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Grad School/Business Casual

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I'm starting grad school in the following week and I'm required to wear business casual to school. I own several pairs of slacks, dress shirts, and shoes that I've acquired over the years. However, it wasn't until the past year or so where I really started to consider what it is I was buying, reading style magazines, and perusing this forum! I guess it had something to do with deciding to grow up, haha.

All that being said, I have enough clothes to "make it" but who just wants to make it right? I'd like to do it right. Some of the clothes I own are of decent quality for terrible fit. I will be taking a few of my shirts and pants to the tailor over the next couple weeks to get them "trimmed up".

What I'd like some advice on is where you may think I'd want to start on new clothes/shoes. When I do make purchases they will most likely be separate, in order to spread the hurt on the bank account. Though I am willing to spend a little extra coin to make it a good purchase.

A little about myself, 5' 8", just under 180 lbs. I'm young, athletic shape, with the larger thighs. Ok, so enough online dating profile...here's what I own now...

Shoes:

-Alden Indy Chrome Excel (maybe for Fridays and the bad weather days?)
-Alden Full Strap Burgundy loafer ( http://www.theshoemart.com/alden-men..._calfskin.html)
-Alden Black Oxfords ( http://www.theshoemart.com/alden-men..._calfskin.html )
- Ecco slip on, my shoe is a lighter brown.
- A pair of black cole-haan slip ons ( http://www.theshoemart.com/cole_haan..._venetian.html )

Pants:

-Flat front/no cuff Navy blue dress pants.
-Flat front/no cuff light gray dress pants.
-Khaki Chinos (are these not dressy enough?)
-Several pairs of pleated/cuffed different shades, khaki dress pants. (Personally I think these were a bad choice because the pleats and cuff, I feel like I'm too short)

Shirts:

-A few striped dress shirts from Jos. A Banks, thing was when I bought them they were all too big, I've had them tailored before, but I need to do it again I think.
-A white dress shirt from BB, and a light blue button down collar oxford as well from BB.
-Several hand me down dress shirts that still need to be tailored.
-I'm pretty sure I can get away with a tennis shirt as well, I have a few LaCoste shirts that will work.

So there you have it...rough idea of what I have to work with. Any suggestions? Also, I have a black dress belt, and a burgundyish belt as well...no real brown belt.

Anyway, I'd like to look sharp and I think the tailor is the #1 place for that to happen right now, but any suggestions would be appreciated, as well as any "don'ts". Thanks!
post #2 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by splatkid10 View Post


Any suggestions?...

Anyway, I'd like to look sharp and I think the tailor is the #1 place for that to happen right now, but any suggestions would be appreciated, as well as any "don'ts". Thanks!
Until it's time to interview, you're focusing on the wrong thing right now. No one will give a damn how you dress for class in grad school, it's how you perform academically and socially that'll matter most.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Truth be told they will care. Where I'm going to school business casual is required.
post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by splatkid10 View Post
Truth be told they will care. Where I'm going to school business casual is required.
post #5 of 21
Are you allowed to have jeans? I have no idea about grad school but if it is like post-grad in UK, jeans will be the best, they can look smart with a suitable fit. I will just get 3-4 shirts, all from BB or other nice retailer rather than buying some bad and good ones, you might end up only wearing the nice one. I actually encourage non-button down collar shirts, like a cut away collar shirt, they can look very nice. Polo shirts are great. Except the oxford, all the other choice looks very old, I suggest to get 2 dress shoes, the black oxford is ok but there are better choice outside, Crokett and Jones do some serious dress shoes, Alfred Sargent is also perfect and probably better choice. Appearance is just as important as your academic ability, I totally agreed
post #6 of 21
What grad school requires a dress code when not meeting with recruiters and employees of outside firms? Is his an MBA? Never heard of this for that degree or any other.

Either way, what you have is fine. Khakis and subtle dress shirts and leather shoes are more than enough. The school admins don't come to style forum to know if you are a sophisicated dresser. Honestly, at this point you're really just refinin you style for your own personal benefit.
post #7 of 21
I've got to say as a fellow graduate student it is easy to spot the students who are simply students and the professionals who are taking classes. Additionally, the more put together professionals get more respect from the professors and get a lot more leeway when speaking up in class or if they need to work out a consideration with an instructor for some exception/extension or the like. For instance it would be much easier to believe the well dressed man telling you he has been hammered at work and asking you for an extension than the guy dressed like a slob, looking like he just woke up, telling you he has been busy and asking for the same extension. No need for a suit, but I agree with the rest of the posters, khakis and dress shirt, or some other like combination. A dressier coat in the winter if the classroom doesn't have much in the way of heat, that kind of thing.
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately, jeans are a no-go. This grad school is paid for by the US gov't. and is essentially a military base, so if you're not in a uniform, one is required to be in business casual.
post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by cogitoergo View Post
I've got to say as a fellow graduate student it is easy to spot the students who are simply students and the professionals who are taking classes. Additionally, the more put together professionals get more respect from the professors and get a lot more leeway when speaking up in class or if they need to work out a consideration with an instructor for some exception/extension or the like.

For instance it would be much easier to believe the well dressed man telling you he has been hammered at work and asking you for an extension than the guy dressed like a slob, looking like he just woke up, telling you he has been busy and asking for the same extension.

No need for a suit, but I agree with the rest of the posters, khakis and dress shirt, or some other like combination. A dressier coat in the winter if the classroom doesn't have much in the way of heat, that kind of thing.

+100...when I was getting my MBA there was a certain untold respect level for the people that came in dressed nicely in business wear rather than the kids whose parents were floating their education and came in flops and t-shirt.

