Brooks Brothers, synonymous with well-heeled banker types and East coast prepsters, this is a central hub for the man looking for a dress shirt, a smart blazer, and a solid pair of trousers.
So how do the bros stack up against other menswear brands in the game? Let’s take a deeper dive:
A Lofty Reputation
Oh boy, does Brooks Brothers have a long-standing reputation. The Ivy-league-affiliated brand is responsible for many a presidential outfit and is known for quality, prestige, and a top-notch customer service experience.
That said, the bros have made some recent attempts to reinvent themselves—with colorful casuals and more modern fitting options. Of course, every guy on the internet seems to have an opinion on this, from those lamenting a loss of quality, to those who appreciate a brand that can strike a balance between trend and tradition.
Where Does BB Shine?
So, in an age of denim joggers and the rise of athleisure, what role does Brooks Brothers play in the changing landscape of men’s fashion? Short answer, the basics. Think workhorse shirts—oxfords worn by icons like Miles Davis, William F. Buckley, and Paul Newman. Suits, blazers—the stuff working men will wear over and over.
Two words: button-downs. Save the flowery shorts and patchwork tops for the frat boy set. It’s no secret that no-iron shirts have been hotly contested since their formaldehyde-soaked inception. The Wall Street Journal even wrote a piece on this back in 2016.
Brooks Brothers—sells quite a range of button downs, from the slim fit Milano to the looser, traditional Regent—and yes, they have iron and non-iron options alike. That said, menswear purists flock toward the original oxford cloth shirts. These shirts—affectionately known as the OCBD—are a touch more expensive than their stiffer counterparts. Made from Supima cotton, the OCBD comes with details like mother-of-pearl buttons and back pleating.
Going to get fitted for a Brooks Brothers suit is a rite of passage for many men—whether they're off to their first job or looking to dress the part after that big promotion. The Golden Fleece suits will cost a couple grand, but BB makes suits that well, suit, different price points.
Brooks Brothers have a collection of four different fits.
• Milano—extra slim
• Regent—Slim and contoured
• Traditional—Full and relaxed
But, look on any men’s fashion blog, forum or even the Quora answers. It seems shopping Brooks Bros has a lot to do with their legendary dress shirts—over and over, men love that OCBD—and for good reason. It works with boots and jeans just as well as it does with sail boat-printed chinos and tasseled loafers.
What’s Up with the Different Collections?
Ahh, the fleece hierarchy. The brand has two collections, Red Fleece and Golden Fleece. Black fleece, a Thom Browne collaboration, was discontinued back in 2015. Here’s a look at the major differences between the two primary-colored fleeces:
Red: The brand’s Red Fleece collection is geared more toward the younger crowd—think Springy New England basics designed for the collegiate set. Red Fleece features a slimmer fit than the classic offerings—and shoppers can expect a fit much like the Milano suit. If you’re not a fan of slim fitting shirts and sweaters, you may either want to size up or look toward the brand’s more traditional lines.
You’ll find a blend of casual sportswear, or things like this seed-stitched cardigan, and a collection of reasonably priced casual button downs. The Madras Plaid or the Windowpane button-ups will run you just $49.50, regular price—on par with any of the major “mall brands.”
Golden: The Golden Fleece line is a celebration of fine fabrics and full-canvassed suits. GF is considerably more expensive than Red Fleece—you’ll find button-downs that cross the $200 threshold, camel hair sweaters, and plenty of cashmere.
GF is more a collection of investment pieces to RF's more affordable, younger collection, but 2018 is set to bring some lighter, more playful updates into the mix.
And then there’s the 1818 collection. This line offers an affordable (relatively) alternative to the Golden Fleece’s collection of suits. 1818 suits—half-canvassed to GF’s full canvassed offerings-- are solid workhorse suits, and you usually can find them available for under a grand. That said, both 1818 and GF are hand-stitched, so either way, you’re getting a decent-quality suit.
So—Are the Brothers’ Offerings Still Worth It?
A lot of the Brooks Brothers appeal is the preppy, clean-cut quality—bolstered by its Ivy League appeal and its long-standing presidential heritage.
But, while the Bros can get pretty pricey, the Red Fleece and 1818 lines are pretty accessible.
In the end, old BB doesn’t disappoint when it comes to work shirts and classic blazers—staples every man can use in his closet--no matter where he's at in life.