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Full wardrobe makeover need lots of advice! :)

WorldTraveller

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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!

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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!).


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On to the clothes:
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Dress shirts:
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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:
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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:
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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:
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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
 

radicaldog

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I think the plan makes sense, but the challenge will be finding good quality stuff, especially given your height. Have you checked out any bespoke tailors in your area? Can you get to Hong Kong? Some very good European tailors travel to various Asian locations. Obviously budget is key here.

Some minor quibbles: why all shirts with French cuffs? Barrell cuffs are more understated, and I would leave the French cuffs in reserve for more formal meetings/events.

No mention of shoes? Go with something English (Church's, Tricker's, Crockett &amp; Jones etc. -- Edward Green if you can spend a bit more) and not too pointy. Start with captoe oxfords/balmorals in black and oxblood.
 

scurvyfreedman

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Go realtively slowly. Start with one suit, one pair of trousers, and four shirts from one tailor to make sure it meets your goals. Don't buy everything at once. Once you have a tailor you like and your fit dialed in, you can buy a lot more, but you don't want to get stuck with 5 suits that you aren't happy with all at once.
 

dasai

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10% bodyfat is fantastic even for a man in his prime (I'm 25 and the lowest I've ever got was 12% two years ago). I think you're probably underestimating a bit.


That said, don't rush. I'm still young and working on polishing my style on a limited budget, so in a way I'm lucky that I can't hurry things anyway. But for you, I would suggest that you get one or two things at a time, learn what works and what doesn't, and keep reading and looking at pictures for inspiration. I'm too lazy to compile a list of essential threads, but here's your one-stop shop for all formalwear-related information:
http://www.blacktieguide.com
 

NewYorkIslander

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Good advice to take your time. Great advice to go to HK if you can.

Also, you will probably want a blue blazer and maybe a sportcoat thrown in that mix.

As for the jetted pockets, I'd stay with flaps, you can always have them tucked in...much more versatile.

i also think you'll want some barrel cuff shirts as well, again, being versatile will be helpful.
 

in stitches

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Originally Posted by NewYorkRanger
Good advice to take your time. Great advice to go to HK if you can.

Also, you will probably want a blue blazer and maybe a sportcoat thrown in that mix.

As for the jetted pockets, I'd stay with flaps, you can always have them tucked in...much more versatile.

i also think you'll want some barrel cuff shirts as well, again, being versatile will be helpful.


+1, if you buy too much before you know your style you will regret it

also its funny you reposted after 16 min because you hadnt got a reply, confirms you need to slow down a bit dont rush so much

good luck
 

MMorley

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Also: stick to one tailor and go slow. I made those mistakes.
 

JLibourel

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Where are you in China? I and many other forum members can certainly recommend W.W. Chan of Kowloon and Shanghai as certainly one of the best, if not the best, tailors in all China.

Most of other advice so far has been good. I am surprised a man of your size and build has such a comparatively thin neck, sounds sort of disproportionate.
 

ahe

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Try to figure out if the shirts/cloth you get will shrink substantially in the wash and dryer. I had some shirts made from one of those cheap chinese tailors and the arms all shrunk quite a bit. I don't think washers and dryers are that common in china yet.
 

ajmanouk

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Seems like a fairly solid plan, except for the bit about 1-2 navy suits, 1-2 grey suits, and the rest black.

If you want to go conservative, get a navy suit, a charcoal suit, and then suits in varying shades of grey. Not much need to have more than one black suit (if any) for business wear IMHO.
 

