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Need your style expertise for suit fashion emergency!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'm in a bit of a jam. I'm going to be headed over to Tokyo for the next two months and, for at least one month, I will have to be well outfitted with a few suits. I'll be doing an internship at a law firm, so I'm going to have do the whole dress-up bit. There are two problems: The first is that I only own one suit, a black one from about 6 years ago that apparently was bought while I was high because it's like 3 sizes to big for me. I've read a few threads on versatile work type suits and it seems that a navy suit and charcoal pinstriped suit would be good starter suits. Does this sound right? The second problem is that Tokyo is super hot and super humid during the summer. I'm a bit of a pansy when it comes to uncomfortable weather and I especially hate being sweaty. So I guess what I'm looking for is a decent suit (will two be enough?), good enough to pass in a law firm environment, that's cool and not too heavy (lighter material, different material blends?), and low cost (I'm a poor law school student). You guys seem pretty helpful and I wanted to get your opinions before I give up and go over to the Men's Warehouse. Thanks in advance EDIT: Oh yeah, ONE MORE THING. What's the most comfortable yet acceptable shoe you can wear with a suit in situations like these? Any suggestions here as well?
post #2 of 15
What is your price range? Also, do you want black or brown shoes?
post #3 of 15
If you're looking for maximum versatility, skip the pinstripe and go with charcoal and navy solids. The pinstripe is a detail that will make the suit more memorable. It would become clear quickly that you have only two suits. A third would make your life easier, if that's an option. A subtle pinstripe would be a good option then.

As for your temperature concerns, you can easily find lightweight wool suits that won't make life too miserable. I'm not familiar with the legal scene in Japan, so I don't know how summer suits of cotton and linen and the like would be viewed. Here, they're considered more casual than traditional wool.

As far as bargains, check Sierra Trading Post and discounters such as Filene's Basement, even Marshalls and TJ Maxx. Ebay, too, can have some good deals, but it's easier to get burned there than a store with a return policy. But for your purposes, a couple of eBay cheapies would get you through. Just make sure you know your measurements.

For shoes, I'd suggest at least one pair of black captoe laceups. Ideally, you'd have at least two pairs of good shoes, so you can rotate.

Good luck!
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'm looking to find some bargains or to settle for a little lower quality. I don't want to buy something really nice and then not be able to take care of it over in Tokyo in 95 degree 95% humidity heat. I'm looking for something light and passable. But I guess I'd be willing to spend $800 total for a complete work wardrobe that is versatile enough for me to wear later on for interviews and such. Thanks for the help.
post #5 of 15
Your shoes are going to get serious abuse over there. Luckily, it's pretty much anything goes from what I can tell. I mainly don't suggest bringing any shoes you really care about. If it were me, I'd find some AEs on markdown or lightly used, and plan to polish them often.
post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by j
Your shoes are going to get serious abuse over there.
Curious - what's with the Japanese shoe-abusing?
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucky Strike
Curious - what's with the Japanese shoe-abusing?

Each time you take public transit in Tokyo, you stand a very high chance of getting your feet stepped on or brushing against a rough surface as you navigate the subway or rail system. IME, a pair of dress shoes will last half as long (and more likely, far less) in Tokyo as they will in Los Angeles. Even less if you wear them during monsoon season.
post #8 of 15
The other problem is that in Japan you're expecting to take off your shoes in various contexts. Most are fine (such as visiting someone's house), but other situations can be murder on fine shoes (such as restaurants that lack 'cubby holes' for shoes, thus a lake of shoes develops in front of the door and people just walk over and on them to get in an out). Most shoes get trampled pretty badly.

Also, there's lately been a push to get business men and government offices away from the hot suit in the summer (as a national policy to reduce the money wasted on air conditioning), but I'm assuming that it's not going over...
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by turbozed
I'm looking to find some bargains or to settle for a little lower quality. I don't want to buy something really nice and then not be able to take care of it over in Tokyo in 95 degree 95% humidity heat. I'm looking for something light and passable. But I guess I'd be willing to spend $800 total for a complete work wardrobe that is versatile enough for me to wear later on for interviews and such. Thanks for the help.

