Author Topic: Advice on dress clothes  (Read 4481 times)

dalegendman

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Advice on dress clothes
« on: September 30, 2015, 06:30:30 AM »
How do you all go about purchasing and taking care of dress clothes?

I'm 21, intern full time in a place where business casual clothing is required, and hope to land a job in a similar environment. I currently don't have too many articles of dress clothing, and some of the ones I do have are ill-fitting and starting to wear out. My wardrobe had gotten me through college where dressing up was only occasionally needed, but now I'm starting to feel squeezed (and, to be honest, a little unstylish) now that I have to wear them every day. If/when I find a job I'll want to look into updating my wardrobe.

I'd want to get clothes (shirts, pants, ties) that 1. fit well and 2. last a long time. Do I have to purchase new clothes or are there other options where I could get them used?

nereo

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Re: Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2015, 06:45:53 AM »
...there was a thread on this a while ago, but I can't seem to locate it.

Welcome to the business world, where you feel compelled to buy clothes you might never want to wear when you aren't actually at the office.

Here's my advice to you:
1) avoid trying to be "stylish" - instead focus on pieces that could (by fashionistas) be considered "classic" or "timeless".  those are key words for "never going out style" which means you can keep them for years.
2) used work clothes are absolutely available at places like Salvation Army if you care to look.  Typical worker drones change over their wardrobes a few times a year, sending dozens of perfectly fine shirts and pants to the donation bin. 
3) For new clothes, check out the outlets (if there are some near you) and/or stalk the clearance sales on your favorite web sites.  I routinely find $70-80 shirts from places like JCrew and BR for $15 once they go on clearance and ahve one of those "40% off sale items" that they have every couple of weeks.  Changing seasons is a great way of saving money if you are willing to buy summer clothes now and wear them next year (remembering #1 above...)
4) Don't try to be the 'best-dressed'/'most-fashionable' person in the office.  That's a recipe for blowing lots of money and time.  Instead, look around at the office and make sure you aren't the worst dressed - I'd shoot for 'average dressed'.  People only notice the best dressed and worst dressed people, so might as well hang out in the frugal middle and make people notice you for your work.

plainjane

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Re: Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2015, 06:58:54 AM »
In addition to the comments about how to find decent quality clothing at a reasonable price, it's helpful to make sure that things go together and you can mix and match. 

Look up capsule wardrobes here and online. I know it's tough when you're first starting out and you don't have anything appropriate, but in many ways it is better to only add a couple of pieces at a time, not a whole bunch at once.  Then your wardrobe will last longer for style, and you won't end up in one of those cycles where everything was bought at the same time, so it wears out at the same time.

Another idea for clothing is to look if there are any clothing swaps in your area.  I've scored some very good pieces and the price of admission was only $5 plus items that no longer worked for my lifestyle.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2015, 07:35:01 AM »

4) Don't try to be the 'best-dressed'/'most-fashionable' person in the office.  That's a recipe for blowing lots of money and time.  Instead, look around at the office and make sure you aren't the worst dressed - I'd shoot for 'average dressed'.  People only notice the best dressed and worst dressed people, so might as well hang out in the frugal middle and make people notice you for your work.

I have always followed the approach that I dress as well as I can give the circumstances which is usually better than the other folks I work with. I also think it's smart to dress for the position you want to be promoted into where that's possible given your duties.

It doesn't have to cost a fortune. You just have to be smart about what you buy and how/where you buy it. Quality clothing lasts a long time and if you pick classic style options your clothes won't go out of style.

Personally I would never suggest doing anything average at work unless your goal is just to cruise along as an average employee.

Your clothing is only a part of the picture and I am not suggesting you spend a ton of time worrying about it. Make smart choices in long lasting classic styles and you are not going to have to go shopping a lot.

merlin7676

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Re: Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2015, 08:01:32 AM »
I have to be business casual...which means dress pants and a polo. I have 2 pairs of slacks (1 black, 1 khaki) and several polos....Just rotate them every week.
Just last week I was at the thrift store....1 pair of pants (the khaki finally had a hole in leg as well as threadbare near the ankles) and 3 polos for $15....absolutely nothing wrong with these..in fact I'm wearing one of the new (to me) shirts today..so soft and comfy..cant for the life of me figure out why it was donated. I even double checked to make sure I didn't miss anything at the store when I dressed this morning

Easye418

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Re: Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2015, 08:02:25 AM »
I guess I will play devil's advocate here....

I do agree that you shouldn't "over-dress/best-dressed".... aka wear a full suit when people are dressing business casual.  However, don't dress like a slob.  I think the most important thing is to wear de-wrinkled clothing and non clashing colors/patterns.  I work in a business casual enviornment.  I rotate through around 15 designs (Charles Tyrwhitt shirts that I got on sale for $30 a pop over 1-2 years and 3-4 pairs of wool dress pants.  I follow the "dress for the position above you".

