Banana Republic's grey herringbone three-piece suit (okay so with the vest it is a little bit above $500, but you get my point.)

Banana Republic's grey herringbone three-piece suit (okay so with the vest it is a little bit above $500, but you get my point.)

Every time I pick up a men’s magazine and they feature “this season’s looks” I always get upset because they usually feature clothes that are waaay out of my price range.  Seriously?  $5,000 for that suit?  You might as well should put some gold lining in that thing, because if I were going to spend that much on a suit I should actually BE money, not just feel like it.

So how much should you spend on a suit that you can use on a day-to-day basis?  Of course this will probably depend on how many zeroes you have in your bank account, but my guess is you probably want to spend about $500 (or less) on a suit.  Even if it is 1/10th the price of what they feature in magazines, you should look just as good.

BR Monogram essential black single-button suit

BR Monogram essential black single-button suit

So here is a list of stores (or clothiers, if you are feeling saucy) that can do what you need for a little less coin. 

Oh, and on a sidenote:

1. Don’t throw down 500 bones unless the suit makes you feel like money – where the heavens split in two and the almighty comes down and gives you a fist bump letting you know how dope you look.

2. No matter where you get your suit, make sure you get it tailored so it looks like it was made just for you.

Banana Republic
I am almost certain you have been in one of these stores – they’ve got good styles and great prices.  They always try to keep up with what the trends are in the fashion world and try to keep things well within a normal man’s budget.  My personal preference is to go with the “Monogram Collection” – these items are usually more tailored and have a better finish. 

BR is also one of the stores that sells suits as separates.  This is great for real people whose waist is different from their jacket size.

And for the stingy type – try the clothes on in the store and buy it online.  You won’t pay taxes (for some states) and you can sit and wait for it to go on sale.

Zara suit that makes you look like a modern Count of Monte Cristo

Zara suit that makes you look like a modern Count of Monte Cristo

Zara
This gem of a store is starting to pop up in malls all over the United States and the world.  It is for good reason – they’ve got a fantastic European sense of design with very, very reasonable prices.  You can pretty much close your eyes and pick something and it will look good.

The only downside is that the pieces aren’t very consistent.  Make sure you try the item that you want before you walk out of the store. 

H&M
I really like some of the items that come out of these stores but the biggest issue is that you will have to check back often – their stock changes a lot.  If you like something, you should definitely grab it right then and there because you may never see it again.

Macy’s
Macy’s carries a lot of brand names at reasonable prices.  If you watch the show Burn Notice, some of the suits the main character wears can be found at Macy’s (and are designed by Calvin Klein). 

The suit Michael wore on episode 216 of Burn Notice. Image from shop.seenon.com.

The suit Michael wore on episode 216 of Burn Notice. Image from shop.seenon.com.

They also have an in-house label called Alfani.  Ne-Yo is now their spokesmodel for the Alfani Red Collection.

The downside – they carry a lot of crappy styles too.  You should have an idea of what you want before you walk in the door.  I almost positive the retired grandmother working the counter will not be able to help you pick something.

Men’s Wearhouse
Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I’m sure you’ve seen or heard the cheesy ads with the owner of the company guaranteeing how you will look in their suits.  They do have suits that look good, but you will have to dig through a lot of crap here as well.

And much like Macy’s, the guy behind the counter wearing the suit with pleated pants and tie from the 80’s will not give you the right style advice.  I guarantee it.

ESM

To create Essential Style for Men, mix 2 parts petrol, 1 part secret agent, 1 part rock and roll, 1 part hip-hop and a shot of tequila in a shaker with ice and vigorously shake for 20 seconds. Pour into a martini glass rimmed with explosives and have a supermodel serve for all your friends to enjoy.