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Full wardrobe makeover need lots of advice! :)

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by WorldTraveller, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. WorldTraveller

    WorldTraveller Active Member

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    Hi all. Been searching high and low for a good forum to post on. This one looks like best around.

    I'm a mid-level manager working in a very large, fairly conservative (not I-banking, but execs always in suits) company (Fortune 5). Recently I was told I was at a point where how I dress would be a factor with getting ahead at the company. I was surprised they were that blunt with me but I took it to heart.

    On top of that, I've lived in the US for nearly all of my life but I recently I moved to China for an international assignment, and while I've been here I've discovered tailored clothes. This is a pretty big deal for me because I've never followed fashion; nothing that anyone sold fit me when growing up, and my family was poor, so I didn't really have the option of looking my "best".

    Over the next 6 months I plan to purchase about 20 dress shirts, 5 dress pants, 10 suits, 1 tuxedo/DJ and some accessories and would very much like all input I can get! For now I'm only going with a single design/cut/"layout" (described below) of my clothes and modifying colors and patterns only. Will move on from there. Money is not really relevant to the issue; I'm in China so everything is 70% off US prices and I can't get brand-name labels even if I wanted to.

    I've scoured the internet for information and it has become my new favorite thing to read about. Unfortunately, because we're all shapes and sizes and have different audiences that we dress for, it's difficult to get the right advice. So, below I've laid out what I'm thinking for me and my situation, and appreciate any/all input into whether it seems correct for what I'm trying to achieve. Thanks!

    ----

    I'm 6'8" (2 meters) tall, and I have the build of a thinner football / thicker basketball player; I weight 275lbs but <10% of that is fat; I have maybe 0.5"-1" of fat on the thighs and spare tire (thighs are by far my problem area as you'll see below), but I have a well developed chest, legs, shoulders and arms from years of hitting the weight room. Overall I'd say tall + athletic with some extra weight. Waist is 38", inseam is 36", neck is 17-18" depending on mfg. Don't recall my chest/shoulders/arms. I wear tall everything. I try to get extra-tall, slim cut clothing if I buy off the rack (which is rarely available). Typical american full-cut looks absolutely abysmal on me. Apparently people with arms as long as me are twice as wide on average.

    In case it helps to determine where I am on the age spectrum, I'm just about to turn 35 and have some graying at the temples. Most women at first glance think I'm still in my late 20s, but once they see the gray they guess right (sadly!).


    --------------
    On to the clothes:
    --------------

    Dress shirts:
    --------------
    Medium spread collar, 3" points - Thinking 3" better for my frame than 2-2.5". Because I'm so tall, even with extra-long ties the smallest part of the tie makes the knot so I generally have skinny knots, which look bizzare with a wide spread collar. Not enough material for a full windsor (which might help the situation)

    French cuff (only)

    Waist to bottom of shirt straight (vs "wide-ass / bell-bottom") - so I can wear to the bar or otherwise untucked when necessary. I have some wide ones which look like a tent when untucked.

    White and blue base colors with varying stripes colors and patterns (black/red/yellow/etc...)


    Dress pants:
    ----------------------
    2" cuffs - struggled with this but cuffs seem to be the more traditional/conservative choice. Went with 2" because of my height

    No pleats - struggled even more with this. First, my thighs are my problem area; about 50% of my excess weight goes there and on top of that I have fairly big thigh muscles from my previous life in the gym. Pleats would actually be much more comfy. However, I have owned 2 and 3 pleat dress pants my whole life and everywhere I read, pleats are not the way to go. On the other hand I read that you have to have pleats if you have cuffs, and I work in a conservative environment. I could be convinced either way on this choice to be honest. For comparison, "Slim" jeans of any sort don't fit well at all. Also, even though I wear my jeans at my hip-bones level, I can't do low-rise; I need the extra width in the thigh that the mid- and high-rise jeans offer. The downside is saggy butt but I have no choice.


    Suits:
    ---------
    Single breasted, 3 button - I'm athletically built and I like to unbutton when I sit, so I think double-breasted is out for me. I've read 3 button is the way to go for taller men, so that's what I have chosen. Not too strongly convinced though; my existing suits are all 2 button. Tight to the hips vs "bell-bottom"

    Variety of stripes and patterns, 1-2 blue, 1-2 grey, and the rest black. Vertical stripes should be OK I would guess, even with my height; haven't really ever seen a horizontal striped suit.