Other things to mention:

 not only about the clothes you wear, but how physcially fit and upkept are you.  Don't wear baggy shirts or pleated pants (apparently they may come back).  Wear Charcoal, not Black.  I keep nice short trimmed hair, nice short stubble well-maintained, and slim fit shirts.  My SVP has commented multiple times "I have to grow a nice stubble like Chris".  Keep in mind, you are not working with a bunch of Mustachians, but probably a group of consumers who like to spend on fancy things and are very judgemental.  It does help when you are 15 years younger than the average age of your group I guess with the most advanced degree.

I personally skip "Casual Fridays" and take all the "look at Mr. Fancy" comments. 
« Last Edit: September 30, 2015, 08:17:44 AM by Easye418 »

pbkmaine

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Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2015, 08:05:14 AM »
I worked in a business casual environment on Wall Street. For the guys, you could not go wrong with a nice Oxford cloth shirt and good-fitting khakis. Nice shoes are key, and I agree that you should look at what the brass are wearing before buying. Belts are interesting - the preppies would wear belts with regimental stripes or embroidered whales. But a good-quality leather belt always works.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2015, 08:08:47 AM by pbkmaine »

FLBiker

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Re: Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2015, 08:39:46 AM »
For shirts I go to Dillard's Clearance (at our local rundownish mall).  $7.50 each.
For pants, I go to K&G SuperStore (at the same mall) -- ~$30.

Unfortunately, the mall is due for a big redesign, so these two shops might disappear.

I did thrift shops for years, but both my shirts and pants were generally too short / not quite right.  I buy so few clothes (maybe 2 pants, 4 shirts a year, if that) that I can afford to buy them new.

Also, I keep my work clothes in my office, so they don't get worn other times / biking.  I also don't wash them after every use, which probably extends their life (I don't have anything to compare it to, though).

marcela

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Re: Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2015, 09:33:24 AM »
I buy a lot of my husband's work shirts at JC Penny. They start cheap and then you can usually get coupons in the mail/sales to bring the price down even further. Khakis we tend to buy at Old Navy because it fits him well. Honestly, pay more attention to the fit of your clothes than the brand/price. Make sure your pants are the right length and fit comfortably around the waist.
H&M has surprisingly decent workwear for the price and the fit will be more modern.

FatCat

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Re: Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2015, 12:11:29 PM »
I like to go to the Goodwill and Salvation Army on the rich side of town. Plenty of nice things in great condition and some even with the tags still on them. This is also a great place to see which brands hold up better without having to buy them to find out. Also try thrift shops.

The fit is more important than the brand name. Try to find materials that don't wrinkle. If you have pets, get materials that don't hold hair and lint.

If you end up with something that you later decide isn't very good, donate it. Don't just keep it in the closet forever.

ksfrank

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Re: Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2015, 02:31:38 PM »
Especially for women, I have found great value in the "Dressing Your Truth" information.  So much of it is free in youtube videos.  Once I understood that I feel better in certain fabrics, colors, silouettes, etc. because of  my energy and movement, my personality - then I knew what to look for either at retail or in thrift stores. 

For women, thrift stores and ebay are fantastic sources.  Women are buying the same items over and over with little satisfaction because they don't understand their own body type, etc.  So these women are dumping huge quantities of new stuff into the waste stream. 

For men, darn it - not so!  Men are more likely to buy and wear out their stuff. 

Another tip is about fabric content.  I no longer buy anything polyester or acrylic.  The stuff looks great in the store and for the first wearing.  Then .....it's just cheap.  It looks cheap, falls apart, pills, snags, makes you feel all clammy and sweaty like wearing a trash bag, or chills itself to the freezing temps and stays that way, etc.  Take the time to read the fabric content label and buy real stuff.  You'll be so much happier. 

maco

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Re: Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2015, 02:34:34 PM »
(Note: coming from a woman)

Below the waist is black. Above the waist is a solid-color button-up shirt. Add a cardigan if you're cold. Black goes with everything, so skirt, shoes, cardigan are all black.

I shop at the thrift store. This is how I dress every day: work, at home (wear an apron), going to church, weddings...

I hang shirts in the closet when freshly washed. After one wear, they shift to a peg rail. After peg rail, they get washed. Hang dry to save on the dryer and make the clothes last longer.

"Dryclean only" is made of lies. Or do you think in the days when cotton/linen was only for underwear and wool/silk were for the actual clothes, everyone's clothing was destroyed when it rained? Water won't hurt, though with wool (which doesn't really hold BO), a clothes brush is enough for regular maintenance.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2015, 02:40:56 PM by maco »

coffeehound

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Re: Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2015, 02:36:33 PM »
How do you all go about taking care of dress clothes?

