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Novice Notes

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

(edited on 12/10/13 to include the recommendations of other members)

 

Hello Stylers,

 

   I went from knowing absolutely nothing about men's fashion 6 months ago to having a solid basic understanding today, largely thanks to this forum and others.  Sometimes the amount of detail can be overwhelming, so I thought it'd be helpful to give an extremely simple (deliberately oversimplified) guide.  The goal is to have a half page that a recent college grad can look at and very quickly put together a wardrobe.  

 

Shoes: 

Color: Black is the most formal, followed by Burgundy and Brown.  

Style: Oxford Balmoral captoe or plain toe are the most formal, followed by Bluchers and more ornate styled oxfords.

Price Points:

$80-$170: Ecco and Clark make attractive and comfortable shoes, but these are too casual for some formal business environments.

$130-$250: Cole Haan and Johnston & Murphy are the place to look.

$250-$500: Allen Edmond and Alden make fantastic shoes and you'll need never go to a price point beyond here for business purposes.

 

Shirts:

Color: White and light blue are the most conservative.  Next you can go with a light yellow, light pink, narrow stripe, or microcheck pattern.  

Style:  In the US, french cuffs are considered very formal, and generally inappropriate for most work environments if you're under 30.  Try to avoid the "blousey" look and get a slim fit if you need it.  Get a french placard and a good default is the semi-spread collar.

Price Points:  

$40-$80: Lots of good options.  You can try a package deal from an online shirt maker like Indochino, Neiman Marcus sells quality shirts discounted in this range on "Last Call", or a package discount deal from Brooks Brothers.  

$80+: You can buy off the rack and get your shirts tailored.  Once you have a bit of knowledge, consider getting MTM from an online retailer like Blank Label, Indochino, or your local tailor.  It's more important to have a well fitting shirt than the finest fabric.

 

Pants:  No pleats, cuffs are optional.  Get dark gray or navy.  Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren offer solid options for $60 a pair.  

 

Suits:

Color:  Your first suit should be navy, your second charcoal.  Avoid patterns until you're on suit #4.  

Style: In the US, you can't go wrong with a 2-button single breasted notch lapel suit with side vents.  

Price Points:

$300-$700: Buy something off the rack (on sale) and get it tailored.  

$700+: Off the rack with tailoring remains an option but you can also consider a MTM suit from a local tailor or trying MTM from an online retailer like indochino once you have gained some knowledge.

 

Watches:

Style: Keep it understated and simple, with a leather band.  It's not necessary, but ideally your watch color should match your belt (silver or gold).  It's not a bad idea to have one inexpensive watch in each color.  

Tiers:  Watches are best thought of in terms of tiers.  Any watch listed is fine for all business purposes (until you're above executive director at a bulge bracket bank.)  The A tiers are the most expensive, and I haven't listed any "outrageously" expensive watches.

C tier: Citizens, Tissot, Oris

B tier: Omega, Tag, Breitling

A tier: Breguet, JLC, Rolex

 

Ties, belts and socks:

Ties: Solid or simple patterns, 100% silk.  You can find decent ties for $30, over $80 and you won't see much difference.

Belts: Simple or slight perforation.  Belts should match your shoes.  No need to spend more than $60 per belt.

Socks: Merino wool or cotton blend.  Socks should match your pants, and most traditional is a shade between your pants and shoes.  For the most formal environments wear a solid color, but for most occasions, and understated argyle or other simple pattern is fine.  

 

Care for your clothing:

Dress shirts and pants should generally be laundered (not dry cleaned) but check the care instructions on the item.  Shirts should generally be laundered after each use, pants after 3 to 6 wearings.  Hang everything on thicker hangers (not the wire hangers dry cleaners give you) to avoid wrinkles.  Suits should be dry cleaned two to four times a year.  Shoes should be shined frequently (from 2 to 8 times a month depending on frequency of wear).  Keep your shoes in good shape with cedar shoe trees and by rotating the shoe you wear.  Many people like laundering and ironing their own clothes and it'll save you more than $1,000 a year, but your time has value too.  

 

Putting it all together:

Sample wardrobes:

Navy suit, white shirt, solid red tie, burgundy oxfords, navy socks, and a burgundy belt.

Charcoal suit, light blue shirt, silver and blue tie, gray socks, and black belt.

 

In your closet: 3 suits (navy, charcoal, light gray or pinstripe), 10 dress shirts (4 white, 3 light blue, 1 light pink, 1 light yellow, 1 bengali striped), 2 pairs of shoes (one black, one burgundy), 3 belts (2 black, 1 burgundy), 5 ties (assuming you don't have to wear a tie daily, otherwise 12 ties), 2 watches (1 silver, 1 gold), 10 pairs of dress socks (4 navy, 6 gray/black)

 

At the entry level prices listed, this wardrobe will cost about $3,500 and should comfortably last you 5 years (budgeting an extra $400 a year to replace things that become damaged.)


