Having to “dress for success” has never been an issue for my husband. He’s a sheriff’s deputy, and has worn a standard law enforcement uniform for his entire career. So when it became perfectly clear that a sport coat and slacks weren’t going to cut it for a friend’s very formal wedding, we decided it was time to buy him a suit.
Our Men’s Clothing Criteria
Since my husband has never – and likely will never – be required to swear a suit on a day to day, or even week to week, basis, we quickly decided that we weren’t going to focus on quality. We needed a suit that would look good on him the one or two times a year he would wear it; we didn’t need a garment that would hold up use after use after use. An affordable price, it was decided, was our main objective.
With our frugal goal in mind, we started doing some quick research. Since neither my husband nor I knows anything about menswear (he bought his last suit in college, while still playing football – in other words, before he lost 100 pounds), we started our search at stores that cater to men. We knew we’d need to get him accurately sized, then we were hoping for some guidance from a professional to help us locate something that was the perfect intersection of cost and quality.
Searching for a Deal
We quickly ruled out Joseph A. Banks, knowing that the suits sold there were way out of our price range. We were just about to nix Men’s Wearhouse from our list when we saw a TV ad about the store’s “donate a suit” promotion. The promotion promised that if we donated an old suit – which would be given to a local organization that helps unemployed men find new jobs – we would not only get a tax-deductible receipt from the charity, but would also receive a coupon good for 50 percent off our purchase in the store.
So last weekend, we headed to Men’s Wearhouse hoping to find a nice yet affordable suit. As the salesperson showed us the selection, we quickly realized that the deal we’d hoped for wasn’t going to materialize. Because of my husband’s suit size – 44XL (crazy, because in his football days, he was a 50XL!!!) – we were looking at a limited number of options. The options that were available to us were far more than we were hoping to pay, even with the discount. A $599 suit – even at half off – was still more than we needed to pay for a garment that would be worn once a year, only to sit in the very back of the closet the remaining 364 days.
We walked out of the store empty-handed.
Ultimately, we ended up across the street at the mall searching for a suit. Belk, Macy’s, Dillards, and JC Penney all had suits for under $200, no promotion necessary.
The Moral of the Story
I guess you could say the moral of the story is that I’m cheap. The man at Men’s Wearhouse certainly thought that after helping us to no avail. I can’t tell you the number of times he said, “I’m sorry, but we just don’t sell suits in (pause) that price range.” He didn’t seem to grasp the idea that we didn’t want to pay upwards of $250 for a suit that would collect dust. In our world, $250 is the amount of money we spend on men’s clothing for my husband for an entire year, not for a single occasion. Sorry, that’s just not in our budget.
But the real moral of this story is that not all deals are bonafide deals. This is a problem not just when it comes to menswear, but on everything from a Costco membership to a Groupon. What good is a discount if you’re still paying more than you wanted to spend in the first place? My husband and I began our shopping excursion with a budget, and we were adamant about sticking to it – even if that meant we didn’t get to take advantage of the so-called “discount.”
Reader, have you ever encountered a deal that wasn’t as good as you thought it would be?