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Do you shop for specific outfits?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi, all. Newbie here. I think I have a good sense of style in my head (the family business is menswear, so I grew up in it and it's burned in for good) but that I've sort of lost the habit of expressing it with what I wear. (It doesn't help that I work in back-office IT, where ultracasual goes to the extreme; some of my coworkers even have hobby farms).

Anyhow, I need to do some shopping. One mixed blessing of practically growing up in a clothing store is that I never really had to learn how to shop. So I've got a stupid question:

When you're shopping for business casual or streetwear -- so, not suits -- do you think about it in terms of specific outfits, or as part of your whole wardrobe? I know the ideal way to build a wardrobe is with flexible basics that you can mix and match, but that's hard to get started with.

I'm not so much worried about what the Flussers and O'Briens recommend, I'm just wondering what you actually end up doing once you're out shopping.
post #2 of 15
Personally, I don't shop for outfits per se, but I do ask myself how an item will fit in with the wardrobe I already have and whether I can wear that item with clothes that I already have. I'll think twice before buying a clothing item - let's say a pair of pants, if there is nothing in my wardrobe that I can wear it with - let's say their are no shirts that would match with those pants. However, going out and buying "outfits" is a little 3rd grade.
post #3 of 15
Never

But, but, but. The big BUT.

I do buy in genres or trends. I mean you wouldnt want to be someone who buys blue striped shirts and a lot of olive ties. Or if you get a charcoal suit, black boots and a black sweater, youd might want to keep in mind whether you only have brown shoes or not, although with a brown sued belt, brown suede shoes could still work.


So, I keep in mind the things I like. But I never plan something from head to toe at one purchase or even series of purchases

But for casual or street gear, not really if it's preppy stuff but if its "street" gear then you need to get the colors close or if it's city evening stuff the colors are going to be close.

I saw some like Russian dude in Saks last week with a lilac penil striped shirt and a lilac sweater tied around his neck and I rolled my eyes thinking this guy really tried too hard.
post #4 of 15
The typical male goes shopping when there are sales or he needs a specific item. (There are no studies on the male clothing hobbyist.) Because he's also rather loyal to certain stores, the typical male probably hopes that items sold there mix and match well with each other.

A look on the street will show you that, the further one gets away from classic tailored business attire, the less know-how most men have about mixing and matching. It is hard. The basic style depends on lifestyle, personality, body type, age, and many other factors, and some items can be worn as part of many different styles. Books focus mostly on classic menswear. Even websites such as this don't really provide rules for more casual wear. Unless you count "trad" or "streetwear" or "fashion-forward" clothing meant for a certain group-oriented type of male. Most guys default to "comfortable" and (maybe to their greater confusion, not as much as women) what their peers are wearing when they don't know what they are doing. If you have specific questions about the basics you need, please ask.
post #5 of 15
I tried to be scientific and organized, but that doesn't work for me. So, I now have three questions I ask when faced with a garment:

One: Will I actually wear this? Not just around the house, but in public?
Two: Do I smile when wearing this? If I have any questions or doubts, I won't drop the $$$ on it
Three: Do I have this already? Do I need another?

If it passes all three tests then out comes the wallet.

For the most part, judicious spending on classics and neutrals allows my flights of fancy for the outrageous.
post #6 of 15
I definately try to, its the only way to keep my closet from overflowing. I figure 2 or 3 pants for each pair of shoes, a couple sweaters or cardigans for each pair of shoes. Ties and belts, of course, follow the lead of shoes. Only shirts are sovereign, and I try to keep them interchageable (of course, some shirts go only with certain shoes).
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joel_Cairo
I definately try to, its the only way to keep my closet from overflowing. I figure 2 or 3 pants for each pair of shoes, a couple sweaters or cardigans for each pair of shoes.

I suspect that approach would result in Portnoy having 3,000 pairs of pant and 2,000 sweaters.
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by marc237
I suspect that approach would result in Portnoy having 3,000 pairs of pant and 2,000 sweaters.

