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A Plea for Help - Wardrobe Creation

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Hi all,

Long-time reader, first-time poster. I've been planning to start my wardrobe for some time but have held off due to a number of factors.

I've done my best to use the search function, I've done a lot of reading, and I still have many questions. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

I decided to post in the general forum (vs. new member question thread) as I'd like to ask some more questions, post some pictures of what I currently have so you can critique the fit, etc. I'd also like more advice after getting started on how to continue to expand and improve my repertoire. Having another "how to build your business casual wardrobe" thread wouldn't hurt either, I think. This stuff isn't super accessible and what information there is is scattered all over (imo). If mods want to scoot me elsewhere, that's cool too.

First up, my particulars:
-My job requires a combination of business casual and occasional suit wear.
-I'm not entirely sure what the percentage will be, but I'm guessing something like 75% business casual and 25% suited.
-This percentage might get up to 50-50.
-I live in Austin, TX. It's very hot, everything is air-conditioned, and the winters are cold. It also rains a good amount.
-My budget to get started is somewhere in the area of 3k. I likely won't need a second suit for a while.
-I want to set myself up with a nice base and I'm willing to invest over a long period of time.
-I have about 3 weeks before I start working.

What I currently own:
-Dark grey suit which fits me well.
-Blue dress shirt which fits me well.
-Navy tie.
-Black AE Park Avenues.
-Brown AE Strands.
-Reddish AE Nordstrom specials I got for super cheap.
-Black Cole Haans I bought when I didn't know better, but which seem good for bad weather (rubber sole, not hideous).
-Belts to match shoes.
-Socks (partner likes to give me fun socks).

My plan (in order of relative priority):
-Add 6-8 OCBDs; 3 blue, 1 white, 2-4 other colors.
-Add 4-5 pairs of pants; mid gray, flannel and wool, navy wool, khaki wool, dark gray wool.
-Add navy odd jacket.
-Add v-neck sweater.
-Add jacket/coat (Baracuta/Mechanic/Trench/etc).
-Add umbrella, scarf(s), pocket squares.
-Add a navy suit.
-Add suit shirts.
-Add black knit tie.
-Add tweed odd jacket.

Any general advice and/or criticism will help me greatly. I also need A LOT of help regarding where to actually buy these things. I know somewhat what I want yet I have no idea where to find it. I went to Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, and Brooks Brothers yesterday and didn't find anything. The things I did find fit terribly.

I have had a lot of trouble finding OCBDs that fit me. The slimmest BB (Milano?) button-downs fit me like a tent. Baggy in the back, arm holes too big, baggy in the arms, torso too short. I like having a decent amount of extra material at the bottom of the shirt so when tucked in it doesn't look funny.

Also on the button-down front: why OCBDs vs. any other fabric button-down? Is this due to the more casual look of the fabric vs. broadcloth or something? I'm having a very hard time finding OCBDs at all, much less ones that fit me well, much less any interesting colors/patterns. After OCBD, which type of fabric button-down should I be looking for? I ordered two blue shirts from Kamakura as everyone seems to love them. Not sure how long they'll take to get here.

I've also had a lot of trouble finding pants. My suit pants are Hugo Boss and fit me well, perhaps I should just go back to that? What am I looking for in material beyond wool? BB has wool-mohair blends, what's the deal with those? How can I tell wool quality? The pants I've seen so far feel horrible compared to my suit pants - why? What type of wool am I looking for? What do I ask for in the store?

My latest thought has been find shirts and pants that are relatively close in fit and made of good material, then get them tailored. If I do get them tailored, what kind of improvement can I expect? What should I look for with an eye towards tailoring? Can they do anything about arm holes? Length (assume no)? Baggy arms/back? I don't think I have enough time to do MTM at this point (and have read mixed reviews), and I'm not sure there's a particularly great place to do bespoke around here and I likely don't have the money or time for that either.

It's really frustrating to have an idea of what I want to look like but be unable to achieve that vision. Maybe I'm budget-limited but it feels more like I'm just looking in all the wrong places. Like I'm searching for a needle in a haystack. My partner basically threw her hands up and admitted that men's clothing is more complex than she thought and she has no idea how to help me. I was hoping for her help, but now I am alone. Cold and alone, and throwing myself at the mercy of the CM forum. Help me, Obi-Wan Classicobi, you're my only hope.

I'll post some pics of my suit when I get home.

Cheers,
Tim

tl;dr:
-3 weeks
-3k budget
-Business casual
-Austin, TX
-Starting from basically zero but have shoes
-Where to shop?
-What to buy?
-HALP
 
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GBR

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Too long to read, where is the Executive Summary?
 

spectre

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There are a lot of questions here, but I'll try to give you a snapshot of what I would aim for.

