Get Suited And Booted For £15!
Want a complete suit for £15? We test a whole range of office clobber which won't cramp your style or wallet.
Last week, it emerged the Bank of England had yet another pressing matter on its hands. And, as it tackled yet another base rate decision to try and stimulate the dwindling economy, it was revealed that its female economists attended a `Dress For Success' summit.
The ladies were told make-up is a must, `even if it's just lipstick', while tacky jewellery - especially ankle chains should be avoided because they are associated with prostitution.
But as I leave you ponder these pearls of wisdom, in terms of what we wear to work, there is no doubt the credit crunch is causing us to downsize our brands and retailers to rethink their price points.
Last month, Asda announced the launch of its `City Suit', costing just £19. As the city becomes one of the biggest victims of the financial crisis, its workers are now being asked to turn their backs on Saville row for, er, Asda.
So how do these suits compare? I tried on some of this credit crunch couture to see how it measured up (to take a closer look at the items I reviewed, click the boxes in the table):
|Store||Suit Jacket||Skirt/Trousers||Material||Rating for looks||Rating for comfort|
|Tesco||£10||£5||Both items 100% polyester||8/10||7/10|
|Asda||£12||£8/£8||Both items 64% polyester, 32% viscose and 4% elastine||6/10||7/10|
|Marks and Spencer||£35||£15||Both items 100% polyester||7/10||7/10|
And here's how the men's suits shaped up:
|Tesco||£19||£6||Both items 100% polyester|
|Asda||£19||£6||Both items 100% polyester|
|Marks and Spencer||£30||£19.50||Both items 65% polyester, 35% viscose|
All three stores offered trousers in both a long and petite length, which was surprising considering how cheap the ranges were. In addition, all suits were machine washable, meaning you can afford to look good minus the hefty dry cleaning bill.
For obvious reasons, I was unable to try on the men's suits and rate them. However, the table above should give you an idea of what's available.
At £15 for a complete suit, I walked into Tesco thinking I'd find a rag that would fall apart as soon as I picked it off the rack. However, the results were actually quite impressive.
Even though I had to choose a size down (though to be honest I'm not complaining!), the jacket was well tailored and the skirt was a flattering cut. In short - this did not look like a £15 suit.
The downside was that the bottoms were a bit flimsy, and sat higher on my waist than Simon Cowell's trousers. However, one size down and the problem was pretty much resolved.
However, one other disadvantage is you can't buy any of the clothes online. You have to head down to your local store to pick up a bargain.
Elsewhere, the Asda city suit felt a bit cheaper than the others to me. At £20, you could argue there's not much to complain about, but I do think Tesco pips Asda to the post in terms of both quality and fit.
If you're not convinced by the cheaper brands, or simply alarmed by the possible cuts in labour costs made to sell at these prices, you could always pay a bit more and buy your suit from Marks and Spencer. After all, it's not just a suit.it's an M&S suit.
True to form, Marks and Spencer came top for overall fit. However, while the suit had everything you'd need in terms of substance, I felt it was lacking somewhat in style. And at £50 compared to the £15 and £20 offerings, I couldn't help feeling slightly ripped off.
Overall, Tesco comes top for me.
Finishing the look
As well as getting a bargain suit, the accessories that finish it off are well worth considering. Both Asda and Tesco sell men's ties for £3, and for the really indecisive, you can even buy a shirt with matching tie, all neatly wrapped up for just £6.
Marks and Spencer also sells a range of women's shirts from £7.50, and men's from £8.50. There is also a bespoke service available for men, where you can have a shirt made from just £29 - a far cry from the price you'd pay a traditional tailor.
Sniffing out a bargain
If these deals don't entice you, there are loads of other places where you can pick up a bargain.
If you're looking for something with a designer edge, why not head down to your local TK Maxx, though be prepared to hunt through a few cluttered racks in search of that perfect suit.
As the credit crunch pulls our purse strings even tighter, we continue to look for more innovative ways to cut costs without losing our lifestyles. Downsizing your brands is one of the ways we can do this. After all, looking good doesn't need to break the budget.