Monday, January 7, 2013

Wardrobe Investment

It's been 12 years since I have purchased a men's suit so I was out of practice.  As a Christmas gift, Susan and I decided to give Paul a business suit that he would need for interviewing this winter/spring.  Since my old suits would be too long for Paul, it wasn't worth altering those for his use. So I decided to join Paul in his quest for a men's suit.

Critical to my wardrobe success was the advice and counseling I received from my Dad in how to select and purchase a suit.  His experience was self taught from his retail job at Montgomery Ward and buying his own suits during his career journey as an industrial engineer at  Boeing Aircraft, Sperry Rand, General Electric, Addressograph/Mulitgraph, and Antenna Specialists.  Combining that parental advice with the book "Dress for Success" (by John T. Molloy), I was able to navigate the fashion landscape of conservative men's fashion for my own Consulting career at Accenture.

So it was off to Jos Bank and Men's Warehouse to look over the selection and current styles to help Paul navigate the world of Men's business attire.  We men are so lucky - nothing (other than the price) has really changed in 40 years in men's professional attire.  My advice to Paul was right out of the Dress for Success book - get a plain dark navy, charcoal grey, and black for your first three suits.  Boring yes - but very practical since the jackets can always double for a sport coat (which is great for packing light for travel). 

The specials are tempting - but one get two free (66% off); buy one and for additional $100 get another at equal value (30%-60% off).  Yet the average cost of a decent quality suit is $350 (on sale) with alterations.  A Hickey Freeman suit (the department store brand I remember best) at Nordstroms retails at about $1,500 and a Brooks Brothers suit retails at about  $1,100.

I don't remember the total number of suits I purchased in my 25 year career.  But my wardrobe had accumulated about 20 suits at the peak of my career.  I guess the suit life is about 10 years so a professional (without casual days) can expect to purchase about 40 suits during his career.  At today's price with inflation and quality growth (better suits for VP and up) the career cost of "uniforms" (suit only) is $25K - $35K.

My Return on Wardrobe Investment (ROWI) was worth paying alittle more for the correct suit.  Always remember:

"Dress is an index of your contents"  John Kaspar Lavater

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