Not quite, but closer than you think.
post #9 of 15
Not any more, no. But I've gotten old. At this point in my life, I 'touch up,' unless I really need something very special, for an important event. Then, I'll buy what I need.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by marc237
I suspect that approach would result in Portnoy having 3,000 pairs of pant and 2,000 sweaters.
You say that like it's a bad thing . . .
post #11 of 15
Not I. Once APortnoy bought the old abandoned K-Mart warehouse down the block from his house to store his shoes, pants, and sweaters, everything was copacetic.
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by marc237
Not I. Once APortnoy bought the old abandoned K-Mart warehouse down the block from his house to store his shoes, pants, and sweaters, everything was copacetic.

You should see the cedar pile.
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by aportnoy
You should see the cedar pile.

so you're the cause of so much deforestation? Between the cedar and the shoe trees, huh?
post #14 of 15
I follow two basic shopping strategies. First, every 6 months or so, I construct a prioritized list of what I consider basics, both business and more casual wear, that I need to buy. High priority items I buy within about 3 months time (e.g. winter boots, OCBD shirts, peacoat), whenever I see a decent deal. If I see a good discount for _any_ item that's on my list, I buy. Since I'm an unusual size, I will frequently buy a high-dollar item, even if it's number 30 on my priority list, if it's on sale and it fits. For example, I *do not* want to be looking for a charcoal suit to attend a funeral in two days, since I won't find one in my size. Second, I sometimes pass an item that just stops my heart and makes me say "I would look great in that". For these impulse buys, I ask (1) do I already own a close facsimile?, (2) will I really wear it in public and how often will I wear it?, (3) do I own enough coordinating pieces to make *at least* 2-3 outfits using it or can it replace one of the basics on my list?, and (4) can I really afford it and what else could I buy with the same money? (e.g. I might prefer a plane ticket to Sydney instead of that Brioni suit I saw online yesterday). Then, I go away, wait a day, and ask the same questions again. If it passes my 24-hour test, I buy. As an example, I was in San Francisco last week and stopped at the Ralph Lauren store, where I bought some boots for winter wear, using a 15% off code. Not a great deal, but winter boots will be my top priority by January, the boots aren't carried on polo.com, and during the last RL sale, a salesman couldn't locate a pair in my size at any store. On the same trip, I walked past the Bullock & Jones store and saw a beautiful brown/grey/tan/black sweater on a mannequin in the window. The mannequin suggested one outfit I could construct and I could think of several others, so I walked in, tried it on, and then ordered it by telephone after I returned home several days later. It also helps me justify the purchase that an earthtone sweater substitutes for an item on my list of basics. I would actually contend that building a wardrobe of flexible basics to mix and match is by far the easiest and most sensible way to get started. I built my wardrobe by picking three basic colors--navy, charcoal gray, and red/burgundy--and concentrated my initial purchases in these color families because everything was easy to mix and match. I found that I had a decent wardrobe in no time, albeit a slightly boring one. But this is where "strategy 2" helps, because my impulse purchases add spice, as does looking for basic pieces with some unique feature, like an interesting weave or texture. Now that I have a decent wardrobe, I'm consciously looking for more unique pieces, as well as branching out to different color families, such as earthtones with an emphasis on brown/tan. I would bet that your background in menswear gives you a very good idea how to build a basic wardrobe with enough unique pieces to keep it interesting. BTW, I think the Brioni suit has failed my 24-hour test and Sydney is looking mighty tempting. Edit: Welcome to the forum, mendel.
post #15 of 15
According to an Internet survey conducted this year on behalf of TIME magazine, adults from "affluent" American households ($150,000 or more household income), probably a large demographic in the Men's Clothing forum, get their ideas for clothing purchases mostly from stores. Unfortunately, the data is not broken down by gender. It's possible that men would rather claim their ideas come from stores than from other choices, such as magazines and what their peers wear. Also, the survey shows that necessity (presumably a need for basics) dominates for the males, as noted earlier.
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