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Help building a SPECIFIC Wardrobe request - Help is appreciated

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 

I am new here on the Style Forums and I hope to get some help. I want to start building a quality wardrobe. I have a few requirements though and I will try to explain them and why I have them. 


First of all I am a professional magician, thus the name. I perform magic in many different settings. I perform strolling or walkaround magic at corporate events, cocktail/dinner parties, and other places where the dress code ranges from business casual to Black Tie. I also perform for businesses at trade shows and Family and Children's shows (i,e, birthday parties). My clothing is a part of my branding but I am not a clown. I am a magician and not too long ago magician's were considered to be of the same company as Doctors, Lawyers, and Business Executives. I believe it is New York that has the "Millionaire Magician" who has a parlor show in the Ritz. 


I started my career as a Festival and Street performer and now I work full time performing at private events. As I get more and more business through word of mouth and networking I am getting requests to perform at functions where, frankly, I feel out of place. I mean working on the sidewalk or at kids birthday parties I can wear whatever I want within reason but working an annual company meeting with a formal dress code is not something I am prepared for. 


My branding and logo are a purple and black. So I have chosen to make purple/lavender my choice for shirts, ties, and pocket squares. I want to represent my branding elegantly. I know some magician's whose branding and clothing choices border on being a clown. One individual wears a bright yellow zuit suit and looks like a cartoon character. That probably works for him as he is primarily a children's performer and balloon twister. I wanted a color that was bright and fun enough to work for kids and family shows but not so outlandish that it couldn't work in a more formal setting if need be.


I want to start with a blazer or sport coat or two that will work with grey and charcoal pants. And one or two suits. I have 3 or 4 purple ties and shirts.The shade doesn't have to match the colors of my logo as long as people will remember the purple. My logo looks like this:                                                                          


I made a poor choice with the black suit and it made me look like an undertaker or an old preacher. Neither one of which suits a magician. I want to keep the Purple shirts and ties but I want the rest of my clothes to work with the dress codes I have outlined above. Would a navy suit work well? Kind of like the background in my logo?


I don't mind purchasing used clothing from here or on ebay. I would appreciate suggestions that stick to the branding I have already begun. 


I plan to buy 2 pairs of Allen Edmonds shoes, a brown and a black. I could also use suggestions on a hat. A top hat isn't appropriate without a tux but what should I look for in a nice and elegant hat?


I know this was long but I wanted to make sure I explained my reason for specifically requiring purple as it is not a classic business color. I appreciate any help and advice that you guys give. I look forward to building wardrobe with the guidance of those here. 

Edited by Magician Shaun - 12/12/13 at 12:37pm
post #2 of 38
Thread Starter 
I have purchased a few pairs of gray pants to replace the black pants I foolishly bought. Also, there is a Burlington Coat Factory right next to where I live and I stopped in there today for the first time.

I bought my first suit. It was a Hickey Freeman made from Loro Piana Super 150s in a Charcoal w/gold pinstripes. It fit in the shoulders and I liked it. Plus it was only $150. I had to buy it. I'll post some pics when I get it back from the tailor.

Advice is appreciated. How am I doing so far?
post #3 of 38

You're in luck, because the purple you've chosen is a great colour for a magician and works well with gold jewellery as well as the charcoal suit with yellow stripes.  See if you can track down a couple of deep violet bow ties, and consider a white, yellow, or purple boutonniere (smaller works best).

Of note is that as a magician, you have the ability to wear the antiquated and the formal in settings where they don't usually belong, and more whimsical variations on them to boot.  Consider frock coats and tailcoats (black or dark grey, you actually do have the option here) for the really formal events.  This gives you the option of the classic "rabbit in your top hat" nonsense.

post #4 of 38


post #5 of 38

But in all seriousness, I have a big respect for your profession. It takes a lot to put yourself out there and make a career out of it. I have done a lot of street performing/busking and it is an intense lifestyle!

post #6 of 38
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by joshmick View Post


That was a funny movie. I think only Siegfried and Roy could actually pull that look off.


I am aiming for the more refined and classical look. Think Harry Blackstone but modern. I just see so many of my magical peers dressing and if I think they dress badly then it must be bad because the only knowledge about dressing well I have gained since becoming a member here. 


I will look into the frock coats and I like tail coats. 


