Over the years, I’ve followed the journeys of a massive number of stylish menswear brands. But when I’m shopping for a custom suit, colorful dress shirt, soft sweater, pair of nice chinos or interesting menswear accessory, I start with these impressive brands and retailers. I have had the chance to get to know the entrepreneurs who brought these brands to life, and recommend them based on my experiences over the years.
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Favorite Menswear Retailers
Huxley, Iowa-born entrepreneur Todd Snyder blends “Savile Row craftsmanship” with a “New York aesthetic,” and his line instills that same kind of closet envy that leafing through old J. Crew mail-order catalogs produced back in the early 2000’s. (For good reason: Snyder was hired by Mickey Drexler to overhaul the sagging fortunes of J. Crew’s menswear line, and helped introduce the Ludlow suit and J. Crew Liquor Store.) Todd Snyder offers a true one-stop-shop for everything from suits, button-down shirts and dress trousers to wallets, watches, neckties and underwear. It’s not cheap, but Snyder helps get guys comfortable branching out into uncharted territory by pairing his line of clothing alongside collaborations and curated pieces from brands including Alden, Drake’s and Timex.
Nordstrom has embraced modern fashion and digital retail — no small feat for a retailer founded in 1901 — while exemplifying important old-fashioned values. Of all of the major retailers, it feels like Nordstrom delivers on a well-integrated bricks-and-clicks shopping experience with free shipping, flexible returns and uniform pricing across e-commerce, telephone sales and stores, while stocking some small and up-and-coming brands. They also measure and list the length and width of most ties — it’s baffling that most other stores do not — and their filter function allows you to hone in on ties that are 2.75-3.00, which are (in this site’s opinion) at the high and low end of the perfect width for a tie. Read more: Embracing Technology, Nordstrom Suggests Why More Guys Are Dressing Up
Bonobos has emerged as a strong contender for a range of menswear staples from neckties to sweaters. While the innovative retailer began with an e-commerce only model direct-to-consumers, it now also sells through outfits like Nordstrom and via “e-commerce showrooms” scattered throughout the United States where men can make an appointment to get to know Bonobos and understand how their clothes fit. After you identify the proper fit — they don’t stock inventory onsite — a Bonobos personal shopper can help you place an order which will ship free (and quickly) to you. Prices aren’t exactly cheap, but they come down with frequent promotions. Read more: Can Bonobos’ Alternative Retail Concept Gain Traction?
Everlane was founded in 2011 by then 25-year old engineer Michael Preysman and promises “radical transparency” into its supply chain, offering some insight into input costs and the workers behind the clothing. (On Black Friday in 2016, Everlane donated profits to help improve the lives of workers at its factories in Vietnam.) Everlane makes standout and reasonably-priced men’s wardrobe staples including soft t-shirts, super-comfortable cashmere crew and v-neck sweaters, fleece pants, backpacks and outerwear.
Walking into Stag Provisions, tucked in a strip mall on Congress Street in Austin, Texas, is at once refreshing and nostalgic. The place and pieces scream vintage, but the innovative, highly-curated selection of men’s clothing, shoe and accessory brands is bracing. They carry designers including J. Crew alternatives Alex Mill and Todd Snyder, American-made trenchcoat brand American Trench, Ebbets Field Flannels, Faherty, Filson, Gitman Vintage, Grayers, fellow Texas brand Hamilton Shirt Co., Herschel Supply Co (maker of one of my absolute favorite everyday slim leather briefcases), Red Wing boots and watches from Jack Mason and Weiss Watch Company. (Read more about Jack Mason and Weiss watches at Modern Fellows’ guide to watches with Arabic numerals.)
