Shopping for a men's interview suit in the Capital Region

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The suit to wear for interviewing -- or dodging international spies.

By Erik Dollman

If economists are to be believed, over the next several months we should start to see some job growth. With new jobs comes the opportunity for interviews.

Interviewing, for many people, is a mysterious science -- like alchemy or the inner workings of the iPhone.

So lets try to demystify at least one part of the process: what to wear. Oh, and where to find it.

The Suit
There's no better excuse than an interview to get a new suit.

Now, you'll want to present a professional appearance, without appearing flashy. You also want something that is going to have some versatility. I think the "go-to" suit for all professional situations, is a single breasted, notch lapel, two-button charcoal suit. Some might say navy is an alternate color for "suit one", but charcoal has a more modern look. Dressed up, you can wear it for the most high-powered interview or meeting. Dressed down, dark jeans and a charcoal suit jacket with a button-down shirt will always have you looking sharp. Additionally, you want this suit to be year-round weight, and 100% wool. Let me repeat this: 100% wool. Polyester blends may be slightly less prone to wrinkling, but they are notoriously non-breathable and uncomfortable, and most professionals who wear suits and see suits every day can spot it a mile off. It just doesn't drape right.

Getting it
I checked out three local options: Via Roma in Crossgates mall, Spector's in Colonie Center, and Amore Clothing on State Street. They have different qualities, and are conveniently located for most people.

Via Roma
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Via Roma is a regional discount suit chain, based out of New York. I have been to many a mall-based discount suit store. I have repeatedly been assaulted by super-aggressive salesmen, trying to sell me on a polyester Steve Harvey suit, so I was expecting very little when I walked into Via Roma.

I was pleasantly surprised by my experience there.

Isaac, the sales person, was happy to show me exactly what I wanted: an inexpensive, 100% wool, tasteful suit in the color I wanted.

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The cost for a single suit was $179 and two suits were $300. Keep in mind that alterations may run you an extra fifty or so dollars to make everything fit right. Basic men's dress shirts were $19.99, with slightly fancier shirts running about ten to fifteen dollars more. There was also a nice selection of ties and outerwear. Isaac was both knowledgeable and willing to help. And if you want a Steve Harvey suit, those were available as well.

Spector's is a locally owned family business, and has been here for three generations. The experience here was very different. Spector's is the place you want to buy your suits if can afford it. The salespeople are first class all the way, and are knowledgeable to a tee. They were happy to talk to me about the return of camel-hair coats, and the rebirth of double-breasted jackets. The suit they showed me was $299, but the quality of the suit was one step up, with several details that were not included on the jacket at Via Roma. Shirts and accessories were also of the higher-end variety, and you pay for it. If you've got the cheddar though, the quality of garments here was great.

Amore Clothing
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Amore clothing is a small men's suit shop on State Street in Albany. It was founded in 1967 by Angelo Amore. Walking into Amore clothing is what I imagine men's shops were like in their heyday. I was approached by a smiling, older gentleman with a thick accent who immediately guessed my measurements with a surprising degree of accuracy. There is very little in-house stock, and there was nothing that fit the bill of what I was looking for. They do however, have an extensive suit-separate and maid-to-measure selection. Additionally, they offer truly hand built, bespoke suits made with cloth by Ermeneglido Zegna. Prices for these awesome suits start at around two large. Though I did love what Amore had to offer, it probably is not the best choice for a first suit, unless you've got a rich uncle dropping some serious dough on you. If that's the case, get a classically tailored bespoke suit, treat it like gold and enjoy looking like a million bucks!


What if you are a lady?

Husband loves Simon's Menswear on State St in Schenectady, another locally owned shop that has regular as well as big and tall sizes. He's had custom shirts made as well as suits, tailoring etc.

i just bought one at Jos. A Bank in Stuyvesant Plaza, they usually have good deals and it was ready for my interview two days later. Just don't buy in to the accessories, get those elsewhere

^^ What Juboga said.

I need to wear suits often at my job, and I've found some great deals at Macys/JCPenney. They're on sale often, and you can find deals of $100 or less sometimes.

