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Help Me Design My Professional Wardrobe! Fun Fun!

MetroStyles

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Okay folks! I start my job in a month, straight out of college, and I need a nice wardrobe. Here are some facts:

  • It seems that most people I saw working at the firm wore smart attire but no actual suits.
  • The better-dressed wore a nice shirt with slacks and perhaps a sweater.
  • I want to be really well dressed but not overdressed.
  • Lastly, I am looking to not spend a huge amount, and I plan on shopping in Manhattan. Which brands should I go for and what sort of combos should I be wearing?

Any tips are welcome, and I can always elucidate if there is any confusion about what I mean. Thanks!
 

MetroStyles

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Originally Posted by lawyerdad
I think the most important piece of advice is to get things that fit you well and, as necessary, have them tailored. As long as you are buying decent-quality clothes, that will make a far bigger difference in making you look professional and well put-together (as well as making you more physically comfortable throughout the workday) than picking the "right" brands.
I think many people here would suggest you start with several pairs of good shoes. There are many options, and much depends on personal taste, etc., but I'd say there's a broad consensus that Allen Edmonds will provide you with a very high value/money ration and a very appropriate look for a professional setting. Also, get at least one nice blazer or versatile sportcoat, assuming you don't buy a suit. That should allow you to "dress up" your basic wardrobe when necessary or advisable.
It probably would be helpful to know if you're going to be working in Manhattan or somewhere else. The "essentials" of a basic wardrobe are going to very widely depending on where you live - for example, if you'll be in NY you're going to need some heavier-weight stuff that you probably could dispense with, or at least buy less of, than if you're going to be in LA.


Good stuff so far. I will be based in Manhattan but will be travelling all over America and the world, so who knows at this point?

I have a really nice charcoal suit from BB that fits me pretty well. I also have a bunch of decent shirts that fit nicely.

Shoes and slacks will be a big thing for me, since I am not that good at buying either. I may also need a nice blazer/sportcoat like you said, and was thinking about C21 for that. What do you think? Of course, sweaters are a question mark too. I don't know how much I need to spend to buy something decent. I did get a bunch of Zegna V-Necks at C21 a year ago, which look great and feel soft.
 

NewYorkBuck

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Originally Posted by MetroStyles
Good stuff so far. I will be based in Manhattan but will be travelling all over America and the world, so who knows at this point?

I have a really nice charcoal suit from BB that fits me pretty well. I also have a bunch of decent shirts that fit nicely.

Shoes and slacks will be a big thing for me, since I am not that good at buying either. I may also need a nice blazer/sportcoat like you said, and was thinking about C21 for that. What do you think? Of course, sweaters are a question mark too. I don't know how much I need to spend to buy something decent. I did get a bunch of Zegna V-Necks at C21 a year ago, which look great and feel soft.


Keep in mind traveling when buying. Try to stay away from the high Super #s if you want to avoid wrinkles that always appear from plane travel.
 

MetroStyles

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Originally Posted by NewYorkBuck
Keep in mind traveling when buying. Try to stay away from the high Super #s if you want to avoid wrinkles that always appear from plane travel.

What do you think of the Brooks Brothers iron-free shirts? The few I have seem to be pretty resistant to wrinkles even after folding sloppily.
 

odoreater

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You know, I've been thinking about this. It's a little bit harder to stand out as a good dresser at a job where everyone wears slacks and a dress shirt. So, I think while you need shirts and trousers that fit well and all that, if you really want to stand out as a smart dresser, you need to go a little beyond that and look more into the details. The first detail is obviously shoes. Having several pairs of nice shoes that are polished and have a good shape in a bunch of different styles can go a long way in setting you apart. Beyond that, I think socks are also important. Don't just go with the regular black or gray socks, but experiment with socks that have different colors and patterns - even argyle patterned socks, as long as it does not look tacky.

Also, you could get a couple of sportcoats or blazers that you wear as you are walking into and out of the office, which could dress up the outfit a bit.
 

cpac

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the key will be two-fold:

1. As suggested, buy nice shoes, and keep them well-shined.

2. Buy clothes that fit OR have them tailored so that they DO fit.

Were I in your shoes, I'd think about getting pants and shirts made for me. Carl does great shirts at CEGO and for the fit/quality, you can't beat the price. I always thought the big deal with getting custom suits was the jacket - which is no small piece of work, but I was shocked at what a huge difference a custom pair of pants can make. Mr. Ned (whom I go to) or Izzy at LS Mens Clothing can get you nice custom made slacks for a good price.

Two other (more minor) suggestions:

3. Get a nice raincoat/overcoat. Nothing spoils a sharp looking outfit like a leftover parka from college. And the ladies love a nice long coat.

4. Consider wearing ties, even if not suits or jackets. I always have, and they can be a fantastic way to make whatever it is you're wearing really sharp looking (especially if you take the time to pick some really interesting ties). You might get a comment on it the first day or two that you wear them (like - why so formal?) but after that it will just become part of who you are/how you dress.
 

designprofessor

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A nice leather folio / pad folder, and a nice pen.

I know palm pilots etc. are versitile but it sometimes looks dopey for grown men to be pushing little buttons on the blackberry keypads with toothpick size pens.
Just an observation.
 

MetroStyles

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Odoreater - Great advice. Any examples of what is just the right amount of design without being too flashy? I'm thinking just a solid dark sock with thin argyle right?

