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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Being in the engineering/sciences field, I do not wear suits much. As such, I have not had much need to purchase one. I do have an ill-fitting 3B grey suit from J. Crew which I have had for a decade. It is about time I grow up and get a decent wardrobe. In my quest to do so, I have been reading this forum to educate myself about suits.

I would like to start with a traditional 3B navy suit as a general duty, go-to suit as I establish my wardrobe. I thought the recent Brooks Brothers sale would be a good entry point. My understanding from this board is that in the 1818 line, the Madison would most likely be closest to my frame. I am 5'7", 180lbs, on the sturdy side, 35-36" waist, somewhere in the neighborhood of a 42 jacket.

I went to my local BB to try a Madison, which upon inspection seems like a good suit for the sale price of $600. The first salesman tried to put me in a 42R, but it looked a bit long. Other than that I was not too aware of fit. The BB store did not have a 42S Madison in stock, but they said they would acquire it from another store. A week later they called me to inform me of its arrival.

I walked into the store and asked the saleswoman at the counter about the suit. She immediately told me a 42S would not fit, that I needed a 44S because of my chest/shoulders. I tried the suit anyway and sure enough, the fit wasn't great. There was quite a bit of gaping at the chest and it pulled in the upper back because of my shoulders. The shoulders themselves dimpled at the sides of the shoulders. The saleswoman told me the poor fit was because I have a barrel chest and that I should wear a 2B suit. Seeing the jacket on me, she told me a 44 would be too big in the shoulders. She had the in-store tailor come out who agreed with her assessment.

I feel fairly strongly that I want a 3B suit. I have searched the forum for information about appropriate suits for barrel chests, and at least one post had recommended BB. Is J. Press more accommodating of a barrel chest than BB? I had no luck at my local Nordstrom store either, though that was because they seemed to have only one solid navy suit in my size range and it was 2B. In retrospect I probably should have tried a 3B in other colors there.

There are some smaller, independent haberdashers here in Providence, though I have heard they are pricey (as I write this, I realize I should simply find that out for myself). I am looking to keep it at or below the $600 price point. Is this realistic? I have the sense that a decent MTM would be significantly higher in price. I am close enough to Boston to make the drive or might even take the train to NYC if necessary to purchase the right suit. But I would like to know in advance that my chances of success are high. Your ideas, please.

Thank you.
 

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If you insist on finding a 3B, look for ones that are made with a lower button stance and more substantial lapels. Unfortunately, the trend for 3B suits has been to go higher and higher with smaller and smaller lapels. Those suits will not look good on you.

I am a bit like you, maybe not so stocky, but at about 5-11, 190 with a big neck, big shoulders and chest. I wear mostly 2B suits because the lapel and button stance tend to elongate and slim my torso.

For that price, you might be able to find a H.Freeman suit off the rack that would suit you - they have a good cut that would accommodate a bigger chest and shoulders. They also have many retailers who do M2M for them, many times for not much more than your target price - so might even be able to put together a 3B that would work.

(on a side topic, a 3button, rolled to 2 would probably work well for you, if you come across them at BB).
 

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I am quite short with a broad chest. I've found the best 3/2 sack fit with J Press and old Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece. The newer Brooks are cut slimmer and the J Press, depending on the particular model, is sometimes even 1/2 size smaller than what I wear in the old Golden Fleece. I would go see Charles or Dennis at J Press in Cambridge. They are both very good and a pleasure to deal with. For a little more money, you could try The Andover Shop around the corner from J Press. I'm sure they could get you a very good fit in a Southwick. Finally, you might call Ethan at O'Connell's in Buffalo. I have not bought a suit from them, but I have bought other things and they are great. Others have said they have an extraordinary collection so they might have something particularly broad for you.
David
 

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I have the same problem. J. Press does seem to fit well in the chest, but I usually have the sides taken in a bit at the waist.

I did have luck with the BB Madison sack blazer. It was a bit tight in the chest, but I had my local tailor take it out a bit. He told me that if I went up a size that I would have problems with the shoulders.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Gents, thank you each for your input.

ChicagoTrad, that is an interesting point about a 3 roll to 2 as a possible option. As far as a 3B not looking good on me, the saleswoman at BB said essentially the same thing, omitting that the trend has been to move the buttons upward. She simply said that because the button stance was so high and my chest large, the 3B would inevitably gape. I wonder where in Providence, or Boston, one may find H. Freeman.

David, I think I will stop by J. Press in Cambridge, and probably the Andover shop as well. I am curious about old vs. new golden fleece. I did a search but did not find the answer to this question: how does one tell the difference between the two? I presume there are different labels... so is it simply a matter of finding a label which does not look like the current one? Good sources of old BBGF suits?

