The Problem with JoS. A. Banks

I will admit, once upon a time I bought a Suit at JoS. A. Banks (Joseph A. Banks). I was young, somewhat naive, and on a limited wardrobe budget, yet in need of new suiting. I ended up at JoS on a sale and it provided me a decent suit at the time. I still have it in fact, though I would never wear it (yes I should donate it) as my tastes over the decade since have matured as has my style acumen.

I would put JoS on the level of, say, Men's Warehouse- not for size or scope, but level of regard. In other words, you typically would shop there if you: a) are on a budget b) do not understand what you like versus what you need and c) have a somewhat difficult time understanding what the underpinnings of a good suit are (e.g., cut, fit, fabric, composition, etc.). Ten years ago, I would say I met criteria "a" and "c", respectively, but I am glad to say I have since evolved. Most guys will meet all 3 criteria early on in their careers and for some time thereafter; if not for an extended period of time- say, forever. Some guys meet at least 2 of the criteria for a long while. The lucky fall into only 1 category. The few, the brave and the proud to whom none of these apply? Well that is elite company indeed.

The last note about JoS A. Banks and other like clothiers... the salespeople are simply that: commission-based employees. They are not attuned to style, not attuned to your likes or dislikes. They couldn't care that you have $400 to spend instead of $500 and that 25% increase is big to you. Or whether spending that $400 on a shitty suit is a better play than doing right by you and your wardrobe and showing you WHY the extra $100 is worth it, even if you have to wait and save for it another month. In other words, they are not there because they have a passion for men's clothes and a commitment to you as a customer. They live paycheck to paycheck and that is (unfortunately) all that matters.

Case in point. I was out shopping with my family last weekend and happened by the local JoS A. Banks. Big sale that day- 3-Day sale. Get THIS: Buy 1 Suit, Get 2 Suits FREE. (Hellooo economic downturn.)

OK, stop. I do not care who you are. If you know what to look for and know how to wear a suit- I mean really "Wear. A. Suit." then anyone can make an opportunity like that work, right? Right?


I tried. I walked out disgusted. Everything about the visit was wrong- the store aesthetics, the selection, the help- let's just say everything was a bit lacking to anyone younger than 50. The rep who tried to help me, "John", met the template suit salesmen demo to put it mildly- polite, yet completely disconnected and unknowing of today's fit and style. He questioned my choice in sizing, scoffed at my reasoning, and dismissed any notion to appeal to me because nothing was in stock that met my specifications. I requested a look at their "Joseph" line- their attempt at a younger, updated look. This was met with agitation and deflection. They did not have a single suit in stock. He said there were 2 sport coats in that line somewhere on the racks, but he could not find them and he assured me they were not the size I wanted anyway (a subtle criticism of my size/style choice). That pretty much ended my visit. I walked out at that point.

It reminded me why I have never gone back to that place that sold me a suit 10 years ago when I knew almost nothing about suiting. Because the store, like its clothes, does not fit me. Fortunately, I learned that without having to spend a dime this time. With age comes wisdom.