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Advice on starting a collection

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I am going to be entering college this coming fall in Houston (Rice University).  I am hoping for some advice as to strategy for what I should try to be and what I will need. As of right now I pretty much have nothing.  Some khakis and doc martens, a few dress shirts that don't fit, and some ugly ties.  I know that I will have to get a few things that are relatively nice for college.  After hanging out on this forum for a month or so, I think my tastes are a little too high. There are a few events I will have to dress up for for sure, but other than that I would just like to have a nice base to start from if I start interviewing for internships and such, for instance.  Not sure exactly what this includes, but I'm sure you all can help with that My dad is telling me just to go to the department store and buy a navy blazer but I am not appreciating the expensive prices for poorly constructed things - especially when I hear about the prices you guys get some of the really nice things at.  Not to mention I am thinking that if I purchase a suit instead (where it seems to be easier to find deals than just coats), I can wear the coat by itself in a pinch with khakis or jeans for a more "stylish" look? The cheaper the better basically, but for me deals are a bit hard to come by as I don't have great access to stores around me now, although this will be a different story when I get to Houston. There are a few formals at least where I will need a suit.  I was thinking about a navy suit just for versatility - is this the right pick?  Also, 3 button would be most appropriate I am assuming?  I don't so much as mind the 2 button ones either, as long as the stance of the buttons is a little higher.  I am a 6'0" 150 lb guy, so I am pretty skinny and not sure if that helps envisioning certain cuts and pants styles or what not.  I am a 38R (I think) - I figure that whatever I get I will take to the tailor to get the pants finished and the fit checked to see if any improvements can be made.  I am a 31/32 inch waist with about a 34 inch inseam to complicate the matter further. As for shirts, I am pretty hard to shop for with a smallish chest, long arms (about 36.5 by jantzen's measuring standards), and average neck (15.5).  I would like to order more jantzen but I guess he has been taking longer, and my first shirt is a casual one (pink with wide spread collar, form fit) has already been ordered. Ties - not really sure where to go with this.  The problem is that not only do I not really know where to find deals and what brands to look for, I am red-green color blind, can't match worth a crap, and don't really know what patterns are good and which are taboo.   On down the list, shoes.  I have talked to Ron Rider for some options but I am still looking.  I failed to pick up the RL Black captoes as bluefly ran out of my size before I was able to order them.  Would black be the most versatile color?  Not sure about this one either, but would assume so.  Where are the deals to be had here (I am a size 12 so ebay usually turns up empty for me). Thanks for listening to me drone, this board really is great.  You all know so much - I hope that I will be able to get to the level that you all are once I get a job and start having to dress for work.  Some of you have some very nice pieces . But any helpful suggestions for what I SHOULD OWN at this stage and where I can get these types of things would be great.  Keep in mind I'm poor  Thanks a lot.
post #2 of 27
Raley, you are probably a 38L. I'd go with either a navy or a dark dark charcoal suit. There is a Last Call in the Dallas area -- I'm not sure if you are close to there. Check for Off Fifth locations as well as other outlets generally. Also, check the Neiman Marcus sales in August/late July. There are two NMs in Houston. In college you will be wearing mostly pajamas -- trust me. Here is what you should focus on: (1) One nice pair (the Polos you were stalking is about right) of black dress shoes; (2) One pair of nice brown dress shoes -- something dressier than Doc Martens; (3) One nice pair of dress chinos -- I love the new lightweight dress chinos at Banana Republic right now. They should go on sale soon; (4) Two nice ties -- I'd recommend Ebay probably. Just get advice here and we'll take care of you; (5) 3 or 4 nice dress shirts -- Jantzen is a good choice. It'll come soon enough. Get a white, a blue, another color, and a patterned; (6) 1 or 2 pair of jeans that you really like -- you'll live in these; (7) One nice suit in either navy or charcoal. If you have the money, bite the bullet and get something decent. You should be able to find something of very good quality for under $600 during sales or at outlets. You should go somewhere with service for your first suit. Brooks Brothers is a good option during the sale season or friends and family week. Ebay can get you good gift cards to BB as well if you are sure you want to go that route. Alternatively, you can really just bite the bullet and get fitted by WW Chan. They do visit Texas I think. For $730 total -- that includes the tailoring, shipping, taxes, etc. -- that might be a good choice because it is guaranteed to fit you properly (you sound like a tough fit). Take a gander at wwchan.com. I know $730 sounds like a lot for a suit, but it'll be a wise investment. And you're going to Rice -- you'll be rich someday.
post #3 of 27
Chan is in Houston on November 17th. I'd make an appointment with them via their website. You'll have your suit by Christmas. I'm guessing you won't need a suit before then, right? If you can hold out that long, it might be a good option. I'll report back to you when my Chan suit comes in in a few weeks.