1. A good tailor (or some sewing skills of your own) can be a good friend to you. Keep your clothes in good repair!

2. Take off, and hang up, your work clothes as soon as you get home. Make this a habit from the moment you purchase the clothes.

3. Whether you do your own laundry or send it out, unbutton your shirts (including the collar on a button-down), and make sure zippers are zipped and waists are buttoned on pants.

4. Don't let spills sit. If your get something on your shirt, take a wet napkin to it. This may sound 'fussy' to some, but the sooner you take care of the spill, the less likely you'll end up with a stain on the shirt.

5. Wear undershirts - they can retard the development of pit stains.

maco

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Re: Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2015, 02:43:21 PM »
4. Don't let spills sit. If your get something on your shirt, take a wet napkin to it. This may sound 'fussy' to some, but the sooner you take care of the spill, the less likely you'll end up with a stain on the shirt.
And look up what gets what out. Turns out you can use acetone (nail polish remover) on a poly/cotton skirt you dribbled duco cement (similar to super glue) on.
Quote
5. Wear undershirts - they can retard the development of pit stains.
I was confused at first, since women's undershirts are usually sleeveless, so I'll add in: use non-staining deodorant. I'm using Arm & Hammer's sticks.

FatCat

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Re: Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2015, 02:59:24 PM »
Quote
5. Wear undershirts - they can retard the development of pit stains.
I was confused at first, since women's undershirts are usually sleeveless, so I'll add in: use non-staining deodorant. I'm using Arm & Hammer's sticks.

I used to have trouble with pit stains ruining my shirts. Then I switched to aluminum free deodorant and got rid of the underarm stain problem entirely. I also don't sweat under my arms anymore. And I don't get any underarm B.O. later in the day. - Yes, antiperspirant deodorant was causing me to sweat and stink. It was causing the very problem that it claims to correct.

I rarely ever wear out my clothes. The only reason I ever had to buy new shirts was because the underarm stain would get too noticeable. I lost a great deal of favorite shirts to an entirely unnecessary problem.

maco

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Re: Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2015, 03:21:44 PM »
Quote
5. Wear undershirts - they can retard the development of pit stains.
I was confused at first, since women's undershirts are usually sleeveless, so I'll add in: use non-staining deodorant. I'm using Arm & Hammer's sticks.
I used to have trouble with pit stains ruining my shirts. Then I switched to aluminum free deodorant and got rid of the underarm stain problem entirely. I also don't sweat under my arms anymore. And I don't get any underarm B.O. later in the day. - Yes, antiperspirant deodorant was causing me to sweat and stink. It was causing the very problem that it claims to correct.

I rarely ever wear out my clothes. The only reason I ever had to buy new shirts was because the underarm stain would get too noticeable. I lost a great deal of favorite shirts to an entirely unnecessary problem.
For me, the elbows eventually go.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2015, 09:56:23 PM by maco »

alewpanda

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Re: Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2015, 03:36:49 PM »
Depending on the specifics of the dress code, you may want to consider khaki/cotton type dress pants instead of traditional "slacks" (i find that my husband's slacks age much faster than cotton khakis).

I buy most of his clothing from goodwill.   Prices range between 3-6.00 an item.  Ties are numerous and cheap.  Even dress shoes can be found!

Do you have a particular brand that fits you well or wears well?  Look for that brand as you flip through the racks.  Know what colors look best on you and look most professional.  Generally speaking, I buy a collection of gray, navy, khaki (pants) and maroon colors.  Khaki and gray pants go well with navy, maroon or dark gray/charcoal tops.  All of these colors are very conservative/professional colors and can be found in either polos (more casual) or button downs (dressier). 

Stretch your short sleeves into winter by buying a good quality warm layer -- either a suit coat/sports coat, or a nicer looking fleece/sweater. 

Polish your shoes.  Avoid taking them off by standing on the backs of them (ask me how I know *cough* husband!)  When you sit down at your desk, take your keys and phone out of your pockets and set them on your desk or in a coat pocket.  Those keys and sharp corners put holes in the front of your trousers otherwise.  Wash in cold to preserve colors.  Purchase cotton/wool rather than mixed fabrics.  Zip up zippers and turn clothes inside out to avoid extra damage in the wash.

Wear a belt and tuck shirts in if appropriate.  Whatever you are wearing will look 10x nicer if properly fitted/tucked in.  Even jeans look nice with a belt and button down tucked in.  Know how to fix a seam when a seam starts coming undone.

Finally, your clothes can't make up for shaggy hair or a scruffy face! 

Lanthiriel

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Re: Advice on dress clothes
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2015, 05:36:58 PM »
I've been reading more and more about the concept of having a "work uniform." It sounds like a couple of people on this board do that. If I ever get back down to my goal weight and need a new wardrobe, I will likely invest in this concept. My ideal work uniform would be a pair of Lee trousers, a plain-colored undershirt, and a cardigan.