Young Professional Seeking Advice on Building His First Business Wardrobe
I've read Style Forum for years now, but this is my first post:Background Information:
I'm a recent college graduate who will be starting work at a management consulting firm in mid-August in the DC area. The job involves travel Monday-Thursday where I will be working from the client's site and it's very important that I'm well put together and dressed professionally especially due to the fact that I'll almost always be the youngest person in the room. I'm currently in the Northern Virginia area and in the process of moving into a row house in DC proper in a few weeks (Logan Circle/U-Street/Dupont area) and figured most of my shopping would be concentrated in DC/Tyson's areas with the Leesburg Premium Outlets also available.
I'm 6'1 and weigh 180 pounds. I have very wide shoulders, a 16 Â¼ neck, large arms, and a 30 inch waist, and am a bit of a health freak and keep my body fat levels around 6-7% and am fairly muscular. My upside down triangle build has made it rather difficult to find slim proper fitting business clothing. The suit shirts I find that do come close to fitting me are always too tight in the neck, and those that fit in the neck and chest always seem to billow out and form a huge tent in the back and around the waist. I've tried slim fit lacoste, bb slim fit (but not extra slim yet), calvin klein trim fit, br slim fit, polo custom fit, and a few others but haven't had much luck with any (nor with anything I've been able to find on the slim fit shirt post).
I'm an extremely picky person when it comes to clothes particularly when it comes to fit. In general my non-business attire is a very simple preppy style (which is partly the result of going to a preppy east coast ivy-level college) mostly composed of items from J.crew, Ralph Lauren, bb, sunspel, ll bean, h&m, uniqlo, & lacoste.Current Wardrobe
My business wardrobe right now is more or less non-existent. It consists of:
- 1 charcoal suit from Mens Warehouse that doesn't fit me very well, but is acceptable
- 1 bb navy blue blazer that has been slightly tailored and fits me nicely (42R)
- 5 ties: red striped polo tie, light pink tie, nice handcrafted blue italian tie, black tie, cheap men's warehouse blue tie
- 3 Lacoste Dress Shirts, that are a decent fit (still tent in the back) but the neck can be rather tight when buttoned, that I got at the outlet on sale
- 2 basic BR dress shirts that I got at the outlet on sale but which aren't the best fit and wrinkle very easily
- A few other random dress shirts that don't fit very well and aren't very formal (such as gap)
- A few pairs of slacks from Nordstrom rack
- A pair of cheap black dress shoes
- A pair of LL bean Handsewn Leather Moccasins
- Random assortment of cheap gold toe cotton dress socks
Rough Draft Shopping List
Right now I am thinking of getting the following (structured around a post by JohnnyCrockett @ http://www.styleforum.net/archive/in...24996-p-4.html
which is heavily cloated):Shirts
2-3 white pinpoint shirts, mix of button downs and point/Ainsley collars
2-3 solid light blue shirts (NO French blue) in a mix of pinpoint, end-on-end, and broadcloth, same mix of collars as white shirts
2-3 other shirts- a light pink/conservatively striped shirtShoes
One pair of AE Park Avenues
Another Pair of .... (Suggestions?)Socks
"10-20 pairs of OVER THE CALF socks, solid, finely ribbed. NO patterns on the socks. NO loudly-colored socks 20% of your socks should be cotton and 80% should be wool. NO brown or tan socks. Only navy and dark grey."Pants"Maybe the most flexible piece of the wardrobe in terms of where to buy -- nobody ever really looks at your pants so long as they're solid, dark, and not too ill-fitting. So you could easily do a cheap JAB sale for pants. Pleated is more common, plain front is fine too. Just make sure whatever pants you wear are CUFFED (1.5 or 1.75"). Make sure they're not too long (minimal break). Make sure they are worsted or tropical wool (maybe one pair of flannel is fine). If they're not part of a suit they should probably be grey (more pairs on the darker side, fewer on the medium-to-lighter side). NO black pants. Try to avoid navy pants -- you can't wear navy pants with a blue blazer.
You don't need that many pairs of pants (many get by an entire week in no more than 1 pair)...the reason to have a few pairs is because they wear out fast. The pockets fray, the seats get shiny, you slip in the winter and tear the knee. So have a few pairs. But while I would say 10 shirts minimum is necessary, I would say 5 pairs of pants is almost more than enough, especially if you mix suits in (in addition to your 5 pairs of pants). Another reason to have several pairs is for seasonality -- tropicals in the summer, flannels in the cooler seasons, worsteds most of the year."Undershirts
A number of tight fitting cheap white crew neck undershirts (Hanes/Gap/Old Navy/American Apparel/Uniqlo) that can be easily replaced and thrown awaySuits"If you only have 2-3 suits, they should all be be solid, non-shiny worsteds, charcoal or navy. Charcoal is worn more than navy, probably. Only go to stripes once you're past 3 suits, and then stripes should be as discreet and invisible as possible. No one should ever remember you for your striped suit.
Suits should be 2-button, notch lapels with belt loops.
The two pairs of pants advice is spot-on. Definitely get two pairs per jacket if you can (usually tough, but see if possible)."Ties"As a general rule, if J.Press sells it (in their year-round, non-seasonal collection), you can wear it (with the exception of their embroidered motif "critter" ties). http://jpressonline.com/neckwear.php
BB is also safe.
