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Is it possible to look good buying cheap clothing?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Upward, Jul 16, 2013.

  1. Upward

    Upward Well-Known Member

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    Would it look bad to dress for a new job everyday wearing the following?

    5 white dress shirts from Nordstrom rack (the thin cotton Nordstrom brand that sells for $25)
    5 black chino's from Nordstrom rack (flat front cotton pants $25)

    How bad would that look?

    Is there any better option for less than $400?

    The other option is to buy

    2 white dress shirts from Brook Brothers ($98 each)
    2 wool dress pants from Nordstrom ($99 each)

    That would be $100 more than above and it would be reworn twice a week.

    What would be better for the upward professional?
     
  2. Scottyb06

    Scottyb06 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to say this, but to my eyes wearing black chinos and a white shirt everyday will make you look like a waiter :) I buy most of my clothes from the Rack, most often on clearance. I might pick up a few pairs of pants in different colors and a few white and blue OCBD shirts. Then, when money isn't as tight, spice things up a bit.
     
  3. dapperdoctor

    dapperdoctor Well-Known Member

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    You need to mix it up a little. You'd be better off with a nice variety of colors rather than the same colors (especially black and white) every day. Mix in some browns, greys, blues, patterns, etc. Have a pair of black shoes and a pair of brown shoes at the very least. Wear brown pants and a blue shirt. Have a brown belt and a black belt to go with your shoe colors. Have khaki pants, grey pants, blue pants. Wear a watch. There is a lot to do! If you are strapped for cash, hit up a consignment store, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, or even a thrift shop. You can do better than black and white.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. Balfour

    Balfour Well-Known Member

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    It's a 'uniform', and not a good one.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
  5. DC Office Hack

    DC Office Hack Well-Known Member

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    $98 each for a brooks shirt?

    You can get NWT brooks on Ebay.

    But honestly, if your budget's that tight, shop at Lands End during one of their frequent sales. Their tailored-fit shirts are ok; as are the pants. Just ok, but, well, ok.

    Also, I've read in various places, including Put This On, that if you can only have one pair of dress pants, let it be a medium grey. I'd say the same for two pants. Maybe a different grey. But no black.
     
  6. archibaldleach

    archibaldleach Well-Known Member

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    1) Get the Nordstrom Rack shirts in more than one color (assuming they have them). White, blue, maybe pink or at least a stripe. Wearing a white shirt with no jacket or tie everyday is going to look worse than wearing a $25 shirt. I try to avoid wearing white shirts in general without a jacket and tie but if you don't want to wear the same thing everyday and are looking at inexpensive shirts you may not have a ton of choice and may need a white shirt for the variety.

    2) Do not wear black chinos, or black trousers at all for that matter, during the day. I'd get a decent pair of medium grey wool trousers (maybe 2) and maybe something in tan for some variety.

    This gives you 3 pairs of pants and 5 shirts. Frankly, you can probably get okay wool trousers for under $100 so I'd look a bit harder there too. The issue is not cheap clothes in this case. The issue is badly put together combinations. Having more than one color shirt, decent quality pants and a tiny bit of variety in pants will make you look 10x better.
     
  7. GBR

    GBR Well-Known Member

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    Vary the colours at least - black and white every day will look dreadful.
     
  8. VinnyMac

    VinnyMac Well-Known Member

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    If by "cheap" you mean shxtty fits and fabrics, then no. The price tag won't make an outfit like that look any better or worse.

    If by "cheap" you mean relatively low-price, then yes. If you do a little investigating, you can find even the most high quality items at lower prices.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
  9. mp1472

    mp1472 Well-Known Member

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    +1.... or add a black tie a bicycle and the book of morman to take the look to pro levels.
    I have one pair of black pants ... they looked charcoal in the pic online and I didn't read the description ... anyway i've never worn them, I think most would agree and suggest charcoal or greys over black.
     
  10. YRR92

    YRR92 Well-Known Member

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    Bingo.

    It's impossible to be classically well-dressed wearing only white shirts and black trousers, regardless of price.
     
  11. Trompe le Monde

    Trompe le Monde Well-Known Member

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    it might be consolation to know it is also possible to look bad buying expensive clothing, something that members here regularly demonstrate
     
    1 person likes this.
  12. JLibourel

    JLibourel Well-Known Member

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    Would second all the negative comments about white shirts and black pants.

    I would also second the recommendation to get clothes from Lands End. They are generally attractive and good values, especially when they are sale priced, as they very frequently are. Some of their stuff can be found at Sears, I'm pretty sure.

    If you're a Costco member, their gabardine slacks are very good values for the money if you can live with their double pleats. I am not a great fan of their newer non-iron made-in-China dress shirts, but they would probably suffice for a young guy on a limited budget, and they're only about $19. (I loved their old made-in-Mauritius shirts.)

    You might also see what Target has. They used to have some very good bargains in casual and even dressy casual attire although I am not sure about their current inventory. My sense of them (and to a lesser extent Costco) is that they have gone to lower-quality merchandise to keep the price point down.
     
  13. Upward

    Upward Well-Known Member

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    Thanks to everyone who replied to avoid black and mix it up with gray, browns, and blues.

    Would you rather have 5 cheap cotton chino's or 2 wool pants? If it is cotton chinos, the colors they have are black, brown, tan, and olive. If it is wool, they have lots of shades of grey and brown.

