Men’s Suits: Should You Buy Quality or Luxury?
Do you know the difference between a quality men’s suit and one sold as a ‘luxury’ brand? Understanding the difference between the two can make you a more informed consumer. It can also save you lots of money!
Quality is tangible and measurable. You determine the quality of a product by measuring it against other products that are similar or by comparing it to a known standard. A quality men’s suit has fabric and construction features that meet an agreed upon performance and aesthetic baseline.
Let’s consider one measurable test of quality: Wool is considered superior to polyester when choosing suit fabrics. Why? Wool is a natural fiber that breathes, unlike man-made polyester which tends to hold in heat. Wool is also softer on the skin and considered more refined in appearance than polyester. For these reasons, generally, a wool suit is considered to be of higher quality than one made of polyester. This is just one of the standards used to judge the quality of a man’s suit.
Luxury, on the other hand, is not measurable or tangible. It exists only in the mind of a consumer. It’s how you feel about a product. When you feel that a brand or product is so desirable that you are willing to pay far more for it than for items of similar quality, it becomes a luxury. Savvy marketers will charge you much more for that brand or designer label because of the strong feelings you have for it. Luxury brands are marketed to make you feel superior, special, more attractive, more important, smug, exclusive . . . and the more you pay, it seems, the better you feel about your purchase . . . A rather interesting story on how this works is shown in the video below:
The “Paylessi” Social Experiment – What People Will Pay for ‘Luxury’
Of course, a luxury men’s suit brand can offer high quality. But you’re not paying only for quality. Included in that very high price tag is the cost of a luxury designer name or couture brand. Sometimes, that desirable ‘luxury’ label can double, even triple the cost of your suit. A suit that should cost no more than $500.00 now costs $1500.00 just by adding a desirable luxury brand name to the tag. Are you willing to pay that much for something that makes you feel good but adds nothing to the quality of your suit?
A man’s suit that should cost no more than $500.00 can cost $1500.00 or more just by adding a desirable luxury brand name to the tag.
Personally, as a frugal consumer, I’m not interested in boasting about how much I paid for a suit. I want to purchase the best quality garments for my budget. If you’ve read this far, then most likely you share my feelings. The question is how to get maximum suit quality for your budget without paying an excessive markup for luxury?
Be An Educated Consumer
The key is education, knowing what defines a quality men’s suit, and finding brands that offer it without a hefty premium added for luxury. That can be a challenge in this age of information overload. There is much advertising masquerading as education online. If you would like to dig deeper into the secrets of suit construction, and menswear, in general, the best guides are in print. Here are two books I highly recommend to anyone looking to unravel the mysteries of menswear:
Style & The Man by Alan Flusser
Style & The Man by Alan Flusser gives you the ‘nuts and bolts’ information on how men’s clothing is made and what defines quality. It is not intended to be a style guide (see the recommendation below for that). Rather, it helps you to understand how men’s tailored clothing is manufactured, what makes for a quality garment, and how menswear is marketed.
Clothes and the Man by Alan Flusser
Clothes and the Man by Alan Flusser teaches you the basics of selecting and buying all forms of tailored men’s clothing. Although first printed in 1985, its recommendations are timeless. It teaches how to build and coordinate a well-curated wardrobe of suits, sportscoats, and accessories. If you want to know what tie goes with what shirt, this is your guide.
Both books are widely available at online booksellers, bookstores (or in your local library). I purchased my copies second-hand on eBay (of course). Build your knowledge of menswear. It will help you to identify quality and value while avoiding the empty and costly appeal of luxury. Best of all, you’ll save money in the process!