New To Formal Fashion? Start Here. PT1

EnergyHOU's picture
EnergyHOU - Certified Professional
Rank: King Kong | banana points 1,322

Mod Note (Andy) - We're reposting the top discussions from 2015, this one ranks #14 and was originally posted 6/14/2015.

I spend a bit of time in this part of the forum and consistently and constantly find repeated questions from individuals coming out of college and starting their career regarding suits, shirts, ties, shoes, etc. My goal is to attempt to address every aspect and component you need to know about beginner formal fashion so that you can walk in your first day and be confident about the way you look, something that I feel a lot of people aren't. I'm also going to include resources to solid "beginner" brands that won't demolish the bank but still compete on quality.

Part 1 will be about the suit, dress shirt and shoes while Part 2 will cover accessories including ties, socks, belts and more.


The Suit

Introduction.

The integral part of your overall image. Your suit determines just about everything in my opinion. You can be wearing a gorgeous watch or incredible shoes, if your suit looks like garbage it won't matter. The operative word in my previous statement is "looks". The suit marketplace is a competitive one and prices are all over the place. Now, we aren't focusing on prices alone but the price to quality ratio if you will. You can go get a viscose blend suit from Men's Wearhouse for $125 if I'm not mistaken or you can spend $300 for a 100% wool suit from Jos. A. Bank. $175 in exchange for a real material rather than synthetic, non breathable junk. The reality is that today you can get a full wool suit that will get you a guaranteed 300+ wears in the $300-600 arena, and the options are truly unlimited.

The Plan.

So you're a college student and you're about to start a SA role or maybe you graduated and are about to begin FT. You're going to need 3 suits to start with, and two pairs of pants per suit (pants take an incredible beating, especially for us people who are sitting down most of the day). What colors or patterns though? For starters, no patterns are necessary. These are your essentials, they need to be straightforward.

The picks: 1x Charcoal, 1x Navy, 1x Dark Blue Sharkskin OR 1x Dark Gray Sharkskin. But what about black? No, no black, ever. Black suits are for waiters or when you go to a funeral. Everyone should own a black suit, but not until the essentials are accounted for. What about customizations or details? Once again, these are your essentials, nothing should stick out. Notch lapel, two rear vents, two buttons, standard pocket flaps. Things like functional sleeve buttonholes, pick stitching, etc. should not be on your first suits. Pleats or cuffs on the pants? Personal preference, if you don't know, then no. I personally never do pleats or cuffs as I find neither to look modern.

How To.

I find it kind of incredible that something as simple as suit can be worn "wrong" but the fact is, it's all over the place. Continuing off our scenario above. You're going to wear your brand new charcoal suit today, wait: 1) clip threads holding vents shut in the rear and (optional) clip thread holding front pocket sealed 2) only button the top button, the second button is NEVER buttoned. If you sit down, unbutton the top button and re-button when you stand back up. Now the most important aspect: FIT. I have seen people wearing awful looking Armani suits just like I've seen a SA wearing a well-tailored Jos. A. Bank suit that looks made to measure. Beyond exclusively sticking with wool, linen, and cashmere fabrics, it's all about fit. The reality is that an off-the-rack suit most probably won't look perfect. At the very minimum, the pants will need to be hemmed. The common areas that will need work are as follows (note these and check them):

-Jacket sleeve length (you should see 1/4 inch of dress shirt BUT make sure this is a properly fitting dress shirt or you'll end up tailoring your suit wrong)
-Jacket bagginess around upper and lower chest (when buttoned, should be touching your mid torso all around while still enabling you to make gestures with your arms freely)
-Jacket length (better short than long, should have easy access to pants pockets without shuffling jacket)
pants length (break: the amount of rolls in your pants as they hit your shoe. Aim for 1 for classic - hem to the heel, or none for a more modern look - hem to the top of the laces)
-Pants bagginess around thigh and shins (thighs should feel like a slim pair of jeans while shins get a bit more breathing room, standard pants tend to be uniform all the way down, that's not meant to stay that way)

The perfect fit should be comfortable (after all, you're the one wearing it all day) which means you don't want to go so tight that you look like those guys at clubs in throwaway Forever21 suits so tight they can't breath but you also don't want to look like a clown with your jacket drooping over everything and enormously wide pants that your legs are trying not to drown in.

