What's the Middle/Upper-Middle-Class Clothing Brand Universe?

Hi all, I grew up wearing whatever my Mom bought at the local mall, and now I find myself in need of a crash course on middle to upper-middle-class clothing brands specifically for men on Wall Street (which is where I'd categorize myself as an incoming FT BB IBD analyst in NYC).

I became familiar with a couple of brands during my SA, but I'm still uneducated on a ton of others. I mentally categorize brands by their niche / go-to product, so what relevant brands should I be aware of, what's their style, notable item(s), where do they fit in the hierarchy, etc.?

I'd appreciate any input, and I'll aggregate my thoughts/users' comments for posterity.

  • Bonobos: known for "daily grind" dress shirts but don't know much else, how do they rank against BB/CT?
  • Brooks Brothers: YouTube channel "Gentleman's Gazette" recommends their business casual products like sweaters and chinos, dress shirts are less form-fitting than CT
  • Charles Tyrwhitt: known for dress shirts that are a slimmer fit than BB
  • Lacoste: known for polos
  • Lululemon (athleisure)
  • Patagonia (outerwear): known for fleece vests (Synchilla or Better Sweater?)
  • TM Lewin: another player in the dress shirt game but don't know much else, how do they rank against BB/CT?
  • Vineyard Vines (preppy): is this a college/young-adult brand for business-casual items that becomes inappropriate as you age?
  • Indochino (suits): cheap M2M that will still need tailoring
  • Suitsupply (suits): good M2M or buy their OTR and take to a tailor for finishing touches, higher-end Indochino
  • Allen Edmonds (shoes): known for Park Avenues (cap-toe oxfords) which Presidents have worn in the past, get belts from them too since you can color-match with the shoes
  • Cole Haan (shoes): lower-end than AE?

Don't know much about Banana Republic, Zara, LL Bean, H&M, J Crew, Ralph Lauren, Eton, Ledbury (god WSO users mention soooo many dress shirt brands it's dizzying), etc. Don't even know if the ones I named are in the "middle to upper-middle-class" range. Some brands I may have a misconception of (e.g., Hugo Boss sounds like a trashy business/business casual brand to me but seems to be well regarded on WSO, Gucci seems to me like crap quality faux-luxury that's marked up because of the name), so please let me know if I'm right or severely wrong.

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Comments (13)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 20, 2021 - 7:03am

Cut out VV and Indochino, then most of those on your list on the bottom are fast fashion, which I'd assume you wouldnt buy too much of if you were truly upper middle class.

All this being said, what kind of question is this lmao? Just bc you make X money doesn't mean you need to buy a certain brands clothes. I think the issue here was that you just wore what your mom bought you, so I'd suggest just figure out your personal style and just try a bunch of brands out from low-end to high-end for more staple pieces

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Nov 20, 2021 - 9:11pm

I've grown into my own style, so that's not the issue here. While yes, I don't need to buy from certain brands just because I make $X income level, I'd like to at least conform to the bare minimum (i.e., wear dress shirts from CT instead of Docker's). Just need to know the basics, and then actively manage lifestyle creep from here on.

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Nov 20, 2021 - 12:24pm

Stay away from Vineyard Vines, it's pretty much just for Vandy & SMU frat boys now.

  • Associate Consultant in Consulting
Nov 20, 2021 - 4:49pm

For everyday/casual look into Theory, Fahrety, Ministry of Supply (great button downs), Everlane, Scotch & Soda, and Uniqlo 

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Nov 20, 2021 - 9:34pm

There's UMC for adults and there's UMC for college boys and summer interns. They're not the same.

Pretty much all of the brands OP cites are worn by interns. Clothes that are not acceptable in the office.

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  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
Nov 21, 2021 - 4:15am

Others have said it, but you need to figure out your personal style and then what fits you best. From there you can focus on quality, but there are many high quality brands. Below are some recommendations (based on what I own, and have liked):

suits: suit supply for everyday, Isaia for a nicer suit. Other brands: Kiton, Brioni and Canali 

coats/jackets: most of the brands above + theory, Ted baker (a bit more affordable), Ralph Lauren. Also, Loro Piana but now you are stepping into a different price 

dress shirts: lots of overlap with suit brands, but I'll add Eton, Charvet, and Tom Ford (although I'm less of a fan)

jeans: I mostly stay away from the "high end" brands here, although kiton does make nice jeans. I just find they try too hard to make something "expensive", I'm a fan of citizens of humanity, Levi's, Ralph Lauren or just go to J crew or similar. As long as you don't buy the $2k balenciaga jeans that have a shirt attached to the back of them for "fashion", you'll be ok. 

Casual shirts: ministry of supply or theory are my go to. 

Nov 22, 2021 - 1:48am

The traditional American brands J. Press and Andover Shop

Alden also makes great shoes but more expensive than Allen Edmonds

Many of the English shirtmakers like Harvie and Hudson, Budd, Hilditch and Key. Harvie and Hudson in particular is dramatically better in quality than stuff like Charles Tyrwhitt but isn't that much more expensive.

Brooks Bros. kind of sucks now and hasn't been good for a while

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  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Nov 22, 2021 - 6:56am

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