Cheap Suits: How Low Can You Go?

Reader K asks about the merits of cheap suits for women…

I’m in the process of changing from a career where pajamas are appropriate work attire to something more “professional” and need all the help I can get. I have been shopping for an interview suit (my first ever and I am almost 40!) and am not sure how to weigh quality vs cost. My clothes budget has been limited to a few t-shirts, a pair of jeans, and maybe a sweater per year so I am unaccustomed to spending a significant amount of money on clothes. I have been browsing at discount stores like Ross, Marshalls, and Kohls to try and find my interview suit for under $100. However, the more I read your blog the more I am wondering if I should suck it up and spend $200-300 on a suit that is wool from a store like Ann Taylor or Banana Republic. Aside from the fact that a well made wool suit will last longer than a synthetic Calvin Klein suit from Ross, do you think there is a significant visual difference? I figure that if my cheap suit works for the interview I can always invest in quality clothes once I have a job that pays more. However, the last thing I want is for the interviewer to think “damn, that’s a cheap suit!”. Any advice?

Great, great question, and I think we should expand the discussion to the differences between LOTS of different price ranges. (The pictured suit is actually not a cheap one, but rather an expensive one — I’ve just been looking for an excuse to share it with you guys without recommending it.  Tee hee.) Here’s my take: [Read more…]