Resources.

Companies to consider for entry-level suits: Jos. A. Bank (workhorse suits at rock bottom prices, end of story), Suit Supply (great quality, great prices), Indochino (MtoM, excellent previous experiences), Brooks Brothers (pay careful attention for sales), Multiple Brands from Saks Fifth Avenue "Off Fifth". "The GQ Guide to Suits" for inspiration and more basic tips (keep in mind, fashion forward site, don't necessarily implement everything they say).

The dress shirt

Introduction. Behind the suit is the dress shirt but unlike the suit this is where it can get all over the place really quick. Unlike suits, dress shirts come in many different colors and patterns, it almost feels like the sky is in fact not the limit. Once again though, we are beginners trying to build our essentials wardrobe for the start of our career, not look like British lawyers. Much like suits, you will find plenty of dress shirts consisting of a non-breathable synthetic blend like viscose while on the other end you will also find many real fabrics, most notably cotton which we will focus on. I'll cut to the chase and tell you that you're going to spend $60-95 / shirt on your dress shirts (unless you bundle), end of story, no shortcuts. Take good care of them and they will last you an unbelievably long time.

The Plan.

We continue the plan to build an essential wardrobe which means to gather the most function for our money and be well-prepared for the first day and subsequent days, weeks and months. Realistically, you will need 10 dress shirts that you will rotate in and out week in week out (dry cleaning one set while wearing the other). Similar to the suits situation, we're going to stick with traditional and functional colors that we can easily pair with our suits and accessories without having to even think about it. For starters, we need whites and blues, these are crucial, call it 3x of each. Next we can adventure out a bit, 2x Pink (one plain and one with a light microstripe pattern), and 2x blue with very light patterns (microsquare and microstripe). That puts us at 10 and we have the majors covered. You can adventure into other patterns and designs that after your 10. Also note no dark colors in general for two reasons: too fashion forward and difficult to pair with suits/accessories. Also no customizations like a monogram, you're a college graduate (should apply to any age honestly).

How To.

I will go ahead and start with fit this time as when it comes to a dress shirt there aren't a million different ways to wear them. With the dress shirt, similar to the jacket component of your suit, the fit should conform to the body. It should NOT, however, look or feel as tight as a v-neck tee or be so baggy that you have a muffin top. Let's address each component:
-Shoulders seam (where sleeve attaches to body), should hit close to top of shoulders NOT sliding down near arm)
-Collar (should be easy to button tie button with room for 2 fingers, more or less should be adjusted)
-Chest (the big idea is here is to be able to make a full range of motions and gestures without the shirt preventing you from doing so, your chest should fill out the shirt, or be snug, but not tight)
-Armhole (probably the most important because it determines how the shirt looks overall, if you have fabric hanging down under the armpit, it's cut too large, the seam should be maybe 2 fingers from armpit if that)
-Waist (easy to tell if it's not right, leave shirt untucked and grab either the left or right seam and pull away from the body, if you have fabric it's too wide and needs to be brought in, will result in a muffin top otherwise)
-Length (like the suit, shorter is better, just for your own comfort alone, I know I hate feeling all that fabric in my pants)

Once again, and similar to the suit, we're aiming for the shirt to conform to the body but fit to the point that you can wave your arms around and move relatively freely. The dress shirt can make or break you in the sense that really baggy dress shirts do in fact look really awkward while a super tight fit keeps you from moving freely and can also cause sweating.

Resources.

Companies to consider for entry-level dress shirts: CT Shirts (personal favorite), Banana Republic (3 fits to choose from, and then all respective sizes, have found that it's almost a perfect fit), Indochino (once again, MtoM, but once it's right, it's right, also a favorite), Proper Cloth (12 questions, perfect fit, quick turnaround), Nordstrom (many solid brands), Brooks Brothers (once again, check for sales).

