posted: May. 21, 2013 @ 5:12p
I used have a pretty cavaliar attitude about office dress when I first graduated and started working. Eventually, I wised up. This thread is about dressing up conservatively and appropriately for office and keeping the cost at a minimum. Hopefully, I will get a valuable tip or two from the responses.
My own contribution can only be done with men in mind. I am totally clueless about women's formal dresses and how/where to get them on the cheap. Female FWF members, please chime in.
Components of Men's dress (in the order of importance as I see it):
I need a wardrobe of about 10 good quality shirts to pull me through. People can do with a lot less, or may need a lot more. If you dress formally - you will likely need less (3 shirts X 2 Suits X 3 ties = 18 distinct outfits).
Getting the size right is very important (and often very frustrating for some people). It took me almost 1 year since I started caring about good fit to find the right sizes from the right vendors.
The Shirts I use are Brooks Brothers (off-the-shelf), Charles Tyrwhitt (off-the-shelf) and Indochino (custom). Custom obviously fits best, but costs me around $80 per shirt. BB can be had for $44 during their annual sales. Charles Tyrwhitt has a deal right now where you can get the shirts for $30/shirt. I personally think that BB material is better (more comfy, durable, looks sharper), while CT has superior tailoring.
I have never run the hard numbers, but think my net expenses have decreased from the "get random clearence shirt from Macy's" days given the durability of these shirts when properly cared for.
Some BB's will do some customization for you. The price runs to around $200/shirt. I don't want to pay that much out of my pocket. I'm working towards some cc bonuses that will net me around 200k of AMEX MR points that can be converted to $2000 BB gift cards. Once I get that - I will probably get a few of their custom shirts.
I used to buy random $30 shoes from Target most of the time, and would get a $80 pair of rockports when I wanted to splurge. Recently (1 year ago) I switched to Allen Edmonds
, and they are hands down the most comfortable pairs I've ever owned.
AE's cost approximately $350/pair initially, but can be had for ~$200/pair if you wait around for a sale. It is almost essential to have at least two pairs and preferrably three, because you should let the shoe breathe between two wears.
With good shoes, I dont anticipate my net cost to decrease (the re-sole costs $125 and is required every 2-4 years, even though the shoe itself usually lasts decades). The difference would be in comfort (once you break into it) and how sharp they will keep looking for decades with good care.
I considered upgrading to a shell cordovan (Alden or even AE) that is supposed to last the wearers lifetime - but could not conjure up sufficient fortitude to shell out > $600 for a pair of shoes and lifetime guarantee. If you want the boasting rights - it may be a good idea .
I still have a stock of the $15 generic belts found on clearence from Macy's/JCP/Target/Kohls. Once they run out, (or start looking really crappy) I will switch to "Saddleback Leather" or "Leather Goods Connection", two small leather goods makers with strong recommendataions, for belts in the $50-$90 range. Brand name belts supposedly with similar quality are way too expensive for my taste.
Never really paid much attention and wore whatever fit me and looked okay. I got them either with suit pieces or bought them at generic places.
Usually purchased on some offer (buy a shirt and a tie free).
I've tried low end stuff (Men's Warehouse, K&G, Macys etc.). The money was pretty much thrown away with these. They look aweful after one wear and are completely destroyed after one road trip. The couple of wearable suit sets I have at this point are from Jos A Bank. I plan to upgrade to a pair of Indochino custom-made suits once their travelling tailor makes his way to my town next time. Eventually, I plan to have about 3 good quality suits that should last me for a decade or more.
The better suits are full-canvassed and not "fused". Full canvassed suits usually cost > $1000 a set. My Jos-A-Bank set is still fused. The Indochino suits (that I want to upgrade to) are in between full and half canvassed (body full canvassed, hands half) and are claimed to be as durable as the full canvassed ones. They cost between $500 - $700 a set.
Hope my tips help you. And please post your tips that can hopefully help me :-D...