M&S Suits – Style and value
As a suit aficionado, my suits are either from a tailor, or a premium brand. When UK High street retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S) offered me one of their new range of check suits to review, I had to confess that they would not have had them on my shortlist of go to places to buy a suit, but they convinced me I would be surprised. Did they convert me? Read on…
I wouldn’t call myself a suit snob, but I know what I like in suits and that’s a great fit, tactile fabrics and nice details. In my mind, that instantly rules out high street suits which are in my opinion: cut to fit the masses, using cheap synthetic materials, and mass produced on a factory production line.
Looking at their website, I quickly realised that I was never going to be able to make a choice. You need to try on suits to see how they fit. A 42″ regular in one suit will fit very different to another, even from the same supplier. You can’t feel the fabrics and you can’t examine the details I’d be looking for. That said, I was surprised by the M&S website because their range is really quite extensive, but the website has excellent navigation so it was very easy to get a shortlist of candidate suits.
Armed with my shortlist I made my way to the nearest M&S, which is another benefit of using one of the big players on the high street, they are everywhere. My tailor is over 100 miles away in London. This has the benefit of forcing me to be considered when deciding on a suit because I can’t just pop in and buy on a whim. It’s not really convenient though, and so having an M&S in every major town ensures you are never far away.
Remember what I said about the difficulty of choosing a suit online? My shortlist was rendered useless within five minutes. None of the suits I had selected fitted me right in the shoulders, which is one of the few areas you can’t alter on a high street suit. That didn’t really matter because I was surrounded by at least 50 different styles of suits on well laid out racks. A nice touch is you can buy your suit jacket and trousers seperately so you have a far better chance of getting a great fit right off the rack than with high street suits of yesteryear.
I quickly made my selection and settled on a navy check suit from their luxury collection and placed my order. At £199 the suit is a surprise on so many levels. The Prince of Wales check fabric is 100% wool. This fact alone blew my mind as I had wrongly assumed that all suits under £200 would be made from synthetic material like polyester. I can’t stress enough how important it is to avoid synthetic suits like the plague, but that is an article all on it’s own.
The suit arrived in a couple of days presented in a very useful suit carrier, a nice touch. It’s the details that win me over and that I particularly welcome. I store my suits in suit carriers even at home in my wardrobe. It protects them from dust and moths.
I am of the opinion that every suit should be graced by a tailor, and this suit is no exception. For the perfect fit, it would really benefit from having the trouser leg turned up an inch, and I would have the suit sleeves taken up quarter of an inch with the cuffs converted to working cuffs at the same time. That said, I was surprised at how well the suit fitted straight away. I appreciate there are many that won’t alter a suit so I decided to take some pictures of the suit as it was. Of course I will get it altered, so I will follow up on how good it really could be with a bit of fettling from a tailor.
As you can see from the pictures it was a very sunny day in the beautiful location of Whitbourne Hall, and wearing a suit all day can be a chore for some people. I can honestly say I was so comfortable I could have forgotten I was wearing it, if it wasn’t for the fact Mrs Mitchelli was following me around with a camera! On a hot day, natural fibres will pay dividends as materials like wool will breathe keeping you cool.
As you can see from the styling, I took a very traditional approach. For my body shape, a two button suit is my only sensible choice. Double vents are more attractive than single vents in my opinion. The notch lapel and four button cuffs are ‘safe’ details that will not offend anyone, but won’t set the world on fire. The areas that set this suit apart is the cut which I would describe as an Italian/Saville Row hybrid cut, taking the best details from both. This gives a very modern look that will still look great in years to come. The fabrics, already a surprise for quality, are what really sets this suit apart. Prince of Wales check is more commonly seen in lighter colours like Dove Grey. Having it in Navy with blood red contrasting threads and matching lining has been a real talking point for all who have seen it.
Previously I would only have shopped at the high street for Jaeger, Boss or Ted Baker or Paul Smith, but you try and get a suit from them for less than £500 that’s not a sale item with fad details! Under close examination the quality of construction is on a par with those, at least from what I can see without cutting the suit up to see what’s on the inside.
Would I go back to M&S for another suit? Absolutely! When you consider how accessible they are, and offering good style with great value for money. Not all of the M&S range are 100% wool, so there are cheaper suits for all budgets, but I would spend the extra to get a natural fibre suit for reasons you already know. I can’t think of anywhere else you could buy a quality suit for that money. If you know of anyone else who can, please leave a comment below.
For more on M&S Suits, you visit their website http://www.marksandspencer.com/s/men/suits
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