Best Dress Shirts for Men
If you want to buy off-the-rack, UK-based Charles Tyrwhitt is a solid bet. Charles Tyrwhitt’s extra slim fit shirts fit well and look sharp. Their style is understated British, and their physical stores and snail-mail catalogs help their styles come to life. They also have frequent sales, and their famous 4 dress shirts for US$199 is an outstanding value. Read more: Inside Charles Tyrwhitt DC at Farragut Square
DISCOUNT: Modern Fellows’ readers receive a discount of $20 off your first shirt
Proper Cloth offers made-to-measure shirting online and via a showroom in New York. Their photos pull you in, and the fabrics, customer service and enthusiasm and execution should make you stick around. The photos, descriptions, and online community that the company has built up help to convey a ton of useful information about Proper Cloth’s shirts and help diminish the uncertainty of buying online. Most importantly, it’s easy to perfect the fit, the fabrics are amazing, and their customer service guarantee is solid. Modern Fellows’ readers receive a discount of $20 off your first shirt via this link. Read more: Proper Cloth Shirt Review
Richmond-based Ledbury gets a special mention for an amazing selection of off-the-rack dress and business casual shirts. While their basic whites and blues are terrific, their bolder patterns and colors — oranges, yellows, greens and purples in glen plaids, checks and stripes — really pop.
Denver, Colorado-based Ratio Clothing makes amazing and surprisingly-affordable American-made, custom shirts for men. Their intake process makes perfecting a custom shirt almost as simple as ordering from Amazon, and they have a terrific selection of dress, business casual, oxford and flannel shirts. Read much more via Modern Fellows’ review of Ratio Clothing’s dress shirts after six years.
Custom Tailored Suits
DISCOUNT: Get a $50 coupon off your first custom suit from Black Lapel Custom Clothiers using code FTOMODERN.
The great promise is that there is a company out there who can nail it, crafting a suit that – with a few adjustments here and there – fits better and is less costly than marked-up off-the-rack fashion labels. Online custom tailor Black Lapel produces suits that feel complete, personal, and like a suit ought to fit — much more than the sum of its parts — at around $500. Read more: Review: The Black Lapel Suit
Hall Madden (formerly Proper Suit)
Hall Madden (formerly Propersuit) offers an impressive combination of fabrics, finishes and customizations via a combination of appointment-only showrooms, concierge services and trunk-shows in Atlanta, Houston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Orange County, Portland, San Francisco, South Florida and Washington, DC and their fully-canvassed, soft-shoulder suit feels and looks remarkable and fit extremely well following a couple of minor touch ups. At $850 and up, these aren’t entry-level prices, but if you have the means, you’ll find Hall Madden can deliver a phenomenal suit that competes with off-the-rack offerings that can run much higher. Read more: A Review of the Proper Suit Made-to-Measure Suit
Best Bets for Off-the-Rack Suits
J. Crew’s Ludlow suit gets consistently high marks for a stellar combination of quality materials, flattering fit and an accessible price point, inspiring a generation of Ludlow Brothers.
Netherlands-based Suit Supply stocks highly-regarded off-the-rack suits as well as dress shirts, neckties and dressy accessories for men. They operate a series of retail operations around the United States, including in Washington, DC’s Georgetown neighborhood — and sell online.
For a while, you couldn’t open up GQ or Esquire without seeing Chicago-based Tie Bar’s affordable ties, tie bars and socks (which are also available via Amazon.com). Their ties are extremely affordable and stylish, and I love that they offer a variety of widths ranging from super-skinny (2 inches) to regular (3.25 inches). Read more: Tie Bar launches incubator program, and Look inside the (now closed) Tie Bar showroom in Washington, DC.
Shop Tie Bar
In an era where U.S. consumers have been spoiled by free shipping and unconditional satisfaction guaranteed promises on e-commerce purchases, Sam Hober’s policies and approach are old-school, but their ties are amazing. Their grenadine ties — in a variety of weaves and colors — are particularly impressive, and it’s nice to be able to custom order a tie in our favorite width (2.75 inches) and length (57 inches). Read more: From Thailand, Custom Necktie Tailor Sam Hober Takes an Old Fashioned Approach to a Digital Age Business
Colorful Socks for Men
Founded in 2011, Los Angeles-based Unsimply Stitched offers customers a wide range of colorful socks, some of which — like plaids, windowpanes and the purple zig-zags — are daring even among a growing crowd of bold sock-makers. The socks, a blend of combed cotton, elastane and polyamide fibers that retail for between $10-$12 on their website and at select retailers, are soft, thin enough to be worn with dress shoes, but thick and durable enough to stand up to repeated washings and life. President Alex Hendeles’ focus on iteration of patterns and design make them a top choice. Get ’em quickly via Amazon Prime. Read more: Where to Buy the Best Socks Online | Meet Unsimply Stitched and their New Spring Socks