Anyone want to weigh in? Need you ask?
Anyway, it is probably somewhat of a subjective question. I recently helped a new member buy an "Off the Rack" uniform made by a friend. The person who made the armour had been trying to sell it for a couple of years, so I think that the price came down a little, but she sold the basic uniform including Spine, Tunic (With attached gorget and shoulder yoke), and gauntlets for about $150.
This was a really good price in my opinion, and it was fortunate that the new member was able to fit into it without difficulty. Also he had been prepared to pay $600-$700 based on common site pricing. However, it is something of a "Starter" uniform, sacrificing a little style for comfort and ease of wear. Also he is a professional, so the money was not as much of an issue as it might be for some.
I am (As was mentioned in another thread), having a new suit made for me specifically. Because it will be custom, the fit should be good, and I am willing to spend a little more to have a serviceable uniform for years to come. I do not know the final price yet, but I am anticipating (Including a very heavy duty honor sash), probably close to the $600 mark.
I am willing to pay this, because I have a vested interest in finally having a more traditional uniform to wear, and I do not expect to have to replace it for a long time. For someone who was not sure of their level of interest I might discourage paying that much. Especially since there are other accessories to think about as well. All of which I already own.
So in short, (Uh-huh), I think that there are several things that someone needs to consider when thinking about purchasing a uniform and how much to spend:
1) How often will it be used? As the meycha points out, something that will only be used once or fairly infrequently may not be something that it makes sense to spend a lot of money on if it is a sacrifice to do so.
2) How soon is the uniform needed? (Remember, saving $50 a month for a year would allow a nicer, better uniform, so if it can wait...Well you get the idea).
3) How much can one afford to spend? This is a hobby. For myself, I have enough ego that I like hearing people tell me that they dig my "Costume", and I love having my picture taken, so I am willing perhaps to spend a little more than I can realistically afford. But as stated it is a hobby, and it would not be wise for anyone to prioritize such a purchase over real world obligations.
4) What is your own time worth? I hear people talking all the time about making stuff themselves. This is great, and I have enormous respect for those who have the time, interest and skills required to do so well. So if it is worth the time and effort to make it yourself, then that will likely be a better solution. If on the other hand, the expense in time, materials and effort would outweigh that of having something made for you then the answer is clear.
5) What are you getting for the money? Are you getting ready to plop down $100 bucks for a tunic? Not a bad price really, but there are many other elements involved in getting a completed uniform. And I have seen tunics go for as much as $400 without any accessories, including Shoulders, or Spine. So it is good to know what you will need and what you are actually getting.
6) Shop around. Although less common perhaps than in the past, there are still a few quartermasters out there doing their thing. Some are cheaper than others. And in some cases the difference in quality may be evident.
7) Expensive does not always mean better. This goes with number 6 to some degree, in that there is always someone willing to take advantage of another person, or who feels that their own time is worth more than you may feel it is worth. Just because it is expensive does not guarantee that it will be good quality or look/wear the way you want it to.
Convenience verses practicality. Where is the uniform being made? Will you be able to try it on before you pay the final payment? Online resources are great, but you do tend to sacrifice custom measurements, tailoring, and opportunities for feedback during the build when something is being sent from a distance. And there is the added cost of Shipping, Insurance etc involved.
I dunno' those are a few ideas off the top of my head, but the basic message is: "Don't spend it if you don't have it to spend. If it's worth it to you to either have someone else make a uniform, or pay a little extra for higher quality gear then do it. And try to develop a relationship of some sort with the person you intend to buy from."