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New Suit Question for Coming Grad.

viperboy333

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Hi Guys,

Entirely new to this forum. I'm going to be graduating soon like some of the others on this board and I'll be working in strategic consulting in SF. Was looking into renting apartments and somehow came onto this forum. In any case, I read through some of the topics for suggestions and such; people going to NY for IB looking for suits.

My question is, I'm looking to basically build some workable wardrobe. I don't know if the suggestions given to the IB guys fit in consulting. We definitely don't make as much or work those crazy hours. When I interviewed and meet some of my future coworkers, most were wearing shirts, jackets, without ties for guys. So, I'm going to guess business casual is something that I'm looking for. (Correct me if I'm wrong.)

It seems like everyone suggests quality over quantity, which I like because I like to wear those shirts and shoes that fit and look nice versus everything else.

I'm looking to buy some shirts, shoes, suits, and ties. I'm not particularly a fan of dressing up as I prefer jeans and sweaters, so I consider comfortable clothing a must. Wrinkle free and minimal ironing or dry cleaning is also something I would pay extra for.

I notice giving a price range is probably a good idea. So, I think I'm looking to spend around 1000 dollars. I know that might not seem a lot to some on the forum considering people talking about 800 dollar shoes and such, but for someone who has only bought 1 suit in my life, I think 1000 dollars is a lot. (Again, correct me if I'm way underestimating costs here).

As for my build, I"m 5'10 about 140. So, any help would be great. Also, if you happen to know great apartments in SF, that would be great too.

Thanks
 

DocHolliday

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Welcome aboard, Viper. If you don't need to buy more suits, that's one major expense out of the way, at least. The most expensive things it sounds like you'll need to buy are shoes and some sportcoats (if you don't have them already). For shoes, Allen-Edmonds makes nice ones that can be had on sale for very good prices -- often for $150 or less. AEs retail for $300, which sounds like a lot, but they'll last much, much longer than shoes that retail for $100-$200, and they'll look much better in the process. Take care of them properly and they could last you 20 years. Buy a cheapie pair, and you'll be buying another next year. AEs would be a very smart investment in the long run.

Of course, to properly care for your shoes, you'd need to avoid wearing the same pair every day. Shoes need a day to rest between wearings. So if you pick up two pairs of AEs on deep discount, that would probably leave you $700 or so for the rest of your clothes.

As far as sportcoats, a blue blazer would be very versatile. Some guys here think they're boring, but that's part of the appeal -- no one will notice how often you wear it. Camelhair is another timeless classic. Just remember, the most striking the pattern, the more memorable it is if you wear it often. (This assumes, of course, that the guys in your office were wearing sportcoats without ties, rather than suits without ties.)

If you don't want to spend a lot on your first sportcoats, that's OK. Just make sure they fit well. If you're not sure about fit, you can read up on it here. Utlimately, you may want to upgrade, but for now, you might visit any nearby discounters/outlets and see what you can find. Always good to try these things on when you're first starting out.

Beyond that, you'll just need some trousers, shirts and ties. You'll probably want at least 10 shirts, so you can have a week's worth while the rest are at the cleaner/crumpled in the dirty clothes bin/waiting to be ironed. Most folks here don't care for the no-iron numbers -- they may wrinkle less, but they nearly always still need to be touched up, and they breathe less well than pure cotton.

As far as ties, it's always good to have a few, just in case. There's no reason to pay a lot -- you'll find a nice selection at your nearest Marshalls/TJ Maxx-type stores. Some good bargains to be found at such stores in general.

Another excellent source for clothes/shoes is Sierra Trading Post, which has some great deals and an even better return policy. And there's always eBay, if you're feeling daring. EBay is actually an excellent source for shoes, presuming you can try on the same model locally to ensure a proper fit.

Hope this has been some help. Good luck with it.
 

Jared

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Originally Posted by DocHolliday
Camelhair is another timeless classic.
Can you recommend labels that actually make camelhair jackets which would be available on STP, eBay, etc. in cuts that would be appropriate for someone in their mid-20s? I see a lot of vintage cut jackets with labels that might as well be no-name.
 

DocHolliday

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Originally Posted by Jared
Can you recommend labels that actually make camelhair jackets which would be available on STP, eBay, etc. in cuts that would be appropriate for someone in their mid-20s? I see a lot of vintage cut jackets with labels that might as well be no-name.


