This could depend on a lot of things, like your facial complexion and whether or not you want to wear both black and brown shoes. I’m sort of a stickler about the rules of not mixing black and brown together (so, no black shoes while wearing a camel overcoat), so I’d say grey. But that’s just me.
It’s the final day of the November of Dressing Nicely (aka, #NoDN) and it’s rather fitting that I actually needed to wear a suit today for work. You don’t really want to show up at a meeting with executives of a potential business partner wearing jeans. It’s also not the time to go over the top with your color, pattern and texture coordination acting as if you have something to prove.
I kept it simple and stuck to the rules: a dark, conservative, solid suit; a solid blue spread-collar shirt; a traditional necktie pattern with only two colors; a coordinating, a pocket square that’s been TV-folded; and black captoe oxfords.
Nothing’s too flashy or out of place, but it’s still a well-coordinated look that gets the job done. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t have to wear a suit everyday, then you can probably get away with owning a simple setup like this and be all right for 95% of what you’d need to wear a suit for in your life.
Get a well-fitting suit, a fitted shirt, a solid pair of leather-soled shoes and a nice necktie — and never worry again about needing something nice to wear on short notice.
Fit details after the jump:
No clue where you can find buttons in Chicago, however, I’ve bought several button sets here.
If you really want to prevent shrinkage, you could just cold-water wash them by hand and then hang dry.
I usually throw mine in the washer on cold and then dry them on low for about 15 minutes because I’m lazy.
Still, if they shrink and don’t work out, Brooks Brothers has a pretty good returns policy. They’ve been helpful in the past for stuff like that.
If you’re wearing a suit, sure. Sport coat, not as much. No coat, never.
You going to be wearing suits or wool trousers a lot in a slightly more formal capacity? Strand.
Denim, chinos, casual-fabric trousers? McAllister.
Just my opinion though. I have both (Walnut Strand, dark brown McAllister) and wear them quite often.
I could probably do all my shopping at Brooks Brothers, if forced to.
If I got to split them up, then I’d probably do clothing at Howard Yount (trousers and jackets are great and I assume sweaters are as well, plus they’ve got shirting now), shoes at Leather Soul (just take a look at GW’s hoofs!) and accessories at Shrine Haberdashers (Drake’s neckties and Francesco Maglia umbrellas).
Of course, this is overlooking a lot of great online retailers that I’d love to buy stuff from down the road. Frankly, I’m glad there’s a large amount of choice out there.
Under $100: Brooks Brothers Milano cut, Rugby University cut and Bonobos (all are on sale now).
Over $100: Unis, Epaulet.
I’d generally suspect that people would be in donation mode pre-Christmas or at least pre-New Year, because they’d want to get their donations in before the end of the year for tax benefit purposes. Usually, this new haul will make its way toward the racks around early January or so, but it’s kind of relative.
I could, but it’s hard to give recommendations without knowing price.
I could just point you toward Dents gloves and Begg scarves, and tell you “buy the best!”, but that’s probably not what you’re looking for.
For a decent pair of leather gloves, perhaps check out Nordstrom’s in-house cashmere lined gloves. I have a pair made of suede and they’re super cozy. They’ll run you about $70, but if you can hold out until their after-Christmas sale, they should be cheaper.
For scarves, Johnston’s of Elgin often is recommended and there’s a bunch of models at Sierra Trading Post. There’s a lot of options out there for cashmere scarves, and it’s really more or less about how much you want to pay and if you can snag a deal. Put This On did a good primer on scarves.
The one quality bargain find I stumbled across though are scarves made by John Hanly. They’ve been around since 1893, weaving and making scarves and blankets in Ireland. They’re suppliers to the likes of Ralph Lauren’s Polo line and Liberty of London.
You can find their scarves for sale here, and extremely reasonable prices. I bought a merino wool one and am very, very happy with it.
As for beanies, Well Spent found these for $9. I have one from L.L.Bean that I’m kind of on the fence about. It’s warm, but kind of too small for my head. I feel that knit hats are kind of the sort of thing you have to try on.
This isn’t something I’d say I’m an expert in, but I’ll give you a few pointers.
The first is to read whatever copy is available. If you see something saying it’s made of “polished” leather or “corrected grain” leather, then avoid it. Put This On has a good primer on the difference between these subpar leathers and full-grain leathers.
