Author Topic: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?  (Read 9292 times)

lsalinas

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Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« on: October 10, 2013, 11:37:35 AM »
I need to buy suits for work.  I want to save money but I also want to look nice and I was hoping for some tips.  I tried upscale consignment stores with brand names, but the sizes were way to small for me (on a recent trip I discovered there is a size double zero for when size zero is just too big!)

My hair is natural, I keep my nails unpolished and short, usually wear business casual, and I don't have jewelry.  So in general I look less "put together" than the other women in my office who have salon styled hair, manicures, and bling.  I am a finance manager at an international company and as my career is advancing I find myself in contact with global executives almost everyday now. 

Nobody has said ever said anything to me but I am feeling more and more out of place with my "unpolished" look.  Even my administrative assistant wears suits to work everyday!  So my plan was to have 10 suits and 5 nice dresses.  That way I can go through my work clothes rotation every 3 weeks. 

Does 15 outfits sound like enough? Too much?  I currently only have 5 suits and 2 nice dresses so I have a lot of suit buying I need to do and any advice would be appreciated! 
« Last Edit: October 10, 2013, 12:20:02 PM by lsalinas »

epowers

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work suits?
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2013, 12:58:07 PM »
Five well-fitting, tailored suits should be plenty.  That's a different suit for every day of the week.  If I were you, I would just get a few extra blouses, a few necklaces, and maybe a couple more dresses.  You can wear the same suit several times in a week if you wear a different blouse every day.  Start mixing and matching jewelry with it and that makes even more outfits.  Don't forget you can wear your dresses with or without a jacket too, for different looks.  So, if I had to wear a suit everyday I would have a month's rotation with:
1 black pants suit
1 gray, navy, or brown pants suit
1 black skirt suit
1 gray, navy, or brown skirt suit
1 pastel or white suit
1 black dress
2 dresses in different solid colors (or colorblocked)
1 print dress
3 or 4 blouses in different solid colors
3 or 4 blouses of different patterns
3 or 4 shells of different solid colors

The key is that everything fits well.  You will always look more put together if your clothes fit.  Find someone you know that can help you tailor your clothes if they don't fit right off the rack.  Also, make sure you have some variety.  Obviously, if you currently have 5 black pants suits, you could probably get a couple new suits that add a little variety to your wardrobe.  Even if you just buy one nice necklace (not a "statement necklace"!) you can wear it everyday to feel more put-together.

Hadilly

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2013, 01:02:10 PM »
Hi lsalinas,

I would strongly suggest that you read the blog theviviennefiles before buying anything. Check out the archives.

The woman who writes it is a genius at combining clothing in beautiful and economical ways.

Assuming that your suits are neutrals, I'm guessing that rather than buying new suits, you probably need accessories to switch up your look everyday. That means focusing on scarves, blouses, shoes.

oldtoyota

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2013, 01:31:39 PM »
Look up project 333 for module wardrobe ideas. Good luck!

Osprey

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2013, 03:10:58 PM »
Seconded re: theviviennefiles and 333!
Would you feel comfortable wearing the same thing (or variations on a theme) every day? Because that could cut down costs a whole lot. e.g. 3 suits; 5+ blouses; one bag; two pairs of shoes. (I do exactly this and am very happy with the results. You could add scarves and jewellery.)

Sorry I don't have experience with US stores so can't help with brands, but what I can say is that pants silhouette and blazer details (length, lapels, etc) can easily date a person, so you may not even need to buy new clothes if you can get away with adapting the existing ones at a tailor.

It sounds like you are conscious of not being "polished." An easy workaround for nails is to just buff them. And I absolutely hate myself for saying this on MMM but makeup and haircuts make a huge difference to how polished someone looks. I would stay away from the rabbit hole of dyeing but a cut might help. Wrt makeup, maybe just to concentrate on skin (concealer/illuminator) and eyebrows (shape them or fill them in)?

You sound like the kind of capable woman that I'd want to emulate. If you want to look more polished for your own sake that's cool but it seems like people at your work respect and admire you a lot already. Best of luck!

lsalinas

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2013, 04:49:45 PM »
Thank you all for the ideas.  I will start my research on theviviennefiles, Talbots and project 333 right away after work!  I am notoriously bad at accessorizing, so I think I might need to enlist help from my friends.  However buying more accessories and blouses and maybe an extra dress sounds a lot more economical than buying 5 more suits. 

