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Summer Associate at a large firm in Manhattan; I need an entirely new wardrobe. Help!

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 

I'm from a working-class background and grew up with ill-fitting hand-me-down suits.  Right now, my business clothes are as follows: A cheap suit, a few cheap dress shirts, two worn ties, and one pair of cheap dress shoes.  In other words, I have little-to-no experience with dressing properly.  

 

From this to $160k starting (my first paying job).

 

I want to buy all new clothes.  I say this not out of vanity, and I hope you don't think me too big for my britches, but the lawyering profession seems to be a lot about appearances.  The dress code at the firm is business attire, and it might turn heads if I show up to a summer job paying $3,100 week in poverty clothes.  My goal is for no one to notice my clothes (either as too cheap or as too expensive).

 

I'm not sure what information a person might need to help me with this stuff, but I've got very common body proportions (5'10, 165 lbs) and am white with brown hair.  Also, I'll be in a climate controlled office all day, but will be getting to-and-from the office via subway (and they get hot as hell in the summer). 

 

Now that I've explained my situation (read: staggering ineptitude) as best as I can, please tell me what to do.  I guess if I had to have a budget it would be around $3,000, but I'm pulling that number from nowhere; if more is necessary for a quality wardrobe, I'll pay it.  I really would appreciate any advice anyone had for me, even if it was pointing me toward a reputable source of information for me to look at.

 

Cliffnotes:

-Starting a high-paying job

-Need to buy a full set of business clothes

-Know nothing

-What do I do?


Edited by BigRob - 4/28/13 at 11:48am
post #2 of 39
Thread Starter 

: /


Edited by BigRob - 4/28/13 at 12:31pm
post #3 of 39
Try to do a search. This questions gets asked and answered every year for lawyers and I-bankers. But in short, I went to brooks brothers and bought a navy suit and a grey suit and mix of blue and white shirts and some repp ties and that just about covered it.
post #4 of 39

I think a lot is going to depend on what your style is, which you don't seem to know yet. Maybe you should go to Saks or Barneys, browse through the suits they have, and see what you like. Buy either a solid charcoal gray or navy suit to start. Paul Winston is a tailor who does Ivy-styled/Brooks Brother type clothing (he's father made JFK's suits). You might want to check out him as well. He's a nice guy.

 

You should probably own a couple of blue broadcloth shirts (I'm assuming you already own some white shirts). Since you are in New York, you might want to check out CEGO since they make custom shirts and you can look through the fabrics they have. I haven't bought from them, but Carl, the owner, posts on SF frequently and several reputable posters here like him. And his shirts are around $100 to $200 on average, and that seems to fit your budget. And he will help you figure out your needs. People also like Geneva and Paris (the shirtmakers, not the cities necessarily).

 

For shoes, you should own at least one pair of black, close-laced oxfords with a stitch cap (the AE Park Avenue is one example). I don't know your budget, but you can start with Allen Edmonds, or, if you want to spend more, you can check out the Crockett and Jones store in New York. You might want some dark brown oxfords...it is good to rotate your shoes and not wear them two days in a row. And buy cedar shoe trees.

 

As for ties, get a solid navy grenadine and solid burgundy grenadine. Hober sells them as does Paul Winston. 

 

Check out the whnay Good Taste thread. It is highly instructional. 

post #5 of 39
I don't understand how this has just hit you. You've been in law school for a few years, you didn't plan ahead?
post #6 of 39
Wait -- what did you wear for your interview?

If you're starting in May, then it'd make sense to just go to Brooks Brothers and pick up a couple dark navy/charcoal suits for starters, and white and blue shirts in your size, and then, if you care enough about suits and clothing, scour the threads on this forum to determine whom you want to use for bespoke clothing.
post #7 of 39
Seems you have a decent budget

This thread may be a good place to start: http://www.styleforum.net/t/309783/if-you-do-not-own-the-following-things-you-are-not-well-dressed

While many on SF say that beginners should take wardrobe acquisition slowly, your case might be an exception.

You probably don't have good sense of how classical menswear should fit, so it's critical to latch on to a knowledgeable sales associates at non-trendy places to find things that fit you.
Edited by jrd617 - 4/28/13 at 1:41pm
post #8 of 39
These are the ones that are most critical to your wardrobe at the moment:

-a [navy] blue odd jacket. If you live in a two-season climate, then two, one for warmth and one for the cold
-mid gray flannel pants
-decent, non-chino khakis
-a mid to dark gray worsted single-breasted suit
-a navy worsted single breasted suit
-a white shirt
-several blue shirts, at least one buttondown collar
-black stitch cap laceup shoes
-some tasteful brown laceupshoes (exact configuration up to you)
-loafers in medium brown calf, suede or shell cordovan, or burgundy shell
-a solid black tie, knit or grenadine
-a solid navy tie, knit or grenadine
-a plain white linen pocketsquare

