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Need advice on building wardrobe

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Hello all: I just recently stumbled upon this message board this past Friday and have been enaromed by it since. I'm a 23 year old new professional in the fin. svcs industry. My company leans towards being more conservative, and I'm required to wear suits daily. My income is that of a new hire, so I'm looking for savvy purchases. I was wondering what specific brands you recommend to start filling out my wardrobe. I'm looking to build on what I have. I've always taken pride in the way I dress, so I'm looking to buy good quality stuff. I'd love to hear everyones thoughts. Suits 1 Black 1 Charcoal 1 Black Chalkstripe, and some hand me down suits. [u] Shoes Black Cole Haan laceups Black Bruno Magli slip ons Shirts 10 Assorted Brands and colors in shirts
post #2 of 36
Looking at what you have, I'd consider adding a navy suit next. Considering your work environment I would suggest adding another pair of black lace-ups while taking a step up in quality (not suggesting you ditch your current shoes/duds). One of the best things you can do is take some time reading the forum, the archives and also those at Ask Andy, which can sometimes be more business dress focused (also more conservative, for good or ill). Buy slowly, make wise decisions. A year from now you'll be shocked at how different your wardrobe is. Don't worry. It happens to all of us.  
post #3 of 36
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the quick response Alan. I was thinking of adding a nice pair of brown laceups next. What is the general consensus on brown with navy and gray suits? Do you recommend any particular brands of shoes?
post #4 of 36
I think a pair of brown lace-ups would be an excellent purchase. The general consensus on brown shoes with gray or navy suits is that we strongly approve (except for one member from France who seems to think that only farmers wear brown shoes ). The shoes of choice on this forum tend to be Aldens or Allen Edmonds, but they are also pricy. Do some searches about shoes and you will pick up a lot of tips on what to look for in a quality shoe - this knowledge is helpful whether you're buying a pair of $600 shoes or a pair of $100 shoes. Bradford
post #5 of 36
Allen Edmonds makes a lot of basic, versatile dress shoes, and it's very easy to get a new or like-new pair for $100-150 on eBay.
post #6 of 36
If not brown, cordovan.
post #7 of 36
Thread Starter 
It seems that I like a lot of the members on this forums style. I was leaning towards either Alden or Allen Edmonds laceups. I can get them at a good price during one of the Nordstroms sales. What shades of brown would you consider acceptable? Also, what brand suits do you recommend? I'm not quite ready to go the MTM route yet, but I want to buy the best quality suit I can for my money.
post #8 of 36
This is general advice that I often give, and that has worked well for me. Buy high quality shoes, shirts and ties, which can serve to really dress up an okay suit. Poor shoes, shirts and ties, on the other hand, will kill an Oxxford. When I began upgrading my wardrobe I started at those 'edges'. They'll give you a lot of sartorial punch for the money. When you're able to get higher quality suits, too, then everything comes together. You have the accessories to pull that suit off.
post #9 of 36
Very dark brown is the most versatile shoe tone. For suits, depends on the silhouette you're seeking. If you like the Italian look, you could, for example, go to a department store to get sized and then haunt eBay for Luciano Barbera.
post #10 of 36
A search on the forum might yield some good results on good-value suits, but generally, depending on your style, you can get good value from Canali, Corneliani, Hickey Freeman, and some others. Many people here swear by Oxxford, though it's a little more difficult to find <$1k. It depends on how flexible you are and how much time you have to shop (also, your willingness to buy used clothes). If you want a navy suit in a brand you've never tried on before, and you need it by Friday, your options are limited. eBay was my best option for a few starter suits beyond JosABank. Know your size in a few makers, and watch a few auctions before bidding. Something like this Canali (though not the most conservative suit) is a very nice suit, new, for $600. You won't find that in many retail stores. Keep an eye on your size on ebay for a while, and you can probably cherrypick a nice suit in good shape (not new), for <$200. Good luck. EDIT: I don't know anything about the eBay seller referenced above.
post #11 of 36
Thread Starter 
I was leaning towards 700$ being the max I'd be willing to spend for my next suit. Would a solid navy be considered an essential suit color?
post #12 of 36
It seems that I like a lot of the members on this forums style.  I was leaning towards either Alden or Allen Edmonds laceups.  I can get them at a good price during one of the Nordstroms sales.  What shades of brown would you consider acceptable?  Also, what brand suits do you recommend?  I'm not quite ready to go the MTM route yet, but I want to buy the best quality suit I can for my money.