I am a little self conscious about my looks!  Its gotten worse since re-locating to Los Angeles.  And somebody recently gave me "props" because I was "rockin' the mad scientist look."  I definitely wasn't going for a mad scientist look, so that was not a good day! :)

chasesfish

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2013, 05:12:25 PM »
Thank you all for the ideas.  I will start my research on theviviennefiles, Talbots and project 333 right away after work!  I am notoriously bad at accessorizing, so I think I might need to enlist help from my friends.  However buying more accessories and blouses and maybe an extra dress sounds a lot more economical than buying 5 more suits. 

I am a little self conscious about my looks!  Its gotten worse since re-locating to Los Angeles.  And somebody recently gave me "props" because I was "rockin' the mad scientist look."  I definitely wasn't going for a mad scientist look, so that was not a good day! :)

This is one of the areas where females do have it a little better.  I have to buy suits to wear every day and it's expensive.  I focus on total lifetime cost, buying well priced, but quality stuff goes longer and costs less per wear.  Are you a costco member?  They seem to have really well prices blouses/shirts for women.

MKinVA

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2013, 05:51:08 PM »
Buy good basic pieces that all work together. Accessorize with costume jewelry, scarves, sweaters worn around the shoulders, etc. Can you wear the skirts/pants with all the jackets? That way you can even mix up the suits. The one black dress? make sure it works as a jumper for dress down days. I once bet a friend at work that I could wear my black jumper dress every day in one week and she wouldn't know. 1. the jumper alone with scarf; 2. the jumper with a blouse under it; 3. the jumper with a sweater over it; 4. the jumper under a suit jacket; 5. the jumper under a different suit jacket. Absolutely the most versatile piece in any girl's wardrobe. And when I say jumper dress, I don't mean frumpy. Just roomy enough to wear a blouse under it.

About 5 years before she retired, a friend of mine was so sick of worrying about what to wear to work and not wanting to bust the budget worked her work wardrobe into one black suit, one medium blue suit, one plum suit and one light taupe suit. Each had a straight skirt and slacks. The jackets were two different cuts. Each piece worked with the other. She only bought blouses/tops that matched all of the suits. she worked this look for five years and looked fabulous everyday. She was the big boss' secretary so she had to look polished every day.

Go through you existing wardrobe and cull anything that doesn't work with most of your outfits. And anything new must work with everything else.

galliver

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2013, 06:06:13 PM »
I've been people-watching lately and I've noticed that the ones that register as "pretty" aren't always thin, or dressed up, or particularly flawless...but they have their hair cut and styled nicely, their clothes fit and match, and they're usually wearing a tasteful piece of jewelry. I'm still working on my own style/wardrobe, but that's an observation I had.

Also, this kind of depends on your hair, but if it's at all 'difficult' (given to frizz or sticking out at funny angles), a good stylist is a treasure. And I don't mean a $200/cut stylist. Mine is $30/cut including tip, but she does a fantastic job and gets me out in 20 minutes and teaches me how to do things like curl my hair with a flat-iron. And doesn't try to sell me the whole salon, like some pricier ones have. So, shop around!

StarryC

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2013, 06:12:44 PM »
When you buy suits, buy all the pieces you might wear: Jacket, skirt, dress, pants.  If you have 5 such suits that is plenty.  I'd say 2 dark grey, 2 blue, one black if you need black.  If you work in a less formal environment or warmer weather city maybe replace the black and one grey with a tan and light grey.  I find bottoms like the skirt and pants wear out faster than jackets, so this way you won't wear out your skirt/pants as fast since they get worn 1/3 as often. 

Then, I'd add at least 2 more bottoms and at least 2 blazers in tweed, a solid color, or a pattern.  Make sure the jackets match at least two bottoms.  For me, these are jackets that don't reveal much of the shirt underneath, and all go with black.   

