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Finding my place on the sartorial spectrum

malligator

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Good afternoon everyone. I'm a 46yo engineer that is (once again) trying to find my style. I've moved around and changed jobs a lot and every single time I use the change to try to make myself over. And every single time it fails.

--Joined the Navy at 17 and obviously wore a uniform. Wore jeans and t-shirts off duty.

--Got out of the Navy at 23 and bought a pair of chinos and button up shirt from Nordstrom. Wore them to a minimum wage (college) job interview and never wore them again. Wore shorts, jeans, and t-shirts all through school.

--Graduated and started looking for my first engineering job. Bought Hart, Schaffner, and Marx navy blazer with gold buttons, gray dress pants, and HS&M navy suit. Wore them to interviews and never wore them again. Wore dockers pants, JC Penneys polos, and black sketchers boots. I also ballooned up to 300 lbs.

--Moved and changed jobs after 8 years at first company. Bought Men's Warehouse suit for interviews. Never wore it again. I went to Dillards and bought five pairs of the same Nautica slacks in different colors and five RL button up shirts for work. That lasted a few months. Slowly digressed back to jeans and t-shirts. Hit an early midlife crisis and rode a Harley for 9 years. Wore jeans, black t-shirts (not Harley branded, I promise :)), and boots. Grew long hair and a beard. Basically, just settled in and got in a really really comfortable rut.

--Just moved after 10 years to a new city and new company taking a bump up in position and salary. Cut my hair and beard and (re)bought HS&M navy suit, dress shirt, and black AE shell cordovan Park Aves for interviews. I'm not wearing them regularly because my office just isn't that formal, but I'm trying to build on them.

So...right now my work wardrobe is oxford shirts, a sweater, gray chinos, and a pair of dark jeans I bought from Banana Republic the night before I started my new job. I already had a pair of Clarks desert boots. I wear them like a uniform. I wear the same outfit on the same day of each week. My thinking is that at the very least no one at my new job will associate my style with jeans and t-shirts.

What I'm trying to do now is add a new piece every week or two. I do what I called "Tailored Tuesdays". I try to wear something tailored every Tuesday and add a new piece every week or two. It started by wearing my AE shell Park Aves with gray chinos and an oxford. I know. I know. Way too black and formal for the outfit, but I had to start somewhere. My thought is that as I add things Tailored Tuesday will carry over to Wednesday, Thurs, etc.

I've already added a bright navy Hickey Freeman blazer and I have Alden color 8 shell LWBs on order. My next purchase will probably be some AE Strands in dark brown while they are on sale. I'm finding that I really enjoy shopping for shoes and jackets. Pants, shirts, and accessories...not so much.

Anyway, the issue I'm dealing with is that it's easy to buy the low hanging fruit of "timeless classics that every man should own" but it's much harder to shop for unique pieces that make your style unique. The only thing I can say is that I would love my style to pay homage to my Navy service with things like peacoats, chambray shirts, boondockers (chukka boots), dungarees (jeans), and thick textured wool jackets and sweaters.

Wow...I was much more long-winded than I intended and I haven't really even asked any questions yet so...how do you buy a bunch of individual pieces and know that you're buying a wardrobe and not just a collection of disjointed stuff?




Edited to add: One big difference this time is that I got divorced since my last makeover attempt so not only have my finances improved over the years, but now they are completely under my control. I don't have to justify new clothes to anyone but me.

Also to add: I changed my ways in 2010 and started taking care of myself. I now fluctuate between 200-220 lbs. I'm still a big guy, but I'm not a big round guy.

My favorite cobbled together outfit so far.

FF2E4697-11BE-4EB1-9542-F44771F5BBB3.jpeg
 
Last edited:

Veremund

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Anyway, the issue I'm dealing with is that it's easy to buy the low hanging fruit of "timeless classics that every man should own" but it's much harder to shop for unique pieces that make your style unique.
View attachment 958477
1. Your clothes shouldn't make you unique. Your clothes should only make you look good. Worry about looking good, not different.

2. No one knows how much your clothes cost. Your clothes should make you look good, not rich.

Enjoy the process. :fonz:
 

malligator

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1. Your clothes shouldn't make you unique. Your clothes should only make you look good. Worry about looking good, not different.