The Dress Shoes

Introduction. When it comes to things I use heavily, like my phone for example, I tend to be willing to invest more in order to obtain a better product because I'm willing to exchange money for a better experience with something that has a high utilization rate. Shoes are definitely a part of this category. You may not realize it yet but you'll be wearing these all day long 5x a week minimum and the reality is that the majority of these aren't your boat shoes you've been wearing for 4 years, but they can be close. Continuing our beginner's essentials build out, we need to find some relatively common dress shoes that have the right characteristics for a long life and maximized comfort which isn't necessarily easy when attempting to keep a budget, unlike suits and dress shirts. Like suits and dress shirts however, you will find terrible shoes made from leather look-a-likes and rubber soles and flat out incredible shoes that look like art. A proper shoe is an investment, take care of them and they'll last you 10 years to a lifetime. Ultimately, we are looking to invest around $175-300 per pair.

The Plan.

Sticking with functionality and versatility we are going to need two pairs of dress shoes. Depending on our suit selection for the day, the shoes worn will be picked accordingly. We are going to keep it very simple here, we need 1x Black Oxfords (laces, versus loafers which don't have laces) and 1x Dark Brown Oxfords. For the first time though, we can be a little bit more creative with the design as many exist and you have a bit more freedom with your shoes versus a suit. Personally, I would go with cap toe (design involving a seam across the lower portion of the shoe) oxfords in black and conservative wing tip (variety of seams or imprints on the leather, can be conservative or aggressive) oxfords in dark brown. This is still quite conservative but will standout a bit more than just a plain pair of oxfords. Note for our first two pairs we aren't hopping into loafers just yet, although this should be your next pair and we also aren't adventuring into lighter shades of brown which can be a bit fashion forward. What about suede? Proceed with caution, I have never seen this in finance personally and I also think it looks awful.

How To.

For immediate starters, do NOT buy your shoes online. You MUST see them in person, feel them, try multiple sizes and widths, etc. The only scenario where buying online works is if you have stuck with one brand and your size is standard across their lines OR free shipping & free returns (and even then on this second point, not ideal). Now let's dive into the important details that separate a good shoe from a bad one, and there's quite a bit but we'll still with the fundamental aspects that you can look for in seconds to determine if you're wasting your time or not.

1) The outsole (underside of the shoe, comes in contact with ground) - easily the best place to start to eliminate 75% of what you'll look at in the $175-300 range. It's rather simple, it should be leather, end of story. Most shoes you'll look at will have a molded rubber-type outsole, this is an immediate disqualification for a long term shoe. Be careful because some companies actually attempt to replicate a leather look but it's still in fact that rubber material. The stitching around the outsole will tell you, leather requires it, rubber won't since it's often glued. The heel can be composed of the molded rubber, this is okay.
Generally speaking, if #1 checks out, the following will follow suit but take a look regardless.
2) The lining - leather is a fantastic material because it absorbs like crazy which is why you want to your lining to be entirely made of leather. Ideally you're looking for some kind of calf skin but generic leather will work
3) Upper material - once again, leather. If you have leather lining, at this point it's almost a guarantee that your upper material (or outer) is leather. There are many different kinds of leather used for the outer material but we are sticking with cost effective solutions while maintaining functionality and therefore standard calf skin will do the trick.
The reality is that a great pair of dress shoes can last a minimum of 10 years if you take good care of them and get the sole re-done every 2 or so years. High end dress shoes can last a lifetime. Something to think about is that as a result, it isn't uncommon to try and find very high end used dress shoes that have been taken care of well, there's a market out there just like used watches.

Resources.

Companies to consider for entry-level dress shoes: Johnston & Murphy (probably the lowest priced shoes that check out on rules listed above), Jack Erwin (recent startup, great reviews, great prices), entry level Allen Edmond (American style fit, wider than European design), Cole Haan (have had a pair for 5 years now, still great).

