My Strange Experience Buying “Suits” at JosABank

by Darwin on August 5, 2013


So, I got a new job yay! (Here’s the Interview Question That Threw Me for a Loop).  I will need to take my attire more seriously since I’ll be dealing with company executives both within and external to my firm now rather than running all my meetings over the phone.  Recognizing that I’ve been wearing the same suit for years now for interviews, funerals and weddings, I conceded that it’s time to buy another suit, or maybe two.  I cut it real close earlier this year when I had to do multiple rounds of interviews on different days and had to re-wear the same suit which had some wrinkles in it since the dry-cleaning cycle time was a few days.

Where To Buy a Suit?
Honestly, my last suit was some deal at Macy’s where I got a purported $800 for like $300.  I’m sure the sticker price is always a joke, but it was a nice name brand suit so it worked for me.  My wife mentioned to our friend that we’d hit Macy’s or Men’s Wearhouse or whatever for a new suit and she scoffed and said, “No way – you’ve gotta to to Joseph A Bank! That’s where my husband gets all his suits. Best place”.

So there we were out to dinner Friday night (a rare night out without the kids) and the JosABank place is right around the corner from the restaurant.  Realizing I needed a suit as soon as the next week and I’d probably never get around to getting back out again on my own to get one, we popped in.  Here’s the setup:

Jos A Bank Sales Pitch

Buy 1 Suit, Get 3 Free.  At a high level, this seems utterly silly.  I mean, who the heck needs 4 suits?  And obviously, they’re probably priced at 3-4x the regular price of a suit to give you that deal right?  Pretty much.  The suits start at $695 and go up to $2400.  Meanwhile, I knew I had previously secured a decent suit from Macy’s (also notoriously high priced) for $300.  But we were there and my wife said to just try on a suit.  Before I knew it, we had a few suits picked out and the salesperson is reasoning that even at the $795 suit level, I’m still paying just $200/suit.

He had a point there.  But I didn’t really need 4 suits for $800. I really just needed 2 suits for like $600. (theory of marginal utility anyone?).  But after highlighting that now I have a gray, a black, a patterned one and a “fun suit” (slim fit for weddings, etc) it somehow seemed to make more sense having multiple suits.  Most of my friends and colleagues have a few different suits I suppose.  Maybe it was just me skimping by on one all this time?

Next, it was time for a tie.  I already wore the same two ties for multiple rounds of interviews and I didn’t want my new boss and stakeholders to think I only owned the same 2 ties as I showed up a future business meetings and deal signings, so I needed at least 1-2 more good ties.  Of course you can’t buy just 1 tie.  Or if you did, it’s $100.  But you can buy 5 for $100 too!  That’s the deal, buy one tie, get 4 free.  So I bought 5 ties at $20 apiece essentially.  Again, I probably could have snagged two nice ties at $30 each somewhere but now I have 5.

I think the “Buy 1 Get Tons More than you Need” model is pretty silly, but I get how it works for them.  While they might be selling at what seems like a bargain on a per unit basis, they’re more than making up for it in volume.  See, the typical guy doesn’t come in looking for 4 suits or 5 ties.  2-3 guys are needed to fill that kind of volume.  The customer acquisition cost is much lower and so is the overhead per employee/store normally required to drive that kind of foot traffic.  It’s an interesting model and one that works for them.  But I still feel kind of soiled after having been through it, paying more than I really needed to because I was somewhat lazy, somewhat inebriated, tired and I hate shopping.

At the end of the day, I’m a bit disappointed in myself in that I probably could have put in a little more effort, researched some prices at local decent suit places and just bought 2 suits for less.  Now I have 4.  But who knows, hopefully I actually need to wear suits often enough that it was justified and I don’t need another suit for 10 years.

What Are Your Thoughts and Tips on Buying Suits and This Business Model?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon August 5, 2013 at 11:04 pm

You are one of the few financial writers that I enjoy. Great read. I understand about the 5 suits at once, but have you ever amortized the cost of a suit? I purchased a suit when I graduated college and was too fat for it when I got married. But the suit I bought after my divorce has lasted for a good 15 years. Would I have needed 5 suits? Probably not, but I would have had much more options over that time period. If the suits are reasonable quality and you manage your waistline (as long as we don’t count for inflation) it stands to reason it was a good investment.


krantcents August 6, 2013 at 11:52 am

The last time, I bought several suits was in the late 70’s! I lost a lot of weight and needed to replace my suits. Over the years, more casual dressing has reduced my “suits” to just one. My son tipped me off to Brooks Brothers annual sale, although I holding off. One suit works fine for me. I think the alterations are more important than the actual suit.


Ervin August 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm

You should have waited till they have one of their real sales (a couple times a year), when one can buy a Signature Gold suit for under $250. Now that’s a deal!


Kevin Bamford August 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm

When I purchased my last suit form Jos. A Bsnk I told the salesperson I don’t need more than one suit. She said how about 70% off of one? I bought it and have spent about $1000 there for other clothes since.


101 Centavos December 12, 2013 at 11:43 pm

I had a couple suits and a few slacks custom made in Hong Kong 18 years ago… and still have them. The styling is classic three-button, and still in style, thankfully. Haven’t had to buy any since. Custom-tailored worked best for me, but is not for everyone.


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