I'm a student (on a budget around $300) looking to play dress up for a job fair. Is Jos. A. Bank any good?

- Asked by Anonymous

I can’t recommend Jos. A. Bank to you. For that kind of cash, you should just order a suit from Lands’ End (jacket, trousers) in your size and then take the suit to a tailor to make it fit perfectly.

Plus, you can use coupon code SAVEBIG with PIN 1234 to get 30% off the highest priced item in your cart. That’ll put the price of the entire suit at $198.15 and leave you with $100 extra to do some alterations.


I'm interning at a senators office this fall three days a week. Any advice on some wardrobe basics I should look into? Right now, the only piece of formal clothing in my closet is an ill-fitting brass buttoned navy blazer that I've owned since I was 15. Also, any advice in general for a college student hoping to make the best of this experience? Thanks!

- Asked by Anonymous

Congrats on your internship! I answered a somewhat similar question to this before. You can read that here, so I won’t rehash everything there.

Not sure what your budget is, but I’d say get at least one suit and one blazer, a few dress shirts, a few ties, some grey trousers and maybe a v-neck sweater or sweater vest (cashmere or wool, depending on your budget) for when you want to dress down a bit or layer up, two good pairs of shoes with matching belts.

I’m not sure if you’re working in a district office or on the Hill, but if it’s in a district office you might be able to just get away with one well-fitting navy blazer instead of the suit. Although, I’d argue that having a suit on hand is never a bad thing and an essential for every guy’s wardrobe.

If you’re on the ramen-noodle budget and looking for specific brands to buy new at retail, then I’d recommend the following:

  • Suit: Lands’ End tailored fit suit separates (sign up for their email list, wait for 30% off entire purchase coupon code, happens every few weeks)
  • Blazer: Lands’ End Canvas or LLBean Signature have a lot of options. If you want something more classic though, I suggest hitting up a thrift store or eBay. Both have an infinite supply of navy blazers. Just find one that’ll fit in the shoulders and length and have it tailored to your arms and chest. That’s what I did.
  • Shirts: I’d recommend Brooks Brothers Extra Slim Fit shirts. A bit more pricey for off-the-rack, but the fit is good and they go to exact neck/sleeve sizes. I haven’t really found others that match the fit/price.
  • Shoes: Allen Edmonds right now is down to $200 at Nordstrom, but you could probably find a few used options for much less on eBay.
  • Ties: The Tie Bar at the lowest end has a good selection for the price. Quality’s on par with any other “made in China” neckwear. If there’s a Nordstrom Rack near you, hit them up. Lots of their neckwear is pretty meh, but if you can find their Nordstrom 1901 line, they usually sell for $10 and are made in the USA. For silk knits, I’d suggest Lands’ End.

The good news is that you’ve got a few months to plan ahead and start scouring for deals on eBay and StyleForum’s Buy & Sell classifieds. If you don’t know your measurements yet, get that done (plenty of resources online to help you out). You could potentially score some better quality stuff at lower prices. Time’s somewhat on your side.

As far as general advice, I would recommend just working hard, don’t blog/Facebook/Twitter about work and give and ask for as many business cards as you can (and always have yours with you — I store a few in every jacket I own so I always have one).

Oh, and while the job is inherently political and perhaps partisan, just keep an open mind to those on the other side of things. I work for Republicans, but I maintain friendships with people on both sides of the divide. I try to find open-minded people, because they’re much more interesting to be around and you’ll learn more.


I start a summer internship in Washington DC in June. The dress code is business-business casual. How do I not dress like an intern? Should I wear a suit everyday?

- Asked by Anonymous

First, congrats on your internship! I hope it pays, because D.C. isn’t cheap to live in, from what I’ve heard.

Decoding dress codes are always hard, but I’d say you want to tilt more toward the business side of that equation. Here’s what I’d recommend you pick up for a five-day work week:

  • Five spread-collar dress shirts, in any combination of blue or white. Just makes sure you have at minimum one of either color and they are all 100% cotton.
  • Three dress slacks in various shades of grey (or all the same shade, if you prefer). I’d try to find pairs that are mid-weight, 100% wool, plain front and tailored for little to no break and tapered to your legs.
  • One navy blazer. Again, midweight wool, maybe only half lined since it’ll be summer. Of course, get it tailored to fit properly.
  • One navy or dark charcoal suit. Yes, a midweight wool, too, and tailored.
  • Navy or grey socks.
  • One pair of brown wingtips and one pair of brown loafers.
  • One quality navy silk tie (knit or grenadine), one club-stripe tie (stick with navy/red if you want to be safe) and maybe one more solid, striped or Churchill-dot tie that’s predominately navy, red or burgundy. If in doubt, go conservative on the tie.
  • One white linen pocket square.

You can kind of see where I’m going with this, right? Basic, standard uniform that doesn’t draw attention to itself, is extremely conservative and not filled with loud colors or patterns.

On a daily basis, you can just turn to the navy blazer, dress shirt, tie, grey slacks and either wingtips or loafers. On days you need to step it up (maybe you get a job interview!), then you can don your suit and wingtips.

The point is that you don’t want to be the intern who wears the untucked oxford and baggy chinos with tennis shoes. And while it certainly couldn’t hurt to wear a suit every day, that might put you awkwardly in the situation where you’re dressing better than your bosses.

If you discover after your first day/week that no one wears ties or jackets in the office, then you can ease off a bit from the uniform. Maybe one day wear the blazer, but not the tie. Another day, wear the tie, not the blazer.

Regardless, I would wear the blazer to work (you can always take it off) and bring a necktie with you every day (or keep one in your desk). You never know when you’ll need to look your best, so having those on hand can be helpful.

The upside to all of this is that on day one you can establish how you’re going to dress for the entire internship as long as you do it consistently after the first week. If people know you as the intern who wears a tie and jacket every day, that’s hardly a bad thing.

Hope this helps!

EDIT to add: Oh, and if you can find a briefcase (leather) and not wear a messenger bag, even better. I see them on craigslist all the time. A Filson canvas bag isn’t bad, either.

And, if possible, get some business cards — and not just from your employer. Get some nice ones done up for yourself with your name, cell, email. Keep at least 5 or so in your suit jacket and blazer interior pocket along with your wallet. Exchange business cards as much as possible and network the hell outta that down.

Remember, everyone you meet is a potential opportunity and you already have a step up by not looking like a sloppy college student, but rather a young professional.

About The Silentist

A menswear blog on finding your personal style, written by Kiyoshi Martinez.

I work at Khaki's of Carmel and live in the Monterey Bay area. Formerly from Chicago.

E-mail me, I'm fairly nice: thesilentist@gmail.com

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