A good men’s suit is the modern-day equivalent of battle armor – symbolizing status and equipping you to meet the day’s demands. Longtime Miltons salesman Jose Fonseca-Brandao espouses the importance of a quality suit – he is a recognized face at The Store for Men and many say he embodies the gentlemanly polish that an exceptional suit salesman should have. He has helped many a customer find the perfect interview suit, sharp wedding tuxedo, or fine boys sports blazer, building relationships that often span generations. “I’m selling more than a suit; it’s an image that tells the rest of the world how to treat you,” said Fonseca-Brandao, who considers himself a fashion consultant and role model. “I believe if you want to sell clothing, you need to look the part.” He spoke with Globe correspondent Cindy Atoji Keene about working the sales floor at the menswear specialty retailer, which has locations in Chestnut Hill and Braintree.
“I was walking down the street in Brighton center, dressed in gray pants and a suit jacket. I was going to apply for a job in a convenient store but a man approached me and said, “I’m a manager for Miltons. You’re dressed very nicely. You’d be a good salesman for men’s clothing.” I had recently arrived from Portugal via Cape Verde, my home town, and I told him that I didn’t speak English very well. He reassured me that my language skills were adequate and the next day I took the bus and applied for a job. I started out downstairs in the Chestnut Hill store, selling sportswear and had great success, selling multiple outfits, including shirts and ties. That was over 20 years ago, and now I am in the suit department, helping people update their professional wardrobes. When a customer first walks in, the first thing I do is look at their complexion and how they are built. There are three different types of shoulders, the V-shoulder, right-angle, and round shoulders. It’s important that the merchandise fits the body appropriately and feels comfortable. I take a quick measurement of the shoulder and the waist and recommend colors. The trend now is slim or body fit, with a shade that I call the ‘new blue’ – it’s a light blue with touch of purple in it. Styles change very slowly in men’s clothing – there have been drastic shifts only two or three times, such as when double-breasted suits were replaced by two-button suits with a smaller lapel. When new products come in, I unpack them and always try them on, because that’s the best way to become familiar with a line or brand. A retail job isn’t always easy – there’s a lot of folding, sorting, and dealing with all sorts of different personalities. I try to always look good myself, because it’s the only way to offer the best service for our clients. I make sure my suit isn’t wrinkled and that I’m well-groomed from head to toe. I meditate and work out so I’m ready to go when I walk into the store at 9:30 a.m. And when I come home at night, I never just throw my clothes on the floor. I believe that clothing needs to be treated with respect, just as if it were a relationship. You wouldn’t just toss something you cared about on the ground. So I take my shirts, pants and ties and hang them up at the end of the day.”