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New business casual wardrobe

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hello Everyone,

 

First post here. I just graduated college last week and will be starting a career in technology consulting beginning in July. As far as I know, the dress code is business casual, depending on the client. I am assuming for now that I will not be required to wear a jacket at all, except for the rare occasion.

 

I am looking to begin building my wardrobe, but unfortunately, with a pretty limited budget. I am hoping everyone can recommend where I should go looking for clothes, and what in particular I should buy. I probably will spend around $1,000 to get myself started. With that I plan to get a couple pairs of dress pants, two pairs of oxfords (black and brown), and as many dress shirts as possible. If possible, I will also get a blazer. I have several suits, but I got them before I began reading up on style and fit, so they aren't the nicest. I also have many dress shirts, which also do not fit the best. I may add some money to get these properly tailored, as I never realized until recently the benefits of it. 

 

I am very slim, (About 5' 8", 140lbs), so please take that into account when providing suggestions. The clothes do not have to be the best of quality, as I will probably replace them pretty quickly. I would rather have quantity over quality for now.

 

Thanks for your help,

Jeremy

post #2 of 12

I would recommend JCrew. They are having a sale right now so you can pick up some decent work shorts for about $40 a shirt. You and I are the same size. Get the XS size. For work, the fit will do just fine and should not require tailoring. They also have some decent blazers for sale. I have always been a fan of their slim fit pants. Zara has blazers as well but they are mostly polyester. However, they are very affordable, about $100 or so. Aldos has dress shoes and they are not expensive. Where are you living? I have found that doing some thrifting on the weekends can net some really great shoes. Try ebay as well, quite a few deals for shoes. Johnston and Murphy Aristocraft, Grenson, Allen Edmonds, etc. Cheers.
 

post #3 of 12

I'm disagreeing with almost everything that's been said in this thread:

 

Quote:
> I will not be required to wear a jacket at all

 

You should be seeking the opportunities to dress as well as you like, wear a jacket or even a suit if you want to enjoy your clothes while you do business.

 

 

Quote:
>With that I plan to get a couple pairs of dress pants, two pairs of oxfords (black and brown), and as many dress shirts as possible. If possible, I will also get a blazer. I have several suits, but I got them before I began reading up on style and fit, so they aren't the nicest.

 

I think that on that budget shoes should be your number one priority, perhaps spending around 1/3 of it on a nice pair.

You can have Allen Edmonds Park Avenue (http://www.allenedmonds.com/aeonline/producti_SF270_1_40000000001_-1) for $335 online.

If you don't like your suits, then perhaps you can find something with a decent fit, 100% wool, maybe not from a very known label, but tailorable to a nicer fit. That should represent another 1/3 of your budget (at least!). With the $300 remaining you can get more than enough pants and shirts to fill a complete rotation. I've found that the key is to buy shirts and pants one by one, you can better take advantage of sales that way.

 

 

Quote:
>I also have many dress shirts, which also do not fit the best. I may add some money to get these properly tailored, as I never realized until recently the benefits of it.

 

This will be easier if you start with decent-fitting shirts, and then further tailor the details. If the tailor has to take the shirt apart, the results can vary wildly depending on his skill and the quality of the shirt.

 

 

Quote:
>I would rather have quantity over quality for now.

 

I don't think that is a good idea.

 

@GrensonMan: Personally I don't think Zara is a good recommendation for blazers, or Aldo for shoes. In that price range you can certainly find much better quality, and both are examples of very fashion forward cuts. Perhaps in 10 or 20 years you won't like to see pictures of you wearing an "2010s" style suit, but you would certainly be proud of the timeless elegance of a finely tailored suit.

post #4 of 12

Also try Charles Tyrwhitt shirts. They have a "Tailored" fit that might accommodate your build. You can usually get them for about $40-$50 each.

 

I don't agree about Aldo fo shoes - they are going to have shoe styles that tend more toward the casual/clubby. You want something with a business sensibility, so I recommend going to a traditional place, like Johnston and Murphy or Allen Edmonds. Even Florsheim is better if you can't stomach spending $350 on a pair of shoes right now.

 

Before you get a suit, I recommend a standard 2-button navy blazer. It will be extremely versatile and work well in your business-casual environment.

post #5 of 12

Since you're just starting out and are on a budget, my recommendation is to go for versatility.  Solid white and blue dress shirts, navy blazer, dark brown oxfords, charcoal wool slacks - these types of items can be worn in many settings and many combinations.  It will make your wardrobe feel larger than it is and provide a good foundation.

 

Two pairs of quality oxfords will seriously strain your current budget.  If I were you, I'd get one pair of dark brown Allen Edmonds captoe oxfords for now and just avoid wearing black pants.  They'll go with almost anything else proper for the office, last a long time, and look nice.  Allaboutshoes on this forum often can order them at a discount, look for sales online (Nordstrom often has them in July, I think), or even check for used shoes on SF or eBay.

 

As already suggested, I think it's a good idea to get a navy blazer rather than extra shirts.  You can still put together different looks since you can wear any of your shirts/pants without it and you should be able to wear almost any of them with it.  And you'll also be able to move up a step in formality when needed.  In your situation, I'd go for something inexpensive (Jos A Bank?  J. Crew?) so long as it fits well and is wool (no polyester).

 

I've yet to find OTR dress shirts that fit, so I have mine tailored or order MTM.  If you have some already you can just alter or if there is a brand that fits pretty well OTR, you can save some money there.  Go for versatility and fit again; you can gradually buy more/nicer shirts when you start getting paid.  I'd hit the mall and try on as many brands/lines as possible to find what fits best.  MTM takes longer and costs more, so I'd advise against it at the moment.