    No shoulder pads - I'm already built like a football player

    Double-vent - much classier than single IMO

    Notched lapel - no real opinion on this, just seemed to be what is done

    Jetted pockets - I guess flap pockets are ok too, but why not go as formal as possible?

    Suit pants identical to the dress pants above


    Tuxedo/DJ:
    ------------
    Basing this on fewer sources but there doesn't seem to be too much debate on it.

    Jacket - single breasted, 1 button, jet pockets, silk peaked lapel. Hole and tab for bouttinire (SP)
    Waistcoat - single breasted, 4 buttons, 2 jet pockets, all silk, tab for attaching to pants. Hole for pocketwatch
    Shirt - 1/4" pleats, mother of pearl studs, French cuff, turn-down collar medium spread
    Bowtie - "real" bowtie, 3" width (given height), square ends (vs triangle)
    Pants - cut for suspenders, no cuffs, no pleats, silk seam
     
  2. Cuttingboard

    Cuttingboard Senior member

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    As far as suits are concernd, I would buy 2 navy, 1 blue, 2 charcoal, 2 grey, 1 tan or brown and 2 black.

    I prefer flat front pants also and I always keep the brace/suspender buttons just in case.
     
  3. dragon8

    dragon8 Senior member

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    What part of China are you located in?

    I'd get more colors for shirts besides the white and blue. Maybe a some pink, lavender and yellows for variety. Any reason that you want french cuffs only?
     
  4. WorldTraveller

    WorldTraveller Active Member

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    What part of China are you located in?

    I'd get more colors for shirts besides the white and blue. Maybe a some pink, lavender and yellows for variety. Any reason that you want french cuffs only?


    Shanghai. I like to think of it as Manhattan with signs that have Chinese on top and English on the bottom instead of English on the top and Spanish on the bottom [​IMG]

    My employer is pretty conservative; I plan to get some colors for more casual areas but pink and lavender, and to a lesser extent yellow, never see the light of day around my office. Blue and White. always blue and white. lol

    As far as french cuffs, I just like the way the look personally. Feels more formal to me. I don't have any blingy cuff links or anything (just silver, silver/black, and silver/blue) I just like the style.
     
  5. dragon8

    dragon8 Senior member

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    Shanghai. I like to think of it as Manhattan with signs that have Chinese on top and English on the bottom instead of English on the top and Spanish on the bottom [​IMG]

    LOL!!!

    My employer is pretty conservative; I plan to get some colors for more casual areas but pink and lavender, and to a lesser extent yellow, never see the light of day around my office. Blue and White. always blue and white. lol

    As far as french cuffs, I just like the way the look personally. Feels more formal to me. I don't have any blingy cuff links or anything (just silver, silver/black, and silver/blue) I just like the style.


    I understand the color choices and cuff links. You need to fit in. I just think cufflinks are too formal for all occassions. Any thoughts on tailors in Shanghai? What is your price range?
     
  6. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    This:
    Contradicts this


    Dressing today is more "context specific" than general/broad advice form a forum like this with such a broad spectrum of a response base.

    Find a tailor who understands fitting your body type in light of all your fit/comfort concerns who will advise you properly. You don't have to buy clothes from him but you will need someone to fine tune anything you do get and that requires a good working relationship with him.

    You already know the difficulty in finding clothes that fit your tall frame. Would only recommend a top notch tailor, especially in the part of the world you are living. Asian body types are so different than yours and I haven't seen much success from tailors there that can fit or make clothes for the tall, broad shoulder American physique. A tailor with a big American trade would be the place to go first.
    Buy basics, get the fit down first, learn the pitfalls and benefits of the process, assuming you will have your clothes made for you. It is really your only choice.
     
  7. RangerP

    RangerP Senior member

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    My advice to you would be to not be in such a rush to buy new stuff. Take it slow or you'll end up making a lot of bad purchases that you'll end up never wearing. I think a lot of people on these forums would say the same thing.

    As for the quantity, I also recommend not buying that much stuff. You can definitely get by with 4 suits and 12 shirts. From there, you can add more pieces that are either different or that you really like and you can slowly add items as you find good deals.

    Just take it slow and keep reading up on these forums to learn as much as possible.

    Buying that much stuff in 6 months is not a good plan, especially if you're just starting out.
     
