Life Lesson #5: Get a Second Opinion

How I failed at buying my first suit to wear for interviews.

I remember my first suit buying experience.  It was in second year of university when I needed it for job interviews.  At the time, I didn’t know much about suits.  I was not the most fashion forward person so I definitely was in a desperate need for help and advice.

I decided to go to Moore’s near my house.  It was a big store so naturally I assumed it would have a decent selection of suits for me to choose from.  After all, I am average height at 5’ 8”.  I was certain I would be able to find something that fit.

I walked into the store and was helped by a friendly associate (let’s call him John).  I mentioned to him that I was looking to buy my first suit for job interviews.  He began taking measurements on me and immediately began grabbing different suits for me to try on. I must’ve tried on 10 different suits over the course of an hour before I found one that fit better than all the rest. John told me it looked “fantastic” on me and that it would only require minor adjustments by the in-house tailor.  The suit was far from perfect – the sleeves were long, the suit jacket was big in the back area, and the width of the pants were wide.  However, when I compared this suit with everything else that I tried, by default, this suit ended up being the suit of choice because it fit marginally better than the rest of them.

John had told me these kinds of adjustments were normal because these suits were “off the rack” and are not custom-tailored suits (which I knew I couldn’t afford at the time). These suits are not intended to fit the person perfectly and that “slight” adjustments to the suit jacket and pants are always the norm.  The in-house tailor would be able to make the adjustments to the suit and pants to give it a “fitted” look.  It was my first suit buying experience and I had no reason to doubt this.  At the time, it seemed to make perfect sense.  I was convinced I was buying a brand name suit and it would fit well after the adjustments were completed.

I bought the suit that day for $400 and went back to pick it up after a few days.  The alterations were complete and I got to try the suit again.  There was definitely a marked improvement in the fit.  I compared the suit again to the other suits that I tried on in the store and I was convinced this was without a doubt the best suit for me.  I went home happy.

There’s just one problem…

When I started going to interviews with my suit, I started paying closer attention to the types of suits other men wear to work and interviews.  I began noticing little details like the ideal/appropriate length for sleeves, pants, and shoulder area that was definitely off with the suit I bought and was wearing. I finally came to admission that I had bought an oversized suit that deep down I wasn’t comfortable being in.  I went and tried on suit jackets at other stores which carried “off the rack” short suits.  It literally fit me so much better and I could be without any alterations.  They were $200 cheaper and the fact that they weren’t brand names didn’t matter.  All it mattered was that it fit.

My mind played tricks on me when I was suit shopping:

  1. I allowed the suit I bought to appear a lot better than it really was when I was comparing it with all the other options available in the store which to begin with wasn’t representative of all the types of suits available in the market.
  2. I allowed John, in his role as an associate and “expert” in men’s clothing, to convince me I was getting a decent fitting suit even though I already had reservations when trying it on.
  3. I had already spent over an hour in the store and was growing tired so I put myself in a position to make a rushed decision.

Lesson learned:

When shopping for large purchases, it pays to have a second opinion from someone you trust and not the person selling you the good/service.

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