Before you go all out on everything buy slowly but carefully and remember fit and fabric are the most important things. You may as well have fewer things of greater quality that will last than a lot of poorly made items.

I would look for a MTM place for suits, shirts, pants and sport coats. I'm not sure of what is available and decent in the States as I'm in Australia but you should get plenty of help.On line places these days seem pretty reliable.

To try to avoid mistakes first off it's a good idea to send them a good fitting shirt and pair of pants and explain what you would like tweaked to make them fit perfectly. Avoid department stores - the stuff is either crap or overpriced and nothing will fit properly in every part of your body. You will end up spending money on alterations and it will still look bad.

Start conservatively, stick with solids in the main to begin with.

I would add

1 Navy suit, medium lapel (no fashion skinny stuff) in an all round pure wool.

2. Navy medium weight sport coat, three patch pocket and horn or mother of pearl buttons to distinguish it from a suit jacket.

3. Mid weight tweed jacket in a subtle herringbone wool, grey or brown, whatever your preference.

4. Wool pants in light and mid grey, flat front khakis and perhaps cords for winter.

5. Don't go overboard on shirts and especially colours. Pale blue and white and blue and white stripe will be fine. Perhaps one of each in a mid spread collar and one each in button down. That pink shirt might seem like a good idea at the time but you will probably never reach for it in the mornings.

6. A navy solid tie maybe 7cm wide is essential, also solid mid grey and solid brown. Small neats and subtle stripes can come later if you like them.

7. Two sweaters, crew necks look more modern, in navy and grey. Cashmere sounds expensive but places like cashmereheartland.com are very reasonable and will give you a touch of luxury.

8. Captoe oxfords in black and dark brown, a chocolate suede loafer and maybe a pair of desert boots in brown.

9. A harrington jacket is a good idea and also peacoats are quite nice.

10. Pocket squares need careful thought and I would avoid them at this stage. They can turn a guy who looks well dressed into a guy who is trying too hard to look well dressed. They also can become a focal point, as in, 'look that guy looks nicely dreased' to 'look, that guy's wearing a pocket square.'

The idea is to fly under the radar. Be well dressed in a subtle way so people notice you look good but can't quite put their finger on exactly why.

$3000 should go close.

Good luck.
 

jonathanS

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Why don't you add some sportscoats, you could add some loafers (I'm a big fan of suede tassel loafers but that's my thing). I'm a big fan of plaid sportscoats (for summer, wool/linen & winter, some sort of cashmeres). Trench might be good but keep in mind overcoats are investment pieces.

I don't like button down shirts, but that's just my tastes, they're fine but they can't be dressed up with suits and ties.

Keep in mind, building a wardrobe is a marathon, not a sprint. Just add some sportscoats and chinos / dress pants for now & if you see something along the way, just add it.

Good luck!
 
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The idea is to fly under the radar. Be well dressed in a subtle way so people notice you look good but can't quite put their finger on exactly why.
This is my general goal. Thanks for the suggestions, I appreciate them!
 
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Why don't you add some sportscoats, you could add some loafers (I'm a big fan of suede tassel loafers but that's my thing). I'm a big fan of plaid sportscoats (for summer, wool/linen & winter, some sort of cashmeres). Trench might be good but keep in mind overcoats are investment pieces.

I don't like button down shirts, but that's just my tastes, they're fine but they can't be dressed up with suits and ties.

Keep in mind, building a wardrobe is a marathon, not a sprint. Just add some sportscoats and chinos / dress pants for now & if you see something along the way, just add it.

Good luck!
Oddly enough I'm a fan of button downs and I don't like loafers. Hah! I appreciate the comments.

I think I've been approaching this in the wrong way and lost the perspective that I really need to take my time with the investment aspect of this. My new plan is to head to local department store sales and get stuff to bridge me through the first few months, then slowly explore the online MTM/bespoke landscape.
 
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So after some reflection and a couple helpful comments, my new plan is as stated above: find something reasonable and cheap for the short term while building out with quality, nicely-fitting stuff over the next few months. Given this change I have some new questions along with some old ones.