My dad buys his suits at Joseph A Banks. First, they have a large selection of sizes and unlike many suiting retailers, will order any special or niche sizes. Their in house tailor is excellent. Secondly, the suits are high quality, last a long time, and often outlast my father's interest in them. They do have your traditional suits, but they sometimes take a current suiting trend and pair it down for a more professional or traditional crowd. Their customer service is excellent.

@juboga @katie I have always been mystified by women's business attire. I once had a job that included supervising women, including ensuring that if they were customer-facing, that they were attired professionally. I found out quickly that I could not tell. I had to ask a female peer for help. Therefore, I would be utterly unqualified to make suggestions as to how to help women.

I would imagine that a simple charcoal suit, accessorized professionally, would be appropriate for women as well. Women also have another (perhaps unfair) challenge in that they have to walk the line between well fitted and flattering and suggestive and unprofessional. I can offer no advice here either, though knowing that line exists might be a start.

Good luck female interviewees of the Capital District! You are not forgotten, just baffling.

As a female who's been out interviewing I'll throw my hat into the ring....

I like suits from Macy's, New York & Co., and I've occasionally found one at JC Penney....

How about changing the title to reflect that you're only writing about men's suits?

Buying a suit is nearly as frustrating as trying to find a new bra after your go-to bra gets discontinued. Here are my thoughts, for what they're worth. Women should never wear a suit right off the rack - always get it tailored. A good tailor can easily make a less expensive suit look more polished and expensive. If you're wearing the suit to an interview, consider your shell carefully. I once attended a day-long group interview in a location with next to no a/c. We all ended up sans jackets, including the interviewers. One woman had a skimpy cami on - looked great under the jacket, but flimsy without. I like Ann Taylor suits - the quality is great and the fits classic enough that you can wear it for years.

Editors: We changed the title. Thanks

You left out the Men's Warehouse. Yeah, it's a chain and frequented by the proletariat such as myself, but they always deliver personal service and high-quality attire at a reasonable price. They really make you feel welcomed, which is important when shopping for an intimidating purchase like a business suit.

Our Jos. A. Bank experience (in Cleveland, btw) was far different than those above. They had no in-house selection of the sale suits they advertised so heavily on TV. The salesperson was completely vacant, seemed more interested in chatting with the other sales person and was ringing up a more expensive suit that had to be special ordered before we could even decide this was the route to go. We told him we'd think it over and come back, but made a run for it and ended up at Nordstrom where we had the suit shopping experience of my dreams. The salesman and the tailor gave impeccable service. We ended up spending twice as much as originally planned for a suit that was half price, but it was beautiful, fit perfectly. My husband felt and looked great, and the best part - he got the job.

Macy's always works for me. If there's not a One-Day Sale when you show up, just wait a few minutes.

@Bob check out the article I wrote on tuxedos. I am not a huge fan of the service at Men's Warehouse. As far as price, Spectors' entry level suit and the suit at Via Roma are comparable or less than at Mens Warehouse, and I found the service to be waaaay better than anything I have gotten and men's warehouse, at least here in the capital district. If you go to the Albany MW, I suggest being mostly self-guided.

Loft can be great for women's suits. The suits are sold as separates, and three cuts in many of the pants make it easy to find a suit that fits well. The downside is that it's pricey.

Full Disclosure: I work at Ann Taylor at Crossgates.

But I am also a college student and when I started working there they asked me to put on a suit that fit me. So I did, and then they told me exactly what I had done wrong (@swagirl including just wearing a cami underneath!).

Now, some time later, I can say with confidence that I used to be completely and utterly clueless. So to all you graduating students who have never owned a suit before, get help! Ask the women working at the store. There's a lot more to fitting an "off the rack" suit than being able to move your arms and making your butt look good.

Visit Jos. A. Bank in Saratoga. Great selection, awesome in-house tailor and a wonderful staff who knows their merchandise!

You should check out Mark Thomas on Wolf Road. Service is knowledgeable and friendly and they have a an extensive collection. I got my tux for my wedding there and could not have been happier.

I think adding something unusual in with your standard suit setup makes you stand out more, like adding a pink or purple tie is quite popular.

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