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Interview/Business Wardrobe on a Budget

MCRemix

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Long time lurker, first time poster. I'm active duty military separating this summer and so for the first time in my adult life I have to deal with choosing clothes. Now, I've done a lot of research, I've started collecting some staples like white/blue dress shirts, quality ties, but I'm devoid of suits and only have one pair of good shoes (KC Reaction dressy loafers, I know SF hates KCR).

So here is my personal challenge, what shoes and suits do I buy in the next 30 days so I'll be ready to interview in style? Only restrictions are that I can't break $500 and I hate solid navy suits (been wearing them for 10+ yrs). Any thoughts? Oh and my field is IT, but professional IT (management). Thanks!
 

Michigan Planner

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IMO, since you don't want navy, go with a solid grey suit. And instead of the loafers, I'd recommend some basic lace-up oxford shoes which always seemed a little more interview appropriate to me.

Given your budget, you can probably find higher quality stuff for what you are looking for on the Buying/Selling forum here than at a local store and still have money left over for basic alterations.
 

Jay

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Retail: you can get a solid grey or charcoal wool suit from H&M for $250 and some lace up shoes (Cole Haan, etc.) from a discount retailer (DSW, Nordstrom Rack, Filene's Basement, etc.) for about $100.

Online: On eBay, you can probably get a nice suit (Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, etc.) for less than $200 and nice shoes (Allen Edmonds, Alden, etc.) for less than $200.

Thrift: You can probably get a suit for less than $20 and shoes for less than $15.


Jacket sleeve and trouser hem alterations will be about $50.
 

globetrotter

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Originally Posted by Jay
Retail: you can get a solid grey or charcoal wool suit from H&M for $250 and some lace up shoes (Cole Haan, etc.) from a discount retailer (DSW, Nordstrom Rack, Filene's Basement, etc.) for about $100.

Online: On eBay, you can probably get a nice suit (Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, etc.) for less than $200 and nice shoes (Allen Edmonds, Alden, etc.) for less than $200.

Thrift: You can probably get a suit for less than $20 and shoes for less than $15.


Jacket sleeve and trouser hem alterations will be about $50.


+1

get one solid suit (go with gray if you don't want navy) 2 white shirts, 2 very simple ties, one pair black lace up shoes, the best that you can afford. dark gray socks.

the single biggest mistake I see some demobilized military doing is going wild with colors and patterns right away. did it myself in the day.
 

Sazerac

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Brooks Brothers has a good price:quality ratio if you can find them on sale. They're very conservative in cut and appearance, but that's sort of the ticket with most interviews anyway.

I can't agree with the buying a suit on eBay, however. Unless you're extremely familiar with the cut of a particular suit, I wouldn't go in that direction. And if the suit is used you're really taking an enormous gamble.

The quality of suits by, say, Hugo Boss and Joseph Abboud is not great, but if you expect to wear the suit infrequently, you can find them at Nordstrom Rack from a fraction of their MSRP. They'll serve you well for a year or two until you can move up.

Whatever you decide, make sure the fit is right. An expensive but poorly fitting suit looks worse than a less expensive suit that fits you well.

And thank you for your service, sir.
 

ktrp

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I just want to stress that one suit is fine. Charcoal is safest.

You may get more than one interview for a job, wear a different shirt/tie.

They might notice by interview 4 that you only have one suit, but as someone who has done up to 4 interviews with the same candidate, wearing the same appropriate suit 4 times is okay. If the job itself requires suits, I presume they'll add more, but I don't expect someone coming from an environment where they didn't wear suits to necessarily have more than one.
 

Patek

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I'm assuming that you are coming out of the Air Force as you are tired of wearing navy. I came out of the Air Force and I hated navy for the longest time. Only recently have I started stocking my wardrobe with navy items and I actually like the color now.

That being said, charcoal or navy is the way to go. I have gone to interviews with muted pinstripes and did just fine. I like some of the slimmer BB fits, but you will be hard pressed to find something at your price range--even on sale.

Shoes should be black oxfords.

Socks to match the suit.

White shirt.

Classic tie.

My personal pet peeve: Do not wear a sports watch under your suit! Either a dress watch or no watch.

Good luck with the new job! Try to stay away from military acronyms.
 

MCRemix

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Originally Posted by ktrp
I just want to stress that one suit is fine. Charcoal is safest.

You may get more than one interview for a job, wear a different shirt/tie.

They might notice by interview 4 that you only have one suit, but as someone who has done up to 4 interviews with the same candidate, wearing the same appropriate suit 4 times is okay. If the job itself requires suits, I presume they'll add more, but I don't expect someone coming from an environment where they didn't wear suits to necessarily have more than one.


ktrp,

Thanks for saying that, I've been told that I need two suits and while I'm not against it, it crunches a $500 budget to have to purchase two suits that dont look like sacks.

Overall I expect that most of IT wouldn't require more than one suit since most dress codes are business casual at best, so I'd prefer to stick to one nicer suit than two sacks.
 

globetrotter

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Originally Posted by MCRemix
ktrp,

Thanks for saying that, I've been told that I need two suits and while I'm not against it, it crunches a $500 budget to have to purchase two suits that dont look like sacks.

Overall I expect that most of IT wouldn't require more than one suit since most dress codes are business casual at best, so I'd prefer to stick to one nicer suit than two sacks.


yes, go with one good one. nobody will care/notice if you wear the same suit to 2-3 interviews.

good luck
 

MCRemix

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Originally Posted by Patek
I'm assuming that you are coming out of the Air Force as you are tired of wearing navy. I came out of the Air Force and I hated navy for the longest time. Only recently have I started stocking my wardrobe with navy items and I actually like the color now.

That being said, charcoal or navy is the way to go. I have gone to interviews with muted pinstripes and did just fine. I like some of the slimmer BB fits, but you will be hard pressed to find something at your price range--even on sale.

Shoes should be black oxfords.

Socks to match the suit.

White shirt.

Classic tie.

My personal pet peeve: Do not wear a sports watch under your suit! Either a dress watch or no watch.

Good luck with the new job! Try to stay away from military acronyms.


Patek, you nailed it on the service. I've just worn the blue to the point that I'd still feel in uniform in a navy suit. Sort of like how I never understand the "military look" in fashion. Thanks for the watch tip!
 

MCRemix

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Originally Posted by globetrotter
the single biggest mistake I see some demobilized military doing is going wild with colors and patterns right away. did it myself in the day.

I'm pretty conservative in dress and prefer classic looks, so I don't like loud shirts/ties etc. Most of my ties are solid or diagonal stripe patterns, no crazy paisley or character/novelty ties in my collection. Is there anything wrong with a solid light blue tie for an interview?
 

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