There is an old saying that the magician should be dressed slightly better than those he is performing for. So if I am entertaining at a black tie event should I dress white tie? I couldn't even imagine entertaining at a white tie event. How do you dress better than those you are entertaining at such? 


How about hat recommendations for non formal dress? I know if I am dressed formal with tux that I will be sporting a top hat, for sure, but what about less formal? I have a couple of hats but they seem not dressy enough to wear with a suit. 

post #7 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thanks Josh. What was your act? For me, the best part about street performing is that my first year I performed as much as some pro magicians would in 10 years. That experience is invaluable.
post #8 of 38
Thread Starter 

So I have been doing a little more research here about various suiting options. My wife is Chinese and we go to visit her family in Beijing every year for a month. I have read some good things about D&J Tailors in Beijing. I think I will have maybe 4 items made this year when we go visit. I am thinking 2 suits, 1 Tux, and a blazer, as well as a wheelbarrow full of shirts. I have read two separate threads here where the wearers were looked great and were very pleased. 


I am going to plan this out well and get everything I need together to get the suits I want. Can I get advice on how to get the best suits possible from this? I have read that if you can explain exactly what you want you can get it. This will be much better than buying any suit off the rack or standard MTM right? The D&J Tailors say they make bespoke clothing with individual patterns for each customer. Does anyone know the truth to this? Is it really bespoke? I don't expect Saville Row or anything but the prices are definately in my budget. All advice on how to get the most out of this id appreciated. 

post #9 of 38

The best part of that plan is that you can have the (ahem) pockets made to your custom specifications.  ;)

post #10 of 38
Thread Starter 

That is true. It will save a lot of trouble later with certain additional pockets. 

post #11 of 38
Thread Starter 

OK, I got my Charcoal w/ gold pinstripes back from the tailor and just in time too! I had a 2 hour Christmas Party gig at a nice apartment complex and then yesterday, Christmas Eve, I was hired to entertain at a Christmas party that was attended by well dressed and wealthy Atlantans.


I arrived 15 minutes early as always and went in to meet the hostess. All of the gentlemen at the event were wearing blazers or sport coats even most of the little boys were wearing navy blue blazers. The hostess had hired servers to pour cocktails. It was a proper "Jacket no tie" party. There was one well dressed fellow there wearing red paisley trousers that looked an awful lot like pajama bottoms and a nice blue and black plaid jacket. It looked surprisingly good and festive and I want to find a pair of those trousers. 


Anyway, in the magic literature it is suggested that when entertaining, the magician should be slightly more formally dressed than those he is entertaining. I believe I did OK. I wore the suit, Purple and white striped shirt with french cuffs, and a nice thick purple striped tie. I also had a pocket square in a 3 point fold. Here is a picture of how I was dressed:



I did not wear the hat to the party. My wife took these photos at home after the party and in front of my backdrop. You will notice that the swag and tiebacks of the backdrop are a nice deep purple. The backdrop is a black velvet and the mirrors are on there to help separate you from the backdrop if you are wearing dark clothes. 


For some reason when I started buying dress clothes I bought a couple of black jackets. I had this image of the magician in a black tux, top hat, cane, etc. What I wasn't thinking about was that unless I was wearing a Tux black just made me look like an undertaker or a preacher. Neither of which are good for the image I try to present as an entertainer. 


Anyway, as I was the only person at the party last night that was wearing a suit, I was just a bit more formally dressed than everyone else. If I had gone in there wearing a black suit separate and gray pants I would have felt so out of place and under dressed it would have affected my performance. As it stands what I have learned here has helped me to advance my working wardrobe to a much more appropriate selection. 


I am still interested in a more magician looking hat for wearing a suit. Would a short top hat be ok? I was thinking something like these:


These come in all sorts of colors, black, brown, navy, tan, green, orange, purple, red, royal blue, yellow and white. Would black with a purple band be too gaudy? I want something says "magician" but is also classy. The ones I like the best are the first one and the last one. They are called the Gambler 2 and the Gambler. These are from and they do have a wide variety. I just don't want the hat seem 100% costume but I want it to stand out so that when I am doing strolling magic at a party like last night there is no question that I am the entertainer but I don't want Cheesey. 


