Suit stores – where men go to get touched

Buying a new suit should be *this* exciting

This is a ranting post, rah.

I am not a fan of your average shop assistant, not in clothing stores and *especially* not in suit stores. I will find one when I need one. Suits are all the rage at the moment. Sterling protagonists such as Don Draper of Mad Men, Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother and Michael Westen in Burn Notice are champions of sartorial perfection. Shirt, tie, shoes, trousers and jacket form the modern armour of man; protecting them from disapproving fathers and manual labour. But I bloody hate shopping for suits!

Now, I love suits and my wardrobe is replete with almost every style and colour I desire. When in London, I had the fortune of two wardrobes to fill, one with shirts and the other with suits. The act of shopping for a suit can be far from charming and the fear of a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs fills me when I step into a store. I enjoy the rails of tailor’s wares, the room of mirrors and the accessory rack, but hidden amongst the hangers is my nemesis – the Sales Assistant (or store clerk if you’re that way inclined).

Good god, I hate these sales assistants. They spy you walking by their giant windows with goldfish-like curiosity and snipe you the moment you set foot in the store. Once they start walking over to you, you are locked in, deer in the headlights, no escaping the inevitable query – “Can I help you there?”. Dressed in their store discounts, you think they’d blend in with the surroundings to pounce on you unaware. Instead, they tend to shadow you two steps behind and judge your choices as you pick up hangers to inspect the sizing label.  Sub-types of assistant are explored on

I generally know what I’m looking for in a suit and consider myself to be fairly well-informed on styles and cuts. In a regular clothes store, you may have an assistant comment how nice that top is, they’ve got one just like it. In a suit shop, they will ask you how much you’re looking to spend. £150? Well, they’ve got a lovely two-piece here for £180, try it on! *sigh*

If ever I go to a suit store and there are no other shoppers, I am actually apprehensive to go in for fear of the assistant’s full attention. I realise that there is a commission aspect to this, but I hold onto my money tighter than a duck’s butt and your attempts to coerce only causes further clenching. Good customer service seems absent in your average suit store. Here are occasions where it is acceptable to approach:

– If I’m trying on something that is obviously the wrong size like I’d stolen it from Gimli’s office wardrobe
– If I can’t reach the “good stuff” on the top shelf. I know I’m not tall, but that’s mean
– If I’m attempting to cut the buttons off of the jacket for a 10% discount (I’ve seen it done)
– If I’m holding the suit and looking around like a meerkat for an assistant (checking the coast is clear to lop off some buttons)

Here is an example when it is definitely *not* acceptable to approach:

Buying clothes should make you feel good, make you feel like you are worth the money you are clothing yourself in. But I swear to happy hell, if you brush off my shoulders one more time, you are going to give me a psychological dandruff complex and quash my overwhelming urge to not be naked in public.  This is what runs through my head every time.


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