On the somewhat affordable end of the spectrum, there's Arnold Brandt, from whom I've seen some interesting cuts lately. Then there's Brooks, which often stocks conservative versions. And I sometimes see other nice camel hair jackets on STP/eBay. But yeah, good ones can be kind of hard to find. I had to look a long time for my first one. But now I've ended up with two or three, including a quirky number from Jeff Rose that may hit the sales forum soon.

If you really have no luck, you might consider buying a cheapie with decent lapel width/buttoning stance and having the daylights tailored out of it.
 

viperboy333

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Thanks Doc.

A followup question. How would I know if they were wearing sportcoats versus suits? I'm going to guess sportcoat (not sure the exact difference, but I googled and found that suits usually match with specific pants) and the guys that I saw all had some kind of non-matching jacket/pant thing going on. Does that confirm my intuition?

Also, for sportcoat, what should I be looking for in price and quality? Any previous postings on this topic?

I looked up at Jos a Bank online and they had this
http://www.josbank.com/IWCatProductP...oduct_Id=20280

Would that do in navy? Also, I saw they had either wool or cashmere blazers. I thought wool was usually reserved for suits and cashmere incredibly hard to take care of. Should I stay away from that stuff for a working sportcoat?
 

Ludlow

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Will you be spending most of your time working at the client location or in your own office? If the former, you will be taking your dress cues from the client. If the latter, it sounds like you need a couple of sportcoats. I agree that Navy and Camel are both good choices, and wherever you buy them talk to the salesman about appropriate trousers (but don't necessarily let him sell you any). Grey wool pants go with just about any sportcoat you can imagine.

As for Jos A Bank, $199 is a good price for a real camelhair coat (in tan, or wheat in a pinch) but it might be cut a bit too large for your frame. Of course that will be your problem wherever you go, so make sure their in-house tailor has skills. Don't bother with cashmere for your blue blazer, and if you also get that at Jos A Bank make sure it is at least 50% off. Otherwise, wait a few months until the next internet sale.

And finally, all 20-something San Francisco consultants live in the Marina. Every last one of them.
 

DocHolliday

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Originally Posted by viperboy333
A followup question. How would I know if they were wearing sportcoats versus suits? I'm going to guess sportcoat (not sure the exact difference, but I googled and found that suits usually match with specific pants) and the guys that I saw all had some kind of non-matching jacket/pant thing going on. Does that confirm my intuition?

Also, for sportcoat, what should I be looking for in price and quality? Any previous postings on this topic?

I looked up at Jos a Bank online and they had this
http://www.josbank.com/IWCatProductP...oduct_Id=20280

Would that do in navy? Also, I saw they had either wool or cashmere blazers. I thought wool was usually reserved for suits and cashmere incredibly hard to take care of. Should I stay away from that stuff for a working sportcoat?


Yep, you've got it. Suits have matching trousers.

As far as quality, there are many discussions of this you can read if you do a search. I won't get into too many details here, but good jackets are well made inside and out, with guts that stitched together, while less expensive ones have guts that are glued. Good ones tend to be more comfortable to wear, are made of better fabric, and are much better constructed in general. A really good sportcoat should last many, many years -- I still wear some my grandfather bought more than a half-century ago. But the really good ones tend to be very expensive, so that leaves you with the options of trying to find a top-quality one on discount (STP, eBay, etc.) or buying a less expensive one.

While a less expensive jacket may not hold up as well as a pricier one, there's nothing wrong with being frugal when you're starting out. Just look for one that feels soft in the chest, made of cloth that feels nice to the touch. One major downside of inexpensive jackets is that they can be scratchy and uncomfortable to wear. Some feel downright stiff -- that's a bad sign. You could be wearing this jacket for many hours a day, so you want something that feels good.

The Bank jacket you found wouldn't be a bad choice, though I'm not sure I'd choose it in a navy. If you want a navy blazer, I'd consider wool. Wool is standard for both suits and sportcoats, so there's no reason to avoid it. A camelhair might make for a nice second jacket, though there are all sorts of sportcoats you can choose from. (For more on Bank -- and almost any other manufacturer you can think of -- try the search engine. It's a good guide for determining which brands are worth spending money on and which aren't.)

Whatever jacket you buy, just make sure it fits properly. A guy can look like a million bucks in an $8 thrift-shop jacket that fits well, and he can look horrible in a $3,000 coat that fits poorly. This seems obvious, I know, yet tons of guys are walking around in ill-fitting clothes.

