September Note: Banana Republic has launched their fall friends and family 40% off event, which puts these suit separates in the rare sub $400 category through Saturday 9/23/23. No code needed. Discount on the suit jackets and trousers should happen at checkout. Last time this happened was way back in March.
We planted a flag pretty early this year that the Spier and Mackay Red Label Half Canvas suit was the one to beat, standing pretty much alone in the <$400ish range, for any situation. They’re seriously impressive.
So.. do we have a Spier Red Label challenger? And the answer is.. that depends.
BR is keeping it simple and offering their Signature Italian Nailhead
suit in either gray or blue.
If you wait for a 30% off sale, these Signature Suit Separates from Banana Republic will run $420. Clearly that’s nowhere near the Red Label $298 price. It’s even $42 more than Spier’s core line, which is a nice upgrade over the Red Label. YET! If you can hold tight for the much-anticipated-rarely-demonstrated 40% off Friends and Family discount? They’ll drop to $360. Not bad at all, especially considering some of the advantages/differences they may have, for some, over Spier.
It’s been a hot minute since we had another legit contender flying anywhere close to the $300-350 range, but there’s a whole lot to like, even at the non-slashed price.
Unaltered 36S Jacket and 31R Trouser on
Moving-target-pricing aside, BR is really bringing it here. They came VERY prepared: their designers apparently spent three years refining the fit, resulting in a natural shoulder and articulated sleeve that allows for effortless movement. The outer fabric uses a luxurious-looking “nailhead” texture, sourced from Italy’s renowned Reda Mill. Crafted from 99% Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) wool with 1% elastane, it looks and moves great. Remember, wool is nature’s tech fabric. It breathes, it wicks, it’s super comfortable. It resists wrinkles better than cotton and linen ever could.
The nailhead texture of this Italian sourced wool creates visual depth in the fabric.
Pickstitch details also add some visual interest.
The lining actually uses different fabric mixes for each interior section. The front panel is lined with 58% viscose rayon / 42% organic cotton, the side and back panels are 95% polyester / 5% spandex, and the sleeves are 55% polyester / 45% cupro rayon. So, the front will breathe, the back and sides will stretch and move, and the sleeves will slide easily on and off. Pretty nifty.
The interior of the jacket features three different linings to allow for breathability
and stretch, while also making the sleeves easy to get on and off.
The jacket’s notch lapel, 2-button front, and single vent at the back are classics for good reason. With two front flap pockets, a chest welt pocket, and three interior pockets, you’ll find ample space to keep your phone and other essentials close at hand. The finishing and feel is quality, with a contrasting undercollar felt being a nice extra touch.
BR used felt under the suit collar to keep a clean, crisp crease.
The trousers are designed for both style and comfort with a tapered leg. The hint of stretch ensures unrestricted movement and day-long comfort, making them a solid choice for all-season wear. The trousers come in three inseam options, with the understanding that you’ll be on the hook to get them dialed in (if need be) by a tailor. The short trouser inseam = 29.5″, Regular = 31.5″, Long = 33.5.” So it’s not quite the usual 30, 32, 34 you’ll find at other brands who do suit separates, but it’s in the ballpark.
The trousers come in three different inseam options that can be dialed in by a tailor.
Unaltered, 31 waist / regular length (31.5″) shown here on 5’9″.
I highly advise grabbing both inseams around your “usual” to be safe. Better a little too long with good drape as opposed to a little too short and “flood-stage” ankle bearing/cropped results. A tailor can always bring up trousers that are a bit too long. That said, they can extend most off-the-rack suit trousers within reason as well.
One of the only drawbacks to this suit: the dreaded functional sleeve cuff buttons.
(Which are only a problem if you need the sleeves shortened.)
In terms of fit, it’s super comfortable to wear and easy to move in with no restrictions. That stretch in the liner really makes a big difference in mobility — I could comfortably play basketball in this if I felt so inclined (and I did!). Surprisingly, a jacket with stretch in the outer fabric still won’t move very freely if the liner doesn’t also have stretch. But this is great. Lapels lay nice and flat, shoulders are soft but not frumpy, and no protruding “duck butt” with that single flap. Unfortunately, functional cuff buttons rear their ugly head here, which is a big reason why after initially ordering a 36R jacket, I ended up returning that one for a 36S. The regular size jacket had my wrists swimming in fabric, and were just plain too long. Functional sleeve cuff buttons are expensive to alter. So back that went, and I’m glad I got the 36S shown in this review. Bottom line: get your wrists right with the jacket (showing 1/4″ -1/2″ of shirt cuff when your arms are at your sides). But don’t end up with a chopped jacket tail in the process. More fit info here and head here for some additional/overall suit-shopping tips.
The suit is made from Reda Mill RWS wool fabric that incorporates Reda Flexo.
One last thing about the fabric, though hopefully my first jacket (the 36R that I sent back) was an outlier. There was some pretty glaring bubbling on the bottom of the 36R jacket I received. While I initially thought it was possibly some wrinkling from how it shipped, it just wouldn’t clear up with airing it out/verrry gentle steaming. Instead, it appears that the fusing in the lower half of the jacket (which even half-canvas jackets have) melted then re-collected in pockets of goo/bubbles under the shell. Like I said, the jacket was probably an outlier, but this is something to be aware of upon arrival (if it gets cooked in a hot shipping container or truck) and also when dry-cleaning and caring for it.
To recap on these suit separates:
- All season wool from Italy’s Reda mill.
- Softer shoulder and sleeves designed for ease of movement.
- Moves so nicely with just a hint of natural stretch, thanks to 1% elastane.
- Subtly interesting but still all-occasions appropriate “nailhead” visual texture.
- Would excel in all three scenarios from our “Versatile Medium Gray Suit – 3 Ways” posts.
On the “right” sale, there’s really not much more bang you can get for your buck.
About the Author: Ryan N. is a professional web developer who keeps a close shave as to not be confused with his strongly-bearded twin brother. He plays guitar and drums, loves going to concerts with his wife, and loves being a dad.