You don’t need a bespoke suit to look like a million bucks

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I’ve never owned a bespoke suit in my life. When I see normal businessman-type guys rocking nice bespoke suits, I can certainly appreciate that they look great, but that look is not part of my world and it’s not something I aspire to. I’m not saying I would turn down a nice $3000 English-made suit, but that look is not a priority for me.

The fact that I wear suits and ties almost every day and generally try to dress nice makes a lot of people think I spend a lot of money on clothes (or even that I’m wealthy!). That’s definitely not the case, and I think it’s a shame that our culture equates dressing nice with being rich. It certainly wasn’t that way fifty or a hundred years ago; men in general dressed with a lot more pride back then, regardless of their status, and I wish that idea weren’t considered so outdated now.

My philosophy has always been that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to look good, although I can definitely concede that the guys who do spend a lot on real suits can almost certainly tell how cheap my suits are from a mile away. When I end up in a douchey bar in Manhattan wearing my cheap stuff I look around at the douchey rich people and I can definitely see that what we’re wearing has practically no similarity at all. I don’t care; I look cooler than they do. They’re not trying to look cool, they’re trying to look rich/professional.

The vast majority of my clothes are really very inexpensive. I have about ten suits and another ten or so jackets/blazers, and they’re all cheap. Most of my suits are from JackThreads or H&M and are in the $150-$200 range. My best suit is from Zara and was under $300. People are shocked when I tell them this. I just buy cheap stuff off the rack (or off the internet) and the only alterations I have done are hemming the pants by an inch or two. That’s it. The suit in the pic above is from Delaveine in Paris and was just €99(!), and it looks slick as hell.

So, it’s really possible to make cheap, stylish suits look great, if you have an eye for it and if you know where to shop. This applies to everything, not just suits. Most of my shirts are from H&M or Zara and are in the $15-$25 range. It hurts me physically to pay more than $30 for a shirt. I’ve certainly never been one of those guys who gets his shirts made; I wouldn’t know where to begin, and again, I’m not from that world and I’m not trying to pretend to be. I’m okay with buying cheap shirts that fit well and wear out after six months and then I get to buy all new ones in different patterns/colors. I like having a lot of cheap clothes that I can wear out and replace often rather than having a smaller wardrobe of high-quality tailored stuff that I keep for years and years.

Most of my ties are all in the $10-$20 range; two of my favorite ties actually came from the €1 bin in a store called Tati, which is basically the French equivalent of Kmart. My shoes are all in the $50-$100 range; I can’t imagine spending more than about $150 on a pair of shoes.

My point is, if you buy the right inexpensive things and put them together well, you can look just as good as (albeit very different from) a Wall Street douchebag sporting a $3000 suit. Someone who really knows clothes can see the difference, but there’s nothing wrong with that difference. I’m not trying to pull off a successful businessman look, and they’re not trying to pull off a glam/dandy/rocker/artsy urban guy look. An off the rack suit will never fit as well as a bespoke one, and I’m fine with that. An off the rack suit will never look as expensive as a bespoke one, and I don’t give a fuck about that.

I grew up basically middle or lower-middle-class and even as I’ve gotten older and relatively more successful I’ve never felt like I deserved or needed to spend a lot of money on clothes. I guess I should qualify that; I do end up spending probably too much on clothes overall, but that’s in order to have a huge arsenal of cheap stylish clothes rather than a small wardrobe of nice high-end tailored clothes. I’ve wondered from time to time if it’s time to make that jump and get a real suit or two, but I honestly find the idea a little intimidating and bewildering; I wouldn’t know where to start, where to go, what to look for and ask for, how much to spend. And I’d wonder if I was buying a nice suit because that’s what’s expected of a stylish guy, or if I was doing it because I really wanted it.

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