Thursday, April 18, 2013

Reader Questions

Q: I had always wanted to buy shoes online, but could never tell what size was the best fit. Is there a way for me to check my size at home and then order online? Thanks for the awesome info on your site.

A: Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you're enjoying my blog.

The ideal situation, of course, is to buy them in a physical retail store.

But, if you're buying online to save money (say, on eBay, which is where I've bought all of my Allen-Edmonds shoes, each at a minimum of 75% off of retail), if there's a store in your city that sells the brand you're looking for, you should go try some on.

If you can't afford the shoes at retail, I would tell the salesman I'll think about it, and buy something else from him to thank him for his time, like some shoe polish or socks.

However, remember that the same manufacturer uses different "lasts" for different models, so two different models from the same brand may fit slightly differently, even in the same size and width.

So, unless you're able to try on the exact model you're thinking of buying, there's always a gamble involved. But that's part of the price of getting something at 50-90% off of retail.

The good news is, if you buy a quality item on eBay and it doesn't fit, you should be able to re-sell it and recoup your money.

Q: What's high rise? Does it mean the pant goes really high up above my waist/hips area, like near the bellybutton? How about folks like me with a "beer gut?" Will your opinion about high rise change in such a case?

Also, using braces (I'm guessing you are referring to "suspenders") is fine if I am going to wear the suit for an evening. But, what about work suits? I am 30 and can't pull off the braces look because when I get to work, I take my jacket off and all the inner office stuff is then just with my suit pants, shirt, tie combo. It will look too "trying hard" esque if I wear braces everyday. Belts OK in this case?


A: Rise is the distance between the crotch and the top of the waistband. Yes, dress pants should ideally be around your belly button. The less sophisticated may see this as "old-mannish," but so be it. As I wrote in my original post, getting pants of a sufficiently high rise can be difficult if you don't have your clothes custom-made, and extremely difficult if you buy ready-made clothes second-hand. Jos. A. Bank and Lands' End both, as far as I know, still offer different rises, usually expressed as "short, regular, and tall." 

If you have a gut (I do too), my opinion not only doesn't change, but is reinforced -- men with guts need high rise pants more than do men with flat stomachs. 

Also, it's important to buy your pants big enough to fit loosely. If you wear suspenders, they're called that because they're supposed to literally suspend your pants from your shoulders. If you're heavier than you'd like to be, it's easy to lie to yourself about your size, suck it in, and wear pants that are too small. I know, because I did it for years. But tight pants actually make you look fatter, and they're horribly uncomfortable. You'll be amazed at how comfortable a pair of slacks can be when they're made from good quality, breathable cloth, have a high rise, and are loose around the waist. No one but you and the people who supply your pants/your tailor know what size you really wear anyway.

Regarding suspenders/braces (same thing), everyone has to adapt advice for their own taste and situation. If it were me, I would try wearing suspenders; if you get too much guff, you can always stop. In my opinion, suit pants with a waistband extension (the little strip of fabric to the right of the fly that goes across the waistband a couple of inches and fastens with a button or clip) look okay without anything -- suspenders or a belt (unless they're too loose to stay up otherwise). As I stated in my original post, belts are less than ideal with suits. But, if you feel you must wear one instead of suspenders to fit in at work, when in Rome, as they say.

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