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Help me decide what to add to my neophyte wardrobe

ezwicky

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Hi all,

I am 62 years old, have lost 40 pounds over the last eight months and have started to care more about how I dress. I work from home and travel (jeans and t-shirts or polos) and have no need for office wear.

I'm interested in advice on what I should add in order to have a well-rounded closet considering my relative lack of opportunity to wear a suit. Also bearing in mind my age and the fact that I would hope to build a wardrobe that will be timeless yet not have me looking like a banker. Nothing against bankers, but I mean the stereotype of a staid conservative businessman. If I had to choose between English and Italian, I would say I lean towards Italian looser style.

I recently bought a nice dark-navy blazer and a linen unstructured suit. To go with the blazer I bought a pair of khaki chinos and a pair of grey linen pants. I have a pair of brown brogues and a pair of black oxfords, a pair of light-brown loafers and a pair of brown driving loafers. Also several nice t-shirts, a couple of polos, and four dress shirts from Brooks Brothers... white, light blue, and two with light patterns. And two merino wool crew-necks in black and light brown.

I'm thinking I should have one "good" all-around suit, and also a tweed or flannel suit and a nice overcoat for winter. Occasions will be symphony, opera, theater and dining out.

I like the way I look in black, so maybe a black or charcoal worsted suit for something versatile.

I have enough dress shirts, maybe too many for my purposes. I do want a couple more sweaters in merino or cashmere (grey and black), and a thick cardigan and a turtleneck.

I also don't like the way my chinos and blazer make me look... a bit on the preppy side. So maybe a couple pairs of 5-pocket pants in a nice fabric? Corduroy, linen and something else?

I realize I am all over the map here, but I basically have to be told how to dress, so I welcome any advice on what I should be looking for over the next year or so.

Thanks in advance for your time and advice,

Eric Zwicky
Richmond VA
 

Anachronist

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Hi Eric,

Never too late to have fun with some nice clothes ;-)

Whilst I personally am a bit old school in as far as I like to go to the opera or classical concerts in black tie attire, I do realize I probably am one of the last dudes still doing so these days (which I find a shame as I always felt getting dressed up was honoring the artists‘ work in proper attire). Unless you’re down that same alley, I would probably go hunting for a few nice sport coats/odd jackets and a few woolen slacks (a fine worsted or flannel) instead of a suit as these offer great possibilities for combining and, donned with a tie (and a pocket square if you feel comfortable with these) will easily put you a few notches above the average Joe at even the most formal occasions these days.
 

mensimageconsultant

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Most of that sounds okay.

The problematic part involves suiting and outerwear. Not many people look good in that amount of black. Charcoal and navy are the standard colors for dressy/evening use. Also, tweed (at least vaguely country) is not for near-formal situations such as the opera, and flannel likely would wear too hot to get adequate use in a temperate location such as Richmond.
 

ValidusLA

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Lots to digest there. A lot of that stuff comes down to personal taste but the parts I will chime in on:

1) Give chinos a chance. You have to warm up to them. I hated them for years because I grew up in private schools and was forced to wear them with crappy polos and hated them on principle. Now I quite like them after giving them a chance.

2) If you are only going to get one suit, don't make it black. Frankly, don't get a black suit. Charcoal or dark navy will fulfill all roles black will, will look better in the day light, and will go with a wider array of colors. If your plan is to stick to one suit, choosing between charcoal and navy is somewhat down to personal preference and your coloring. I started w/ charcoal, but almost always default to navy these days (if I'm in conservative suiting).

3) Playing with fabric is definitely fun. Try chambray as well.

4) Will +1 to the above, mensimageconsultant, you will likely find tweed and probably even flannel somewhat rough except in the depths of winter. I live in Los Angeles, and basically have given up on wearing those lovely fabrics - simply too hot.
 

Anachronist

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I second ValidisLA‘s recommendation and if it has to be a suit at all cost, I‘d probably go with navy as it’s the most versatile and (apologies for my rather German directness), depending on how gray your hair already is, is probably the more flattering color. I primarily recommended sport jackets (and was thinking of maybe a nice navy hopsack - I‘ll post a picture of one of mine tomorrow at daylight as an example) because, unless you visit concerts or the opera frequently, the need for a suit is very rare. Personally, I completely sign up to the dress code mensimageconsultant suggested for formal events and adhere to them myself, but being brutally honest, these rules a long broken if you look at how the majority of people dress to formal events these days. I was recently visiting a ballet at the Munich Opera (and Munich is a rather more formal city in Germany) and you even saw chaps dressed like a Burberry model or in jeans, so I still believe with a nice plain navy jacket and e.g. some dark grey slacks and a tie you’re well dressed by today’s standards and you have a more versatile garment to wear all year round. Just my five cents...
 