For the winter:
-An overcoat in navy, charcoal or camel


Go to a place like Brooks Brothers during a sale (the 25% off Friends and Family sale is in May), and you could probably knock out this entire list for under $3500. At BB, you'd be getting the good stuff like English shoes and half canvas suits/sportcoats with that budget.
Edited by jrd617 - 4/28/13 at 1:50pm
post #9 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrd617 View Post

These are the ones that are most critical to your wardrobe at the moment:

-a [navy] blue odd jacket. If you live in a two-season climate, then two, one for warmth and one for the cold
-mid gray flannel pants
-decent, non-chino khakis
-a mid to dark gray worsted single-breasted suit
-a navy worsted single breasted suit
-a white shirt
-several blue BC shirts, at least one buttondown
-black stitch caps
-some tasteful brown oxfords (exact configuration up to you)
-loafers in medium brown calf, suede or shell or else burg shell
-a solid black tie, knit or grenadine
-a solid navy tie, knit or grenadine
-a plain white linen hanky

For the winter:
-An overcoat in navy, charcoal or camel

 

I don't think this is what I need.  I think I need something like 3 suits (navy, charcoal, lighter grey), 12 dress shirts (6 white, 6 blue), 2 pairs of black shoes, 6 ties, and a plain black belt.

post #10 of 39
My two cents: Charles Thrywhitt's (sp?) sale ends today. You can pick up four nice shirts for $199 and get a free polo as well. I absolutely love my sky blue non-iron slim fit dress shirt (no pocket + spread collar). I do recommend sizing up in the neck a 1/2 inch. I normally wear a 17.5 inch neck and it's slightly tighter than my others at the same size. Otherwise, it is by far my favorite shirt in my collection. Also, it is the last day of a great Allen Edmonds sale as well. If you don't have a nice pair of wingtips now would be a great time to pick up some Mcallister's. As well, I strongly recommend calling one of the AE shoe banks and asking them for a listing of the shoes currently in stock at your size. They have fantastic prices and very high quality - even for seconds. If possible, stop by an actual AE store and get sized for a few different lasts (especially the #5 last). I imagine that won't be a problem for you if you're already in the NY area. Best of luck to you and congrats on the job!
post #11 of 39
I smell the trolling here.
post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigRob View Post

I don't think this is what I need.  I think I need something like 3 suits (navy, charcoal, lighter grey), 12 dress shirts (6 white, 6 blue), 2 pairs of black shoes, 6 ties, and a plain black belt.

Ok, well that narrows your search if that's what you think you need.

You could look at the 1818 line at Brooks Brothers for suits. Half canvas models like the Fitzgerald (slim) or Madison (less slim). Those should run $700 each on sale, possibly less if you look for the same models on eBay or the Buying and Selling forum here on SF

Better in the long run to buy quality shoes. There are tons of threads on the subject, and the consensus is quality, quality, quality is key. You could pick up the English-made Peal shoes at Brooks Brothers for about $450 each on sale in May

As for ties, you could skimp by buying the $15 ones at tiebar.com. Those are generally regarded as being decent

Decent calfskin dress belt you could pick up for $35 (look at Polo Ralph Lauren on eBay: )

You could probably skimp on dress shirts too. BB shirts go on sale for about $45 each.

That would put you in the $3500 budget range
post #13 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottyb06 View Post

As well, I strongly recommend calling one of the AE shoe banks and asking them for a listing of the shoes currently in stock at your size. They have fantastic prices and very high quality - even for seconds. If possible, stop by an actual AE store and get sized for a few different lasts (especially the #5 last). I imagine that won't be a problem for you if you're already in the NY area. Best of luck to you and congrats on the job!

Not a fan of AE for the leathers. Very stiff.

I'd recommend Alden or C&J for BB Peal. Much better leather. Your feet will thank you.
post #14 of 39

Firstly, congratulations, and thanks for the cliffnotes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allez Allez View Post

Try to do a search. This questions gets asked and answered every year for lawyers and I-bankers. But in short, I went to brooks brothers and bought a navy suit and a grey suit and mix of blue and white shirts and some repp ties and that just about covered it.

 

+1 to this. If you just took the time to do a search here, you'd find far more answers than you're going to get in this thread. Most users are just going to skip your thread because the question's been asked so many times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadcammer View Post

I don't understand how this has just hit you. You've been in law school for a few years, you didn't plan ahead?

...agreed. OP, why were you so lackluster?

post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigRob View Post

I don't think this is what I need.  I think I need something like 3 suits (navy, charcoal, lighter grey), 12 dress shirts (6 white, 6 blue), 2 pairs of black shoes, 6 ties, and a plain black belt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VinnyMac View Post

Firstly, congratulations, and thanks for the cliffnotes.

+1 to this. If you just took the time to do a search here, you'd find far more answers than you're going to get in this thread. Most users are just going to skip your thread because the question's been asked so many times.
...agreed. OP, why were you so lackluster?

Another +1.

If you know what you want, what's the question? jrd617 gave you some great advice and took the time to answer your original question, I'd take it to heart. If you still feel that you know what you need, follow everyone's advice and head over to BB.
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