Hoffman's Houston
a brave new look

Ken Hoffman dresses up with the cheapest suit deal (possibly) ever

Ken Hoffman dresses up with the cheapest suit deal (possibly) ever

Brioni men's suit
Hoffman isn't exactly wearing Brioni.  Brioni/Facebook

The last time I bought a suit was five years ago. My former boss died and I spoke at his memorial service. Since I live, let’s say a leisurely lifestyle, I didn’t own a suit. So, I went to a discount men’s store next door to a Smoothie King in an I-45 strip center: “Where do you keep your cheapest suits?”

I found a plain blue suit for $79 that almost fit. The pants needed to be hemmed, that’s all. I asked the salesperson, “I need this day after tomorrow. Do you think you can have it back to me by then?”

The salesperson said, “Sir, we alter suits for people who are being sentenced by a judge that afternoon. This won’t be a problem.”

I donated the suit to Goodwill the next day.

Last time before that, I bought a dress jacket off the back of an East German military police officer. The highlight of my journalism career, this long hard climb to the middle, was being assigned to cover the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Since the wall was down, his job was up. The police officer removed his name strip, pocketed his badge, and sold me the jacket for $10 U.S. I love that jacket, still have it, wear it to dressy occasions. 

It’s not appropriate for a wedding, however.

Next month, a friend is getting married in Galveston and I have to go. I was back in the market for a suit. Have you ever heard of BradsDeals? Each day, a couple of times a day, I get an email from the online discount middleman offering garden hoses, underwear, patio furniture, bedding, kitchen gadgets, cosmetics, laptops, solar-powered security lights and whatever for extremely bargain prices.

One of the items offered a couple of weeks ago: Men’s Classic Fit 2-Piece Suits … $48 with free shipping. That sounds about right! The ad specified that the suits were "condition: new" and had a "30-day warranty.”

I ordered one. I had to choose between blue, light gray, and black. I went with black, can’t go wrong with a little black suit. It arrived last week, folded in a box, on a hanger. It looks like a normal suit. It’s not see-through. Okay, it’s a little shiny. It looks like something from Lurch's Funeral Director Collection.

My $48 suit has a label, Braveman clothiers. I looked them up. They make “fashion suits, solid suits, tuxedos and outerwear.” You won’t find Braveman’s suits at Festari For Men. No, Braveman’s exclusive retailers appear to be BradsDeals.com and Groupon.

I tried on the suit. The jacket fits, sort of. It looks like something the Undertaker will wear to his induction in the WWE Hall of Fame in April – if he stays in character. But, unless I gain 100 pounds and grow six inches before May, the waist and butt and hem will need to be taken in.

I’m not paying for alterations. I’ll probably wear jeans and hunch over so nobody notices too much.

I don’t expect to see Brad Pitt on the red carpet at the Oscars, with the Bravo fashion reporter asking him, “Who are you wearing? Gucci? Armani? Dior? Saint Laurent? Brioni?”

Pitt responds: “Braveman. Guess how much this suit cost me!”