2. No one knows how much your clothes cost. Your clothes should make you look good, not rich.

Enjoy the process. :fonz:
1. I would have thought striving for one's style was the whole point of this forum. Maybe "personal" works better than "unique", but still, I'm not sure how anything I said could be construed as wanting to look different.

2. I'm not sure were you're coming from with the 'rich' comment. Nowhere did I mention anything about money except that I'm now in control of my clothes budget. That was a major factor in my previous failed attempts so I figured it was pertinent information.
 

Veremund

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1. I would have thought striving for one's style was the whole point of this forum. Maybe "personal" works better than "unique", but still, I'm not sure how anything I said could be construed as wanting to look different.

2. I'm not sure were you're coming from with the 'rich' comment. Nowhere did I mention anything about money except that I'm now in control of my clothes budget. That was a major factor in my previous failed attempts so I figured it was pertinent information.
1. Unique implies different.
2. Simply meant you don’t need to spend a lot to look different.
 

malligator

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I appreciate the advice, but the implication that I want to look 'different' and 'rich' is off the mark. "Unique style" is a common concept in fashion and doesn't imply anything other than not wanting to look like I'm wearing a uniform. Having not mentioned money it's insulting to insinuate that wanting to look rich is the reason for wanting to dress better.
 

dapperguy80

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Just take it slowly, buying small pieces here and there will enable you to collect items like a fedora hat here, a nice watch there, a fine belt that matches the color of your shoes and so on. My suggestion is for you to start veering away from blacks to blues which I think you are in that direction. I think you should get a waistcoast as well.

Enjoy the high seas of this sartorial journey sailor, Bravo Zulu.
 

malligator

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Just take it slowly, buying small pieces here and there will enable you to collect items like a fedora hat here, a nice watch there, a fine belt that matches the color of your shoes and so on. My suggestion is for you to start veering away from blacks to blues which I think you are in that direction. I think you should get a waistcoast as well.

Enjoy the high seas of this sartorial journey sailor, Bravo Zulu.
A waistcoat, huh? I don’t even know what that is. Time to go learn something new. :slayer:

Thanks for the advice. Bravo Zulu, shipmate. :cheers:
 

Veremund

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I appreciate the advice, but the implication that I want to look 'different' and 'rich' is off the mark. "Unique style" is a common concept in fashion and doesn't imply anything other than not wanting to look like I'm wearing a uniform. Having not mentioned money it's insulting to insinuate that wanting to look rich is the reason for wanting to dress better.
My word, you’re easily insulted if that’s the case. o_O
 

Shawl Lapel

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malligator

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My word, you’re easily insulted if that’s the case. o_O
I don’t know if you remember being new at this or if you’ve always been a nice dresser, but there are two main reasons people fear upgrading their appearance. First is a fear of looking different and standing out in today’s casual world. The second is looking like they are putting on airs, i.e. trying to look rich or important.

Your reply insinuated I was doing both. To think that’s not insulting is pretty tone deaf.
 

malligator

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@malligator I think that pictured fit is a good start, but would benefit from a jacket with more texture to better harmonize with the jeans. A hopsack or tweed sportcoat would be perfect. You could also have subbed the blazer for the peacoat you aspire to wear and be ready for fall.

I'd start here:
http://putthison.com/post/171063665143/suggested-essentials-for-a-starting-wardrobe-so

Since you don't need more suits focus on the business casual side of things.
Thank you, @Shawl Lapel . I know it’s hard to see but that blazer does actually have some texture. I don’t know what it’s called, but if you consider smooth worsted wool to be broadcloth then that blazer is like oxford. Here’s a pic from Nordstrom site.

E2934979-DF9D-4D7D-8610-A5DE4AAD2A55.jpeg
 

Shawl Lapel

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I'd still opt for something more visually textured to pair with jeans, but that blazer is a staple piece, so it's good to have in your rotation anyway :fonz:
 

LA Guy

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Last edited:

Chouan

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Good afternoon everyone. I'm a 46yo engineer that is (once again) trying to find my style. I've moved around and changed jobs a lot and every single time I use the change to try to make myself over. And every single time it fails.

