Dan is a budget-savvy young professional looking for quality picks at good prices.
This article is a review of Kenneth Cole's Reaction Men's Slim-fit suits (that's a mouthful). I'll explore the wear and feel, the materials, and how they hold up, as well as other considerations.
As a young professional, I've spent years wearing these suits as an inexpensive, but solid, alternative to higher-end suits. I stumbled upon Kenneth Cole because I had been beating my head against the wall at my local outlet mall trying to find a suit coat that I wasn't swimming in (I'm a slim 36R, and most American-style suit coats make me look like I'm five years old playing dress-up with my dad's suit). I was instantly hooked on the stylish, fitted design, and even more impressed by the price tag. Since that first suit, I've ended up with several more for the same reason—I can't beat the price and the look.
But let's talk about the suit itself first.
The Build of the Suit
Kenneth Cole's Reaction suits are made of a polyester-rayon blend (about 65% and 35% respectively), a synthetic fiber combination that stays cooler in the hotter months. Some would say, and I tend to agree, that this combination feels a little too synthetic at times—because moisture doesn't absorb into the material as readily, the inside of the jacket and pants can feel a little stuffy if you're not moving about. But, that downside has an upside—the fabric also doesn't pick up odors or stains as easily, which means the suit might not have to go to the dry-cleaners as often. It is definitely a lot cooler than your average wool suit.
The Reaction suits have a full lining inside that is much silkier than the outside of the suit, and much more gentle to the touch. The pants are only lined to about the mid-thigh, but I haven't had any kind of weird rubbing or chaffing on my legs from them.
Kenneth's Reaction line has a very straightforward, but sharp style. The lapels on the jacket are narrow, but they have a very nice roll at the top button. Towards the top, the lapels have the notched collar look. The pocket can be popped open for a stylish handkerchief or left shut. The side pockets do not open (flap pockets), but nobody needs to know. The coat also has two side vents, which make slipping your hands into your pocket easy, but also maintains the shape and fit of the suit, rather than contorting the front to do so.
Kenneth adorned the sleeves with 4 buttons (they do not actually button), and the front of the coat also has to buttons, the top one placed at about the middle of the jacket. —Public Service Announcement: You only ever button the top button. EVER—The jacket has a fitted build to follow the natural V shape of most upper-bodies. It also has two inside pockets on the upper inside, and one lower left cell phone pocket that might not fit the increasingly large smartphones. I have no trouble getting my LG G3 in and out of the upper pockets though.
The pants have a simple taper, and are relatively unadorned. The pants come together in front with a simple fastener that is not visible on the outside of the pants (you should still wear a belt) and have another button on the inside for further security. The belt-loops are quite long in order to fit Kenneth Cole's traditionally wide Men's belts. The suit separates come in a variety of straightforward colors, including grey, a rich navy blue, black, tan, and grey stripe, among others. You can often find a matching vest to convert the ensemble into a three-piece suit.
Now, on to the really important stuff.
Since that first purchase, I have yet to find a suit that sits on my slender but athletic frame (that's my way of saying "skinny") the way the Reaction suit does. The coat sizes range from 36R all the way up to a 42L, but again, with the slim, fitted look in mind. The coat sits gently on me, whether it's buttoned or loose. It combines that fitted look that lets me still appear like a grown-up, but doesn't feel like it will tear when I bend over or crouch down. The pants are no different; once I got the right length of the pants' leg, I hardly notice it's there at all.
The downside to the whole ensemble is the durability. I've hesitated taking it too often to the dry cleaners, partly out of environmental concerns, but also because the stitching and fabric just don't feel like it would hold up to a bunch of cleanings. Instead, I've resorted to the occasional vodka spray and steamer, with some success. While I generally love the look and feel of the suit, at times you are reminded that it was made in China (disappointing), and the not made to last forever. But, for those of you willing to be repeat buyers, the suit is consistent, so once you wear through one Reaction Suit ensemble, you can go get the exact same thing again.
Kenneth Cole's Reaction Suits are versatile, fun to wear, and frankly, for those on a budget, a great pick. They let you have that slim, tailored look without spending an outrageous amount of money. While they are not made to go on forever, the Reaction Suits can give a young professional on a budget something to wear that will pass as classy to all but the most snobbish of suit fashionistas (and let's face it, you're probably not spending time with those folks anyway if you're on an outlet store budget; at least, I'm not). Given the look, the feel, and the sense of sharpness that you get from a Reaction suit, I think it's a great pick for those selecting their first couple of suits for work.
Leave your comments, questions, or suggestions below, and I hope you found this review of Kenneth Cole's Reaction Suits beneficial.
© 2015 Dan
John on February 11, 2019:
Why spend $200-$300 on a cheap fused polyester suit that is not made to last when you can get a much better quality 100 percent wool 1/2 canvas or full canvas for slightly more that is guaranteed to hold up over time and dry cleaning. If you're concerned with money it makes much more sense to spend a little more and have a suit that will last then to have to repeatedly buy cheap poorly made suits which will frequently need to be replaced. Just my 2 cents. BTW...a good tailor can fit an OTR suit to your size and stature--so don't worry about it fitting like a kid playing dress up. A good tailoring for any new suit is a must.