Then, I think you need at least 6 tops per season.  I think these should all be tops that you are comfortable wearing without the jacket, and a few extras that might be just under a jacket.  For me, this is 6 warm sweaters (winter), 6 light sweaters (fall and spring), 6 short sleeve blouses (late spring, summer, and fall), and 3 dressy t-shirts. My preference is that every top go with every suit, but if it goes with just 2 suits that would work too.  And, if you have the suit dresses, remember that they are also tops.  In LA, you might go with 8 average day shirts, 6 hot day shirts, and 4 "cold" day shirts.  Mine are all solid, but I think one of each heavily patterned would be fine, and maybe or 3 with a smaller or more subtle pattern. 

Why 6 instead of 5 and why blazers that aren't part of a "suit"?  The jackets are memorable compared to the suit so you wear one or 2 a week and don't repeat the next week.  You don't want to wear the same thing every Monday etc.  With 6 tops plus at least 1 jacket a week you won't fall into that.   So: Monday- Suit 1, top 1, Tuesday Jacket, Wednesday Suit 2 with skirt, top 2, Thursday Suit 3, Top 3, Friday, Suit 4 top 4, Monday Suit 5, top 5,  Tuesday Suit 1 with dress, Wednesday, Jacket #2, Thursday Suit 2 with pants, top 1, Friday Suit 3, top 2 with alternate bottom and onward.   

I'm a fan of Talbots for quality plus size suits, and also Jones New York, whose suits are washable!  Both have pretty good sales here and there.  I also have several Nordstrom suits from the house brand that I found on the clearance rack.  I search Talbots, overstock, and 6pm for the blazers at reduced prices, and sometimes get lucky at Macy's or weirdly, Coldwater Creek.  Black pants can be from wherever. 

I don't really accessorize, because I hate feeling jewelry on my body.  You won't be the office fashionista, but you'll look fine. 

Dicey

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2013, 06:51:41 PM »
It's great that you are aware of the differences and are trying to bridge the gap sensibly. One of my regrets as I look back (I retired in Dec. 2103) was the amount of money I spent on a work wardrobe over the years.
Perfect grooming makes up for a plethora of clothing. Focus on the fit, cleanliness and style of your clothing. Make sure you are spotless from head to toe, especially your shoes! Try the websites suggested. Also, try to find a consignment store that specializes in petite sizes. If possible, cultivate friends who wear your size. I am tall, so I can relate, albeit from a different altitude. I told all my tall friends that I would help them clean their closets in exchange for their hand-me-downs. I kept what I could use and passed on the rest. I only had to do this a couple of times to amass a very large wardrobe for almost no money. Wish I'd thought to do this when I was just starting out. Good luck to you!

lsalinas

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2013, 08:07:50 PM »
Thank you all for your suggestions!  I wasn't even sure anybody would respond to my post :)

Chasesfish - I don't have a Costco membership, but I think my sister does.  I've never been there but I will definitely check it out. 

StarryC - Washable suits at Jones New York?  That sounds phenomenal!  When I was typing up my original post I was just thinking about how big my dry cleaning bill was going to be if I had a total suit wardrobe.

StarryC

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2013, 08:21:19 PM »
Yes, though I wouldn't advise drying.  Also, "invest" in a clothing steamer for under $50.  You mostly don't need to dry clean jackets.  I steam mine every few wears and then dry clean a few times a year.  That's also the reason I only wear things with sleeves- no armpit contact with the jacket.  Silk and wool tops can also be thrown in the dryer with a washcloth soaked with water and an essential oil to quickly steam them (like Dryel, but free).  I do have to wash my pants unlined trousers because they seem to stretch out a lot and wrinkle while wearing. 

HappierAtHome

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2013, 11:23:14 PM »
I'm on the same journey with wanting to look more professional in the workplace :-) like it or not, fitting in is very important at work.

For me, learning what styles I enjoyed wearing and felt "pretty" in was a big part of it. I feel like a kid dressed up in someone else's clothes when I wear suits, but attractive dresses are very acceptable in my office and much easier to pull off as a complete "look" with a belt, cardigan and some tasteful jewellery. Heels are never going to happen so I focus on neat, clean black flats which go with everything. A leather handbag (cheaper than buying faux-leather and replacing on a regular basis) and some modest jewellery and I'm good to go. Freshwater pearls, if you like them, can be bought very cheaply and add that special something.