I haven't been on this site long so take my advice with a huuge grain of salt...but I would stay away from polos/golf shirts as this is almost too casual for business casual. Oddly enough most executives I've talked with consider jeans with a button down more formal than slacks and a golf shirt.
post #10 of 21
I think you're right in focusing on getting your clothes to fit you first. Even if you have nice things and match them together well, you're not going to look well-dressed and put together if they don't fit you properly. Also, there's no sense in buying new, nicer stuff, until you can identify what fits you and what doesn't. Otherwise you'll just realize in six months you wasted a bunch of money on stuff that you either have to get tailored again, or can't wear at all.

Also I'd say you don't need to be prepared for your whole career there by day 1. You've got enough to get you by for the first month or two while feeling out what other people are wearing that you could adopt successfully, what works best in what you've got so far, what you could use to go with what you have so far, etc....
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by splatkid10 View Post
Unfortunately, jeans are a no-go. This grad school is paid for by the US gov't. and is essentially a military base, so if you're not in a uniform, one is required to be in business casual.

Ahh, this makes sense. When I started business school we were told that orientation week was business casual and that business casual was always preferred. My attitude was always "I'm paying you a lot of money, you work for me and I'll be the judge of what is and is not appropriate attire." For settings labeled business casual I'd always go in jeans, loafers, nice shirt, sports coat.

However, for your purpose, I'd start with three pairs of slacks, khaki (twill/poplin), navy (twill or wool) and light to medium charcoal (wool only), a pair of brown lace-ups, a pair of light brown/cognac loafers and a variety of shirts that are solid, striped (but only one non-white color, maybe two depending) and checked (classic gingham patterns would work well). As the weather gets colder, perhaps invest in a pair of heavier weight, darker colored charcoal trousers and a mid-thigh wool coat. I'd go with a dark brown as it will go with every color of pants (besides black if you need those).

Sounds like you're alright for shoes and possibly pants, depending on how yours fit. Maybe double up on the khaki by getting another pair in a different shade, same with grey. J. Crew is a good place to start. I think where you need the most work is shirts, and for you I'd suggest Brooks Bros extra slim line. The packaged deals on multiple shirts are pretty good and if you need to look smart at all times you'll appreciate the wrinkle-free options.
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimelesStyle View Post
My attitude was always "I'm paying you a lot of money, you work for me and I'll be the judge of what is and is not appropriate attire."
I had the same feeling in b-school, but our professors always told us, "You are not the customer. You are the product!"
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by splatkid10 View Post
Unfortunately, jeans are a no-go. This grad school is paid for by the US gov't. and is essentially a military base, so if you're not in a uniform, one is required to be in business casual.
Understood.
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the help. I think I'll be alright at first. I definitely like the brown lace ups idea. I've been wanting a pair for a while now and maybe sometime next month I should just pull the trigger on it. I also think an extra couple shirts would definitely be a big help. Thanks again.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by splatkid10 View Post
I'm starting grad school in the following week and I'm required to wear business casual to school. I own several pairs of slacks, dress shirts, and shoes that I've acquired over the years. However, it wasn't until the past year or so where I really started to consider what it is I was buying, reading style magazines, and perusing this forum! I guess it had something to do with deciding to grow up, haha.

All that being said, I have enough clothes to "make it" but who just wants to make it right? I'd like to do it right. Some of the clothes I own are of decent quality for terrible fit. I will be taking a few of my shirts and pants to the tailor over the next couple weeks to get them "trimmed up".

What I'd like some advice on is where you may think I'd want to start on new clothes/shoes. When I do make purchases they will most likely be separate, in order to spread the hurt on the bank account. Though I am willing to spend a little extra coin to make it a good purchase.

A little about myself, 5' 8", just under 180 lbs. I'm young, athletic shape, with the larger thighs. Ok, so enough online dating profile...here's what I own now...

Shoes:

-Alden Indy Chrome Excel (maybe for Fridays and the bad weather days?)
-Alden Full Strap Burgundy loafer ( http://www.theshoemart.com/alden-men..._calfskin.html)
-Alden Black Oxfords ( http://www.theshoemart.com/alden-men..._calfskin.html )
- Ecco slip on, my shoe is a lighter brown.
- A pair of black cole-haan slip ons ( http://www.theshoemart.com/cole_haan..._venetian.html )

Pants:

-Flat front/no cuff Navy blue dress pants.
-Flat front/no cuff light gray dress pants.
-Khaki Chinos (are these not dressy enough?)
-Several pairs of pleated/cuffed different shades, khaki dress pants. (Personally I think these were a bad choice because the pleats and cuff, I feel like I'm too short)

Shirts:

-A few striped dress shirts from Jos. A Banks, thing was when I bought them they were all too big, I've had them tailored before, but I need to do it again I think.
-A white dress shirt from BB, and a light blue button down collar oxford as well from BB.
-Several hand me down dress shirts that still need to be tailored.
-I'm pretty sure I can get away with a tennis shirt as well, I have a few LaCoste shirts that will work.

So there you have it...rough idea of what I have to work with. Any suggestions? Also, I have a black dress belt, and a burgundyish belt as well...no real brown belt.

Anyway, I'd like to look sharp and I think the tailor is the #1 place for that to happen right now, but any suggestions would be appreciated, as well as any "don'ts". Thanks!

I would say that being simple is the best option. As a fashion lover myself, I find that sleek and clean works the best at an interview. My style tends to be very hip hop conservative if you can imagine. However, I've never had a problem in academic interviews and always get complimented on the way I dress. So, if you need some help, PM me and I'll give you my guidance bro!

Good luck,
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