Stripes and "neat" patterns are the name of your game. Brightly-colored animal ties (e.g., Hermes, Ferragamo, and Vineyard Vines) should be avoided. VV you can start wearing maybe in your second year (but it is SO overdone). Hermes is de rigueur for the higher-ups, and is taboo for analysts to wear at some banks. Hermes is also a bit taboo in consulting. Don't wear Ferragamo. Patterns are less interesting and ties are uglier than Hermes. It's like drinking Pepsi instead of Coke. Don't be one of those people. "
WHAT NOT TO WEAR EVER in your first two years
- Suspenders (affected and considered an only-for-MD item)
- Bit loafers (affected, douchey, a more senior banker item, and generally in poor taste, IMO)
- French cuffs (sad but true...you can start wearing them post-MBA, though)
- Contrast collar shirts (see suspenders)
- Loudly-striped suits (in poor taste -- people will actually make fun of you)
- Brown shoes with a suit (everyone will notice, and not in a good way, no matter what people say on SF)
Items you can wear in your 2nd year if you perform well (people don't like poor performers, especially those who look like they focus on clothes rather than work)
- Spread- or cutaway-collar shirts
- "More interesting" shirts (e.g., Thomas Pink or the better British brands)
- Brogued shoes (still need to be black though)
- Loafers (but probably not in great taste to wear them with business formal in any case)
"The main point is that you want your clothes to be completely forgettable while at the same time always being in good taste.
You never want someone to say behind your back (or to your face) "we can't take him to the meeting because he is dressed like a poor college kid". So that means dress a little bit above your budget if BB is above your budget -- it's what everyone wears, from analysts to MBAs to MDs to CEOs. It is the common language of the white collar working man. Completely safe. Your peers will wear cheaper stuff, louder stuff, more fashionable stuff...and it will never serve them well. "
1.\tMy major problem is finding quality dress shirts that actually fit me properly. Right now it seems like my options are:
a.\tBuy a decent off the rack shirt from a place like Brooks Brothers/RL/CK that is slim fit and have them taken in and darts added if needed
b.\tFind a place in the DC area that does MTM shirts (BB, Nordstrom, Local Tailor)
c.\tFind a place in the DC area that does custom made bespoke shirts
Right now I'm leaning towards the bespoke shirts because I've had such a trouble with fit and would love to have a set of nice fitting shirts that I could really be proud wearing. Does anyone have any suggestions for custom shirtmakers in DC? I've read through a number of posts about DC tailors (Field seems to be the master for the area, but is very expensive; after that there isn't much consensus and limited recommendations for inexpensive simple alterations tailors in the area).
However, as far as shirtmakers in DC go there is limited information. I was thinking about looking at: http://www.davelleclothiers.com/
in Reston (about 15 minutes away) and www.highcliffeclothiers.com
in Middlburg (about 45 minutes away) although if anyone knows of some quality DC shirtmakers that would be wonderful.
2.\tAny suggestions for where to find discounts on AE Park Avenues? I'd figure I'd either venture out to the local Nordstrom's or to the AE store in DC to make sure I find a proper fit and then hopefully find them cheaper elsewhere? Any suggestions for another pair of shoes?
3.\tTies/Socks/Pants and Undershirts I should be able to find. Figure I'd go check out the Jpress shop in DC to look at some ties. I'm sure I can do a forum search to figure out a place for quality yet inexpensive socks and some slacks. Any suggestions on how tailored dress pants can be while still being professional?
4.\tSuits. My father recently decided that he wanted a bespoke suit and as a graduation gift was generous enough to offer to have one made for me as well. When I have some more information on this I plan on making another post asking for recommendations. Outside of that I'm probably in the need for two more suits most likely a charcoal and a navy.
I'm currently considering:
a.\tRL Black Anthony Wool Gabardine Suit. I've really liked the pictures I've seen of this suit and what I've heard about it on SF. Any suggestions on how to get it on sale?
b.\tBB 1818 line particularly the Fitzgerald (hopefully on sale for $600 + BB credit card for 15% off and I have a $200 BB gift card). Any tips for when the next BB is? Memorial day?
c.\tThick as Thieves Conservative Cut. Although a bit worried as I feel like my frame is larger than most of the pictures I've seen of the TAT suits.
5.\tAny stores in particular I should check out in the DC area? Any more DC tailor recommendations? Any ideas how I can get the best bang for my buck?Budget:
I'm willing to invest in quality clothes that will last me a while, that I really feel good and confident about wearing, and that really fit me properly. In general I'm very frugal and a very slow shopper. I don't buy things I don't like, and I wait around for deals. However, when I find something I like that is a good bang for the buck I don't mind splurging and investing in quality. I'm also lucky enough to come out of college without any loans and a comfortable amount of cash in the bank from previous jobs and because I like to save. I wouldn't mind spending 2.5k-5k on starting to build a nice quality basic business wardrobe. I'd much rather have fewer shirts and suits that I wear more often, but which are a joy to wear, than a lot of options, but none that I really like.
Thanks ahead of time for reading this long post and the great recommendations that are sure to follow!