Go with cordovan lace-ups, not brown shoes. Cordovan goes with everything (yes, even black), brown can be difficult to pull of with anything. As for suit brands, it depends what you mean by "for the money." I too am a young professional, looking to expand my suit collection. I was lucky enough to pick up a couple of Paul Stuart suits originally $1200/1000 at $400/300. I just picked them up after spending another $180 at the tailor to finish them off right, and I think it was all money very well spent. If by "for the money" you can invest in a couple Oxxfords, (starting at $2400), then I'd recommend going with them. If, on the other hand, that's a bit much to start out with, I'd encourage you to go look at Filenes Basement or Century 21 and see if you can't find some Hickey Freemans or similar for decent money. If you have to get fused, Burberry suits are made in the same factory as the HF, and are pretty good from what I understand. You mention Nordstroms - they'll have their half-yearly mens sale at some point coming up - you might see if they are gonig to have suits on sale and if there are any you'd like to pick up. And on the suits - go with more greys, a navy, etc. I don't believe (as some do) that black is inappropriate outside of funerals, (its especially common and appropriate in New York), but I do think it's true that shades of gray (charcoal, lighter, etc.), and especially a navy suit will look better on most people. ---------- In terms of making your money go far however, I'd say: (1) PAY for real tailoring. Get the adjustments you need. You'll look much better in a properly fitted $600 fused suit than you would in an ill-fitting $2400 Oxxford. (2) Spend more on accessories now (shoes, belt, tie, maybe shirts), and save up a year or so to buy your suits (at which point you could wait for a trunk sale and get M2M at RTW prices, etc.).
post #13 of 36
Thread Starter 
$2400 might be a little too much for me. The Paul Stuart deals sound like a great bargain to me. What is the exact difference between cordovan and brown? Is it a darker shade of brown? Also, what shirts do you recommend without going into the $100+ range? I'm leaning towards getting one of the suit brands stated in this post. Just need to find a good deal before buying. I could never afford retail.
post #14 of 36
I think that no matter what you own right now, you should try to make sure that your wardrobe includes the following: Components: Suits: First, a plain navy suit and a plain gray suit Second, pinstripe or chalkstripe variants of one or both of the above Third, whatever makes you happy, provided that it fits the overall theme of your office. Shirts: First, enough plain white and plain blue shirts to make it from laundry day to laundry day. Second, as many other shirts as you want (and can afford) and in whatever patterns you can pull off. Ties: At least enough ties to avoid wearing the same tie more than once in a week, but eventually (if you stay in a business attire environment) far, far more than that. Shoes and belts: At least enough shoes to allow 24 hours rest (maybe 48) between wearings.  This probably means 2 black and 1 brown if you favor black shoes, reversed if you prefer brown shoes.  If you like oxblood/cordovan color shoes, you can go 1/1/1 black/brown/cordovan.  Get belts that match the shoe colors. Brands: Shoes: Allen-Edmonds shoes are going to be the easiest to find deals on.  The AE outlets have periodic deep-discount sales and sell seconds at good discounts all the time, and if you aren't located near one (and know your size) you can even do a telephone order during sale time.  Aldens are good shoes but hard to find at a discounted price.  But either of those brands are preferable to most of the commonly (i.e. department store) available alternatives.  The best shade of brown to get for a first pair of brown shoes is probably the darkest shade you can find.  Personally I like antique tan shoes the best of all brown shades but find that they can be a little too light for dark gray or navy suits.  Dark brown shoes are the most versatile. Suits: I won't try to distill all of my opinions (or all of the great info in the archives) here, but you need to remember (1) never pay retail price and (2) a well-tailored inexpensive suit is likely to look better than the best made suit that fits like crap.  It would help to know how much you are willing to spend per suit, and what kind of style you like.  For example, Hickey-Freeman makes a great suit that is often available at discount, but the styling is very conservative and potentially off-putting to 23 year olds.
post #15 of 36
I was leaning towards 700$ being the max I'd be willing to spend for my next suit.  Would a solid navy be considered an essential suit color?
Navy would absolutely be considered essential. (Navy and charcoal are considered the two basics). For $700 you can look for a bargain at the stores I mentioned above. This week, I believe, there's a Hickey Freeman sale going on over at Pace (there's another thread on this) where you could probably pick up a great suit for less than $700 IF they have your size, and IF they have a good pattern for you. Note - if you're going to buy at a discount place, be sure to budget in tailoring, which will likely add $100 or so depending on what needs to be done.
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