The Thin Man

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You're an excellent candidate for bespoke. Hong Kong and Shanghai supposedly both have good options. You should explore bespoke ties with Sam Hober. He will help you find knots that are proportionate with your features. Why not try the old American 3X2 button, which buttons on the second button? I disagree with the advice about three buttons being better for taller men, since it accentuates your torso length. You won't find much love on Style Forum for "true" three buttons. A two-button is potentially more proportionate, while a third buttonhole add an interesting detail to your lapels. You can look at any number of threads on this forum for reasons against buying black suits. Both charcoal and navy blue are more interesting, complimentary colors. If I was getting 10 suits for a conservative environment, and I saw myself working in a temperate climate now or in the near future, I'd get five in nine-ounce fabric and five in 13-ounce fabric. I would get navy, charcoal, mid-gray, navy chalk-stripe and gray chalk-stripe in both weights. Maybe one of the gray stripes would be replaced with a subdued gray glen-check. Or you could drop the striped suits due to your height and go with varying shades of gray in different weaves (like nailhead, sharkskin, pic-and-pic). A subtle windowpane would also be good. Why all jetted pockets? A rationale for flap pockets is that you want different things to break up the expanses of fabric, due to your size. I'd go with a white, evening formalwear-style waistcoat with a dinner jacket. They're cool. And a marcella bib-front shirt rather than pleats. Otherwise, your DJ plans are on point. Anyhow, good luck. But you have to be one of the best candidates for bespoke (in China, W.W. Chan or H. Baromon have the best reputation) that's on here.
 

viator

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I would not get straight bottomed shirts - when untucked they look like a bowling shirt. Think Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men.
 

WorldTraveller

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Took most everyone's advice on the board and tried out various tailors slowly; a year later now and only have 2 suits, one from Dave and one from the fabric market. Dave's is much better of course, but also very expensive (~$1,000). I thought a long time about trying WW Chan but my coworkers talked me into Dave. WW Chan probably would have been the better choice.

Heading to Korea soon (Hahn and Segi Tailor, here I come) and will have to start over again working out the nuances, but I've started to get more stylish (or so I think - hard to tell because Asian women like western men as long as they have a job and a heartbeat). Thought I'd provide an update.

Some slight changes to my original plan; I went with 4.5cm cuffs (~1.75") because 2" seemed too large. I decided on single pleat; no pleat makes the pants look too wide at the top when standing up when I have things in my pockets. Also went with Jet / Flap "convertible" pockets and other minor things.

I still like French cuffs for all my shirting; I tend to go that way because I find barrel cuff sleeves are shorter and inevitably they shrink and the elbow rips out after a few months. I'm strongly considering trying a few barrel cuffs in Korea, simply because I finally found some weavers to make me cashmere V-necks to go over the top, and the fit sort of oddly on top of french cuff shirts.

My biggest challenge right now is fabric; I like to think I know what fabric weave a shirt is made from by looking at it, but even within, say, pique, there are a number of my shirts which wrinkle like crazy and others that stay as unwrinkled as a tshirt. Twill seems to work, as does heavy fabric in general, but I've even got some light ones that are good. Any advise there? Maybe I should make a separate post...

@radicaldog - about half way through the year I tried to get some shoes made; then I started having some foot pain. I moved away from leather soled shoes, because they always seemed to aggravate it (even some Allen Edmunds I had bought a while back), to rubber soles, which seem to help. It wounds me; I'm not sure whether I'll ever be able to wear decent shoes again. I thought about trying custom made English shoes, but not sure how I get that done unless I visit England, and I'm nervous that I'll spend a ton of money on them and my feet will start hurting so I have to go back to the payless specials...

@in stitches - it was an edit to fix typos but thanks ;)

@MMorley - wise; didn't do that with the suits but only because I didn't get around to a second $1,000 job. Will do so in the future.

@JLibourel - I was in luijazui (probably didn't spell that right) but the financial district. Yeah, I'm a bit odd in that I have narrow neck/wrists etc... I'm "delicate" as the girls say.

@ahe - yes, I learned after my first shirt to take the fabric home and wash / dry it 4 times in an electric dryer, then bring it back for them to cut and sew. No shrinkage problems whatsoever after that.

@The Thin Man - Will continue to consider your input; I tried the 3 button out anyway with Dave just to see for myself, so far I kind of like it.
 

WorldTraveller

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Charcoal grey and black chalk stripe. Really faint stripes; not sure how I like the look. I'm still not sold on stripes on a guy my size...
 

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