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$400 a month. College Grad needs help.

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by MikeTT, Dec 4, 2010.

  1. MikeTT

    MikeTT New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    I need help picking out a new wardrobe for my post college life. I can spend $400-500 a month.

    What should I buy first?

    Should my first purchase be a blazer? Will a blazer have more uses than a suit? Is a blazer too casual for interviews?

    Should my second purchase be dress shoes? I like Allen Edmond Strand in walnut. Is this a good shoe, or must I stick to black dress shoes?

    Should I save for two months and buy the 2 for $999 suits at Brook Brothers? Is there a better suit in the same price range? I could open a BB charge for the 15% discount and that would give me enough room to buy a third suit. Are dark blue, charcoal, and light brown good choices for three suits?

    There is only one rule. I do not want to buy items that will need to be upgraded later. I want to buy once. In other words, I do not want to buy a blazer for $200 with the knowledge that in a year I will have to spend $500 on a better blazer. I would prefer to save and buy the $500 blazer and not throw $200 away.

    In 5 months I would have a blazer, 3 suits, and dress shoes. Is that a good start? Can the same blazer be worn more than once a week to work with a different shirt, tie, and pants? I assume most people hang their blazer, so the only time it is worn is walking in the office and walking out. Will people notice the same blazer worn more than once?

    What did everyone do when they started buying nice cloths? Did you have a plan? What are the highest priority purchases?
     
  2. Rankiz

    Rankiz Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    436
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2010
    Location:
    Norway
    Light brown suit? I would go for a more darker brown atleast.
     
  3. dpopat

    dpopat Active Member

    Messages:
    42
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2010
    Where are you working?
     
  4. Gwarg

    Gwarg Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    331
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2010
    Location:
    London
  5. cbbuff

    cbbuff Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,251
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2010
    Location:
    Boulder, CO
    What do you have now? Before you buy a 3rd suit, you need 2 pairs of shoes.

    You also need to get a few well fitted shirts. Priority #1 really if you don't already have them. I would recommend Modern Tailor.
     
  6. Citan1145

    Citan1145 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,067
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Location:
    Warren, MI United States
    I would caution that BB suits are 2 for 1500, not 2 for 999. I dunno when the 2 for 999 sale is but that has been rare as of late i believe.

    I sort of did a similar route. I got a charcoal, navy, and pinstripe suit first then I got a brown. A light brown is great for summer/spring, but probably not as good year round. I can see a darker brown suit being ok year round...
     
  7. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member

    Messages:
    33,322
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2002
    Location:
    Moscow, Idaho
    I'm assuming that you are working in a non-casual environment.

    You need a few suits and a sportsjacket, and some odd trousers, and at least 2 pairs of shoes. As already mentioned, if you don't rotate your shoes, they will not last long. You'll also need a week and a half worth of shirts: 2 white, 2 pale blue, 1 pale grey, and 2 patterned shirts - I suggest a tattersall for one of these.

    Navy suit, charcoal suit, and navy sportsjacket. Grey flannel pants, and a pair of grey pants with a subtle pattern - maybe something like a mini-houndstooth or a very subdues Prince-of-Wales or double windowpane.

    Brooks Brothers is a good bet, but if you trawl through this site, and at this time of year, you can find the majority of what you'll need on a site like www.yoox.com, if you know your size. Note that Yoox specialized in Italian designers, which typically fit smaller than US brands, in the same size.

    Black shoes - cap toe balmorals - www.Shopthefinest.com has some Sutor Mantellassi's under $400, which is quite the deal.
    Brown shoes - probably something like chestnut for your first go around. Maybe something with a medallion.

    More important than anything is to find a good alterations tailor. My brother spends much less than $500/month on clothes, and I'll bet that his things look better than 90% of the things I've seen here, for that reason. He is also 30, and slim, so that works in his favor, but his tailor is the real genius.

    For shirts, Cottonwork or Moderntailor are both good bets for well (or at least decent) fitting, inexpensive shirts. See our banners above.

    You'll probably want a topcoat too, heading into winter.

    I was into clothing since I was in elementary school, but even though I have suits, shirts, and ties galore, I wear jean 363/year.
     
  8. Nicola

    Nicola Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,952
    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2009
    What are the highest priority purchases?

    Depends on what you need and why you need it. Don't buy anything until you know what sort of enviroment.

    Also if you have time take your time. Buy what you find a good deal on not what's on the schedule.
     
  9. celeste_pista

    celeste_pista Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    440
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2009
    Depends on what you need and why you need it. Don't buy anything until you know what sort of enviroment.

    ^good advice

    I'd say you should make sure you have the following asap, and after that let yoru budget buy what you find that speaks to yoru style or is a deal too good to pass up...

    solid, shadow PoW, or pinstripe navy suit
    black captoe balmoral or similar conservative dress shoes to pair w/ suit
    5-6 good fitting dress shirts - white, cream, white check, blue, etc.
    2-3 pr gabardine trousers grey and beige
    brown/tan blucher dress shoes
    navy blazer or sportcoat
    i'm assuming you already own ties & chinos, if not add that to the asap list

    then add a grey or brown suit, and more of everything in more colors, maybe a few merino v-necks/polos, etc.

    as far as where to get it? you can chase deals from the affiliates or go with a staple source like bb...both are great options.
     
