Putting together a business wardrobe

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by gehrig, May 1, 2006.

  1. gehrig

    gehrig Well-Known Member

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    Hey guys, I need to put together a basic business wardrobe and am planning on picking up the four suits that seem standard: navy, navy pinstriped, charcoal, and charcoal pinstriped.

    What are my best options (I'm in nyc)? I don't know my size, so I'd like to start off at a place where I can get properly fitted. Should I be looking to go made to measure? Or ready to wear and have the store's tailor make adjustments? Responses to some earlier threads of this gist mentioned Paul Stuart and Hickey Freeman as options for a fledgling business wardrobe...are those makers I should consider? What are some others?
     


  2. tiger02

    tiger02 Militarist

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    You have more options than you can shake a stick at, so start to narrow down. How much do you want to pay? How comfortable are you talking the talk? What are your sizes, and how do off the rack suits fit you? What is your usual style--flashy, stodgy, hip...?

    Great avatar, great name by the way.
     


  3. gehrig

    gehrig Well-Known Member

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    Thanks - a great player.

    I guess the price range I'd like to stay in would be around the mid 1,000's or lower...I'd rather not exceed 2,000 for a suit, although it wouldn't hurt to know my options near that range. I have about ten grand to spend, but I need to purchase shoes, shirts, and ties as well, and I'm not necessarily looking to spend all of it. I think getting the right fit is probably pretty important for the first suit or two, since I don't really know exactly what kind of fit I need...so I suppose I'm willing to pay retail initially if it will help me get a suit or two that I can use to judge future purchases against.

    Talking the talk as in negotiating with salespeople or tailors? If so, I definitely have no confidence in my ability to do that. I don't think that I'd even be able to tell the difference between a fused jacket and a fully canvassed jacket. I'm no judge of quality, and definitely don't want to overpay for an inferior product, so ideally I'll have some idea about the quality level of a particular suit before going in to shop for it.

    I wear khakis in a 36 waist, which is a bit loose, but likely appropriate with a tucked in shirt, and a 32 inch inseam, which seems too long (although I may typically wear the pants a bit low on the waist) I'm 6'1" and around 185 lbs. I think I may have relatively short limbs for my height, and a relatively long torso...but I'm not sure.

    Although I am not sure of my jacket size, I think it is probably either a 44R or 45R. I have an old 44L Brooks Brothers suit; the jacket's shoulders seem to fit well (maybe a little bit snug), but the sleeves are about a half inch to an inch too long and the jacket is very boxy. It also hangs down below the pockets of the pants I am wearing, so it may be too long (not sure how low jackets should hang).

    I don't really have much of a style...just khakis or jeans and button down shirts or hoodies in the winter, and shorts and polos in the summer. As far as suits go, I'd definitely like something less boxy (more waist supression?) than this Brooks Brothers one I have, but other than that, I don't know much about different cuts or which cuts are or aren't appropriate for a typical business (probably law firm) setting.
     


  4. tiger02

    tiger02 Militarist

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    OK, that's a good description. What I meant by 'talking the talk' was being able to walk into a tailor and describe exactly what you want. Sounds like you would be best served going somewhere with good customer service, to begin with. All the big department stores (Bergdorf, Saks, Barney's...not Macy's) have MTM programs with reasonably knowledgeable salespeople. If you're a drop 8 (44->36) you might just want to go OTR (off the rack) and have a tailor take in the waist. American suits are usually drop 6, at most 7. A tailor will add to the overall cost of the garment but give you a much wider range of options.

    Hickey Freeman and Paul Stuart would be good options in your price/style range--other members have more knowledge than I do on specific brands. It is usually best to make small steps, style-wise. Canali and Corneliani, other forum favorites, are in your price range but present a much more severe look than you might be comfortable with, given your usual wardrobe.

    Consider CEGO for shirts. Carl is a valuable member of the board and presents possibly the best price-quality ratio in NYC. Four In Hand Ties is also local to you, and Jonathan is great help in selecting ties to fit your wardrobe. Don't skimp on shoes. Again, others will have more to say than I do, to say the least [​IMG]

    Welcome to the board!
    Tom
     


  5. MrDaniels

    MrDaniels Senior member

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    Since you are in NYC, you might as well hit Century 21, Syms and Filene's Basement. You have to do a bit of digging, but you might come up with a treasure or two. They do not have the best-trained salepeople so you will have to have some confidence as far as fit goes, and then of course follow-up with a reputable tailor. I have also had some luck at the Jersey Gardens Mall out by Newark Airport; it is a large, enclosed outlet mall that makes it easy to hit a variety of stores. The Brooks Bros. and off-Fifth shops are particularily good. What industry are you suiting up for; that can help narrow down suggestions as far as style, cut, etc.
     


  6. cpac

    cpac Senior member

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    With about $10,000 to spend on a complete business wardrobe, here's what I would do. It's weighted towards more custom clothing as I find very little that fits me well off the rack.

