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Is the Death of the Suit Still Greatly Exaggerated?

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Crowd of men in suits Photo: Dimitri Otis/Getty Images

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Why are men still buying suits in 2017? Are they still buying suits? We’ve fretted over the death of the suit for almost 25 years now, but brands that believe they can “disrupt” the suiting industry like The Black Tux, Indochino, and Combatant Gentleman keep sprouting up. Who for, though?

In service of answering these questions, I endured the incredibly awkward process of loitering outside of Men’s Wearhouse and the trendier Suitsupply to track down suit-buying men while sales associates and security guards leered at me. It was a harder sell than I anticipated, considering many of these guys were convinced to spend a couple hundred bucks by the line “You’re going to like the way you look, I guarantee it.”

First, meet a couple of the guys shopping at Suitsupply. They felt more style-conscious and had a better handle on this whole suit thing than their Men’s Wearhouse brethren.

Josh, 27, pharmacist

I’m buying a suit for a wedding in Italy. I’m looking for a plain black suit that I can wear more than once. I don't wear suits often — almost always for weddings, maybe five or six times a year. I own nice fabrics in summery blues; a lot of seasonal suits, stuff you'd get for weddings. I usually get something very slim, and a good tailor is important. As long as it’s tailored properly, I’ll wear it. Cost isn't important to me, but it's nice that they're under $1,000 here.

Michael, 32, works in finance

Nobody wears suits in finance, but twice a month I’ll wear one when I’m taking clients out to dinner. I got my first suit when I was 18 and it was so big, completely wrong. Massively baggy, pleated pants.

I have about eight different suits: Some are for summer, others are super heavy flannel, and then I have three or four regular suits. I wish I could mix it up more because I have fun suits that I wear to weddings and stuff like that, but normally I have to be pretty buttoned-up. A suit just needs to fit well — a slim fit. No research goes into it: I go, try on a suit, I like it or I don't like it, and that's it. I trust myself and don't ask anyone. On the rare occasion where I'm debating between two suits, I'll send my wife a picture and ask which one she likes more.

Now, the guys I forced to speak with me outside a Men’s Wearhouse. They were much more mission-oriented.

Devron, 17, high-schooler

I’m getting a tuxedo for prom. I’m not sure what my friends are getting, but I wanted to get the classic option for prom. The theme of the dance is “Shine Bright Like a Diamond,” and you try and follow the theme, so the guys wear black and white. I got a black tux with a white hanky and shiny shoes, and I’m going to wear a white rose. I picked here, honestly, because it’s the closest place to where I live. I ended up getting a tux that’s part of the Vera Wang collection.

Matt, 34, music producer

I never wear a suit — only at weddings and funerals. I’m picking up a suit for a wedding as part of a reservation. I have a suit, but I’m a groomsman and the groom wanted to do a specific color. We're all matching: It's a gray suit with a vest.

Kevin, 30, law firm intern

I’m buying a suit jacket to wear at a law firm where I'm an intern. I’m looking for something that's versatile, a jacket I can wear with dark and light pants, something I'm not going to look totally crazy in. I came to Men's Wearhouse because it’s a lot cheaper than other places. I've been to Jos. A. Bank and their cheapest was $200, and I was at Brooks Brothers and that was $400, so a little out of my price range.

There’s something here that I like, but it's kind of a bigger purchase and I want to think it over a bit. It's only $120, $130, though. I want to make sure it's the right one because my fit's a little funny; I have to get a tailor and everything. I definitely like to shop in-person because they can do your sizes. I don't like buying stuff like this online because you never know what you're going to get.