Ask people who you trust (and who have good taste!) what colours and styles they think look good on you and which don't. This is how I learnt to dress in a way that is far more flattering for me. It might surprise you what tips they give that really help you to look your best. The colours I thought flatter me really, really don't, and vice versa.

Personally, I'd never bothered to figure this stuff out because boys like me, so I must look okay! (Turns out most boys aren't as picky about who they'll hit on as girls in the workplace are about who they accept). I learnt the hard way that you need to fit in with the other girls at work. I still don't try too hard, but I put in just enough effort to be in the normal range instead of an outlier, which is all you need.

Rural

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2013, 02:15:58 PM »
I'm lucky in that I can do business casual (and could do nice jeans if I wanted to push things), but prefer not to, and I've found that once you have a base, you can generally maintain even a suit wardrobe if you have a couple of hours every month or so to spend at thrift stores. You don't have to get lucky every trip, just every three or four, and that generally happens. It won't work for building a wardrobe fast, but it can work once you have one.

cats

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #15 on: October 11, 2013, 03:04:07 PM »
I have been dealing with a similar issue--I just finished grad school and started my first "real job", with a dress code, a year ago.  For about my last three years of grad school especially, I bought almost NO new clothes, except for things like socks/underwear, and an interview suit.  I don't have to wear suits for my current job, but many of the women my age come into the office looking like fashion plates and even the more "normal" ones still look less schlubby than I feel.  A lot of stuff that has helped for me has been mentioned here already: pay a lot of attention to grooming (I stepped up my makeup a bit and have started using some product on my hair more regularly to make it less flyaway/frizzy), keeping things well maintained (I wear sneakers to walk to/from work and only change into my dress shoes once I'm inside, keeping them from getting scuffed), and accessorizing more (I don't have a huge jewelry collection, but I'm wearing what I do have a lot more.  I also have a few scarves that get regular use).

I also have been pretty diligent about purging the more ratty/worn items from my wardrobe, I find it's easier to put good outfits together with LESS clothing, because there are fewer decisions to make and you can see what's really available more readily.

I also started keeping a list of items I want/need to add to my wardrobe, and I try to make the list as specific as possible, so that when I go shopping I know EXACTLY what I am looking for.  This makes thrift and consignment stores especially much easier to navigate, though it's good in regular stores too.  If you are looking at an item and you aren't 100% sure about it, put it back!  Evaluate everything with regards to how it works with what you already own.  My personal rule is if I can't include it in at least 3 different outfits, I'm not buying it.  You could have a similar principle: a blouse must work with at least 2 suits, a piece of jewelry must go with everything, etc.  Try to avoid anything that is super trendy and work more on figuring out what suits your style and personality.

In your case, I agree that 10 suits sounds like a lot.  I would say 3-5, then get some different blouses/tops to wear underneath and vary them more with some accessories.

Also, I wouldn't completely abandon thrift/consignment stores.  I have gotten most of my nicer work clothes second hand, but I would say at least half of the time I go shopping, I wind up buying nothing.  If I do buy something, it's usually only after trying on 20 other pieces of clothing that turned out to be not so great.  I won't buy something if it isn't on my list, no matter how nice it looks, because the few times I've broken that rule, I've regretted the purchase!

frugaldrummer

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2013, 05:05:22 PM »
Definitely hit the thrift stores - my boyfriend is a genius at finding clothes at the Goodwill, he has two pairs of dress slacks that sell for $350 new, they are in perfect condition and he looks great in them!

TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshall's - you can find great deals in these places.  It sounds to me like the real issue is your lack of fashion sense, so find a friend whose style you admire, and ask her (or him!) to help you put together a flexible wardrobe.  I have very nice-looking business slacks that cost me $20-25 each at these discount stores, they're washable and last forever.

Fit is king - it doesn't matter how great a piece is, if it doesn't fit you right it will look crappy.  Watch some episodes of "What Not To Wear" - it will get you thinking about what looks best on your figure type.  I have figure flaws (big butt and thighs) but can look very proportionate IF I make the right choices in clothing shape and drape.