  10. Klobber

    Klobber Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,272
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2010
    Location:
    San Francisco
    I would go with a solid charcoal grey suit, One blue/navy suit, and one pinstipe (navy, black, or dark grey).

    If you can save $500 per month, save for 3 months and kill all 3 birds with one stone at an outlet centre. I was in an outlet area, you could pick up a Hugo Boss suit for around $350. Brookes Brothers suit jackets were around $250, find the slacks for $95 and your good to go.

    Just find a good outlet mall in your area where you can try on the suits without risking a gamble online.
     
  11. cbbuff

    cbbuff Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,251
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2010
    Location:
    Boulder, CO
    Your best bang for the buck by far will be to:
    1 Educate yourself about brands by reading threads here
    2. Trying on a few brands/styles and seeing what fits and what you like.
    3. GETTING YOUR MEASUREMENTS.
    4. Find a good tailor.

    Then be patient and watch ebay and the B&S forums here. You will find crazy good deals on lightly used, and very good deals on new suits and shoes if you can't deal with used.

    I would caution you to take your time and look for things you really love. It's east to get excited at everything you see. When something is perfect, you will know.

    As I mentioned before, I would also say don't even mess with OTR shirts, go MTM right away.
     
  12. Sebastian Melmoth

    Sebastian Melmoth Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    54
    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    The most important question is: are you buying for yourself or because you need to suit up for your job?
    The sad fact is, even if you need to be suited up for work (which is, frankly, hard to believe for a recent college grad in this day and age), you will be fine for the next 5 years or so with Brooks Brothers. Wait until their post christmas sale and pick up 1 or 2 1818 suits for approx $500 each. Get a couple basic shirts and you will be fine.

    If your clothes are decent and reasonably well fitted you will be fine for most business purposes. Save your money and build your knowledge and in a few years you can start acquiring good stuff.
     
  13. Dr. D

    Dr. D Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    101
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2010
    Location:
    Maine
    Assuming you need to wear a suit every day...

    Get good comfortable shoes first. I would start with black Park Ave from Allen Edmonds since they will be good for an interview and your later job. They frequently go on sale for around $225 (check Amazon and endless.com for 30% off sales). Then you can add a brown pair like the AE Strands. I just bought a pair of Walnut Strands for $159 last weekend from the AE outlet. Both pairs will go great with charcoal or navy and you can alternate them to keep the shoes in good condition. Be sure to buy 2 sets of trees and a good brush as well. There's your first $400.

    Then I'd get a bunch of shirts from TM Lewin (5 for $160 sale this week) and if you're looking for a conservative position (i.e. Wall St or law) stick to plain white and blue with barrel cuffs. While not the greatest, these will look much better than standard shirts from Macys (espscially if you can wear slim fit) and they should withstand a couple of years of heavy usage. Pick up 6 ties from thetiebar.com for $100 (stick to navy and burgundy based repp stripes) and you should be able to pick up a black and a brown belt from a local outlet or Marshalls for $20-25 each (belts should match the shoes). Don't forget dress socks and always match them to the trouser color.

    The suits are the budget killer. If you need to wear one 4-5 days a week and if you know your measurements well you can troll ebay and try to get a couple for $100+. You still need to budget $50-100 per suit for alterations to make sure they fit well. Definitely aim for navy and charcoal first, subtle pinstripes optional. If you have casual Fridays, for your next step you can pick up some slacks (medium or light gray) and a blue blazer. The blazer should be of the gold buttoned variety so it doesn't look like you took the jacket off of your suit. If you want another jacket you can get a camelhair, tweed, or cashmere one to add texture.

    That gives you a solid wardrobe for 3-5 months of your budget, depending on the suits. You may need to add an overcoat/raincoat depending where you are. Keep in mind Brooks Brothers has big sales after Christmas and around Fathers Day and try to time your purchases.
     
  14. MikeTT

    MikeTT New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    The most important question is: are you buying for yourself or because you need to suit up for your job?
    The sad fact is, even if you need to be suited up for work (which is, frankly, hard to believe for a recent college grad in this day and age), you will be fine for the next 5 years or so with Brooks Brothers. Wait until their post christmas sale and pick up 1 or 2 1818 suits for approx $500 each. Get a couple basic shirts and you will be fine.

    If your clothes are decent and reasonably well fitted you will be fine for most business purposes. Save your money and build your knowledge and in a few years you can start acquiring good stuff.


    The dress code at work is casual, but some people wear suits. In the future I will find a better job, and it is probable the dress code will be professional.

    I view these purchases as an investment to help me gain a good job and move up. I do not want to purchase a new wardrobe two times.

    I want a suit that looks good, like something George Clooney or Pierce Brosnan would wear. I want to avoid suits that are dated to a decade.
     