    4 suits, custom made at Mr. Ned, at around $850 each
    1 overcoat/topcoat at Mr. Ned, at around $1000
    12 shirts, custom made at CEGO, at around $125 each
    4 pairs of Alden shell cordovan shoes at around $500 each
    10-15 ties at average of around $50 each
    2-3 pair cufflinks at $50 each

    That totals up to a bit under $7500 with NYC sales tax, and gives you a largely custom-fit wardrobe.

    Now, if clothing tends to fit you well OTR, you may be better off going that way; this is just what I'd do in your shoes.
     


  7. Jovan

    Jovan Banned for Good

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    Cordovan is a great colour, cpac, but I feel he'd also need black and brown to alternate things a bit. Let's say black, cordovan, and lighter and darker brown shoes if going with four pairs. That way you get maximum versatility for business and business casual. You really nailed down the essential business wardrobe though for the most part, good job.

    EDIT: I just thought of this. Additionally, if you wanted to alternate your suit options a bit more, you could have one of them be a three piece and another a double breasted. Not sure if your work would frown upon these or not, but it'd give others a sense of you being diversified in your tastes. I'd say the same for shirts. Don't just buy 12 white shirts; experiment with colours, collars, cuffs, etc.
     


  8. cpac

    cpac Senior member

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    Cordovan is a great colour, cpac, but I feel he'd also need black and brown to alternate things a bit.

    I was talking about the material, not the color - that's why I wrote "shell cordovan."

    As for colors, personally I'd go with: plaint toe, or toe-cap bals in black, #8 (burgundy), and cigar (brown), and one pair of loafers in either #8 or cigar.
     


  9. The_Foxx

    The_Foxx Senior member

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    suggest you add brooks brothers to your list, see what size you wear-- might be a good brand to consider for your "workhorse" suits, and there are several deals to be found on BB suits.
     


  10. coachvu

    coachvu Senior member

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    Several nice men's stores offer starter sets for people like yourself. You should call around to see what's available (HF, Saks, Brooks). A sample package would be 3-4 suits, maybe 7 shirts, throw in some ties. Plus, I think someone mentioned a HF sample sale coming up that might be a good place to start.
     


  11. norcaltransplant

    norcaltransplant Senior member

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    Cpac,
    Shell cordovan is a great, long lasting material, but shell cordovan as your sole type of shoe? It's brutally hot in the summer and simply not as versatile as conventional calf. I like my shell cordos, but I wouldnt put them on the list until shoe number 5-6.

    EDIT: I strongly suggest spending around 500-1k every month or two, barring huge sales. Develop a taste for what you like, and make sure everything fits, before spending it all.
     


  12. coachvu

    coachvu Senior member

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    And for shoes, why not Allen-Edmonds? Everyone on here loves C&J, Alden, and up, but AE are great shoes, especially for someone just starting out. Plus, if you will be on your feet all day, the Vibram soles are great. It might be best to buy 2-3 pairs of standard AE shoes and later on buy a more adventurous model of a more expensive brand.
     


  13. designprofessor

    designprofessor Senior member

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    And for shoes, why not Allen-Edmonds? Everyone on here loves C&J, Alden, and up, but AE are great shoes, especially for someone just starting out. Plus, if you will be on your feet all day, the Vibram soles are great. It might be best to buy 2-3 pairs of standard AE shoes and later on buy a more adventurous model of a more expensive brand.


    On AE: I've got a closet full and have yet to buy retail. Try them on at their shop, then see if they have them at their shoe bank. It'll cut your price almost in half.
     


  14. DGP

    DGP Senior member

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    Now, I'm not sure of your build, so I could be wrong, but it sounds like you are buying your stuff too big. I am 6'1, 175 and wear a 31-33 waist and 40-41 jacket. And I don't like my stuff super tight, just tailored. Unless you are a lot more jacked than I am (certainly possible) I would think you'd want to go for some smaller sizes (which a tailor can help you with). I just know that even if you threw ten lbs. of fat into my stomach (yikes!) I still couldn't fill out another 3-5in in the waist.
     


  15. Mr. Checks

    Mr. Checks Senior member

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    Now, I'm not sure of your build, so I could be wrong, but it sounds like you are buying your stuff too big. I am 6'1, 175 and wear a 31-33 waist and 40-41 jacket. And I don't like my stuff super tight, just tailored. Unless you are a lot more jacked than I am (certainly possible) I would think you'd want to go for some smaller sizes (which a tailor can help you with). I just know that even if you threw ten lbs. of fat into my stomach (yikes!) I still couldn't fill out another 3-5in in the waist.

    I was about to say the same thing. I wear a 44/45 and 37 inch waist, and I'm shorter and heavier than you.
    I'd recommend you go to someplace like Brooks and get one suit, have it altered there, and live in it a bit before you buy three more.

    Your tastes will change rapidly as you get into this hobby; so what you like today you might hate in a month.
     


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