Cowtown, lucky for you that your tailor was skilled enough to make the Madison work on your body. I assume that the in-store tailor at BB would have told me if I were a good candidate to have the chest let out. He did not, so maybe there just wasn't enough material to let it out. Or perhaps the tightness in the upper back, caused by my shoulders, quenched any question of letting the chest out. I did not think to ask if the chest could be let out.

Incidentally, I did ask at BB whether a 43R Madison, shortened appropriately, might work. The saleswoman at BB thought that was a bad road to head down but did suggest that perhaps I could buy a 44S and have the shoulders altered. I found the suggestion that taking in the shoulders was a better route than shortening the jacket quite remarkable. Puzzled, I asked if shoulder fit from the get-go was not the most important thing, and she agreed it was.
 

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Hope your search goes well. I was about to suggest the two button for your build as well until I saw ChicagoTrad had done it.

Glad you've decided to "dress like a man." I've learned a lot from this and other clothing forums. Hope your journey is a good one. Ignore the un-constructive comments, pay attention to the ones that say why you should avoid certain things, and you should do quite well.
 

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Gents, thank you each for your input.

ChicagoTrad, that is an interesting point about a 3 roll to 2 as a possible option. As far as a 3B not looking good on me, the saleswoman at BB said essentially the same thing, omitting that the trend has been to move the buttons upward. She simply said that because the button stance was so high and my chest large, the 3B would inevitably gape. I wonder where in Providence, or Boston, one may find H. Freeman.
Hi En Garbe,

For H. Freeman, the best place for M2M seems to be in New York, at Izzy's, and there is a lot of discussion about their M2M program on AskAndy. HFreeman's website is:

and email is:[email protected]

One of the nice things about them is that you can get a M2M from them pretty much anywhere in the country, so there is probably someone nearby and there may be some OTR options they have available as well. I like the HFreeman suits I have and they are probably one of the best M2M bargains out there.

The other thing that came to mind around Boston is the Southwick factory in Mass. Someone else on here posted that they do M2M at the factory and have OTR suits as well. I think they still make some of the suits for BB (1818?)

https://www.southwickclothing.com/cgi-local/content.cgi

I haven't tried their M2M, but I like the Southwick suits I have as well (one southwick labelled suit and 2 PStuart labelled suits made by Southwick)

The Golden Fleece suits are wonderful also, but you go up quite a bit in price when you look at them.

good luck!
 

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I am about ChicagoTrad's height and weight, and I find that I can go in between 3B and 2B pretty well, but 2B generally does look a little better on my frame.

If this also describes your dimensions, I think that you will find a J. Press 3b sack from the Pressclusive line fits you pretty well. It's in your price range, and my jacket needed virtually no alteration. Ditto my Presstige sportcoat. As for their most expensive Pressidential line: while these are truly superior suits, like Cowtown I found that mine needed to be taken-in at the waist a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Gents, thank you each for your input.

ChicagoTrad--after reading this forum for a while, I had in the back of my mind the possibility of heading to LS for an MTM suit, but feared it would be out of my price range ($600 or so). It sounds like you are saying that it may well be in range, or if not within, then not far beyond the threshold. I suppose fabric will play a large role here. Can you (or anyone else) say whether Izzy is out of my range? In any event, I think I will utilize that H. Freeman customer service email address which you have graciously provided to see whether I may locate an associated tailor in RI as well.

That is a good point about Southwick. I believe I have read that they have (or had) an outlet in Lawrence, MA. Is an RTW Southwick suit roomier in the chest than a BB Madison 3B? Anyone know if MTM Southwick can be had in my price range? I had the sense that they were more money still.

Jovan, in the science/engineering field, suits are not exactly de rigeur. I do feel strongly that I need to improve my wardrobe to project professionalism, but I also fear some will view this as a little over the top. I work with various levels of personnel. I think a gradual transition is in order. Thoughts?

cheers,

en garbe
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Zot,

The J. Press Pressclusive 3B sack looks like it might do the job. From his description, I am 4" shorter than ChicagoTrad. I am led to believe that in addition to the high button stance of the current 3B, which may lead to gaping on a barrel chest, a 3B in general does not work well with shorter men. I am not sure I understand why this is the case. It would seem that 3B suits have been around for a long time, dating back to when the average man was my height. So why should it be different now? I do prefer a 3B to a 2B so am really hoping to figure a way around this.

