Author Topic: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?  (Read 3887 times)

nushagak

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Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« on: January 21, 2016, 11:26:29 AM »
Herrro fellow Mustachians -

Situation: I am about to accept an executive job for a conservative company (it's a lot more money in a geo with 50% cheaper CoL than we are currently; it accelerates our FIRE timeline by quite a bit). Unfortunately I've worked for myself, from home, for the last... 5? years and have only one suit to speak of. Start date is in a week. I have to build a business attire wardrobe in a week or so, basically. And I'd rather not spend a few hundred dollars (nevermind a few thousand, which I'm sure is possible) on a bunch of clothing.

How would you rebuild a work wardrobe today in the least expensive, most minimalistic way possible - with the caveat that you have to go to work everyday basically looking like a lawyer?

FLBiker

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2016, 11:54:55 AM »
My two sources (both at the same mall) are K&G SuperStore and Dillards Clearance.  I get shirts (at Dillards) for $7.50 and suits (at K&G) for $100-150 (and they frequently have buy 2 get 1 sales).

Stores might be different where you are, but I'd look for the mall that has fallen out of favor.  Worked for me, anyways.

OmahaSteph

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2016, 11:59:45 AM »
Buy good, basic foundation pieces in classic colors and then build from there as you come across sales, etc.

Of course, thrift/consignment stores are an option. Find contemporary pieces and then take them to a tailor to make sure they fit well. Much cheaper than blowing a 'sache at Men's Warehouse or JABanks. Congrats and good luck!

moustache79

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2016, 12:04:10 PM »
I always went minimalistic for work clothes until i needed to step up the dress code in order to accelerate earnings/retirement/etc.

So far, 4 months in the new / more expensive wardrobe is working out well.  I can say i still saved money by.

1) waiting for sales.  bought brooks brothers suits, yes they are expensive, but they are way way better quality than other comparable options.  look/fit better and hold up well to everday use.  was able to save a ton by shopping during a sale

2) nordstrom rack or similar store for other stuff like shoes and shirts.  got these at least 50+% less than fancy expensive stores.

3) outlet mall - got more shirts, ties, briefcase, etc and was happy with the overall cost.

its a big up front cost, but its hopefully going to last for many years.

Tamster

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2016, 12:08:55 PM »
Back in my dress up for work days (suit and heels) Filene's Basement in Boston was the best place to find deals. Obviously, that is no longer there, but I had good luck at Salvation Army thrift stores, and consignment places. I would suggest consignment stores in higher col towns -- often I could find suits and separates with minimal wear and even some with the tags still on.

Congratulations, by the way! It sounds like a wonderful opportunity for you. :)

Mermaid3011

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2016, 12:09:19 PM »
I assume you are male??
For the beginning you'll be fine with 3 different suits. All classic cut. All in muted colours. Nobody will notice!
If you have 5 shirts you can just rotate the ties and be good.
what's the shoe situation? Two pairs of classic shoes will go a long way. I would actually just buy one pair now - nobody will notice that you are wearing the same pair every day if they are simple black shoes.

If you are female you can get away with a similar style, just also pick a simple black knee length skirt and you can buy the odd reduced blazer to go with it with time. First week you'll be totally fine in a blue or black suit and 3 different tops/blouses. A pair of low heels and a pair of flats and you are good to go.

 



zephyr911

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2016, 12:22:23 PM »
I've been in corporate or government work for almost a decade straight, and most of my clothing is from thrift stores. If you can make the time, you can probably pull it off.

FLBiker

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2016, 12:42:11 PM »
I like the thrift store recs, but I couldn't really make it work.  For some reason, I can never find stuff in my size.  For pants, I'm a 34/32, and (for some reason) all the stores around here are full of 30/30 and 28/30 or 38/32.  And with shirts, I kind of need an XL sleeve.

Oh, and since shoes came up, these might be a bit too casual but a couple of years ago I splurged on Birkenstock Corvallis.  I have mild plantar fasciitis and they've been great!  Dress shoes can be brutal, and I try to do as much walking as possible while at work.

Kitsune

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2016, 12:53:19 PM »
I'm assuming you're a dude? In which case, what my husband does:

If you have time (big if): comb thrift stores for suit jackets and pants that are either paired or complementary in a way that isn't looking to match (think New England: beige pants with navy blazer). As long as the waist of the pants, and the shoulder/sleeve length of the blazer, fit decently, the side-cut of the blazer and the side-cut of the pants can be adjusted inwards as needed by a half-competent tailor. It'll look way better than off-the-rack for a fraction of the cost. (Note: if you have to pay to alter shoulder width, you may as well just pay for them to make you a suit. Time-consuming alterations are $$.)

Otherwise, if there's one particular place that reliably makes clothes that fit you impeccably and with no need for tailoring, buy their stuff on sale. My husband is super slender: for him, JCrew slim cut is ideal, but Brooks Brothers is too boxy and makes him look like a teenager in his dad's clothes.

Also, buy two pairs of pants for every blazer if you want the suit to wear evenly: the pants always wear out faster and wind up looking mismatched.

onlykelsey

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2016, 01:01:38 PM »
Can you provide some details?  I've been a lawyer in Austin and in Moscow and in NYC, and those are all very different dress codes.  Also, male/female?  If you're comfortable, any fit issues (ie you're tall or curvy or petite)?

If you're a woman, check out corporette.com for ideas.

