Some Small Sense

Shopping experiences and store reviews by a very petite woman. Indeed, it sucks. 4'10", 87 pounds, and full grown - is it a surprise I have trouble finding clothes?

June 28, 2006

Brooks Brothers store review - FREE or cheap alterations!

Brooks Brothers
346 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Considering the number of times that I've dropped into this chain, you'd think I'd know all the in and outs by now. Known for it's uber old-school country club/corporate attire image, it's definitely as upscale as you can get before you get into designer labels.

I decided to try out the Madison flagship location, which is also their main corporate office. Although the bulk of their business is in menswear, they have a decent women's and even boy's section. I have always found their clothing to be expensive, but very well made. Some of my favorite slacks, with massive alterations, have come from Brooks Brothers. This is definitely not the place to pick up anything that even conjures up a whiff of sex appeal. It's perfect for a particular type of female corporate image, but a truly horrible place for date clothing.

The staff was extremely courteous - much more so than some of their other locations. Much to my surprise, the saleswoman stated flat out, "you're going to need alterations" and went to fetch the tailor without asking me. Armed with a tape measure, I entered the dressing room with a jacket and matching slacks, not realizing that I'd forget to do any sort of measurement at all in my later excitement.

I stepped out of the very swanky dressing room and braced myself for some major pinning. The waist, the seat, and the sides were taken in - a ton of altering was required. Since this was an exploratory, I wasn't going to be too fazed by the cost. Well, I was just not prepared to be totally knocked off my feet. Almost aplogetically, she explained that the waist and seat would be free, but they'd have to charge me an extra $15 to do the sides. Oh, and the hemming's free too. Hello?! The pants would have cost about $80 on sale, and had I gotten them altered elsewhere, the hems alone would have been at least $15 (they were lined). The only exception to this generous offer is that redlined clearance items will not get free alterations. Heck, with these prices, if you need alterations, you'd be better off NOT getting something on sale!

The suit jacket, alas, was not alterable because, as a matter of policy, she would not take in the shoulders. For you ladies and gents that only need to nip the waist a bit, the cost is $25. I also discovered, much to my dismay, that they flatly refuse to alter most of their shirts. Brooks Brothers shirts are usually non-iron, and the thread (plain old thread I guess) used to put in new seams might pucker the garment. I've definitely had a tailor elsewhere put in darts, and I can vouch that puckering wasn't really a problem.

If those pants weren't a perfectly pastel blue (I won't EVER wear dress slacks in that color....) I'd have gone the whole way with them. I kinda wonder how Brooks Brothers can afford all these alteration costs - after all, someone has to pay those experienced tailors. But hey, not my problem. I'm just gonna take advantage of it while I can! If anyone's looking for conservative corporate clothing, this is really the right mix of service, quality, and price. I very highly recommend it - especially at this location.

I feel a little stupid now for not previously taking advantage of the alterations, but I've come out armed with this extra tasty tidbit. Now, I finally have a source for dress pants that fit!!! Of course, I'm just wondering how many other clothing companies have the same alteration policies. Somehow, I don't think they'll be quite so generous. But for once, I'm really hoping that I'll feel dumb more often.

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Blogger Steven Swain said...

Major Brooks Brothers fan here! I love the Madison Avenue store too. It's so much cooler than the suburban stores (though I'm actually more into Paul Stuart next door)

I didn't know about the free alterations, because I've mostly bought sportswear there (and it fits me really well off the rack), but it's good to know just in case I need something tailored.

The distinct lack of sex appeal is very apparent in Brooks Brothers' clothes. But it's still less martonly (and priced better) than places like Ben Silver.

July 04, 2006 9:11 PM  

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