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Anachronist

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Here’s the promised picture. Apologies for the horrible setting. This was a quick picture in the hotel room with rolled up shirt sleeves because of the humidity this morning before rushing to a meeting. The jacket is made of a „hopsack“ woolen (see closeup) with bag pockets, double stitching on the lapels, unpadded shoulders in what is called a spalla camicia style (shirt sleeve shoulder) and only half lined, so it is clearly a „casual“ garment by formal standards. That said, it is one of my most versatile jackets that can go with or without tie, slacks, chinos or even denim. Take it in a fine worsted with patch pockets and you have a more formal version. Just as an idea...
1194929
1194930
 

ezwicky

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Thanks everybody for your help! A couple of things, and this is kind of long, so thanks in advance for your patience with my questions:

I am going to start with Anachronist's suggestion (Vielen Dank, mein Herr) to look for several odd jackets and trousers, but eventually get one nice suit for the rare occasions when I would have the opportunity to wear it. It would most likely be in charcoal, as I have a dark navy blazer already. But touching on the grey hair issue, I do have a grey beard. I'm bald on top, but like a monk, and the hair I do have is still dark brown. My dad, at 90, has the exact same pattern and coloring, so I think it's here to stay. For grey facial hair and a pale complexion, is a navy suit more flattering than a charcoal one?

As for Richmond climate vs flannel or tweed, it can get really cold at times here in winter. Cold and wet, and I hate to be cold. Most of the classical music events are in late fall through early spring and there's also Valentine's Day in February (worst month here usually) and our anniversary in November. So I am still going to consider a warm jacket and trousers, and a nice overcoat, for late fall through early spring.

On the topic of formality for classical concerts and opera, if I lived in DC and went to the Kennedy Center concerts and embassy recitals my father attends, I might think about formal wear. But Richmond is different, and a tux would be overkill here... considered even ostentatious. Now if I were lucky enough to have tickets for the Ring Cycle in Bayreuth, then that's a different matter :)

Near-term searches:

Odd jackets and trousers in a variety of fabrics and colors / patterns, to cover the range of seasons here (hot humid summers, a short period of cool fall weather, four and a half months of cold wet winter, and a short period of glorious spring weather before resuming steam and stick).

One nice overcoat. Just one for now. Black, navy or camel? Thigh or knee length?

A hat for cold weather. I have a couple of woolen flat caps. What else do you all recommend for winter weather for less-casual situations?


Longer-term: One really nice suit in charcoal or navy in a fabric that will be comfortable and versatile. In a timeless style since I want it to last the rest of my life. Remember it will not get worn much so I'm not concerned with it wearing out. Since it will be my one good suit, I am willing to spend the money on fabric and tailoring to get a suit that's flattering, stylish, comfortable and classic / timeless. There are five places here that can do made-to-measure suits, and I will take some time to visit them and see what they envision, but I welcome advice from the forum as well.

Gentlemen, thank you again for helping me. I really do appreciate the time you have taken to help me in my quest(s).

Eric
 
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mensimageconsultant

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"One nice overcoat. Just one for now. Black, navy or camel? Thigh or knee length? "

That's the part that can be answered definitively. Navy. (Camel is more daytime and less formal and therefore of less utility under the circumstances.) Ideal length depends on body type. A shorter man generally should pick the shorter length.
 

ezwicky

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"One nice overcoat. Just one for now. Black, navy or camel? Thigh or knee length? "

That's the part that can be answered definitively. Navy. (Camel is more daytime and less formal and therefore of less utility under the circumstances.) Ideal length depends on body type. A shorter man generally should pick the shorter length.
Thanks. Last question on topcoat: Single or double-breated?
 

paxonus

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If you are adding odd jackets, my suggestion would be a gun club check. Very versatile, and the lighter color pairs nicely with dark trousers

1561140067931.png
 

ezwicky

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I bought this earlier today:


Sort-of close, but not the same. I do like that Gun Club check though. Thanks for the idea.
 
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paxonus

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I bought this earlier today:


Sort-of close, but not the same. I do like that Gun Club check though. Thanks for the idea.
Since it is made up of several colors, it is easy to pair well with a solid color trouser in any one of the colors in the jacket.
 

mensimageconsultant

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Thanks. Last question on topcoat: Single or double-breated?
If you insist on wearing a weighty suit, then a double-breasted coat over it probably would be overkill in warmth.
 
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Anachronist

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I like that gunclub check as well, that was a good recommendation from paxonus, just like mensimageconsultant's advice on the navy overcoat. Nice ones in a double brested cut are difficult to find these days, so I'd recommend not to tie yourself down to a specific style just yet and see what you can find
 

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