For shoes, I think it’s best to just do your initial research on the brand and line. Often, when buying new, a decent pair of shoes made of decent leather will start at around $300 and up — provided these aren’t “designer” pairs. You can do plenty of research on StyleForum.
Typically though, the best thing you can do is try to get hands-on experience with some of the nicer stuff so that you can compare the quality to lesser stuff. I was at Saks yesterday and it was really easy to tell the difference between the Edward Greens and the To Boot New York shoes — not just in construction, but also of the quality of leather used.
When it comes to stuff like wallets or belts, I’m admittedly less adept. Ofter though, I think if you can get your hands on the leather and feel it, you should be able to go with your gut on the quality. Still, you should be able to seek out belts and wallets from those who make them with well-known leathers, like those that come from the Horween tannery.
I wish I could give you more solid tips and thorough checklists to go on, but this isn’t exactly my wheelhouse.
The sleeves could appear long to you for several reasons:
- You have short arms.
- The coat is made to be worn with multiple layers underneath, perhaps including a suit jacket or blazer, which would cause the shoulders to rise and the sleeve to eventually fall at the proper length.
- The coat just has annoyingly long sleeves to err on the side of sleeves too long rather than too short.
Regardless, a decent tailor should be able to make the necessary alterations for you.
Not offhand, but if anyone here is from Dallas please speak up!
I think you either have to buy two non-irons or two must-irons for the discount to work. Either way, you could just call up Brooks Brothers and place a phone order, too.
I can’t say I’d try to match my shirt to my trousers in pattern. I’d generally prefer to contrast than match when it comes to pattern types.
Quickly put: great fabric, great fit (needs slight tapering in chest, let the sleeves out a bit for my arms), super lightweight. If you can afford it, then get it. Going to be a go-to for summer for me.
A more full review when I have time (maybe I’ll do it over Thanksgiving break).
I try not to go too overboard on patterns myself. The key with “odd trousers” is to treat them like you would an “odd jacket”: pair them with a solid.
So, just as your odd jacket would be paired with a pair of solid trousers, put your odd trousers with a solid jacket.
It’s what I’d call a traditional spread collar. It’s not a cutaway collar.
If this keeps up, I’m going to start using affiliate links…
ADDING: prodigal-punk replied:
Okay. Those were the ones I was looking at, but wasn’t sure if the Supima gave them a different texture like the non-iron shirts have. Thank you, sir.
Yes, the Supima cloth has a different texture than the other shirts. It’s heavier and thicker, but it feels really great after a few washes.
RE: Brooks Brothers ESF dress shirts
Non-iron: True to size.
Iron: True to size.
OCBDs: Sleeves tend to shrink a lot on the white shirts, so I’d maybe size up one in the sleeve. I sized down though in the ecru and university stripe ones. Went TTS on the blue and pink ones.
I haven’t had collar issues, personally.
For the person asking about raincoats (or anyone wondering). Thanks, anon!
Being a scrawny guy, if it came in the tailored fit, I would’ve probably bought it during the last round of sales.
With it being a traditional fit though, I’ve convinced myself it’s not something to deal with.
Your mileage may vary.
Probably, but I’d read the copywriting first. I’m sure they work to a certain point (i.e.: not a hurricane). I’ve seen umbrellas with cotton canopies before.
I feel your pain. I think the lesson here is “don’t spend your clothing budget until November”.
I got really lucky. My old job used to require that I travel to Springfield, Ill., which is the state capital and there’s a lot of government bureaucrats and other suit-wearing professionals who live and work there.
So, a lot of stuff makes its way over to the Salvation Army (or gets dropped off by out-of-town people who drive by the donation area on the way in/out of town, which is right off the highway into the city) and I would just just plunder that weekly for about five months.
That’d be my tip: find a location that tends to get a high-volume of suits and yet isn’t picked over. There’s not a big thrifting “scene” in Springfield as there is in comparison to Chicago, where hipsters raid thrift stores for stuff to put up on their Etsy shops. Plus, an entire generation of bureaucrats died off and had their stuff donated away — most of it from the 50s and 60s, where the lapels weren’t absurdly huge.
As with all things, you just have to make sure that you nail the shoulder width, the jacket length and generally don’t have it too large in the waist area. The sides can always be tapered and you can usually let out or take in at the cuffs without much difficulty. Sometimes you’ll strike out, but at least you’ll only be out a few bucks.