  15. MikeTT

    MikeTT New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    Assuming you need to wear a suit every day...

    Get good comfortable shoes first. I would start with black Park Ave from Allen Edmonds since they will be good for an interview and your later job. They frequently go on sale for around $225 (check Amazon and endless.com for 30% off sales). Then you can add a brown pair like the AE Strands. I just bought a pair of Walnut Strands for $159 last weekend from the AE outlet. Both pairs will go great with charcoal or navy and you can alternate them to keep the shoes in good condition. Be sure to buy 2 sets of trees and a good brush as well. There's your first $400.

    Then I'd get a bunch of shirts from TM Lewin (5 for $160 sale this week) and if you're looking for a conservative position (i.e. Wall St or law) stick to plain white and blue with barrel cuffs. While not the greatest, these will look much better than standard shirts from Macys (espscially if you can wear slim fit) and they should withstand a couple of years of heavy usage. Pick up 6 ties from thetiebar.com for $100 (stick to navy and burgundy based repp stripes) and you should be able to pick up a black and a brown belt from a local outlet or Marshalls for $20-25 each (belts should match the shoes). Don't forget dress socks and always match them to the trouser color.

    The suits are the budget killer. If you need to wear one 4-5 days a week and if you know your measurements well you can troll ebay and try to get a couple for $100+. You still need to budget $50-100 per suit for alterations to make sure they fit well. Definitely aim for navy and charcoal first, subtle pinstripes optional. If you have casual Fridays, for your next step you can pick up some slacks (medium or light gray) and a blue blazer. The blazer should be of the gold buttoned variety so it doesn't look like you took the jacket off of your suit. If you want another jacket you can get a camelhair, tweed, or cashmere one to add texture.

    That gives you a solid wardrobe for 3-5 months of your budget, depending on the suits. You may need to add an overcoat/raincoat depending where you are. Keep in mind Brooks Brothers has big sales after Christmas and around Fathers Day and try to time your purchases.


    I need a suit or blazer for interviews. In the future I may need to wear a suit everyday and it will be easier to build a wardrobe if I buy two suits now.

    I like the Allen Edmond Park Avenue. $225 is a price that is reasonable and allows me to afford a second pair of AE Strands. I like that suggestion.
     
  16. MikeTT

    MikeTT New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2010
    I'm assuming that you are working in a non-casual environment.

    You need a few suits and a sportsjacket, and some odd trousers, and at least 2 pairs of shoes. As already mentioned, if you don't rotate your shoes, they will not last long. You'll also need a week and a half worth of shirts: 2 white, 2 pale blue, 1 pale grey, and 2 patterned shirts - I suggest a tattersall for one of these.

    Navy suit, charcoal suit, and navy sportsjacket. Grey flannel pants, and a pair of grey pants with a subtle pattern - maybe something like a mini-houndstooth or a very subdues Prince-of-Wales or double windowpane.

    Brooks Brothers is a good bet, but if you trawl through this site, and at this time of year, you can find the majority of what you'll need on a site like www.yoox.com, if you know your size. Note that Yoox specialized in Italian designers, which typically fit smaller than US brands, in the same size.

    Black shoes - cap toe balmorals - www.Shopthefinest.com has some Sutor Mantellassi's under $400, which is quite the deal.
    Brown shoes - probably something like chestnut for your first go around. Maybe something with a medallion.

    More important than anything is to find a good alterations tailor. My brother spends much less than $500/month on clothes, and I'll bet that his things look better than 90% of the things I've seen here, for that reason. He is also 30, and slim, so that works in his favor, but his tailor is the real genius.

    For shirts, Cottonwork or Moderntailor are both good bets for well (or at least decent) fitting, inexpensive shirts. See our banners above.

    You'll probably want a topcoat too, heading into winter.

    I was into clothing since I was in elementary school, but even though I have suits, shirts, and ties galore, I wear jean 363/year.


    Thanks for the advice. I will go with a navy suit, charcoal suit, and navy sportsjacket. I think I can get all three at Brook Brothers on sale after Christmas. I will use the forum links for Moderntailor when buying shirts.
     
  17. Reevolving

    Reevolving Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,657
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2009
    Location:
    San Fran
    Stick to $200 suits until you know what you really want. (And you can even tell the difference)
     
  18. ALFAMALE

    ALFAMALE Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,127
    Joined:
    May 26, 2009
    Location:
    London, UK
    The blazer should be of the gold buttoned variety so it doesn't look like you took the jacket off of your suit.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Jay

    Jay Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    74
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Should my first purchase be a blazer? Will a blazer have more uses than a suit? Is a blazer too casual for interviews?
    Yes, a blazer is too casual for interviews. A suit is the only acceptable attire for an interview. It is important for a suit to fit you well (the shoulders of the jacket should hug yours, the sleeves of the jacket should show at least 1/4" of your shirt cuff, the jacket length should end where your fingers naturally curl up to when you stand up straight). Most tailors will not pick the correct sleeve length for you, so make sure to tell your tailor how much cuff you want to show.
     

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