Some of the Pressidential 3B look like they have a very high top button stance as compared to the Pressclusive. The Navy Pressclusive they list on their site looks like a 3 roll to 2. I am hoping to shoot up to J. Press this weekend to try on some suits...

en garbe
 

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Zot,

Some of the Pressidential 3B look like they have a very high top button stance as compared to the Pressclusive. The Navy Pressclusive they list on their site looks like a 3 roll to 2. I am hoping to shoot up to J. Press this weekend to try on some suits...

en garbe
More than that, the Presclusive (or at least the way mine came) is very hard pressed to two buttons. The effect you get is somewhat like a two-button suit with an inexplicable "slash" perpendicular to the lapel line. The effect is shown really well on BB's page for the Brooksease 3B sack:


Compare with the same line, only on a 2b darted model:

Finally, as a further point of comparrison, look at the more "contemporary" 3b darted offering from the same line:


The J. Press Pressidential is more of a "soft roll." As the name implies, the lapel curves open gradually. It is also a higher roll: The size and placement of the "v" is closer to the suit in the photo above, but without the sharp crease. While most folks here consider the soft roll superior, I think that the Pressclusive/Brooksease roll may be more appropriate for you, given the concerns you've expressed. It's about as close as you can get to a 2b sack these days without having one MTM.

It also sounds like you're looking into a 2b darted. I have a Southwick suit that's 2b darted, but with natural shoulders, center vent and flat-front trousers. I really find it to be the best of both worlds.
 

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Gents, thank you each for your input.

ChicagoTrad--after reading this forum for a while, I had in the back of my mind the possibility of heading to LS for an MTM suit, but feared it would be out of my price range ($600 or so). It sounds like you are saying that it may well be in range, or if not within, then not far beyond the threshold. I suppose fabric will play a large role here. Can you (or anyone else) say whether Izzy is out of my range? In any event, I think I will utilize that H. Freeman customer service email address which you have graciously provided to see whether I may locate an associated tailor in RI as well.

That is a good point about Southwick. I believe I have read that they have (or had) an outlet in Lawrence, MA. Is an RTW Southwick suit roomier in the chest than a BB Madison 3B? Anyone know if MTM Southwick can be had in my price range? I had the sense that they were more money still.

Jovan, in the science/engineering field, suits are not exactly de rigeur. I do feel strongly that I need to improve my wardrobe to project professionalism, but I also fear some will view this as a little over the top. I work with various levels of personnel. I think a gradual transition is in order. Thoughts?

cheers,

en garbe
Here is a thread on Izzy's from a couple of years ago. I'm not sure where there starting price point is now, but it might be worth checking out: I seem to remember hearing 700-750 as the starting point for M2M there.

https://askandyaboutclothes.com/community/showthread.php?t=55307

This thread has some info on the Southwick store (scroll down a bit) - apparently 750 for base level M2M and 500 for OTR Southwick and BB (without the BB tags - I believe these are all the 1818 suits, so it is a pretty good deal).

https://askandyaboutclothes.com/community/showthread.php?t=75868&highlight=southwick+factory

that thread also has a good discussion about some of the suits we are discussion in this thread.
 

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... I do feel strongly that I need to improve my wardrobe to project professionalism, but I also fear some will view this as a little over the top. I work with various levels of personnel. I think a gradual transition is in order. Thoughts?

cheers,

en garbe
A gradual transition will not help you, jump in with both feet. After a month or so you will be you, not you dressed up, and people will no longer notice. If you try to transition gradually you will noticed as dressing differently for a longer period of time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks again to each of you for the input. ChicagoTrad, those are great links. I had searched and read many threads that discussed LS but still had not come across the particular one you provided. I might have to make a visit to LS at some point. But I do want to try locally first; if the prices are not too exorbitant and I find some good guidance.

Incidentally, I emailed Southwick to gather info about the factory store and MTM but it bounced. No progress on the H. Freeman front yet.

Zot, those photos do a nice job of illustrating the hard pressed 3/2. I prefer the soft roll 3/2 rather than the hard pressed 3 to 2. I'm a little unsure I follow you about the darting you mention... While my belly is not an uberbelly it is by no means flat. So maybe a little waist suppression, but certainly not too much.

I guess what I think I'm hearing is that I should no put much hope in getting a good-fitting 3B suit unless I go the 3/2 route. Dropping some weight might help (I could stand to lose 10 lbs), but I might have to resign myself to a 2B. Of course I should buy a suit that fits me now... and even if I dropped the weight, I'm still not exactly a tall guy.
I'm trying not to get discouraged by this and will just have to try many places to see what I can learn about how different styles fit me.
cheers,
en garde
 
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