I immediately went into a panic, because the official colors of Washingtonian work life are navy, grey, and black...with black being the most dependable. After a trip to the mall to check out suits at J.Crew, Talbots, Banana Republic, and Brooks Brothers, I've determined that women's fashion is a barren wasteland of cheap polyester suits with ill-fitting pants and cuts that will go out of style (belted jacket anyone?). My original suits came from Talbots, so I was really disappointed that they have change their cut and I couldn't find an easy replacement. Brooks Brothers was the sole exception in the quality department, but there was only one suit I wanted, they didn't have it in my size, and even with the Friends and Family special they were running, my suit was going to be close to $850 with a jacket, skirt, and pants.
After a call to my mother, who has always advised me to buy the best quality suit, I was still wrestling with the decision to blow a ton of $$$$ on the suit.
THEN Mr. 3 offered to drive me out to the Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets to visit the Brooks Brothers Outlet on a MONDAY AFTER WORK. For those of you who aren't in the know, this was an extremely generous offer, considering the outlets are 45 minutes away...without D.C. commuter traffic.
|Image Source: BrooksBrothers.com|
After a little bit of searching (they were also short on sizes), I found exactly what I wanted: a skirt, jacket, and lined pants made from tropical wool with a classic (but not frumpy) silhouette in petite sizing. Brooks Brothers Outlet was also running a huge sale and I had an outlet coupon for an additional 15% off. Mr. 3 has also needed a new suit for over a year, so we both wound up purchasing new black suits for less than what I would have paid for one suit at the retail store.
I know outlets get a bad rap for having lesser quality items than the retail stores carry. If you've ever been to Banana Republic or an Ann Taylor Outlet, you have seen the difference.
However, I found out a lot of really helpful information from the store manager, who used to work at the retail location, that made feel 100% OK with an outlet suit. To begin with, the outlet uses the same fabric as retail but the outlet store suits are manufactured in Egypt or Taiwan. Retail suits are made in the U.S. or Italy. However, all of the factories, regardless of location, are owned by Brooks Brothers so they can maintain quality control rather than hiring it out to any ol' garment factory and slapping a label on it. Both of these factors made me feel really good about this purchase because the fabric and quality control standards for the outlet suits and the retail suits are the same.
Mr. 3 went with the classic style in a classic fabric (as opposed to the fashion styles and fabrics which will come and go), which means Brooks Brothers Outlet will always carry Mr. 3's suit so if his pants wear our or he needs another pair, I can just go in and purchase them without having to invest in a new jacket too. As for tailoring, the manager told me that you can take your pants to the retail store and they will hem them for $10 and also do other alterations. Luckily, neither Mr. 3 nor I have to get any alterations, but I think it is a great service (and $10 for hemming is a STEAL in D.C.).
While I would always prefer to buy American or Italian-made, sometimes it just isn't in the budget. I'm happy I found exactly what I wanted at a price I could afford while still being confident in the quality and longevity of the suit. Anyone else had a hard time suit shopping? What solutions did you find?
***This post was not sponsored by Brooks Brothers or Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets. We just like sharing our thoughts on all things fashion.***