 

And learn to iron, if you don't already know how.  I didn't, and it makes a difference.  :)

post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by jss381 View Post

Hello Everyone,

 

First post here. I just graduated college last week and will be starting a career in technology consulting beginning in July. As far as I know, the dress code is business casual, depending on the client. I am assuming for now that I will not be required to wear a jacket at all, except for the rare occasion.

 

 

 

I am very slim, (About 5' 8", 140lbs), so please take that into account when providing suggestions. The clothes do not have to be the best of quality, as I will probably replace them pretty quickly. I would rather have quantity over quality for now.

 

Thanks for your help,

Jeremy

Yes good idea.After you're working you can always add or change things. btw, you should go to the office and your dept. and just see what people are wearing. If no one is wearing jackets or ties than pass on that when buying clothes for now.

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thaks everyone for the advice. I recently purchased a nordstrom's calibrate trim fit shirt for $45 which I felt fit pretty well without tailoring. Can anyone point me to a site that will show me what a well fitting dress shirt looks like? I know it is so subjective, but I jut want to get an idea. I also have seen sites online that sell custom shirts for less than $50 a piece, so would people recommend going with this, or something like the calibrate shirt (or other brand in that price range)? What would the advantages to each be?

Also, when wearing just a button down, should I look for shirts with or without a box pleat in the back?

Thanks
post #8 of 12

There is a thread with lots of information about how clothing should fit:  http://www.styleforum.net/t/265924/the-tailors-thread-fit-feedback-and-alteration-suggestions.  They describe it better than I ever could, but you want to make sure the sleeves are an appropriate length and that it doesn't have a lot of excess fabric flapping around everywhere.

 

If you can find shirts that fit well off the rack, I'd avoid custom or made to measure (MTM) shirts.  MTM is going to cost more, all else equal, and it will take 2-4 weeks to receive your order at most places.  You can also expect your first shirt to not fit as well as you'd like.

 

However, if you're having to alter everything you buy OTR, then it makes sense to look at MTM.  Have a shirt you already own tailored to fit the way you want first.  Then have the MTM company use this shirt as an example of how you want it to fit.  They should be able to take measurements and translate it to their pattern/process, and you'll get better results in your first shirt.

 

Once you have a great fit with a MTM company, you can expect future orders to fit well with little hassle.  The up front cost/effort is more and the shirts will still cost more, but you won't have to worry about fit or alterations going forward.

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

okay I will have to check everything out. I may wait for the Nordstroms yearly sale and purchase more of the calibrate trim fit shirts. That, or I may take a trip to Century 21 and see if I can find any deals there. 

post #10 of 12

Just make sure your blazer or jacket is tapered to enhance your shape.

post #11 of 12
Focus on quality basics. Being willing to spend more for something that will last and is classic is a good thing.

I agree with others that good dress shoes are worth the money and if you find a good cobbler, they are an investment that will last you years. Allen Edmonds are a personal favorite, but soak up what's on SF and utilize the weekly ebay roundup on Putthison.
'
I disagree with the "wear a suit even if it's not what everyone else wears..." philosophy, even though I subscribed to it myself when I got out of college. I have two reasons for disagreeing 1. I spread myself too thin at times- focusing on getting a complete array of suits/jackets/ties/etc that I never wore at the sacrifice of investing more money into solid basics I could utilize daily for years to come. Start with a good foundation and don't get distracted too much. 2. The workplace can be a tricky situation where stylistic individualism is not appreciated by all in the same way as an online clothing board. Your work clothing should enhance, not distract. You can be a "dandy" while still dressing well. You should invest in nice belts, nice shoes, nice shirts. I would rather see a young man invest in a fine business casual appropriate items, than try to make a "splash" at a business casual office by wearing a suit.

There are obviously always exceptions. I've worked with a few guys who had a very cool array of jackets/suits/ties that they wore each day with a confidence that allowed them to pull it off regardless of the environment.
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by sspp View Post

I'm disagreeing with almost everything that's been said in this thread:


You should be seeking the opportunities to dress as well as you like, wear a jacket or even a suit if you want to enjoy your clothes while you do business.



I think that on that budget shoes should be your number one priority, perhaps spending around 1/3 of it on a nice pair.
You can have Allen Edmonds Park Avenue (http://www.allenedmonds.com/aeonline/producti_SF270_1_40000000001_-1) for $335 online.
If you don't like your suits, then perhaps you can find something with a decent fit, 100% wool, maybe not from a very known label, but tailorable to a nicer fit. That should represent another 1/3 of your budget (at least!). With the $300 remaining you can get more than enough pants and shirts to fill a complete rotation. I've found that the key is t


o buy shirts and pants one by one, you can better take advantage of sales that way.



This will be easier if you start with decent-fitting shirts, and then further tailor the details. If the tailor has to take the shirt apart, the results can vary wildly depending on his skill and the quality of the shirt.



I don't think that is a good idea.

@GrensonMan: Personally I don't think Zara is a good recommendation for blazers, or Aldo for shoes. In that price range you can certainly find much better quality, and both are examples of very fashion forward cuts. Perhaps in 10 or 20 years you won't like to see pictures of you wearing an "2010s" style suit, but you would certainly be proud of the timeless elegance of a finely tailored suit.

This is foolish. Why in Gods name would you recommend black cap toes when he isnt even going to wear a jacket? Is he supposed to wear the same pair daily? And i dislike this style forum default to one brand and style.
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