Italy Or The United States Suit?
Let me go ahead answer this question that came in today:
“Should a man who's abroad purchase his clothing in Italy or the United States? I'm a college student with a pretty bad fashion sense. I have an internship this summer with a big Fortune 500 company.
I'm currently studying abroad in Italy and I see that most good quality suits, shoes, and fabrics come from here. Should I just get it done here?
I'm skinny, tall and I'm somewhat built so this seems to be more of a common body build here in Europe than in the United States.
My present plan is to spend around $500, get two shirts, a charcoal suit, extra pants, a belt, and a pair of nice shoes here.
As I begin to get paid, I'll then look to buy clothing to supplement this in the US. Antonio, what do you think? Many thanks. Julian.”
Julian is in a great position. He is in one of the most fashionable countries in the world. Italy is a great place to be, but that also could be a problem for him. But sure, you should spend some money in Italy.
Also, you're going to want to talk with some of the locals and find out where they are purchasing their clothing. The thing that I'm worried about with you is that you're just starting off and you don't want to purchase a lot of fashion-forward clothing.
What you need to invest in right now is your education.
I've got tons of free information, hundreds of articles, hundreds of videos now and there are also other great men's style blogs:
A Suitable Wardrobe
The Art of Manliness (which I write at)
Go to these places and really get a better understanding of men's style.
Listen to some of my podcasts and get up to speed so that when you go out, you know what to look for because what you don't want to do is purchase Italian clothing in Italy that is for Italians and come to the United States looking a little bit off.
They may have stuff like peak lapels on single-breasted jackets and a little bit different colors. You want to go for classic, conservative pieces because you are building the foundation of your wardrobe.
Also, you may want to look to spend a little bit more. Honestly, a good suit is going to cost you at least that, if not a bit more.
You can also look for something on sale. Don't be fooled. Just because it's in Italy, it doesn't mean it's being made in Italy. A lot of the stuff even in Italy is coming out of China.
In fact, there was a big piece I saw on the Wall Street Journal.
They talked about how the “Made in Italy” tag is somewhat becoming diluted because there are entire areas where there are a lot of immigrants (nothing wrong with immigrants – I married a woman from Ukraine and I believe immigrants are some of the strongest people in any country) but they're using them for cheap labor.
If you want something that's made by Italians and you're thinking old world Italian craftsmanship, you're going to have to spend more than $500 because at that price point.
You are looking at products that are probably made abroad so you're getting almost the same thing you would in United States except it's geared towards the Italian men.
This is another benefit that you possess a slimmer build – Italians in general have their clothing designed for a slimmer man than in the United States.
In fact, my wife talks about this all the time. She goes out and she tries on something and she's a medium here in United States. In Ukraine, she's a small. We have a lot of vanity sizes and our clothing is made to fit a hundred different body types.
So don't be afraid to spend a little bit more if you can dedicate some time and really look at this because this is important.
I know you're there to study abroad, but really think that if you can make a smart decision now, you can save yourself a lot of money. Also keep track of where you purchase this and that – keep their information.
A lot of Italian stores don't have a great online presence. So whenever you're back here in the US, you could have a friend or you could contact the company directly and have them purchase some more and just have it sent to you.
This is versus finding out once you get here that they don't have an online presence and there's no way to keep track of that stuff, so there's nothing wrong with planning for the future a bit as well.
Now, you said when you come here to the US that you did notice that we have better prices. Again, it doesn't mean that we have better quality. There are some amazing American-made products such as Allen Edmonds right here in Wisconsin; Alden, another great shoe company.
You mentioned 5th & Lamar, another great Austin, Texas shirt company. Those you can get while you're here and they're going to be made for your body type.
Again, focus on your education. Feel free to check out a website of mine – Men's Style Advice
Go out there and make some smart, purchasing decisions. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Find a good salesman, make connections, and keep those connections so that you can purchase later.
And because you've invested in yourself, you'll be able to also make smart decisions while you're here in the US.
Julian, I think you're doing something really smart. You're paying attention to dressing sharp. At this point, before you get into the company and before you know what you need, realize that your clothing is pretty important.
It's not at the same level as your education, but it's right up there and it is something that you should not be afraid to spend a little bit more money on.
Perhaps find a way to budget a bit more because it sounds like you're in a great position to take advantage of some awesome deals.