SeanMC

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2016, 01:24:19 PM »
Random tips or ideas:

To get by with 2 suits (3 tops) for a 5 day work week, it's more about your care habits for clothing, not whether people 'notice' (they won't). Suit only gets worn min # of hours needed at work. Protect jacket during commute. If you can be in office with jacket hung up, do that too. When you get home, immediately - hang up, air out. Avoid need for dry cleaning. If you struggle keeping it pressed and neat enough, a cheap steamer for your home costs a lot less than paying for more drycleaning or needing another suit. With men's clothes, the key is not variety. The key for professional is looking 'pressed' rather than rumpled and not smelling. Seriously. That's it.

Shirts - if you are a regular size, kirkland/costco dress shirts tend to hold up pretty well. Good/cheap undershirts allow for multiple shirt wears before washing (see above re: hanging up/airing out after wearing).

It says you are in new england - if you can layer with vests or sweaters on top of a dress shirt, it also can reduce costs and laundry bill for looking executive. Not sure if it's a look you can pull off at the toniest firm or company though.

Factor in cost of tailoring in purchasing, if you're at all a tricky size. It is better to wear the same 2 tailored items over and over than anything not tailored. So you need to know what can't be tailored at all or only with great expense (like shoulder width/fit in a jacket).

Things like ties and pocket squares can make you look good and let you wear the same things every day without anyone noticing. Dirt cheap at thrift stores, there is always a supply, and you don't really have to worry about size.



kiwigirls

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2016, 01:42:56 PM »
I always went minimalistic for work clothes until i needed to step up the dress code in order to accelerate earnings/retirement/etc.

So far, 4 months in the new / more expensive wardrobe is working out well.  I can say i still saved money by.

1) waiting for sales.  bought brooks brothers suits, yes they are expensive, but they are way way better quality than other comparable options.  look/fit better and hold up well to everday use.  was able to save a ton by shopping during a sale

2) nordstrom rack or similar store for other stuff like shoes and shirts.  got these at least 50+% less than fancy expensive stores.

3) outlet mall - got more shirts, ties, briefcase, etc and was happy with the overall cost.

its a big up front cost, but its hopefully going to last for many years.
+1  Out there in the non-mustachian world you are judged by the clothes you wear and it can have a big impact on your career progression.  You gave us "looking like a lawyer" as the standard - it will be hard to do this on the cheap!  If you want promotions you would be better to consider your work wardrobe an investment in your career that will get you to FIRE faster.  I suggest you buy 1 good suit with two trousers (preferably on sale), 5 shirts and 5 ties and treat them well/wear them out.  This will be much better than second hand suits which are likely to be ill fitting, shiny, or old fashioned styles.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2016, 02:56:23 PM by kiwigirls »

Easye418

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2016, 01:48:00 PM »
+1 to the other comments.  You are an exec for god sakes, just loosen the belt slightly and buy some clothes.  You shouldn't lose sleep over it.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2016, 02:28:05 PM »
I went to Nordstroms, and had a salesclerk help me find brands and cuts that made me look good. I wrote the brands and sizes down. Then I shopped ebay like mad fiend. It worked pretty well.

I did buy a shirt, so the clerk could get her well deserved commission. She knew exactly what I was doing, and was fine with it.

nushagak

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2016, 02:59:16 PM »
Thanks to all, lots of good information in here. I'm going to open the wallet up and go shopping this weekend; targeting outlets and Marshall-type stores foremost. Secondarily thrift stores (we have some high end thrift stores nearby because we're so close to NYC/ Fairfield County Connecticut/ Westchester NY).

TVRodriguez

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2016, 03:19:35 PM »
Thanks to all, lots of good information in here. I'm going to open the wallet up and go shopping this weekend; targeting outlets and Marshall-type stores foremost. Secondarily thrift stores (we have some high end thrift stores nearby because we're so close to NYC/ Fairfield County Connecticut/ Westchester NY).

Good to hear.  I'd also try Macy's personal shopping service.  I did this when I needed interview suits for lawyer jobs in the past.  I told them to find me conservative work suits.  Their personal shopper found me suits on sale and they didn't charge a markup.  It saved me time and money.  Now I shop at Ross b/c it's cheap and easy, but I can be more flexible with my outfits.  Congrats and good luck.

MsPeacock

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2016, 03:47:11 PM »
In case you are female - Express columnist or editor pants and their portofino shirts are my go to for reasonably priced, machine washable professional work clothing. There are matching jackets usually for a couple of the pant colors. I can throw a sweater on to mix it up.

Ann Taylor is also good for suiting basics, particularly their clearance rack.

With all stores once you know your size you can comb the clearance section online every so often for bargains.

lhamo

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2016, 05:31:48 PM »
If you are female, Ann Taylor Loft is having some wicked sales right now. 

I didn't have to purchase too many more formal clothes for my old job, but had good luck pairing their pencil skirts and trousers with knit shirts/dress shirts and blazers/cardigans.  Gives you a fair amount of variety with a minimum number of pieces.  I ended up with mostly variations on black, grey and white, with a bit of navy thrown in.

mustachianteacher

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2016, 06:03:49 PM »
Agreed: You really do need to look the part in order to advance in some fields, and this is money well spent.

Nordstrom Rack has been our go-to store for good quality work clothes and shoes. TJ Maxx and Marshalls are also great. Ross, not so much. Banana Republic and Ann Taylor are good only if you wait until they're having a 40% off sale or you have a similar coupon.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Mustachian Work Wardrobe?
« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2016, 03:08:56 AM »
I went to Nordstroms, and had a salesclerk help me find brands and cuts that made me look good. I wrote the brands and sizes down. Then I shopped ebay like mad fiend. It worked pretty well.

I did buy a shirt, so the clerk could get her well deserved commission. She knew exactly what I was doing, and was fine with it.

If this happened recently send a feedback email and/or letter to the store thanking the clerk for their time and guidance. Some stores give out bonuses for happy customer letters.