Pulling It All Together

Let's run a scenario and price it all out to see where it all stands. Note that I am pricing and selecting everything based on the time of this posting, things will change over time.
Jos. A. Bank Buy 1 Get 3 Suits Deal - 1x Navy, 1x Charcoal, 1x Blue Sharkskin, 1x Gray Sharkskin -> $965.00
Indochino - 10x "Essential" Dress Shirts - $79 x 10 -> $790.00
OR
CT Shirts - 10x Multi-Buy - $49.75 x 10 -> $500.00
Jack Erwin - 1x Black Cap Toe Oxfords $195.00 + 1x Brown Wingtip Oxfords $195.00 -> $390.00

Our core wardrobe is now built for a total of $2,145.00 or under 3% of our income for the year based on an 80K comp. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will cover the accessories you need to add on to this wardrobe in order to be good to go for day one. Finally, I apologize for any mistakes anywhere, let me know if you caught something I missed.

Investment Banking Interview Course

  • 7,548 questions across 469 investment banks. Crowdsourced from over 500,000 members.
  • Technical, behavioral, networking, case videos, templates. All included.
  • Most comprehensive IB interview course in the world.

Comments (72)

Jun 4, 2015

GREAT info, thank you, just added to frontpage :-)

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

    • 1
Jun 4, 2015

I recommend hitting up Nordstrom's semi-annual sales for great deals, especially on shoes and also Nordstrom Rack. You can get AE's for considerably lower than they normally sell for.

    • 1
Jun 4, 2015

Brooks Brother's 2 for 1 shirts are a no brainer. Just stay away from their "346" (outlet) brand; won't look the same in 6 months. Speaking from experience :(

Another big Brook's Brothers pro - I've had a few shirts wear through in the arm's due to sitting at a desk. They will normally replace with a new shirt if you have your receipt and it's within a year; outside of that I've gotten 50% off, no questions asked. They tailor the sleeves to short afterwards and donate to charity.

Jun 4, 2015

.

    • 6
Jun 22, 2015
GoodBread:

This isn't even semi-formal.

Does absolutely no one get this?

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

Jun 4, 2015

Great post. I can definitely attest to the quality, look and feel of Allen Edmonds. I have 3 pairs and they are all fantastic. Once you know your size I'd suggest going online to their Shoebank for "factory-seconds". These are shoes that have minor cosmetic defects that don't pass inspection. They're cheaper than buying the unblemished shoes but the defects I have seen have been almost unnoticeable and they don't affect the wear.

Also, EnergyHOU I've been expanding my wardrobe and am thinking about custom made suits. Specifically, I'm considering the cheaper end, such as Indochino. I'm leaning towards Black Lapel though. Are you familiar with them and if so would you recommend them?

Jun 4, 2015

Great post.

But I honestly think $2145 is paying too much. You can get 100% wool suits at JCP for $180 on sale. (Often there is a 15%-20% off coupon floating around, bringing the price to $150). If you're willing to go slightly upmarket, you can still do a Tasso Elba or CK at Macy's. Again, Macy's often has a 15-20% off coupon floating around, especially around Memorial Day or the 4th. If buying separates, get an extra pair of pants if you have the money- usually the area right below one of the front pockets is the first thing to tear on a suit. Stafford is good for 100 wears; if you have the money, get a Joseph Abboud or a Tyrwhitt (or worst case just try to find a first-world-country on the lapel) and get ~200-250 wears.

Shirts should honestly not cost more than $50 apiece and often can be done for $25. If you're paying $79 for a shirt, you're doing it wrong. Worst case, Charles Tyrwhitt makes excellent shirts that are 4 for $200. Oftentimes there are coupon codes giving 10-20% off or Groupon deals. I honestly think you just need 4. CT Shirts are good for ~100 wears/washes.

You don't need to spend more than $1000 on clothing. Just get 100% wool and buy US/Canada/Japan/South Korea/Europe if you have the money.

    • 1
Dec 19, 2016

I am assuming you are referring to the non-iron twill shirts?
Aren't the fabrics/weaves a bit thin?
They are so thin they're see-through.

Jun 4, 2015

Actually, in case anyone is interested, you can get 4 Charles Tyrwhitt shirts for $150 ($50 for $100 voucher, plus another $100 cash). That's $37.50 apiece for a shirt whose quality I'd argue is somewhere between Abboud and Brooks Brothers.

https://www.livingsocial.com/deals/1464126-100-or-...

Aug 19, 2015

This was very helpful, thank you for the write-up.
Great post. I can definitely attest to the qualit.

