“Dress Like a Million Bucks, for Much, Much Less.” I was excited this morning to see this huge banner headline on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Right now, so many Americans are struggling and millions are still out of work, so any advice about finding less expensive apparel is sorely needed.
Unfortunately, when I turned to the actual story my heart sank. It was an article about finding a nice men’s suit, but the price tag for this affordable piece of attire was between $500 and $700. The piece called it “the new sweet spot” for men’s suits. When you take into account the average unemployment check in this country is $295, a price tag for a suit of twice that is steep for most jobless men.
We women complain about all our fashion woes, but guys have it hard too, especially when it comes to the cost of looking good for an interview. And today, with four job seekers for every job, we all have to look our best.
This from the Journal article:
“We are seeing the suit business really come back in the last six months very very strongly,” says Robert Burke, a luxury-goods consultant and founder of Robert Burke Associates in New York.
Many men wait for seasonal sales in order to find a good price on a suit, but suit makers hope the new $500 to $700 range will encourage men to buy retail instead of waiting for price cuts.
Alas, even that range may still have many men waiting on the sideline.
The article did include mention of Target suits, but in a quality test by fashionistas the $89.98 Target suit got the lowest marks. “It is what it is,” said Salvatore Giardina, a men’s suit designer and professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
The need for suits right now is big, especially among jobless men. Some retailers are stepping up to the plate to help out. Men’s Warehouse, which offers more moderately priced suits and was not mentioned in the Journal story, has been involved in suit drives for homeless and jobless men, giving away thousands of refurbished suits.
I’m suspecting the Journal’s omission of Men’s Warehouse, one of the biggest menswear retailers in the country, had something to do with the hip factor. For some reason, Target, even though it’s a discount chain, meets some sort of cool quotient. Maybe it’s because you can pronounce it in French, “tar-jay.” But I digress.
What other choices do men have? My husband is big on scouring discount stores such as TJ Maxx and Marshalls for suit deals; and I’ve heard from many men who’ve found suits at thrift shops, including Goodwill and Salvation Army. And don’t forget consignment shops if you want clothing that looks less used, and edeals also abound.
So should you even wear a suit?
Barbara Pachter, a business etiquette expert thinks so. She offers a list of things to consider about wearing a suit to an interview:
1. When in doubt, wear a suit. Companies know that you are dressing to impress. Even if you won’t be wearing a suit for your job, you may still consider wearing one. A young man was just hired at a small IT company. He wore a suit to the interview. He can wear jeans and sneakers to work.
2. What type of company? If it a conservative company, wear a suit.
3. What is the level of the position? The higher the position, the more likely you will want to wear a suit. A young woman just interviewed for a VP position at a public relations company. Since it was a VP position, she wore a suit. She got the job.