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Yet another wardrobe upgrade advice thread

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'm yet another college student in the process of improving my wardrobe and I'm looking for advice here. I'm already used to wearing preppy style clothes, but I want to move up from all the Gap, AE, and generic stuff most kids my age wear. I want to look more fashionable and stand out from the polo & khakis crowd, but obviously I don't want to go over the top and look like a Jean Paul Gaultier model (in terms of both appearance and price). To narrow things down, I'll list a few other things to help give a better idea of what I want and what might look good on me. -I'm about 5'8", 135 lb, skinny-medium build, light skin, dark hair & eyes. -I go to college in the east coast (I live in Houston now though), so I'd prefer clothes that I can wear in the fall/winter without freezing my ass off. -I refuse to wear jeans or synthetic fabrics (well, 97% cotton 3% something else is ok, but not like 50/50), just don't care for them much. -If possible I'd like some versatility (i.e. something I can wear both to class and out on weekends), but this isn't a necessity. Since I'm only 18, money is still an object, so I'd like to set my cap at around $40-60 per item, although I'd be willing to go up to $75-100 for a really sweet piece of clothing I could use as a centerpiece of my wardobe, if you will. That's it I guess, I'd appreciate any advice you have to offer... brands, fabrics, styles, where to buy them, etc.
post #2 of 19
you might want to check out banana republic. if there is no store near you, the website is good, as well www.bananarepublic.com the quality is good, and i think you will find the style you are looking for; also, it will put your style above the abercrombie/ gap kids crowd. myself, i bought a tan suede blazer, flat front khakis, a white gauze casual button down shirt, and a cool belt recently. they used to have a really great black leather jacket with a band-type collar, but haven't seen it this year yet. if i were you, i would check out a good store like nordstrom for some basic items that are well made....like a really good black t-shirt in woven silk + wool (or maybe with a slight synthetic content), etc.
post #3 of 19
I would try to find an outlet center with outlets from stores like Banana Republic, J Crew, Kenneth Cole, maybe Hugo Boss if you can afford it. If you are patient just wait for stuff to come around on clearence and you can get a lot of this clothing marked way down from regular retail. Also check out stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls for good deals and designers like Ken Cole, DKNY, Ralph Lauren, etc.
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 
No outlets round here, but I have been checking out Banana Republic and J Crew; nice quality and the prices get very reasonable during sales; I'm definitely looking to them and Structure for building up my everyday wear. I also took a look at TJ Maxx today, sadly I couldn't find anything but department store generic brands and hilfiger, but I'll keep an eye on those discount stores. However, I'm also in a splurging mood and not too bad at finding good deals, so I want to find something really nice and stylish I can wear out when I'm hitting the clubs and trying to stand out from all the guys in earth-tone polos and khakis, and all the chain stores tend be kind of bland in that area. I know I don't have the deepest pockets, but there's got to be some fairly nice quality and stylish designer-type clothes I can get in the double digit $ range. Again, I'm interested mainly in specific stuff like styles, patterns, fabrics, colors, etc. Thanks for the help so far, and keep 'em coming.
post #5 of 19
specific fabrics and suggestions? ok, let's see...well, that takes us to the internet again. i am a huge fan of ebay, and buy quite of bit of stuff from there (and also www.bluefly.com). these things might not be your size, but are good example of things to look for. when you do a search on ebay or look at items on bluefly, check out names like gucci, zegna, canali, abboud, helmut lang, hugo boss or prada (esp. for club clothing). be sure to know your european size equiv. here are some things currently on line....just cut and paste the links. http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...item=945182797 http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...item=944919616 http://www.bluefly.com/product....d&from= http://www.bluefly.com/product....d&from= http://www.bluefly.com/product....d&from= good luck, hope this helps.