Cpac - I have a problem in that I do not want to spend more than $200 on shoes. What are some great brands (Such as AE), and what kind of styles are considered sophisticated, professional, and stylish? Also, how much do these custom guys charge for their services?
For the overcoat, how much should I look to spend for something decent? As for the ties, I always wear ties and love them to death so no worries there.

designprofessor - Any tips on a nice folio? Something leather, right? Maybe that and a briefcase would take care of it. How much am I looking to spend to get something decent? Remember, I am just entering the workforce so I am not looking to spend $1000 on a briefcase or whatnot. But I do need to look sharp.

Thanks a bunch!
 

DGP

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Originally Posted by MetroStyles

designprofessor - Any tips on a nice folio? Something leather, right? Maybe that and a briefcase would take care of it. How much am I looking to spend to get something decent? Remember, I am just entering the workforce so I am not looking to spend $1000 on a briefcase or whatnot. But I do need to look sharp.

Thanks a bunch!


As to the briefcase, if you will be traveling a lot, I would say you should consider one made of balistic nylon. True, it won't look as dressy, but it will hold up really well, and can't get ruined by weather. Also, you MUST get one that has the compartment with both upper and lower zippers so it fits over the handle of a roll aboard suitcase. Very key.

As to the clothes, I personally don't like the look of a tie w/o a jacket. Reminds me too much of high school dances. My favorite semi-dress look is a slim fitting suit with a shirt and no tie, especially in the summer. I think that good shoes are a must, and now is a great time to look, as everyone is having sales. My personal faves when they go on sale are Bruno Maglis, a little less conservative than AE, but not too trendy they can't still be worn in five years. Some good flat front pants are also a must, with at least one in black, gray and tan. Probably various shades of gray are in order, and I'd say one pair in linen for the hottest days of the year.
 

MetroStyles

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So if I were to go the custom route for the basics, do you think this is a good breakdown:

5 Custom Shirts from CEGO
3 Custom Slacks from LS

What price range am I looking at? $1100?
 

cpac

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Originally Posted by MetroStyles
Cpac - I have a problem in that I do not want to spend more than $200 on shoes. What are some great brands (Such as AE), and what kind of styles are considered sophisticated, professional, and stylish? Also, how much do these custom guys charge for their services?
For the overcoat, how much should I look to spend for something decent? As for the ties, I always wear ties and love them to death so no worries there.



Shoes - I'd say you're spot on with the AE if you can find them on sale. You may also be able to find To Boot New York, which while not as high of quality (for the most part) offer good style/structure bang for the buck. Check online, and look at the sales thread to find times to get these shoes at a decent price. As for styles, AVOID rubber soles at all costs. Beyond that it's mostly personal taste. Personally I like the sleeker look - a lot of AE's whole-cuts look young and somewhat fashion forward while still being conservative enough for business. Check out these, for example:

http://www.allenedmonds.com/webapp/w...00&imageType=1

Since you'll be without suits, you can wear loafers, and personally I think these rather stylish (as an example):

http://www.allenedmonds.com/webapp/w...1&occasion=189

Mr. Ned pants I think go for about $200 or $250 - about what you'd pay for the nicer pants at Brooks Brothers. Probably about the same at LS - call either one for a quote though, I may be over-estimating the expense.

For an overcoat, I'd expext to spend $300 or $400 at a minimum for something decent. Those from Joseph Banks go on sale all the time, Nordstroms half-yearly (which may still be going on) sometimes have good ones. There's Burlington Coat factory too, which may have some good options. Get something that's all wool or wool & cashmere blend.
 

cpac

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Originally Posted by MetroStyles
So if I were to go the custom route for the basics, do you think this is a good breakdown:

5 Custom Shirts from CEGO
3 Custom Slacks from LS

What price range am I looking at? $1100?


I think that would be an excellent start.

$1100 might be a bit too little, though a lot depends on what fabrics you choose. You could probably do it for that amount if you were very careful in your choices (and made Carl/Izzy aware of the issue).
 

mensimageconsultant

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Originally Posted by MetroStyles
So if I were to go the custom route for the basics, do you think this is a good breakdown:

5 Custom Shirts from CEGO
3 Custom Slacks from LS

What price range am I looking at? $1100?


Unless you have a major problem finding off-the-rack pants that can be tailored to fit you, the advice is to do without custom slacks. If you like, you can put the money saved toward shoes. $200 (per pair, right?) doesn't sound like enough. Items in a business wardrobe should be consistent in quality. Additionally, shoes are judged more heavily than are pants and some other items.
 

MetroStyles

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So I guess I can get the shirts custom and the slacks OTR.

I am just not good at finding slacks...they always seem too baggy.

What are some good brands for around $200 per pair that I can get tailored? I suppose I can find the right waist and fit, just need to probably change the length a bit. Also, how much does altering the length by an inch usually cost for slacks? Thanks.
 

thinman

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Originally Posted by MetroStyles
So I guess I can get the shirts custom and the slacks OTR.

I am just not good at finding slacks...they always seem too baggy.

What are some good brands for around $200 per pair that I can get tailored? I suppose I can find the right waist and fit, just need to probably change the length a bit. Also, how much does altering the length by an inch usually cost for slacks? Thanks.


Quality woolen trousers that I frequently find on sale for less than $200 include Zanella and Zegna. A brand called Ballin appears regularly at Saks Off 5th for $99.99 and are decent workhorse trousers. You'll need to get them cuffed, for approximately $10 per pair, probably less.
 

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