post #4 of 27
Personally, I wouldn't sweat it too much. Your measurements might change somewhat over the next couple of years so I think you really should keep things on the inexpensive side. I think johnnynorman's list is pretty good although I think Doc Marten's are just fine for your purposes if that's all you can get ahold of. Also, I'd go with a navy suit so you can use the jacket standalone as a blazer as well. The more sartorially inclined will tsk at me, but you're in an environment that's not exactly friendly to fine clothes so I'd just get stuff you wouldn't mind chucking out in four years or less.
post #5 of 27
Just FYI if you're not from Houston, the shopping here is pretty mediocre if you are a) young and style conscious and b) adverse to paying full retail. The NM in Town and Country is really watered down, and the NM in the Galleria has some nice stuff when sales happen, but is generally (like 95% of the Galleria, which caters mainly to yuppies and fashion victims with more money than sense) way overpriced for what it offers. As for the men's stores, Norton Ditto is a nice place with knowledgable salespeople, but they cater more towards middle aged professionals (think Hickey Freeman, Oxxford) than the younger crowd. I got my first suit at M Penner, and the salesmen and owner there were very friendly and helpful. They have some more interesting brands there (Canali, Zegna, Kiton, etc), so you might want to check them out, although you won't find any deeply discounted steals. I haven't been to Harold's in the Heights or A Taghi, which are Houston's other well-known men's stores. Anyway, your best bet would be to keep checking eBay, Yoox, Bluefly, etc and posting any questions you may have about what interests you. Except for getting cheap basics at TJ Maxx, I generally don't do my shopping in town. If you need local shopping advice for the city I'd be glad to help though.
post #6 of 27
Quote:
Personally, I wouldn't sweat it too much.  Your measurements might change somewhat over the next couple of years so I think you really should keep things on the inexpensive side.  I think johnnynorman's list is pretty good although I think Doc Marten's are just fine for your purposes if that's all you can get ahold of.  Also, I'd go with a navy suit so you can use the jacket standalone as a blazer as well.  The more sartorially inclined will tsk at me, but you're in an environment that's not exactly friendly to fine clothes so I'd just get stuff you wouldn't mind chucking out in four years or less.
Good point about your body changing. I forgot about that. That is a really good reason to go with an inexpensive buy for your first suit if you really need one right now. Check out a local Marshall's -- you can find some good stuff there.
post #7 of 27
Quote:
I am going to be entering college this coming fall in Houston (Rice University).
TFW. Have you spent much time on campus? Dressed up at Rice is wearing a polo shirt. I wore a tie at matriculation, at College Night in the fall and the spring, and at various events surrounding my graduation. That's it, and I like to wear ties. You could probably wear a suit to Esperanza and Rondelet, but if I recall correctly, most people wore rented tuxedos. Seriously, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Get a suit you can afford (I wouldn't spend too much -- I outgrew the suit I bought my senior year in high school by my junior year at Rice), a blue blazer, some decent trousers, and a decent pair of shoes, and that should do just fine. If money is tight, dispense with the blue blazer and the trousers.
post #8 of 27
Quote:
As for the men's stores, Norton Ditto is a nice place with knowledgable salespeople, but they cater more towards middle aged professionals (think Hickey Freeman, Oxxford) than the younger crowd. I got my first suit at M Penner, and the salesmen and owner there were very friendly and helpful. They have some more interesting brands there (Canali, Zegna, Kiton, etc), so you might want to check them out, although you won't find any deeply discounted steals. I haven't been to Harold's in the Heights or A Taghi, which are Houston's other well-known men's stores.
M. Penner is hands-down the best men's clothing store in Houston. I have nothing but positive things to say about the people there, and I know them all. I've had positive experiences at Norton Ditto, but like you say, they cater more towards the middle-aged professional -- good stuff, but rather conservative. The shoe guys at Harold's in the Heights are great, and although I've never bought any tailored clothing there, Harold Wiesenthal and his sons are gentlemen in every sense of the word. I haven't ever felt comfortable at A. Taghi, but I don't have enough experience there to offer more of an opinion than that. The Galleria Dillards, believe it or not, has a pretty decent selection of lower-priced suits that are on perma-sale. Obviously, if you can find a decent alterations tailor, Bluefly, Yoox, and eBay are good sources as well.
post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 
I think I need to just search and find a deal like you found (suit for wedding for 230$, fully canvassed). Is it hard to find these kinds of things or is it just that you need to know what you are looking for? I currently live in Ohio and am at minimum 1 hour from decent shopping, 1.5 from better (Columbus). Anyone in the Columbus area with suggestions? I will just have to persist with the hunting I suppose. Is it acceptable to call places before hand and ask about there stock or perhaps get it shipped to you? I guess fit is pretty huge here so making the trip would probably be key. I have so many questions, but still, how can you tell about the long/regular fit. I was in Saks the other day trying on an Armani blazer, 38R. It looked pretty good and the back fell underneath the bottom of my butt, but she said the front looked a little short? Maybe I am inbetween R and L. Any definitive way to find out, and is there a way thats its better to miss?