1. Why oxford cloth vs broadcloth or anything else? Is this simply due to the more casual look of the fabric?
2. For pants I'm thinking a combination of worsted flannel, worsted wool, and summer-weight wool. Probably one, two, two, respectively, based on the climate here. Thoughts?
3. How much can a local tailor help with shirt fit? What can/can't they fix?
4. General thoughts and comments are always appreciated.
 

billythekid

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It's actually a good thread, and you've done some research on what you need to get started. have you been to Daniel Taylor store down in Dallas? It's one of the better men's stores I've seen. Too much selection, but maybe a good option. Also, Sid Mashburn has a Houston location.
Sid's store does a fantastic job of doing everything almost perfect and with a slight twist, which is a pretty good goal. An Oxford shirt you could wear With a tie, a suit jacket you could wear with a nice pair of jeans, and suit pants you could wear with a polo and loafers. He's done a few interviews that are on YouTube and One by Alton brown you can google. Interesting thoughts that you may understand.
I'd take your list and cut it in half and work up from there. Avoid the department stores.
 
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It's actually a good thread, and you've done some research on what you need to get started. have you been to Daniel Taylor store down in Dallas? It's one of the better men's stores I've seen. Too much selection, but maybe a good option. Also, Sid Mashburn has a Houston location.
Sid's store does a fantastic job of doing everything almost perfect and with a slight twist, which is a pretty good goal. An Oxford shirt you could wear With a tie, a suit jacket you could wear with a nice pair of jeans, and suit pants you could wear with a polo and loafers. He's done a few interviews that are on YouTube and One by Alton brown you can google. Interesting thoughts that you may understand.
I'd take your list and cut it in half and work up from there. Avoid the department stores.
Thanks! Your last suggestion is kind of where I am now. I'll check out the video and the stores you suggested.

I ordered some random shirts and pants from various online places today, they should be in relatively quickly so I'll post some pics and thoughts once I get everything.

ETA: I also made an appointment with the MyTailor people in Austin in a couple of weeks. Thoughts?
 
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Veremund

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3. How much can a local tailor help with shirt fit? What can/can't they fix?

A lot. With shirts, first you need to have the correct neck size. Then, make sure it fits well across your shoulders, no rolling up under your collar. Then make sure the sleeves are long enough that they ride up your arm when you bend your elbow. These three things need to be excellent / perfect.

Once those criteria are met, it doesn't matter how baggy / billowy the shirt is otherwise because any alterations tailor can slim down the torso, sleeves and armholes quite easily. Sleeves can even be shortened if need be.
 

Veremund

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My plan (in order of relative priority):
-Add 6-8 OCBDs; 3 blue, 1 white, 2-4 other colors.
-Add 4-5 pairs of pants; mid gray, flannel and wool, navy wool, khaki wool, dark gray wool.
-Add navy odd jacket.
-Add v-neck sweater.
-Add jacket/coat (Baracuta/Mechanic/Trench/etc).
-Add umbrella, scarf(s), pocket squares.
-Add a navy suit.
-Add suit shirts.
-Add black knit tie.
-Add tweed odd jacket.

This list is really good. I suggest you don't buy all the shirts at once. Buy two. Wear them. WASH them. Dry them. They'll shrink a bit naturally. Then bring them to the alterations tailor as I suggested above.

Light grey and a black V neck sweaters are wonderfully versatile. Get the thinnest merino wool ones you can find. One of each. You won't regret it!
http://www.amazon.com/Braga-V-Neck-Pullover-Sweater-Sleeves/dp/B00NA6Z5II/ref=sr_1_25?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1441028633&sr=1-25&keywords=merino+v+neck+sweater&refinements=p_n_size_browse-vebin:2343349011
 
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ter1413

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PLEASE do not rush out and buy all of that in 3 weeks.

Purchase some staples. Work around that. Then add gradually.
 

Louys

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PLEASE do not rush out and buy all of that in 3 weeks.

Purchase some staples. Work around that. Then add gradually.
This. You will regret haste. Instead buy one or two pieces at a time and wear them. Trust me, your experience will almost certainly inform your next purchases, especially with similar items. If you buy a truckload of clothes at once you forgo this process and risk a metric ton of buyers remorse.

Try browsing this thread: http://www.styleforum.net/t/312363/mistakes-you-made-when-updating-your-wardrobe
 

billythekid

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For every shirt you buy, probably try on 10. It's the only way you'll find a proper fit. Same with suits. I could try on ten of the highest recommended suits on this forum and #11 would be the fit I should buy. Find someone who understands fit as well. Not many people do. Then worry about fabrics. Also, keep notes on clothes. Maybe a list that you have in your phone. I can look back for about 3 years, find brands that fit or not, shopping lists, notes on fabrics and colors, etc that keep me focused and helps me remember my mistakes. Go to Brooks Brothers, Uniqlo, Lands End, Kamakura, J Press, and your local men's store--just to buy one OCBD.
 
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