus, a JCP store should have good stock of all sizes.

(It could be magical and eccentric to do a standard safe thing!)

Maybe Kohl's has something, but their quality and sourcing varies.
posted by caclwmr4 at 11:15 PM on April 17, 2012

Chicago must have one of those "suit outlet" stores- L.A. has a million of them. They usually have surprisingly high-quality suits for $150 or so. And they have racks and racks of stuff, so finding what you need quickly should be no problem.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:17 PM on April 17, 2012

Stein Mart might have something on sale, and it won’t suck at all.
posted by bongo_x at 11:45 PM on April 17, 2012

I bought a nice suit a year ago at JCPenney that was marked $160 but on sale and then I signed up for a store credit card for a ridiculous 20% off, so I ended up w/the suit, a shirt, & a tie for the $160.
posted by headnsouth at 1:07 AM on April 18, 2012

For insanely cheap, I'd get professionally measure BY A TAILOR and then order from men's suits. Kenneth Cole, $113. Ralph Lauren, $159. Perry Ellis, $95. You won't go wrong with any of those brands as long as you take the suit BACK TO THE TAILOR for alterations. Tell your other half he can bail out on the boredom of shopping only if he commits to tailoring as far in advance as possible.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:46 AM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

What's his suit size, and waist/inseam measurements? Have you considered borrowing one?

Otherwise, DarlingBri's advice is on target.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:54 AM on April 18, 2012

A "cheap" suit that fits perfectly will look significantly better than an expensive suit that does not fit well.
posted by doomtop at 5:01 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also - don't buy a black suit, and hopefully it isn't too late for the groomsman. Navy or Charcoal will look much better and be much more useful in the future. Black is really only used for Tuxes and should only be worn as evening wear.

99% of what people who aren't used to buying mens dress clothes read as "black" is actually Charcoal.
posted by JPD at 5:06 AM on April 18, 2012

I'd recommend nosing about on Dappered and possibly FMF to see if there's anything that jumps out. For instance, the GAP Ticket Pocket Tailored Cotton Blazer is $81, and if you can find trousers that match, you could get the whole thing tailored to an immaculate fit, and probably stay within budget.
posted by themadthinker at 5:22 AM on April 18, 2012

Targeted thrift store suggestion: The Ark on the corner of Milwaukee and Paulina (right by the division blue line) always had an enormous selection of old suits.
posted by Oktober at 5:36 AM on April 18, 2012

JCPenney's "Stafford Essentials"

Yup, and they have tailors on staff.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:45 AM on April 18, 2012

I'm gonna recommend renting as well. Expensive, high-quality designer suit, tailored to fit, ready in a day or two.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:49 AM on April 18, 2012

K&G has served me well. The only downside is that you may have to go a few times to scout out a suitable suit.

You could also check out the Goodwill stores in areas with higher incomes. (I have a friend who loves going to the Goodwill in the West Loop, and he gets all kinds of high end stuff cheaply.) There is one in Westmont at 63rd and Rt 83. (But double check the location.)

I also agree with renting as a solution. Those places will have appropriate "wedding" suits and on staff tailors. Pick it up early so that any last minute alterations can be done if necessary!
posted by gjc at 6:16 AM on April 18, 2012

Nthing Goodwill and Salv Army in nice areas. I'm typing this while wearing a Jhane Barnes shirt that was about $165 new and a pair of Valentino pants that were something insane like $280. Both were in mint condition at Goodwill; I paid $5.49 for the shirt, $7.49 for the pants. I have a few super-nice, high-end coats and sportcoats that were comparable bargains, always saw some verrrrrry nice suits for about $20.
posted by ambient2 at 6:58 AM on April 18, 2012

Also, if you are considering H&M you might also want to check out Zara too. It looks like there are two in Chicago, both having men's sections. We did the same thing for my husband for a wedding we had to go to, and the quality was a bit better than H&M (its probably a smidge more expensive too, but not by much, and worth it for the better fabric).

But, both H&M and Zara have a "european style" fit, which means if he isn't tall and skinny (or at least very proportional) you are going to have trouble with their sizing, and even so, don't be surprised if he has to go up an inch or two to be comfortable.
posted by zara at 7:02 AM on April 18, 2012

Thanks everybody! I think we'll try JC Penny's, H&M, and maybe Zara this weekend. Checking out too.
posted by macrowave at 7:42 AM on April 18, 2012

I always suggest people try Macy's. The last few times I've gone suit shopping, all the "cheap" places failed to measure up to the sale at Macy's. I think my last suit there was $125, name brand, and well constructed.
posted by advicepig at 10:40 AM on April 18, 2012

JC Penny's/ Macy's combo for the win. We got a suit for $99 complete at JC Penny's, no tailoring needed, and a buy one get one set of Ben Sherman shirts at Macy's with coupon for $65. Score!
posted by macrowave at 9:52 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

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