Get a few cheap pieces of jewelry and some scarves; a little bit of accessorizing can go a long long way. 

As for your hair - a neat bun or updo can be very professional and chic, you don't necessarily need to spend a lot of money on haircuts and coloring if you can learn to do you hair well in one of these styles.  Again, find a friend who does this for her hair and ask her to teach you.

Buy washable clothes as much as possible - dry cleaning costs a fortune over time.

lsalinas

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2013, 06:48:44 PM »
I am still really excited about fixing up my wardrobe while saving money, but I have already hit a stumbling block.  I can't get my fashionable friends to help me!  They seem to think that their fashion sense doesn't extend into the realm of business professional. 

My sister suggested I hire an image stylist and everybody loved the idea.  Its funny that frugaldrummer mentioned What Not to Wear because when I told my friends I wasn't going to pay $500 for 3 hours of an image stylist they decided that meant I would need to get a free makeover on a reality show.   So now my friends are on the internet looking at applications to make-over shows and running through their show biz contacts to see if they can leverage their network to get me on a show.  *sigh* 

I think will throw a dinner party and try to get them to look through my closet while I am cooking. 

And my hair is a whole different story.  I have spent so much money on trying to get my hair to look nice.   I have purchased so many products and paid for so many haircuts and nothing works.  Or something works for a few months but then my hair is so damaged that it is worse that it was before.  So I'm going to tackle the clothes first because I think that is going to be a quicker win than the hair is going to be. 

cats

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2013, 06:55:07 PM »
Just out of curiosity, what kind of hair texture/type do you have?  Curly, straight, something in between?  Thin or thick?  I'm sure someone on here has something similar, you may be able to get some new ideas?

lsalinas

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2013, 07:30:00 PM »
My hair is really really dry and so really prone to look frizzy and damaged.  I put all kinds of oils, lotions and potions in my hair, but it will still look dry by mid-day. 

The hair in front is curly and as you move from the front of my head to the back it goes to wavy and then straight.  So for example if I cut my hair all one length the front curls up while the back stays straight, so I have a mullet without even trying.  So I get the back cut a few inches shorter than the front.

My hair is also voluminous and it tends to grow straight up.  At the salon they always thin out my hair, but that doesn't really help it from not sticking out of my head funny. 

And that said my hair never behaves the same two days in a row.  I can do the exact same hair routine and get two really different results. 

My favorite way to do my hair is to take a wide headband or head scarf to pull all the hair back and then tie it in a pony tail.  However, its not so professional looking.  When I was in school I used to wear hats and kerchiefs, but that's really not going to work in my office. 

Freckles

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #20 on: October 11, 2013, 07:53:18 PM »
Quote from: lsalinas link=topic=9602.msg150733#msg150733 date=1381445385

I am a little self conscious about my looks!  Its gotten worse since re-locating to Los Angeles.  And somebody recently gave me "props" because I was "rockin' the mad scientist look."  I definitely wasn't going for a mad scientist look, so that was not a good day! :)

Oh, ho ho!  No wonder you're feeling self conscious!  I lived in LA for sixteen years and that place is like no other for making you feel like a sloppy bum.  People are dressed to the nines all.the.time.  And the city is filled with actresses and models and musicians (who have to be hot in order to be successful if they're women musicians).  I couldn't believe what people wore outside of the house when I moved up here to Portland, Oregon.  I still sort of laugh about seven years later.  Sometimes I'll say to my husband when we're about to go out, "Do I look all right?" and he laughs and says, "Are you kidding?  This is Portland.  You look fantastic!"  :)

I don't have much advice for you in addition to what you've already received as I'm an elementary school teacher so I'm not wearing business suits to work, but I just wanted to give you a little empathy for your situation!  And to tell you that I don't think it would be un-Mustachian of you to spend a little money on the looking fancy at work plan since it really is pretty much required for your career when you work in that most un-Mustachian city of cities.  I loved my time in LA but I admit I don't really miss the pressure of looking sharp all the time.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 07:55:49 PM by Freckles »

lsalinas

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #21 on: October 11, 2013, 08:56:53 PM »
Thanks for the moral support Freckles! :)  Yeah, I am just trying not to look too out of place at work but I don't think I'll ever have the knack to look as sharp as the rest of the women in the office.