post #10 of 27
Raley, I have to disagree with johnnynorman, I'm going to say 38R, I too am just over 6' and weigh a bit more ( ok, 50# more) than you, have a slightly shorter inseam at 32" (so have a proportionally longer torso, unless you have an unusually long neck) and wear a 43R and always need to have the sleeves shortened about 2". With the measurements you gave, a R fit should hit you just perfectly - if it just covers your backside, you're in business - but the sleeves on a 38 may be a bit short (if they are too short, if it's 1/2" or less, have the sleeves lengthened, more than that, opt for the long and it will be the better compromise). A little extra length in the jacket looks much better than sleeves a bit too short.
post #11 of 27
Tom, I guess I was thinking that a 38R's sleeves would not be nearly long enough. But I guess it depends on the designer. I wear a 34.5 sleeve and a 38R on me usually is spot on perfect for sleeve length. Only occassionally are the sleeves long on me. Raley has a 36.5" sleeve. You are right though that the 38L might be too long in the hem. I was concerned about that myself. Raley, I think Tom is right that altering sleeves is easier than altering the jacket hem. So, if you have to get one right, well you know. Also, I think it is totally appropriate to call up and get something shipped to you. I've called Vegas's Last Call and have gotten something shipped to Boston. I wouldn't worry about getting something fully canvassed. Obviously that is best, but you should worry about fit first, then fabric. Construction details should be third for you at this point, at least so long as you want to go on a budget (which, being that you WILL grow in college -- and that doesn't mean you have to go and grow a paunch. -- is perfectly intelligent). I might recommend Arnold Brant suits at Off Fifth for you. They use Loro Piana fabrics and also seem to have longer sleeve lengths -- a 38R has too long a sleeve for me. At Off Fifth they are $299 and sometimes the stores have sales where they will knock $100 off that, etc. So, if you time it right you could get one shipped to you for just over $200. I know I saw a nice 3 button model at my local Off Fifth in navy blue the other day. Not sure if there was a 38R. I could check for you if you'd like though. Just let me know. I know that there aren't any storewide sales going on right now, however. If you'd like to wait for a sale, I'd highly recommend calling all the Off Fifths in the country and asking about an Arnold Brant (fused, but decent quality and really great fabrics).
post #12 of 27
YOU NEED JEANS.  It doesn't matter what kind, but you need at least one pair of decent jeans...go Diesel or PDC if you're a fancy guy, or try something along the lines of A&F or Levi's if you want to spend less.  I dunno about all of you, but as an undergrad (even as a grad student) I've come to realize that I live in jeans; absolutely could not live without jeans. Get a bunch of T-shirts to go with the jeans.  Urban Outfitters and A&F are the generic choices. If you're not a T-shirt guy, try A/X or Banana. I'd recommend a suit over a blazer.  Who wears blazer's these days?  Anyway, if you're sure you need a suit, get a mid-priced grey or navy suit.  Look on ebay.  No need to break the bank...if your experience was anything like mine, the suit's going to get ruined at a party or you'll grow out of it.  Just get a knockaround suit that will hold you over for interviews.  Although I wish that I started buying quality clothes sooner, in reality, college isn't the best time to do it.  Just have fun, as you get older, you can concentrate on building your wardrobe. Shoes are a totally subjective thing.  If you need dress shoes, go for a pair of black captoes.  In actuality, a dark brown will be more versatile, but black is a safer, more conservative bet (in American).  Might be an unpopular opinion, but similar to the suit, I suggest that you don't spend too much on these shoes.  My shoes are still covered in puke, and torn from that time my friends had to drag me out of...well, just trust me. As far as sneakers, see the sneakers thread below.  Pumas, Adidas, Gola, Vans, et al are still as popular as ever, and not expensive either. Just want to reiterate: don't worry so much about your wardrobe now.  I graduated from college 3 years ago, and I dont' wear any of the clothes I wore in college.  You'll figure things out on your own, with time.  These suggestions and the others will give you a good start.  Relax, it's just college.
post #13 of 27
Good news.... Red and green are complimentary colors. So you R/G vision condition shouldn't be a hindrance. I usually go to Ross or Marchalls for ties. I ruin them so often, it helps to just be able to toss em in the garbage and worry not. -Tom
post #14 of 27
Marshalls is a great place for ties.
post #15 of 27
Quote:
YOU NEED JEANS...I've come to realize that I live in jeans; absolutely could not live without jeans.
Listen to the man. Jeans are the one thing I can't do without. I'd sacrifice shoes before jeans. Also, if you plan on carrying a messenger bag, you might want to switch up which side you hang it (left/right). Otherwise, it will tear the threads on your jeans if you have it hanging in one place day after day (assuming you wear the same jeans, like I do).
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