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Sartorial Rookie Needs Your Help

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone. I've been browsing this site for a bit and would like your opinions on a suit. I'm in the market for a decent suit that can be used for special occasions. In August, I'll be moving to Manhattan to attend Columbia Law School. The suit will be used for interviews, professional gatherings, and any other occasion that demands it. So far, I have one black suit (nothing special and rather cheap), but I'm beginning to outgrow it. My skin ranges from light brown to brown depending on how much sun I get and I have brown hair and eyes. My budget is that of a student, but I am willing to invest in a suit in the $500-700 range that will get me through law school (i.e. until my first paycheck). This will be the first of 3 suits I intend to purchase before the end of the year. Right now, I am eyeing the 3-button Solid Italian Super 110's Wool Nested Suit from Brooks Brothers. Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 22
I am sure that this would do for this period.
post #3 of 22
If you like Brooks' cut and live near one of their stores, you might drop by to see if they have any Golden Fleeces in your size. GF are Brooks' topline suits, and they're much better made than the one you're looking at. And best of all, they're on sale for $498, down from $1,700 or so.
post #4 of 22
Brooks has a rather boxy cut, if that's your thing.

Remember to check out Sierra Trading Post online for some really nice suits in your price range. They're affordable enough to leave you money left over to pay for proper alterations all the way around (waist suppression of the jacket, sleeves, waist, and pant length).
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your input. I've checked out STP and unfortunately there are no black suits in my size. After a bit more digging however, I've noticed that some of you use custom tailors such as Chan and Hemrajani for your suits. I will be in NYC as of early August. Would any of you recommend that I wait until one of these tailors visits NYC (or see another located in Manhattan)? And, can I reasonably expect to obtain a custom suit for less than $1k? I'd be willing to fork over a bit more for 1 or 2 great suits than 3 less-than-stellar ones.
post #6 of 22
As you mention that you have one black suit I am having a thought about that:
I get the feeling that some people with little experience in dress wear go for black suits because they feel they have to, rather than because they particularly like it. I would advise you to look at suits in various shades of grey or navy and see for yourself what you like. With black suits there is a certain danger that it appears less elegant - however, if you're sure you like it then go for it.
post #7 of 22
Gray or navy suits will be much more versatile and appropriate in a professional wardrobe than black. Solids are a little more versatile than stripes, but I wouldn't be afraid of a nice pinstripe. You'll have a few years to buy more suits. If I were you, I'd go back to STP and check out the Cornelianis. For canvassed suits, you can't really beat the price. The cut will be much less boxy than Brooks.
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately, STP has nothing in a 38r...not even in a grey or navy. I was thinking that I should get a grey or navy suit, but since I will also be using this suit for functions with professors and other students (e.g. dinners, cocktails) black would be the way to go. I figure once I have one decent black suit I could then spend more time on picking a grey/navy/pinstriped one. The black one I own is a house suit from Macy's and is a 36r which is a bit snug now. Any thoughts? What are your guys' opinions on custom tailored suits in my price range?
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by khaller
Unfortunately, STP has nothing in a 38r...not even in a grey or navy. I was thinking that I should get a grey or navy suit, but since I will also be using this suit for functions with professors and other students (e.g. dinners, cocktails) black would be the way to go. I figure once I have one decent black suit I could then spend more time on picking a grey/navy/pinstriped one. The black one I own is a house suit from Macy's and is a 36r which is a bit snug now. Any thoughts?

What are your guys' opinions on custom tailored suits in my price range?