And you may know this already, but it's worth mentioning: Whatever you get, try to dry clean it as little as possible. Dry cleaning takes a terrible toll on suits and jackets, and excessive cleaning is a good way to shorten their lifespans dramatically. You really don't need to dry clean your sportcoats unless you've spilled, gotten them grubby or plan to put them in storage.

Hope that helps.
 

archibaldleach

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Hi Viperboy,

As a recent grad myself, I have a few suggestions and things that might be worth considering.

1) I know you said that the guys in the office don't wear suits, but what do they do for important client meetings or presentations? Even in a business casual office, if you do something like consulting that involves client contact, a suit might be in order. You should at least find out. If a suit is necessary, I suggest either a solid navy or charcoal grey, depending on what looks best on you. Anything with pinstripes is just going to call attention to the fact that you only own one suit.

2) You're going to need a mininum of two pairs of shoes if you want them to last and to continue looking good. One pair has to be black because there are times when only a black shoe will do. Dark brown is probably a good choice for your other shoe. Allen Edmonds makes excellent shoes for the money and there are always a good number on Sierra Trading Post.

3) You may not working IB hours, but you're probably going to be working enough hours that you don't want to spend your spare time doing laundry. Just take the dress shirts you end up with to the cleaner after each wearing. Some here are ok with wearing a dress shirt twice without washing, but if you don't want to iron, you can't really do this.

4) Sierra Trading Post has been mentioned and I have to echo this sentiment once again. You can find some fantastic deals on trousers there.

I know you said you wanted to stay under $1,000, but I'm not sure how doable this is.

1 suit at $400
2 sportcoats at $200 each
7 dress shirts at $50 each
2 pairs of shoes at $200 each
4 pairs of trousers at $50 each
Total might run you around $1,750

These are rough estimates and I'm sure if you look hard enough, you may be able to do better, but be prepared. I know you want to avoid spending more than necessary, but you want to make sure you have enough clothes to not have to be wearing the same thing every day. I'm guessing you are graduating in May which means you'll be starting work in June or July. This would give you time to go through clearance items and take advantage of sales which could save quite a bit. Just a few thoughts. Good luck and welcome.

-ArchibaldLeach
 

viperboy333

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Thanks to everyone for the help. I definitely didn't consider this question about clothing before. I'm just starting to look into this, so again thanks for all the tips, especially from recent grads.
 

lifersfc

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As a young management consultant, I can tell you that $5k for a decent wardrobe is probably a more accurate number, depending on the firm you work for. I assume they are giving you a signing bonus, why not put it to good use?
 

viperboy333

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Well, I just have different priorities. I understand that my estimate of how much I need to spend is probably low, but then again, I don't feel that I would like to spend 5000 dollars. I would rather donate that money to an organization I care about or even do something else with it.

This isn't to say that I'm not willing to spend money, I just don't think spending 5k on a wardrobe for my signing bonus is the best use of the money.
 

millionaire75

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If you're just starting out of college, you probably don't have that much too spend. I would recommend 10 dress shirts...5 for one week, take those to the dry cleaners, wear the other 5 the next week....on saturday pick up the first 5 and repeat...consulting is probably a little less conservative than wall street (but probably not that much depending on what type of consulting)....mix up the shirts between a few whites, a few blues, a couple conservative stripes and checks....two pairs of shoes will be sufficient if you are on a budget...one black, one brown....once again, if you are on a budget, bostonian is fine...if you can afford more, go for some of the higher end shoes....you want to stay relatively conservative at first....once you get a feel for the environment at the company then you can start experimenting a bit....try not to fall into the trap of trying to be too trendy or wearing your "going out on the weekends" clothes to work....its not worth the risk....
 

viperboy333

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Thanks. This is what I was thinking of doing. I was going to go to the Blooming dales or Nostrums in SF and ask their shopper for some help. Tell them what I'm interested, and see if they can first maybe measure me and let me take a look. I"m sure I'll be shopping their in the future to maybe getting to the know the sales person.

I was also thinking about doing this at my local Jos A Bank, just to see what I like, what I'm interested, the prices, materials, and to get a measurement. Do you think it is rude to go to a place, do this and not necessarily buy anything if it is out of my price or if I don't like their stuff?

Also, if I was to take a picture of the shirts that I have bought and post it, could I get some feedback? Like is this stuff okay?
 

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