Spend Management in the Home — Rediscovering Brooks Brothers (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this post, I gave a somewhat long-winded lead-up to why I decided to step inside a Brooks Brothers again. Today, I'll share some tips for thrifty yet sartorially minded guys like myself, who would do well to consider Brooks over more expensive European alternatives, especially considering the current exchange rates. What's my first piece of advice regarding this American icon?

First, head straight for the shoe aisles. Turns out that Brooks Brothers Cordovans are actually made by Alden -- and are the exact same thing as those that the factory sells through retailers under their own name. Why should this matter? Because when Brooks Brothers has a sale, you've got a chance to pick up a pair of shoes that represents the best value -- based on a 20 year NPV calculation -- that I've been able to find anywhere. Alden Cordovans simply don't go on sale at other retailers. Need another reason? As a fellow Cordovan wearing friend puts it, he likes to tell people that he's wearing a horse's arse on his feet -- which he is in fact -- just to get a reaction. Spend Matters in the home deal rating: A.

Now onto the shirts -- a great measure of a haberdashers' worth. I must say that when it comes to shirts, Brooks Brothers current fabrics, fit and finish are quite good. The pattern matching is a bit off on some, but it's off on 99% of high-end men's retailers as well (Hilditch and key is the only shirt maker left that religiously matches the lines/checks on their shirts). And considering that I picked up 3 button-downs for $159 recently, they're an exceptional value, despite a few of their noticeable shortcomings relative to the real thing from across the pond (e.g., lacking split yoke on many, the collars are not quite as alive, do not sit as well, etc.). Still, my kudos go out to Brooks Brothers for an all around good shirt as well for resurrecting some of the summer fabrics of yesteryear as well (e.g., Irish linen, seersucker, madras) throughout their shirt line-up. Spend Matters in the home deal rating: B+.

Now the real question: would a cheap but sartorially minded clothing snob like me order a suit at Brooks Brothers? To be candid, I'm not sure yet. I've been spoiled by knowing the differences of how a real bespoke suit manages to cover up all of the imperfections on my less than stellar frame. But I'm willing to give it a shot because of the state of the dollar. Who knows, if it passes my test, I might even try to find a way to export them if the current exchange rates continues as they are. Spend Matters in the home deal rating: TBD.

- Jason Busch

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