I love living here too but I don't think I can live here for the rest of my life.  Especially if I want to retire early! 

Hadilly

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #22 on: October 12, 2013, 05:29:47 AM »
Well, it might be worth it to spend money on keratin straightening treatments for your hair. They last for months. They make any type of hair silky smooth.

There is a certain amount of performance and costuming that goes into professional jobs, especially for women.

LA is all about the grooming, so I would second others in suggesting you focus on fit, keeping your clothes in impeccable shape, get a little bit of good makeup, and a great haircut.

parkette

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #23 on: October 12, 2013, 01:40:53 PM »
It might be worth checking out a curl forum like http://www.naturallycurly.com/curltalk/. Often with curly hair, the more product you put in, the drier and frizzier it becomes (and I find stylists generally use lots of terrible products on curly hair). I have ridiculous hair- I seriously do look like a mad scientist if I don't style it! I am trying the no-shampoo method (very mustachian!), never use a brush/comb, use very little heat and only hair products with no sulfates. It seems to bring out your natural curl, which may help with the various hair styles you seem to have going on :)

For me, it's easier, cheaper and I love wearing my hair curly!

Also, FWIW, someone I met here told me she went to a Ouidad salon in some big city in the states (I live in small-town Canada) and they worked wonders with her curly hair and taught her how to care for it. That being said, I'm sure it cost her an arm and a leg.

lifejoy

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #24 on: October 12, 2013, 02:19:33 PM »
Please don't take this the wrong way, but I really wish I could rock the mad scientist look! For reals.

One man's junk is another man's treasure :)

Own your look, and maybe you'll feel more comfortable :) :)

lsalinas

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #25 on: October 12, 2013, 05:26:19 PM »
Janette - my sister was also telling me to go no shampoo, so I will try it and see how it goes.  I will also try the no-sulfate products.  My mom is Asian so she doesn't have the hair problems I do - my problems come from my dad, but she was telling me that she used to sleep in french braids to give her hair waves.   I think maybe sleeping on my hair will flatten out the volume a bit.  And maybe sleeping in braids will make my non-wavy parts match the curly and wavy parts.  BTW I did look at Ouidad and it is REALLY expensive. 

Libraryjoy - no offense taken!  I am comfortable in my skin in my social life, hanging out with my husband, sister or friends.  However at work I don't want to stick out too much and have executive management second guess the fact that they have entrusted me with multimillion dollar decisions.  I am basically trying to save myself from AWKWARD situations like the one where I came into the conference room and the exec thought I was tech support there to set up the videoconferencing and I had to tell him that I was actually there to discuss a potential acquisition of another company.  It was embarrassing for both of us!

lifejoy

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #26 on: October 12, 2013, 09:38:08 PM »
lsalinas - this is sooooo not mustachian, but have you considered a few high end accessories? Recognizable shoes/watch/jewellery that make you stand out as higher up in the employment ladder?

Horrible recommendation in some ways, but practical in others. Your question is more social than financial in nature, so yeah... high end accessories could be the ticket to public "respect".

Ugh and yes, I hate that this is the way that so much of society works.

StarryC

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2013, 10:10:38 PM »
It is hateful but true, but also kind of risky if you aren't "in the know." 

For example, I always thought of Coach as excessively expensive, high class hand bags.  But, I have heard some women talking about them as tacky, kid-stuff, or "middle class" trying to be rich.  If you buy something "too" plain/ flexible you might not get people to notice it, if you buy something too flashy, it seems like you are trying too hard.  And, you don't want to be "Marge Simpson with the one Chanel Suit."

If you decide to  undertake the manuver, you definitely need to get a fashion forward friend to help.  Is Phillip Lim the way to go? But he has a target collection.  Louis Vuitton?  Kate Spade?  Do you have to go all the way up to Hermes?  Ack, I don't know!

lifejoy

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #28 on: October 13, 2013, 10:37:13 AM »
Good points, StarryC.

You could always just let your professional attitude speak for itself. Counter-culture might not be the easiest path, but maybe it's better than buying into things you don't believe in.