  8. Nicola

    Nicola Senior member

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    Money is not really relevant to the issue; I'm in China so everything is 70% off US prices and I can't get brand-name labels even if I wanted to.
    That's not the better tailors is it? If money isn't an issue why go with the crappiest low end items. In the long run you'll likely decide to replace it anyways. Better less and better then lots and bad.
     
  9. WorldTraveller

    WorldTraveller Active Member

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    That's not the better tailors is it? If money isn't an issue why go with the crappiest low end items. In the long run you'll likely decide to replace it anyways. Better less and better then lots and bad.

    I fully understand your point but there's not really any "better" tailors here as such, at least that I'm aware of. When you can get a pretty high quality tailored shirt for $15 "better" tailors can't compete (and most wouldn't be caught dead in Shanghai where all their hard work would be copied on day 1).

    The way it works here, you bring pictures and explain the features of the clothing, then they make it and you go through an iterative process of bringing it back a bunch of times until they get it right, then you use that as a baseline for the rest of the clothing (which is why I'm looking to only have 1 "style" of clothing but vary the colors and patterns).
     
  10. WorldTraveller

    WorldTraveller Active Member

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    I prefer flat front pants also and I always keep the brace/suspender buttons just in case.

    Buttons and belt loops? Doesn't that leave an awkward/uncomfortable bulge under the belt?
     
  11. Gong Tao

    Gong Tao Senior member

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    When you can get a pretty high quality tailored shirt for $15 "better" tailors can't compete (and most wouldn't be caught dead in Shanghai where all their hard work would be copied on day 1).

    You can't get a "pretty high quality" tailored shirt for $15 in China, or anywhere else. I go to China every year and I am familiar with the clothes for sale there- they are often overpriced relative to what you could get in the US for the same money. Quality is poor.

    There are good tailors in Shanghai - WW Chan and others.

    A cheap tailor cannot copy the work of a good tailor because cheap fabric and cheap construction will never look like good fabric and good construction, even if the cheap tailor were capable of copying the cut of a better garment.

    I think you are in danger of buying a lot of clothes that make you look like a cheap rube. I suggest you take more time to learn about clothes before ordering a lot of stuff.
     
  12. WorldTraveller

    WorldTraveller Active Member

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    I think you are in danger of buying a lot of clothes that make you look like a cheap rube. I suggest you take more time to learn about clothes before ordering a lot of stuff.

    That's the beauty of it - I accept that I will make mistakes as I go, which is why I want to while it's cheap. Besides, I'm cheap anyway (bless the recession), but I dearsay my wardrobe will still vastly improve moving from OTR to MTM clothes, even if they aren't of high quality.

    You're talking about the next step after that, which I aspire to someday as well, but the strategy of "don't spend much, figure out what works best on me, then get the more expensive stuff" seems to be a helluva lot better approach then "hit up the high end tailor for a $3,000 suit when I'm not sure if I want surgeon's cuffs or not" I would think.

    ...which is why I started the thread...

    Will check out this WW Chan guy as well. Though if I'm spending $3,000 on a suit (or whatever) frankly I'd rather spend it in NYC or London next time I'm over there instead of here. Have to imagine the "best" quality of US/UK is better than the "best" quality of China.
     
  13. netovargas90

    netovargas90 Member

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    This is a stupid thread. You write a novel about what you're buying and tell us you need lots of advice but when given any advice you shut it down. It's not advice but validation you seek, and its obviously not being given to you since what you want to do does not exactly align well with the overall approach of most forum members to clothing.
     
  14. academe

    academe Senior member

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    That's the beauty of it - I accept that I will make mistakes as I go, which is why I want to while it's cheap. Besides, I'm cheap anyway (bless the recession), but I dearsay my wardrobe will still vastly improve moving from OTR to MTM clothes, even if they aren't of high quality.

    You're talking about the next step after that, which I aspire to someday as well, but the strategy of "don't spend much, figure out what works best on me, then get the more expensive stuff" seems to be a helluva lot better approach then "hit up the high end tailor for a $3,000 suit when I'm not sure if I want surgeon's cuffs or not" I would think.

    ...which is why I started the thread...

    Will check out this WW Chan guy as well. Though if I'm spending $3,000 on a suit (or whatever) frankly I'd rather spend it in NYC or London next time I'm over there instead of here. Have to imagine the "best" quality of US/UK is better than the "best" quality of China.