Jun 4, 2015

This was very helpful, thank you for the write-up. Will Part II touch on timepieces? I am a bit of a watch enthusiast and would love to hear your thoughts.

"same day, different shit"

Jun 4, 2015

One of the best posts I've seen on WSO in any forum....this needs to have 100 sb's by the end of the week....all you fools who don't know how to dress need to take notes....

and @IlliniProgrammer, I think ~$2,000 is a pretty good target budget....if someone is an SA you are pretty much spending your signing (relocation) bonus which I think is the best use of that....it's definitely better than blowing it on random shit that I hear is what most people do these days.

Sure, you can get a "decent" suit at JCP's for cheap, but it also won't last as long. As for the shirts, yes ~$50 is what I would say the target price should be. Idk where you're going to find a quality shirt for $25, but yeah, it's not really necessary to spend $80. I don't think I have ever heard any complaints about Tywritt and I know some very wealthy people who still wear it (lol!).

Last point I would make, the trend towards business casual. I know not every bank is doing this, but I think we are close to this becoming a lot more widespread. This obviously saves you money on suits, which I personally would use to buy a couple extra pairs of shirts and pants (so that you don't have to worry about dry-cleaning every week).

    • 1
Jun 5, 2015

Analysts aren't supposed to be able to afford $300 suits. And it's a lot easier to buy them one at a time than five at a time.

As for dry cleaning shirts just go wrinkle free and just make sure to hanger them as soon as they come out of the dryer.

Jun 5, 2015
IlliniProgrammer:

Analysts aren't supposed to be able to afford $300 suits. And it's a lot easier to buy them one at a time than five at a time.

As for dry cleaning shirts just go wrinkle free and just make sure to hanger them as soon as they come out of the dryer.

Analysts can't afford $300 suits? Come on, get real. You actually think someone making let's say $140K per year cannot afford to spend $300 on a suit?

I think for the entry level decent quality suit your prospects improve dramatically around the $500 mark, whether with the various M2M suits (Black Lapel is much better regarded than Indochino there and is in the ~$500 range) or a good quality RTW suit marked down (eHaberdasher a good site to look at for suits as well as shirts).

Jun 5, 2015
mk1275:

IlliniProgrammer: Analysts aren't supposed to be able to afford $300 suits. And it's a lot easier to buy them one at a time than five at a time.
As for dry cleaning shirts just go wrinkle free and just make sure to hanger them as soon as they come out of the dryer.

Analysts can't afford $300 suits? Come on, get real. You actually think someone making let's say $140K per year cannot afford to spend $300 on a suit?

I think for the entry level decent quality suit your prospects improve dramatically around the $500 mark, whether with the various M2M suits (Black Lapel is much better regarded than Indochino there and is in the ~$500 range) or a good quality RTW suit marked down (eHaberdasher a good site to look at for suits as well as shirts).

Here's the problem- we work in a volatile industry and you're supposed to live on and save your salary your first year.

Furthermore if you add up all of the finance advice on WSO:

-Take out a $200K loan to go to Cornell or NYU ($2000/mo)
-Live in Manhattan ($2000/mo)
-Spend $3000 on suits
-Party at clubs, grab brunch with friends ($500/mo)
-Pay electric bill and buy food. ($1200/mo)

Meanwhile your analyst salary is only $5K/mo.

The only thing an analyst needs his suit to say about him is to simply avoid saying he's cheap. And you do that by avoiding wrinkly polyester, getting it altered to fit (can be done at any dry cleaner for sub $50) and maybe trying to find something US-made.

If you have the money, get Joseph Abboud, Hart-Marx or Charles Tyrwhitt- these are good quality brands made in the US or UK that cost under $400 if you can find a deal. They are usually good for 300 wears. If you don't have the money, CK, Stafford, Alfani, or Tasso Elba is just fine, too, as long as it's 100% wool, and as long as it fits.

Jun 5, 2015

True. For me though, clothes are a bonus expenditure and not a part of the mnthly budget. Most guys are getting $12-15k+ sign-ons for FT. If you budget correctly, one can easily drop $2-3k on a wardrobe and still have plenty left for rent down payment, other necessities, and tuck a grand away to start a rainy day fund.