There are several chain stores in Japan that carry inexpensive suits that are made in China. They are roughly Mens Wearhouse in construction quality, but are a much more stylish cut. Some even offer a rudimentary MTM service. When I was in Japan last summer I took a look at a couple of those places and they had basic tropical wool suits with unlined coats for about 20,000 yen, or 30,000 yen for the "step up" models. Here's an example: Perfect Suit FActory. http://www.perfect-s.com/

For shoes, you want something with plenty of cushion and traction. Based on what the average salaryman wears, you can probably get away with something like rubber soled Rockport "dress" shoes very easily if you want to. If you aspire to something a bit nicer, which perhaps you should, J's suggestion of AEs (seconds or gently used) would be a good idea.

In your position, I'd get some conservative ties, shirts, and two pairs of inexpensive dress shoes before going over, and fill out the wardrobe with a couple of suits from one of the inexpensive places over there. IMHO, you are better off saving your pennies to spend on networking (i.e. drinking) with your work buddies and other people you may meet over there. Life in Tokyo is very hard on clothes and shoes, and when you have a limited law student budget, you don't want to be stretching it on clothes that will be picking up greasy headprints while you are squeezed into the morning train. As long as you don't come back sporting short sleeve dress shirts, SF will forgive you.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by arced
The other problem is that in Japan you're expecting to take off your shoes in various contexts. Most are fine (such as visiting someone's house), but other situations can be murder on fine shoes (such as restaurants that lack 'cubby holes' for shoes, thus a lake of shoes develops in front of the door and people just walk over and on them to get in an out). Most shoes get trampled pretty badly.

Ah, forgot that one. Taking off shoes when entering a home is so second nature to me that I forgot to mention it. Slip-on dress shoes can be a welcome solution to the constant on/off dance, but the trade-off is the greater risk of being separated from one's shoes in a crowd if you get your heel stepped on.
post #11 of 15
The short sleeve suit is all the rage in Japan in order to conserve energy wasting crank-age of the A/C

post #12 of 15
Ah! 80's flashback! Avert thine eyes!
post #13 of 15
no one suggested he does some frantic thrifting before departure? J - youre slippin You could see if you can scramble together 3 or 4 suits for next to nothing in thrift stores, spend a little at the tailors to get them right, and then replace them with tailored suits once youre settled n earnin Alter appears to have found a good tailor at a good price in JP, so one by one phase the thrift finds out of the rotation as the tailors refill your closet.
post #14 of 15
You should ask the company what the summer dress code is. If they say it is "cool biz" then you can get away with slacks and dress shirts and a tie. That being said, I am sure that there will be occasions to wear a full suit, particularly on your first day or if you are going to be meeting clients.

I agree that you will be able to find some good values here as long is your size is not too big. If you are over 6' and have a shoe size more than 9 then your choices become more limited, but they are available.

As already mentioned, grey or blue suits are better. The norm these days seems to be 3-buttons, especially for younger guys. Something classic but well-fitting is best. You can probably get away with just rotating two suits, at least 5 dress shirts and one pair of shoes. I recommend black shoes but as a "foreigner" you will not have to dress as conservatilvely as the domestic staff. Of course, it does depend on the particular office's corporate culture. not all Japanese offices are formal, but most are.

About the hot weather: welcome to humidity. It will probably be worse than anything you have ever experienced before. You simply cannot avoid being sweaty. There is nothing you can do about it.


Feel free to ask any other questions about Japan. I am in Kobe, not Tokyo, but I am very familiar with the business culture.

BTW: where are Bic Pentameter and Nantucket Red? This topic is perfect for them.
post #15 of 15
Hi,

Wool with maybe 30% silk looks very much like 100% wool and ought to be acceptable in Japan. That blend is available at budget prices at places like Jos. A. Bank.

But the trick to comfort is considering shirt and undershirt material. Breathable, lightweight versions of those items will make any jacket feel much lighter.
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