Suggestions and opinions are welcome!

post #12 of 38
It sounds like you have an idea of both what you want and don't want in your look. I will try to offer suggestions that aren't necessarily concrete and (for the most part) are at your choosing.

1) Don't button the bottom button on your suit. This is a standard. The suit is cut in a way that closing it at the bottom will be less flattering. In short, it's just not done.

2) Your jacket is too long. If it's a long, try a regular. If it's a regular, try a short.

3) You're not showing up to an office, so you have some leeway on what you're wearing. I think it's great that you're putting such thought into it. Keep in mind that since you're a magician, anything that is slightly out of the ordinary for the normal person will suddenly become more costume-like in your context. That would mean things like hats and tuxedos will fit the profile of your profession, but may not be what you want.

4) You'd like to set yourself apart from the crowd and your general rule of dressing one notch above those attending sounds about right. You will likely have no problem setting yourself apart from the crowd as you'll likely (and hopefully) be the only one walking around performing magic. That's enough of a distinction that you won't have to try too hard to outdress anyone else. I do think it's a good idea to keep yourself within the realm of the crowd, but never below.

5) I'd say skip over all of the hats that you've selected. Unfortunately, they all appear costume appropriate, something you're trying to avoid. In most, if not all, cases, you'll be the only one wearing a hat. Combine that with the fact that you're the magician and you'll fit the stereotype you dreaded.

In short, you're on the right track. It's a unique case because you have the ability to play it up (more costume-like than strict business/black tie/etc.). I would rarely recommend steering some towards a black suit, but for evening parties that are not black tie, it could work. Play on things that make you look modern and mysterious, two descriptors that many magicians would want. You can also do things that are a bit bold, such as a black alligator belt. I'm just trying to think outside the box to subtly convey your message, so feel free to play around with it. Finally, the pocket square and tie look as though they came in a set - something negative around here. Try to choose a tie and pick certain elements from it in order to choose a complimentary pocket square. There is a lengthy pocket square thread that is full of images that may help.

I hope that isn't too harsh and that you keep at it. It seems like a fun project and wish you the best in your career!
post #13 of 38
Thread Starter 

I never button my jacket IRL I have no idea why I buttoned the bottom button in that photo. I know better but thanks for pointing it out. I am also aware the jacket is a bit too long. I already have plans to have it shortened a bit by my tailor. I picked it up at a steal ($150 for a new Mainline Hickey Freeman Madison) so I was okay with it being a little too long and having it shortened a bit. Yes it is a long and my other suit and all my jackets are regular except this one. Funny thing is I have one regular jacket that is almost as long as that one. 


The reason I am trying to avoid to black outside of a tux for black tie is due to the fact that I feel like I look like an undertaker or preacher. Both looks being ones I prefer to avoid. I see what you mean about the hat. I am honestly about to give up on one all together. 


I do like the idea of pushing the boundaries of acceptable dress but at the same time I want event planners to feel comfortable hiring me. I just can't see a guy dressed like Criss Angel entertaining at the party I was at last night let alone a black tie event. I feel like when I tell someone I want $1000+ for 2 hrs of entertainment they expect not only a great performance but a certain professionalism including my appearance.


Maybe I am wrong?

post #14 of 38
I don't think you're wrong...your reasoning makes sense. I was trying to avoid the suggestion of going the banker route. In my mind, magicians themselves have some sort of "mystique" about them, and I was hoping to pass that along. I understand that you wouldn't want to put on eyeliner and perform tricks for an audience. I suggested a black suit simply because, for evening events, it offers a stark contrast (black suit, white shirt) and therefore a certain "elegance" seen in black tie.

When it comes to tailoring, shortening a jacket can be troublesome. When you shorten the jacket, the proportions of the jacket begin to look off. The pockets will seem too close to the hem, the buttoning point looks off, etc. Keep that in mind when you take something in for such an alteration...more than a slight adjustment can make it look disproportionate.
post #15 of 38
Thread Starter 

I actually measured the jacket. It is 1" longer than my longest regular length jacket. I will pin it up and see what it looks like. If I had it shortened 3/4" I think it will be better without messing it up. 


I also wasn't trying to imply that you suggested eyeliner I was just kinda saying what I was thinking. I do believe that the magician's mystique is part of the character as well. I guess I just keep thinking about my Grandfather saying "You look like an old country preacher with that black suit." That is what is turning me off of the black. 

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