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Defining the "good" and the "minimally acceptable"

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    Defining the "good" and the "minimally acceptable"

    I saw a thread on Ask Andy that led to some good discussion and would like to see the opinions of the dappered community on the matter.

    Here’s the link to the original thread.

    When defining “good”, the topic creator used the example of Allen Edmonds shoes. His argument was that, “Think of it this way: shoes below AE are significantly inferior, while shoes above AE, though better, represent diminishing returns. It cost a lot of money to get something significantly better than AE.”

    The thread had several posters offered their opinions on the matter, and one reply brought up the idea of “minimally acceptable.”

    Using a definition of “good” as best value, or at the point where buying anything nicer would not be a good value, what are some of your thoughts on what is “good” vs, “minimally acceptable.”



    Allen Edmonds. I was in a high end men’s store a few months ago and the salesman was showing me the difference between the Daltons and an Alden’s boot. When I looked at the two boots closely, I could see the difference. But the Alden’s retailed for $575, when I bought pair of new Daltons a month ago for $300. Very few people can tell the different between AE and Alden, but when one compares AE to Johnston and Murphy, the different in quality is quite noticeable.

    “Minimally acceptable”

    DSW’s house brands (Mike Kronos, Mercanti Fiorentini). I had a pair of Mike Kronos that I recently tossed as they were starting to look worse for the wear. They lasted a little less than 2 years, I probably wore them 200 ish times. The leather is decent but a bit shiny. Great nicer looking beater shoe.



    Ratio – My initial experience with the actual making of the shirt wasn’t great (I had to send it back twice). However, the shirt is now my favorite and most complimented shirt, and I will be ordering more in the future.

    “Minimally acceptable”

    Express – Extra Slim Fit. Express’ shirts negative aspects are well documented. But they one of the slimmest (if not the slimmest) mass market shirts out there. The shirt is about 1 inch thinner around the waist than the BB extra slim fit. The shorter length allows them to be worn untucked and they transfer well to a casual shirt. And they can be had for $30 with a little patience.

    Fairly good OTR Fit + mediocre quality + $30 = win for acceptable.


    Interesting post.

    I tend to look at this this topic through the lens of heritage and classic design. If a company has been making something for a long time and what they make is good, usually they will be successful and stick around.

    Minimally acceptable to me is anything that looks pretty good, is affordable, and won't fall apart in six months. Eventually I would like nearly all of the pieces in my wardrobe to fall in the "good" category, with a couple of throwaway "trendy" pieces in the "minimally acceptable" category. I would also like to have a few pieces that will last as long as me.

    Some of my thoughts on "good" pieces:

    Levis 501s and STF. These have been around for ever, and while the purists might complain they are no longer made in the US of A, I find the quality to be great. Note that I have only mentioned the classic styles; no skinny jeans for me.

    Bean boots, LL Bean. These also have a strong history. Not much to say about them, except that if they are what you need, they are good quality and affordable.

    For shirts I would have a hard time recommending and online MTM shirt, even though the reviews Ratio get are great. If I had to pick a shirt maker in the "good" category I would pick Brooks Brothers. The BB shirts I have are top notch, and they have styles to fit most people very well.

    I would like to know what others think about this, what do people think is the definition of a "good" suit, for example.



      This debate is made much more complicated by the ease of accessibility for secondhand goods like on eBay. The utility of a brand new Alfani suit, for example, is mitigated horribly by the availability of a used Zegna for the same price on eBay. But if we're going to operate on the assumption that we're discussing new stuff...


      Good - Indochino. I know this won't be popular, but assuming that this isn't your first Indochino suit, the fit issues have most likely all been worked out and you're getting a pretty good suit for a cheap price. The next step up in the RTW world is likely Suit Supply, and they can run almost 2x more than Indochino, particularly when tailoring costs are considered. After SS, the gains become largely incremental. Perhaps an alternative to SS would be Hickey Freeman or Zegna's "Z" line, but both of those still have a very steep price premium over Indochino. (full disclosure: have not ever experienced Black Lapel or any of the other Indochino-like upstarts.)

      Minimally acceptable: Wool. The suit must be made of wool, and only wool. No blends allowed.

      With shirts, I agree with Chris that BB is the "good" in this category so long as you can get them on sale. A step up from BB is pretty much anything on and is roughly $120-160 per shirt. I too am leery of Ratio.

      Regarding the minimally acceptable shirt, I'd probably say J.Crew or Charles Tyrwhitt. I've owned numerous shirts from both of these clothiers and have been pretty much satisfied with the quality that I got from them when I was unwilling to pay the minor premium for a BB.

      Pants: Bonobos. Even though they're typically regarded as pricey, the quality and customer service simply cannot be beaten. A step up from that in quality is probably Howard Yount or BB and that's a roughly $50 premium for roughly similar quality.

      Minimally acceptable: Banana Republic. Decent quality for a low price.



        I think is true in any industry with a luxury segment. It will be a little better but a lot more expensive. As if the incremental improvement justifies a doubling in price. True in real estate, cars, food, etc. For many, it's not the improvement in quality but the message that it sends to others. "Hey, I can afford this." Signalling at its finest.



          Curious about the hold-up with a Ratio/other MTM (made in USA, good/personal cust serv) vs. a store bought BB (tends to be outsourced). I have to admit that I don't think I'd do Ratio if not for the personal attention from Eric, or would have more holdups, but so far the product has been very high quality. With BB, good quality but I have had shirts of theirs fall apart on me or have loose strings, etc. I'm not saying I don't own a ridiculous amount of BB non-iron slim fits, but just curious that both of you said the same thing.