At my job people always think I'm a student (probably because of my age). I just politely inform them that I am done school, went to school to be able to work in libraries, and here I am.

Good luck!!!

hlca

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #29 on: October 13, 2013, 12:19:04 PM »
My wife satisfies her un-Mustachian urges by shopping on yoox.com during sales.  Everything is shipped from Italy through NJ so it takes a little longer to arrive, especially for ppl on the west coast.  You can buy top brands for a small fraction of the price.  She got a pair of Paul Smith dress pants that retail for $450 for $50.  I got a pair of British handmade shoes that retail for $800 for $75.  But you have to look hard and go through some trial and error. You can return for free, as long as you request a store credit, otherwise they charge $7 for return shipping.

lsalinas

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #30 on: October 13, 2013, 01:06:08 PM »


If you decide to  undertake the manuver, you definitely need to get a fashion forward friend to help.  Is Phillip Lim the way to go? But he has a target collection.  Louis Vuitton?  Kate Spade?  Do you have to go all the way up to Hermes?  Ack, I don't know!


At my workplace I don't need brand names.  Just a suit would be good enough to not stick out.  I just need to retire my khakis and cardigans and wear suits and dresses with blazers.  If I showed up to work in Louis Vuitton or Hermes I would stick out for being even more expensively dressed than the executives.  My boss would think that I wasn't fiscally responsible with my own money and might wonder if he should let me be in charge of the company's money. 

Also I have no need for a nice purse - we keep our purses in our desks at work so nobody would ever see it!

Nords

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #31 on: October 13, 2013, 01:52:04 PM »
I am still really excited about fixing up my wardrobe while saving money, but I have already hit a stumbling block.  I can't get my fashionable friends to help me!  They seem to think that their fashion sense doesn't extend into the realm of business professional. 

My sister suggested I hire an image stylist and everybody loved the idea.  Its funny that frugaldrummer mentioned What Not to Wear because when I told my friends I wasn't going to pay $500 for 3 hours of an image stylist they decided that meant I would need to get a free makeover on a reality show.   So now my friends are on the internet looking at applications to make-over shows and running through their show biz contacts to see if they can leverage their network to get me on a show.  *sigh* 

I think will throw a dinner party and try to get them to look through my closet while I am cooking. 

And my hair is a whole different story.  I have spent so much money on trying to get my hair to look nice.   I have purchased so many products and paid for so many haircuts and nothing works.  Or something works for a few months but then my hair is so damaged that it is worse that it was before.  So I'm going to tackle the clothes first because I think that is going to be a quicker win than the hair is going to be.
Three suggestions building on Frugaldrummer's recommendation:
Goodwill, especially if you're in a major city.  Set aside some extra time on business trips to shop that city's Goodwill stores, too. 

My spouse says that she's learned a tremendous amount from watching the show "What Not To Wear".  You don't have to be on it, you just have to take the time to pay attention to the fashion advice.  That's a lot cheaper than paying someone else to tell you what not to wear...

Finally, have you asked the admin assistant(s) where they shop?  They might not be able to improve your store of knowledge, but they'll be impressed that the boss cares about their opinions and recommendations.

Frankly, I think you're in an arms race.  I'd rather have a finance manager who's dressing like Warren Buffett or Charlie Munger instead of a stereotypical Wall Street exec.  When I see anyone dressed so upscale, I immediately form the impression "high maintenance".  So maybe the better way to "win" this race is to stop competing in it... and if your boss thinks that you should be dressing better, then ask for a $1000/month uniform clothing allowance!
« Last Edit: October 13, 2013, 01:55:20 PM by Nords »

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Re: Pre-retirement Mustachian tips on buying work clothes?
« Reply #32 on: October 13, 2013, 04:23:31 PM »
Isalinas, it might also be worth doing some reading on what colour families suit you best. My mum was a fan of Color Me Beautiful back in the day, but there are lots of modern equivalents that work just as well. I would look horrific in a tan suit, but navy or black or even chocolate brown? Fine.

The vast majority of positive comments I get on my clothing revolve around good fit and the right colour. It's expensive to invest in items that don't work because of their colour. Hope that helps.