    I think Chan is ~USD1250 for a suit. From what I understand, their quality of manufacture is on par with many good UK/US tailors; perhaps not on par with Savile Row bespoke or top-end Italian houses, but certainly very good and well-respected. There are plenty of forum fans of Chan. Look at this thread for example:

    http://www.styleforum.net/showthread...w+us+your+chan

    They also have a nice website:

    http://www.wwchan.com/

    I think the "cheapest is best for now" mentality is a false economy... From what I understand, Chan (for example) are talented tailors, and should be able to produce some classically styled pieces that won't be disasters. If you have a good tailor, you really don't need to expend that much effort with direction & instructions. You're more likely to produce is disaster with a lower-end tailor who is just trying to please, and responding to your perhaps less than expert directions on styling, fit...
     
  15. academe

    academe Senior member

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    As far as suits are concernd, I would buy 2 navy, 1 blue, 2 charcoal, 2 grey, 1 tan or brown and 2 black. I prefer flat front pants also and I always keep the brace/suspender buttons just in case.
    OP: I don't want to derail this thread, but unless you really love black suits, I'd consider sticking to the blues and greys... Black fabrics (especially the plain-weave worsteds) look much less lively or interesting than other colours... I'll leave it at that, to prevent another forum derail!
     
  16. WorldTraveller

    WorldTraveller Active Member

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    This is a stupid thread. You write a novel about what you're buying and tell us you need lots of advice but when given any advice you shut it down. It's not advice but validation you seek, and its obviously not being given to you since what you want to do does not exactly align well with the overall approach of most forum members to clothing.

    Not so sure I view it the same way, I was kind of looking for advice on style decisions but other than a handful of very thoughtful ideas about color (thanks!) I'm getting feedback about the purchasing plan itself, which, while also helpful, isn't quite what I was after when I started the thread. I do appreciate the feedback of all types though.
     
  17. WorldTraveller

    WorldTraveller Active Member

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    I think the "cheapest is best for now" mentality is a false economy... From what I understand, Chan (for example) are talented tailors, and should be able to produce some classically styled pieces that won't be disasters. If you have a good tailor, you really don't need to expend that much effort with direction & instructions. You're more likely to produce is disaster with a lower-end tailor who is just trying to please, and responding to your perhaps less than expert directions on styling, fit...

    great food for thought. Thanks. totally agree that my directions are less than expert. lol
     
  18. NORE

    NORE Senior member

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    At 6'8" you're limited to RTW brands that stock LT or XL in suit lengths. Same for shirts. You may do well to go the MTO route if your finances permit. I would start off with 2 suits, one solid navy and one in a gray (anything but very light gray) and about 5 shirts.

    I would allot a big chunk of my budget for shoes. Also, have a look at the TM Lewin site, they offer shirts with spread collars, no chest pocket and FCs in 38" sleeve lengths.
     
  19. academe

    academe Senior member

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    great food for thought. Thanks. totally agree that my directions are less than expert. lol
    I didn't mean this as a criticism. I just think that if you find the right tailor, there's no real need to micromanage them. I suspect - with their wealth of experience - Chan would be in this category. Re: stylistic advice or input. You may want to consider single pleat as an alternative to double pleats. Will you be making up your suits with belt loops or with side adjustors? I tend to prefer my odd trousers with belt loops, but have all my suit trousers made up with side adjustors...They give your suit an overall cleaner, more stream-lined look... With regard to buttoning point, if you're happy with your 2-button suits, why not stick to that? You may also consider 3-roll-2 as an alternative. 3 button coats can also look good, but I personally prefer showing a bit more shirt, so personally tend to opt for 3-roll-2 or 1-button configurations in my commissions. Why not have a mix of jetted versus flapped pockets, to give yourself a range of formality in your suits... This decision could be made depending on fabric colour and pattern. Lastly re: fabric choice. In addition to stripes and patterns, why not consider fabrics like flannels, birdseye, pick-and-pick, or sharkskin?
     
  20. WorldTraveller

    WorldTraveller Active Member

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    Thanks again. Given some of the feedback, I went back and did a little more research before coming back here.

    I love the idea of beltless suit pants as well as single pleat and have began trying out a few pairs.

    For the pockets, I was thinking the flapped/jetted ones that convert (not sure the name off hand, but they are jetted when the flap is tucked in, but the flap can be taken out as well for a different look in the same suit).

    Looking at some more casual fabrics / color combos as well based on your advice. Great stuff.
     

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