post #6 of 19
I'd reconsider this refuse to wear jeans...you'll often look like you're trying too hard wearing pants...especially when you can't afford really nice and matching shoes. Jeans are much more cool and now acceptable pretty much everywhere.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
The_Foxx: Cool, thanks for the links. I 've been looking a LOT at ebay, but I just haven't had any luck... tried sniping and proxies and every trick I could think of and I always get one-upped by some ass at the last second, 0/10 in auctions so far. Lotsa good stuff there, but it seems to get inflated to way more than store prices by last minute bidwars, so I need to improve my strategy. You mentioned you used it a lot; maybe you have some tips, mainly on how to figure out how to bid enough to beat the competition without screwing yourself? BTW in terms of sizes, I think my best fitting shirt is a size 40 Lacoste button down I have... that's about 15.5/33 or M in the U.S., right? Automatic: My anti-jeans sentiment is entirely comfort-based, not style based. They just feel heavy and rough on me, and I find them very irritating to my skin, so I've never been able to tolerate them long enough to break a pair in. Anyway, tomorrow I'm gonna try some high end stores, i.e. Sak's and Neiman Marcus, and see what they have that's on sale or in my price range. Any chance I'd be able to get something nice and stylish without ripping myself off? I believe there's also an Off Sak's in the area, but it's an hour drive away and I heard all their stuff was crap they couldn't sell at Sak's priced at the same inflated levels... any comments or experiences about that would be helpful.
post #8 of 19
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I 've been looking a LOT at ebay, but I just haven't had any luck...tried sniping and proxies and every trick I could think of and I always get one-upped by some ass at the last second, 0/10 in auctions so far. Lotsa good stuff there, but it seems to get inflated to way more than store prices by last minute bidwars, so I need to improve my strategy. You mentioned you used it a lot; maybe you have some tips, mainly on how to figure out how to bid enough to beat the competition without screwing yourself?
When it comes to sniping, everyone uses the same "tricks," so there's not too much you can do. My advice is, figure out how much an item is worth to you"”taking into account the risks of buying without actually seeing, let alone trying on, the item"”and stick with it, accepting that the item may be worth more to someone else. That's life. The best deals come from wanting things that aren't as universally popular as those that generate the fiercest bidding wars. If you're familiar with relatively little-known designers, you can score some incredible deals because few other people even know to look for those things. You may never get a decent deal on Prada or Gucci, but you might score on Richard James or Dirk Schonberger. (Plus, there's the greater likelihood that the item is genuine, since people aren't cranking out bogus Schonberger the way they are, say, D&G.)
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my best fitting shirt is a size 40 Lacoste button down I have...that's about 15.5/33 or M in the U.S., right?
That's correct; you and I wear around the same size. Depending on the make (and your preference for fit), that might be Small in a lot of items.
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My anti-jeans sentiment is entirely comfort-based, not style based. They just feel heavy and rough on me, and I find them very irritating to my skin, so I've never been able to tolerate them long enough to break a pair in.
This is probably because you've tried jeans that are made of harsher, stiffer denim. Not all jeans are like that, and the current trend towards distressed denim usually translates into softer material. Try lines like Paper, Denim & Cloth for more comfortable material; pricey, but many feel they're worth it. As a good cheap alternative, check thrift shops for used jeans. It's hard to beat a classic pair of Levi's 501s that are already broken in for under $10. (And, hey, you can experiment with your own stylized distressing techniques with minimal financial risk.)
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I'm gonna try some high end stores, i.e. Sak's and Neiman Marcus, and see what they have that's on sale or in my price range. Any chance I'd be able to get something nice and stylish without ripping myself off? I believe there's also an Off Sak's in the area, but it's an hour drive away and I heard all their stuff was crap they couldn't sell at Sak's priced at the same inflated levels...any comments or experiences about that would be helpful.
Off Fifth and its Neiman-Marcus counterpart, Last Call (there's one in Austin, another at Grapevine Mills near Dallas, and a few in the northeast), require some dedication on the part of the shopper to find the real bargains. If you're a "thrill of the hunt" bargain shopper, you can do very well there. If the thought of spending more than 20 minutes in a clothing store gives you hives, you'll probably run out screaming before you ever find the best sale racks. Sales in the main stores are certainly worth checking out. You won't get the sorts of deals you can at the outlets, but it still beats paying full "Needless-Markup" retail.