I think there is not an event that you will be attending at law school where a very rich charcoal grey would not work very nicely indeed. Black just, imho, lacks the necessary versatility. Also, if my law school days (as a student and teacher and as a spouse of a former law school professor who taught at three different schools) are any indication, as long as you are in a suit and tie, you will be better dressed than most of your colleagues and many of the professors.
post #10 of 22
Obviously Lawyerdad and I agree, being he is younger, he is faster.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lawyerdad
Obviously it's your call, but I disagree that black is the way to go with functions with professors and other students. Charcoal certainly would be appropriate (more appropriate, in the view of many) and also more versatile. Also, maybe Columbia in 2006 is more formal than Boalt in, well, before that, but I honestly can't remember wearing a suit to a single law school function other than interviews/recruiting events, moot court, and graduation (nor do I recall my classmates doing so as a rule). FWIW.
Thank you very much for your response. It seems then that one or two higher-quality suits would be wiser than three of lesser quality. I'll keep my eyes open for a charcoal suit. Btw, are you still in the Bay Area? I spent several years in South San Francisco and I intend to move to SF after I graduate. What type of law do you practice? I intend to practice Labor & Employment Law.
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
Again, your response is very much appreciated. To be honest, I had no idea so much thought went into style until I came upon this site. In college, my idea of good style was my sweater, cargo shorts, and my trusty birkies. Better late than never I guess. As for Manhattan, I very much hope to stay out of the library as much as possible. Although, I hear 1L's often don't have much of a choice. When I visited Columbia, some of the 1L's assured us that we'd have plenty of time to see the city during the first year.

On a side note, I recently turned down my offer to Boalt. That was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. Something told me I'd seriously regret not taking the opportunity to live in NYC while I am still single and not chained to a paycheck.
post #13 of 22
I got through all of law school (in NYC) and more on-campus and call back interviews than you could shake a stick at with a single navy suit and two white shirts (I didn't get this heavily into my clothing habit until I got my summer associate position where I was making a lot more money than I ever had in my life). The only things you will need a suit for are your class dinner (which was business formal at my law school), oral arguments for your legal writing class, firm recruiting events that all the big NYC firms hold at various resturants throughout the city, on campus interviews, and callback interviews. Also, you might need a suit if you attend certain seminars or symposia. But, like I said, you could get through the whole thing with just one navy or charcoal suit. Meetings with professors almost certainly will not require you to dress in a suit. If I could go back, I would probably have bought the same navy suit, or maybe something that was a bit higher quality (e.g., a Hickey Freeman from Saks Off Fifth, Neiman Marcus Last Call, or the Hickey Outlet at Woodbury Common), the same white shirts (or maybe Lands End custom white shirts if I had known about them at the time), the same two ties that I wore throughout law school, but I would have invested much more heavily into a nice pair of shoes. I went through all of my interviews with a pair of rubber-soled square-toe Bachrach (Kenny Cole looking) monstrosities. I don't think my shoes hurt me in any of my interviews, but they certainly didn't help.

Btw, how do you know what kind of law you want to practice before even starting law school?
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by odoreater
Btw, how do you know what kind of law you want to practice before even starting law school?

Thanks for your advice.

As for your question, I am a non-traditional student who has about 10 years of work experience in banking. As a (poorly dressed) manager, I had various experiences that led me to finish my undergraduate education. When deciding upon a major, I came across Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. The education I received there in labor relations and related law hit the mark. Of course, I haven't made any final decisions; I'm sure I'll be exposed to other interesting fields. But, if I had to make the decision now, I know just what I'd want to practice.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by khaller
Thanks for your advice.

As for your question, I am a non-traditional student who has about 10 years of work experience in banking. As a (poorly dressed) manager, I had various experiences that led me to finish my undergraduate education. When deciding upon a major, I came across Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. The education I received there in labor relations and related law hit the mark. Of course, I haven't made any final decisions; I'm sure I'll be exposed to other interesting fields. But, if I had to make the decision now, I know just what I'd want to practice.

Very interesting. I would recommend taking law school courses after your first year in a variety of different fields - including labor law, to get maximum exposure to different areas of law. You might be surprised to find out where your interests will take you. I went into law school with an undergraduate degree in International Relations thinking that I was going to study international law. After first year, I never took one class in international law because my interests took me into a totally different area of law - bankruptcy. I would have never expected before law school that I would be interested in something as boring sounding as bankruptcy law. I even wrote my law review note on an obscure little section of the bankruptcy code.

As for getting to see NYC - I would recommend sticking to the library during your first year. If you do well after your first year then a lot of doors and opportunities will open up for you and you will have a lot more free time during the second and third year without having to worry about grades and class rank as much.

Best of luck to you.
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