Edited by CalabaiLion - 12/10/13 at 9:04pm
post #2 of 17
A good solid first post and welcome to Styleforum CalabaiLion.
I'll add one thing to your list. Cedar Shoe trees are a must for your shoes. wink.gif
post #3 of 17
I would disagree with online MTM being in, that is not for the novice. "Dress pants" do not need to be "laundered" after "two or three wearings". That is far too regularly and will soon destroy them by excess. Noticeably you do not speak of suits in that way. Novices should also note that "laundering" may not be right and that they MUST follow the manufacturer's instructions otherwise disasters will happen and clothes be wrecked.

"No pleats or cuffs" is also a personal thing and NOIT something by which to guide the novice.

Otherwise a reasonably useful guide but could do with a little amendment.
Edited by GBR - 12/13/13 at 3:02pm
post #4 of 17
Agree with GBR...I am very tired and missed the online MTM part.
post #5 of 17
Yes, needs some amendments. Other then what has already been suggested, if by Navy shirt you mean solid navy, then it should NOT be part of a business wardrobe. White with navy Bengali of pinstripes are fine. White/navy checks could be ok, but no need for solid navy.
post #6 of 17

Great post, overall. I am currently undergoing a revamp of my business and business casual wardrobe. Simple, well organized overviews such as this are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated. Cheers! 

post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the feedback everyone.  Part of the reason I wrote that was to see where I was still wrong (-:

I incorporated all of your suggestions into the original post.

 

One question - GBR noted that my initial recommendation of having pants cleaned after 2-3 wearings was excessive.  What is an appropriate frequency for fine quality suit pants?  I would think that washing then less than once every 5 wearings could lead to a buildup of dirt and odor.

post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalabaiLion View Post

Thanks for the feedback everyone.  Part of the reason I wrote that was to see where I was still wrong (-:
I incorporated all of your suggestions into the original post.

One question - GBR noted that my initial recommendation of having pants cleaned after 2-3 wearings was excessive.  What is an appropriate frequency for fine quality suit pants?  I would think that washing then less than once every 5 wearings could lead to a buildup of dirt and odor.

First of all, fine wool trousers should not be washed but dry cleaned. I think the frequency depend from wearing condition but after only 2-3 wears seams too often
post #9 of 17

Very informative for new bees like me :) good job

post #10 of 17
Pants washed "after 3 to 6 wearings"?! That about sums up the problem of any non-expert's guide. Huge gaps in knowledge. Although at least this one isn't called a "guide." The end part copy-my-wardrobe message is also bad.

There's also plenty of solid advice in there. It would be better if [glancing quickly versus studying the list] Florsheim were cited as one of the best low-end dress shoe brands and if sock "blends" were clarified and "merino" replaced by "fine" or something.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 

mensimage, could you clarify please?

 

First, are you saying that washing pants every 3-6 wearings is excessive?  Less than that just seems gross to me.  If I wear pants 5 times, all day, without washing them, they're going to smell.  

 

Second, Florsheim used to make a great shoe, but no longer.  They just outsource production to India now.

 

What cotton blend or wool sock would you recommend that's <$10 per pair?

post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalabaiLion View Post

Thanks for the feedback everyone.  Part of the reason I wrote that was to see where I was still wrong (-:
I incorporated all of your suggestions into the original post.

One question - GBR noted that my initial recommendation of having pants cleaned after 2-3 wearings was excessive.  What is an appropriate frequency for fine quality suit pants?  I would think that washing then less than once every 5 wearings could lead to a buildup of dirt and odor.


Quite wrong.

Brush them from time to time and hang them up after wear, they smell no more than any other. AT most once every twelve ,months if you are a dirty eater and spill your food on them or have such poor body cleanliness thus creating marks and other unwanted matters.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

This is silly.  With perfect hygiene and an excellent ability to keep your food on your plate, you're still going to get something on your pants more than once every 50 wearings.  Part of good hygiene is keeping your clothes clean.  

post #14 of 17
^^ I honestly cannot recall the last time i ever got food on my suit pants. You will be gradually building your wardrobe to a stage when every suit is worn at most once per week. On that regime, the suit only needs drycleaning at most once or twice a year.
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalabaiLion View Post

mensimage, could you clarify please?

First, are you saying that washing pants every 3-6 wearings is excessive?  Less than that just seems gross to me.  If I wear pants 5 times, all day, without washing them, they're going to smell.  

Second, Florsheim used to make a great shoe, but no longer.  They just outsource production to India now.

What cotton blend or wool sock would you recommend that's <$10 per pair?

If you mean dress pants, it's unlikely a pair could be worn 6 times without becoming smelly or stained. If something falls or rubs off on them (whether or not a spot is left) or it's a hot day, best to get them laundered ASAP.

Florsheim is at least as good as Cole Haan and J&M. That should have been realized from following the forum.

Many places sell quality dress socks for less than $10 per pair. That includes TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, and Paul Fredrick.
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