post #9 of 19
aybojs:  I second pstoller's view on outlets; they're really a hit-or-miss proposition.  In my experience, Off 5th is good for suits and dress shirts and good for little else.  It's probably not worth an hour's drive.  I would stick to department stores.  One of the few side benefits of the economic downturn is that many stores are cutting prices deeper and keeping the sales going longer than normal.  You may want to check some of them out.  Nordstrom, although they appeal to a slightly older demographic, in particular seems to have sales going on all the time. With regard to jeans, I also agree with pstoller that you may want to look into higher-end denim.  Diesel has been suffering from a bit of a backlash on this forum and elsewhere due to its ubiquity, but they make a pretty good entry-level model.  The Nordstrom web site (www.nordstrom.com) is currently selling the popular Diesel Kratt faded vintage model, which retails for $115, for $68.90 (plus shipping).   The_Foxx, pstoller: I understand that fakes are abundant on eBay.  What is your strategy for telling the fakes from the genuine articles?  Buy only from particular reputable sellers?
post #10 of 19
Quote:
I understand that fakes are abundant on eBay. What is your strategy for telling the fakes from the genuine articles? Buy only from particular reputable sellers?
That's one thing to do, although it's possible for someone to become "reputable" by selling lots of "good" fakes to people who don't know the difference. If a dealer is selling lots of the same item at a surprising discount, if the item is something not particularly distinctive aside from the designer name, if the seller is shipping from Eastern Europe or southeast Asia, if the seller does not guarantee authenticity, if the item just doesn't look right...I don't buy. I've purchased a lot of things on eBay, and only gotten stung by fakes once or twice. But, then, I'm not buying D&G t-shirts or Prada messenger bags.
post #11 of 19
pstoller: Schonberger and Pd&C? Either I've made some converts on this forum, or we West Coast types are all strangely attracted to deconstructionist and vintage vibes. Either way, it warms my heart. BTW, did you ever go to Maxfield Bleu? What did you think? I'm not a big fan of shopping off Ebay either. The only exception is when I see a collectible piece from a past season that I was particularly fond of, but never got around to or couldn't afford to buy it when it was still in the stores. I am tend to favor fringe labels, and I figure that the criminal element is not so stupid as to knock off Schonberger deconstructed tuxedo shirts, sell them on Ebay for ¼ the retail price, and expect to make a profit. If I feel the need to buy Prada, I stick to reputable brick and mortar stores If you live in a major urban center, and have an interest in fashion, it's easy to keep on top of the collections. After a few years, you will have a pretty good idea whether an item is authentic, what season it came from, and what it's retail price likely was. I've compiled a list of above board dealers, and a far from complete list of shady ones (selling counterfeit goods, passing off old, used stock as recent and unused, or highly exaggerating retail prices). Email me if you have questions about a particular item, and I'll give you my honest opinion. Other than that, the my advice is to avoid any auction you have even the slightest misgivings about.
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
Went to Sak's today and looked around, found some nice looking stuff on sale. I'm gonna go back tomorrow and make a final decision on what to buy, but I figured I'd post some descriptions of the items I'm looking at and maybe get a second opinion or recommendation from you guys (don't really have anyone to come shopping with me, so I'm on my own). All the items are cotton and in the ~$60 range. -3 Canali l/s dress shirts; one solid cream/yellow (ecru), one light pink (peach), one light gray. All were nice, but I was thinking the cream might be redundant since I have a pastel yellow dress shirt, and I don't know if pink works with my complexion (light skin,dark black hair). I really liked the gray one, but it has french cuffs, and aside from having to get cufflinks, do french cuffs work for any non-formal wear or on a guy my age? -1 Hugo Boss red label s/s button down with a gray/black vertical stripe pattern. I'm thinking this would come in handy for nights out, but I dunno if I could wear a short sleeve shirt out for fall/winter. -1 Hugo Boss Black label light blue v-neck sweater. I like it but I don't know how it will hold up to colder weather. For instance, last winter I bought a cabled sweater hoping it would keep me warm, but it did nothing for me. -2 Donna Karan flat front pants, one navy, one black. I think I prefer the black, as I already have a nice pair of navy linen pants, but I do like blue a lot as of late. I think I'm probably going to limit myself to 3-4 of the above, so any input is nice. I'm also trying to find some nice long sleeve polos or stretch polos... I actually saw a few ones at Structure I may end up buying, but I'd like to look for something more high end first
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Schonberger and Pd&C? Either I've made some converts on this forum, or we West Coast types are all strangely attracted to deconstructionist and vintage vibes. Either way, it warms my heart. BTW, did you ever go to Maxfield Bleu? What did you think?