--Joined the Navy at 17 and obviously wore a uniform. Wore jeans and t-shirts off duty.

--Got out of the Navy at 23 and bought a pair of chinos and button up shirt from Nordstrom. Wore them to a minimum wage (college) job interview and never wore them again. Wore shorts, jeans, and t-shirts all through school.

--Graduated and started looking for my first engineering job. Bought Hart, Schaffner, and Marx navy blazer with gold buttons, gray dress pants, and HS&M navy suit. Wore them to interviews and never wore them again. Wore dockers pants, JC Penneys polos, and black sketchers boots. I also ballooned up to 300 lbs.

--Moved and changed jobs after 8 years at first company. Bought Men's Warehouse suit for interviews. Never wore it again. I went to Dillards and bought five pairs of the same Nautica slacks in different colors and five RL button up shirts for work. That lasted a few months. Slowly digressed back to jeans and t-shirts. Hit an early midlife crisis and rode a Harley for 9 years. Wore jeans, black t-shirts (not Harley branded, I promise :)), and boots. Grew long hair and a beard. Basically, just settled in and got in a really really comfortable rut.

--Just moved after 10 years to a new city and new company taking a bump up in position and salary. Cut my hair and beard and (re)bought HS&M navy suit, dress shirt, and black AE shell cordovan Park Aves for interviews. I'm not wearing them regularly because my office just isn't that formal, but I'm trying to build on them.

So...right now my work wardrobe is oxford shirts, a sweater, gray chinos, and a pair of dark jeans I bought from Banana Republic the night before I started my new job. I already had a pair of Clarks desert boots. I wear them like a uniform. I wear the same outfit on the same day of each week. My thinking is that at the very least no one at my new job will associate my style with jeans and t-shirts.

What I'm trying to do now is add a new piece every week or two. I do what I called "Tailored Tuesdays". I try to wear something tailored every Tuesday and add a new piece every week or two. It started by wearing my AE shell Park Aves with gray chinos and an oxford. I know. I know. Way too black and formal for the outfit, but I had to start somewhere. My thought is that as I add things Tailored Tuesday will carry over to Wednesday, Thurs, etc.

I've already added a bright navy Hickey Freeman blazer and I have Alden color 8 shell LWBs on order. My next purchase will probably be some AE Strands in dark brown while they are on sale. I'm finding that I really enjoy shopping for shoes and jackets. Pants, shirts, and accessories...not so much.

Anyway, the issue I'm dealing with is that it's easy to buy the low hanging fruit of "timeless classics that every man should own" but it's much harder to shop for unique pieces that make your style unique. The only thing I can say is that I would love my style to pay homage to my Navy service with things like peacoats, chambray shirts, boondockers (chukka boots), dungarees (jeans), and thick textured wool jackets and sweaters.

Wow...I was much more long-winded than I intended and I haven't really even asked any questions yet so...how do you buy a bunch of individual pieces and know that you're buying a wardrobe and not just a collection of disjointed stuff?




Edited to add: One big difference this time is that I got divorced since my last makeover attempt so not only have my finances improved over the years, but now they are completely under my control. I don't have to justify new clothes to anyone but me.

Also to add: I changed my ways in 2010 and started taking care of myself. I now fluctuate between 200-220 lbs. I'm still a big guy, but I'm not a big round guy.

My favorite cobbled together outfit so far.

View attachment 958477
Well, for what it is worth, that is a good start. I like the jacket and it goes with both the jeans and the boots. Not knowing where you live, and what kind of climate you endure, it is hard to suggest what to look for.
For warmer weather I would suggest a linen jacket, perhaps like the one you have in style, but in linen. Or for colder weather a jacket in tweed, check, herringbone or whatever style you prefer. You can stay with jeans, unless it is very warm then chinos work better. As has been suggested elsewhere, add gradually and build up your wardrobe over time. Ebay is a good place to begin with until you really know what you like, selling on stuff that you are not happy with.
There now, a deck ornament has given advice to an inhabitant of the greasy grotto.
 

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