05 Clothing
By Insung Cho

(MONEY Magazine) – You could lay down $1,000 for a custom-made suit or buy an off-the-rack version plus all the stuff that goes with it. Regardless, shopping for this everyman uniform is serious business. Make smart choices--a classic single-breasted jacket, lightweight wool, dark navy, charcoal or black--and the right suit will see you through nearly every possible occasion for the next eight years or more. --INSUNG CHO

Money $1,000 BUDGET

Made-to-Order Shirt

Get the custom look with a Lands' End made-to-order shirt. Though prices start at $49, they can reach $140 depending on which fabric, collar, cuffs or vents you choose. And really, the vents make the man. LANDSEND.COM $140

Silk Tie

Bluefly has the best selection of discounted designer ties we've seen. This Gucci number, for instance, ordinarily retails for $135. BLUEFLY.COM $95

Reversible Leather Belt

Two belts--brown and black--for the price of one from, of all places, Fossil. 800-449-3056 $30

Leather Shoes

Shop during January or July, when department stores slash prices on end-of-season merchandise. That's how we nabbed these Cole Haan shoes, down from $375, at Saks Fifth Avenue. SAKS.COM $149

T-Shirt and Briefs

Splurge on skivvies fit for a prince with briefs and tees by Zimmerli, the Swiss company that supplies HRH Charles with his. BARNEYS, 888-822-7639 $123

Three-Season Wool Suit

Once known as a purveyor of safari wear for the urban jungle, Banana Republic has since hired Deborah Lloyd away from Burberry of London and recast itself as a source for high fashion at a low cost. The company's handsome, handsomely priced suits--including this lightweight wool, flat-front pinstripe--are available in hard-to-find sizes, and minor tailoring (including hem and sleeve adjustments) is free of charge. BANANAREPUBLIC.COM $473

Custom Suit

A traditional bespoke suit can set you back upwards of $3,000. Even a made-to-measure version (in which a precut pattern is tailored for fit) runs at least $1,500. But Brooks Brothers has trimmed the cost of the customizing process by replacing tape measures with digital imaging technology. A 12-second scan of the customer's body creates a 3-D map with more than 200,000 data points reflecting everything from wrist circumference to posture. These data are then sent electronically to the factory, and three weeks later (as opposed to the usual six) the suit is done. Currently available only at the company's flagship New York City store, but worth the trip. BROOKSBROTHERS.COM $1,000