Maybe it's 'cause I'm a NYC-transplanted-to-LA type, but them vibes are some of the ones to which I respond, for sure. I did check out MB, and although I liked it, I didn't find anything compelling enough to buy. I then went to the main store and fell in love with several things that were way outside my price range, from some weird leather jeans that I know you'd never be caught dead in to a set of vintage Josef Hoffmann Wiener Werkstatte silverware. Oh, well"”the wedding expenses come first.
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I really liked the gray one, but it has french cuffs, and aside from having to get cufflinks, do french cuffs work for any non-formal wear or on a guy my age?
Personally, I think French cuffs are extremely elegant when dressing up, and quite rakish when dressing down. For a casual look, you can pick up some vintage cufflinks that range from handsome Art Deco motifs to kitschy-cool novelty themes, usually very inexpensive at the local antique store or flea market. (You can even wear them loose...but not when eating soup.)
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I dunno if I could wear a short sleeve shirt out for fall/winter.
I wouldn't recommend it on the east coast.
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Hugo Boss Black label light blue v-neck sweater. I like it but I don't know how it will hold up to colder weather. For instance, last winter I bought a cabled sweater hoping it would keep me warm, but it did nothing for me.
You didn't say what it was made of, or what the weight was. In any case, don't count on a sweater to do the job alone. Fall and Winter wear is all about layering: T-shirt under button-front under v-neck under jacket and/or coat, for example. You shed layers depending on your level of activity and the degree of heat being pumped into your indoor environments. In come cases, a light or medium sweater makes more sense than a heavy one, but thin cotton would really be spring wardrobe.
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Donna Karan flat front pants, one navy, one black. I think I prefer the black, as I already have a nice pair of navy linen pants, but I do like blue a lot as of late.
Again, what's the material? If these are wool trousers, they're going to serve when linen won't.
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply, I think I'm gonna go with the gray canali w/ french cuffs. It should make a great formal shirt, but I did a little reading and it says that french cuffs should not be worn without a tie or suit/jacket, and I would like to know if it's reasonably possible to pull off french cuffs in say, a business casual setting or casual eveningwear ensemble with slacks/khakis As for the Boss sweater it was fitted and somewhat thin, and made of cotton. It looks nice and fashionable, but the climate issue still has me hesitant. The pants I mentioned were also both cotton, and they look they're made to be worn casually or to clubs. Wool would be nice, but I can't find anything affordable as of now. If you're still on and wouldn't mind commenting on some more things, I'm thinking about bidding on something like this shirt on ebay, but don't really have a clue as to how much money it would be worth spending on. I'm still out for recommendations on shirts for club wear too, saw some nice black Theory stretch shirts at Sak's but a little too pricey for me, any brands in the same style that would be a little bit more affordable?
post #15 of 19
regarding ebay, a good strategy might be to stick to buy it now auctions; i try to get most of my stuff that way. as far as authenticity, i only buy from very reputable sellers, most of which i have questioned about details of the items i buy. i think a lot of designer stuff might be knockoffs (prada, gucci, etc), but it is difficult to fake borrelli and barba shirts, the hand stitches of brioni, etc.-- particularly if you really educate yourself on what makes a particular tailoring house unique, etc. i always look at the labels, the linings, etc. again, it is really about a relationship with a small number of good sellers. whenever i am in doubt, i take my high end stuff to the store from which it is from (i.e. a suit with the wilkes bashford label, or the brioni store in NYC) for tailoring, just to be sure. anyway, i suggest you go to a store like neiman marcus and nordstrom. look at the high end stuff, see how the really good sportswear is put together for certain looks, then try to copy it with less expensive items you can afford. that way, you have some very stylish ideas from the best stores in the business. even better would be buying something small from a salesperson, but asking them about coming back for sportswear, see what they suggest.
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