I get a lot of random emails of people asking me for clothing advice. I’m flattered that they value my opinion enough to reach out to me, but mine is just one man’s subjective opinion. Jean-Paul Sartre wrote something to the effect that in asking for my advice you’ve already chosen the answer. Most of the questions are things I feel I couldn’t possibly answer, as there are too many subjective variables — of which I am unaware — on behalf of the man asking the question.
Furthermore, I just don’t have the time to answer them all. However, it occurred to me that I do have the time for something more worthwhile. Instead of writing an email offering one man’s advice, let me instead create a blog post in which the seeker’s question can be put to the entire readership. I will be doing him a far better service that way, and the information gleaned from the discussion will likely benefit others as well.
So let’s call this a new series of reader questions called Collective Wisdom. We already do this in our Facebook group, but now we can do it with a larger audience and for the benefit of those who shy away from social media. So use the contact button above and keep sending in those questions.
But please bear a couple of things in mind. One is the old adage that opinions are like — pick the body part of your choice — and everybody’s got one. The other is that studies have shown that too many choices activates a part of the brain responsible for the feeling of regret. Ask someone if he wants chocolate, vanilla or strawberry ice cream and he’ll probably be quite happy with his sweet treat. But offer him 31 flavors and whichever he chooses won’t be quite as satisfying. Paul Winston of Chipp/Chipp2 told me that he learned very young that when I guy comes in and says he wants a blue suit, you ask him a couple of questions and then show him five swatches. You don’t plop 10 books in front of him with 25 blue swatches in each. He’ll never be able to make up his mind.
And now here’s our first call for Collective Wisdom from a guy who wants a new suit but feels bogged down by too many choices. — CC
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I work in a profession where a daily suit is still the norm. I’ve gotten away with a “uniform” of navy blazer and grey trousers. Not too shabby, but still sometimes falls short in certain settings. I currently have one suit: Hickey Freeman. Great suit. Local Shop. Certain I paid too much.
As I move forward, pulling more suits into the wardrobe — let’s say 4-5 — where should I start? I like going to the local men’s shop, but ultimately I know I am paying top dollar and being sold what they have in inventory. So perhaps the shopping should start somewhere else. I lean toward Ivy/Trad and share you opinion on lapel width.
Money is not an issue per se, but in a perfect world I am not spending the $1,700 I spend on the Hickey Freeman for all of these. I am certainly familiar with all the companies that routinely make appearance on your site, but there are even so many of those I get overwhelmed.