    What about shirts? Would you rather have 5 of the Nordstrom Rack cheap dress shirts, or would you rather have 2 Brook Brother dress shirts? I think they only have white for the cheap shirts, but Brook Brothers has light blue and pink for full price. Nordstrom has clearance on Brook Brothers dress shirts for half off, but none are solid colors, they are either light stripes, light checkers ect. With the sale price I could probably swing 3 Brooks Brothers dress shirts, but none would be solid white or solid light blue.

    Here is an example of the BB dress shirts on sale:

    [​IMG]



    Is it worth the extra work of doing laundry three times a week to buy wool and Brooks Brothers? It would take a couple weeks before I could buy a third shirt and third wool pants.

    BTW, I have shoes, black captoes and brown wingtips. I think I am okay with shoes.
     
  14. YRR92

    YRR92 Well-Known Member

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    It depends on what you need. Two shirts is not enough. They'll wear out, and you'll be the guy with only two shirts. Subtle patterns are fine. There are places to buy shirts besides Nordstrom and BB. It doesn't make any sense to set up a choice between two expensive shirts and five cheap ones. Look at the Lands' End sale section, or wait until their staple shirts hit 30% off. That's pretty good value, though I don't like their BD collars with a tie.

    As for trousers, I'd rather have three or four pairs of khakis and one pair of wool trousers. Build that wardrobe over time as you need to.

    You don't have to buy everything at once.
     
  15. JLibourel

    JLibourel Well-Known Member

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    Do you know what other people on the job are wearing? If most or all of them wear chinos, that should answer your question about the trousers.

    I trust you are aware that you do not launder wool trousers. (If you feel I am insulting your intelligence, my stepson foolishly put some wool slacks in washing machine and ruined them only a year ago.) You dry clean them and do that as infrequently as possible. Use a pant clip to hang them up after wearing so the wrinkles come out and the creases stay sharp.

    The Brooks Brothers shirt looks fine, as will most light stripes and checks. For wear without a coat and tie, they are probably preferable to the solids.
     
  16. msulinski

    msulinski Well-Known Member

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    I agree with JLibourel re patterned shirts. A button-down collar is good too.
     
  17. coldsalmon

    coldsalmon Well-Known Member

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    You can do things well, quickly, and cheaply, but not all at the same time. You have to pick two. If you want to dress well and cheaply, you're going to have to spend a lot of time finding bargains that others have overlooked.

    That said, you can do a lot to improve your goals. Buying 5 of the same pair of pants will make it look like you only own one pair of pants. Two different pairs of pants will be much better. In answer to your question, I would go with two pairs of wool pants: two different grays or a gray and a brown.

    Whatever you buy, make sure it fits. This is the most important thing. Charles Tyrwhitt or TM Lewin have SF-approved shirts that are in your price range, but you will have to do some guesswork on the fit when ordering online.

    Finally, reconcile yourself to the fact that you will waste a certain amount of money figuring out what looks good on you and works for your professional needs. If these are your first shirts, you won't even know what a good fit looks like. You will probably buy your first round of shirts thinking that they fit perfectly, only to notice after two weeks that the fit is terrible. I thought that all of my shirts fit until my wife (accidentally) bought me a shirt that actually did fit, and I was able to see the difference.

    If you want very specific recommendations, try these:

    2 pairs of wool pants from Brooks Brothers in charcoal and light grey or British tan: $229
    http://www.brooksbrothers.com/Regent-Fit-Plain-Front-Classic-Gabardine-Trousers/188J,default,pd.html

    5 shirts from TM Lewin in various subtle patterns such as graph stripe or vertical stripe: $240
    The safest and most "professional" looking patterns will be either blue on white or white on blue. Here are 6 that I have picked out for you:
    http://www.tmlewin.com/Fully-Fitted-Blue-Navy-Check-Twill-Shirt/47670,en_US,pd.html
    http://www.tmlewin.com/Fully-Fitted-Blue-Stripe-Luxury-Twill-Shirt/47404,en_US,pd.html
    http://www.tmlewin.com/Fully-Fitted-Navy-Blue-Stripe-Twill-Shirt/47661,en_US,pd.html
    http://www.tmlewin.com/Fully-Fitted-Blue-Stripe-Poplin-Shirt/47286,en_US,pd.html
    http://www.tmlewin.com/Fully-Fitted-Blue-Stripe-Poplin-Shirt/47285,en_US,pd.html
    http://www.tmlewin.com/Fully-Fitted-Blue-Stripe-Poplin-Shirt/46763,en_US,pd.html

    Again, make sure that you select the right fit. Those examples are for a slim man.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013
  18. An Acute Style

    An Acute Style Well-Known Member

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    You can look good on the cheap. I'd recommend checking out the sales at Lands End, LL Bean, and Uniqlo. They have many different shirt and pant options for under $25. I went to the sites just now and they all have what you're looking for.
     
  19. Ianiceman

    Ianiceman Well-Known Member

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    Charles Tyrwhitt has a sale on for their shirts right now, many as low as $35 which IMO must be close to the best bang for your buck on halfway decent shirts.
     
  20. archibaldleach

    archibaldleach Well-Known Member

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    Probably even better prices if you go to the UK website and pay in Pounds.
     

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