Thx for the Tyrwhitt idea and coupon. Def. going to get me some.

Jun 6, 2015

I'm going to guess that you meant to say $3,000....and those who can afford that price range are only buying for the name at that point, as you can get better quality suits than the brand names at that price point.

Also, I would argue that in a SA's price range it would be easier to get 5 at a time. That way you can just buy them all and get them all tailored at the same time then you don't have to worry about it anymore.

Jun 5, 2015

Helpful Tip:

If you are in poverty like me, you can still get nice things off ebay. Look for top sellers and go for used ties. Most of these ties are in perfectly fine condition and can be had for $40. Filter by brand for what you want, the width you want, patterns, etc. Many of these ties are ugly as hell, but you can set up an alert that tracks these ties and check once a day while you are building out your wardrobe.

On the same note, you can also buy used allen edmond shoes for easily 0.40 cents on the dollar, make sure they are reputable, the last fits well, and is not too beat up.

Jun 5, 2015

Yes, eBay!
Bought a second-hand, but pretty much brand new navy RL suit + charcoal YSL suit from eBay, <$300 and love them.

Best Response
Jun 5, 2015

Yep. In college I was wearing a near-perfectly tailored Hickey Freeman blazer. $100 thanks to Ebay.

    • 3
Jun 6, 2015

Ebay is a great idea. I've done it before a few times -- you can filter for "new" and get overstocks and stuff that is last-year's model, but hey, last year? Some of those shirts styles have been around since before Mad Men.

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

Jun 5, 2015

I'd recommend Combat Gent as much better quality suits for $180-$200 compared to Jos A Bank (though obviously not at the level of Suit Supply). And like others mentioned, Charles Tyrwhitt is great for decent quality dress shirts for $30-$40 on sale.

For those that know their dress shoe size well already, check out Meermin. It's a Spanish shoe company, so you have to pay import duty, but their entry level line runs about $175-$200, and are comparable in quality to full-price Allen Edmonds. Obviously returns are a pain, so definitely get measured first and know your size exactly if you want to go down this path.

Jun 5, 2015

Pro-tip: if you're in NYC, go to Century 21. You can thank me later.

Jun 5, 2015

I like it but we should bring it up a notch in terms of brands for suits and shirts - Eg. Banana Republic Shirts, Jos A Bank. I'd put some Ermenegildo Zegna and Luigi Borrelli instead - on sale of course

Jun 5, 2015

Thanks for the feedback guys. To touch on a few of the comments:

This is definitely not the absolute rock bottom cheapest route to build your wardrobe, but that also wasn't my goal here. You can definitely build out for less than $1,250 in my opinion. The idea behind this thread however is to find maximum quality to money spent. That's not to say that a Macy's brand suit is going to be terrible by the way.

I can attest to the quality of Indochino. I've read a few bad things online but I have 4 suits from them and a few shirts and even the very first order came out next to perfect. My reasoning behind using them is you save on alteration costs which I've seen go well over a hundred dollars for one suit.

As I said regarding shoes but that I should have included with suits is that there's an enormous used marketplace out there for high quality pieces. Ebay is definitely the spot to look around and see if you can find anything. Also check out fashion forums or shoe forums specifically, they usually have a marketplace within.

Forgot to add Combatant Gent, solid little company. Although be careful of one thing, I believe some of their suits are synthetic blends. I could be wrong but read the description carefully and make sure / contact support.

Part 2 won't cover timepieces. I don't know enough to write intelligently about them. My quick opinion though is that you shouldn't spend more than $500 on your first watch, workhorse brands to consider: Seiko, Hamilton, Citizen, Tissot (specifically, look into some of the automatics at some of those brands)

Jun 5, 2015

You could probably afford an Omega or a TAG as an entrey level analyst - I'm looking forward to part 2 - Hope it can cover scarfs, outerwear including Trenchcoats and others such as wallets, cufflinks etc.

Cool post buddy, keep it up

    • 1
Jun 5, 2015

The numbers you use often don't match reality. That is the problem.

-Nobody should pay $200K to go to NYU....
-Living in Manhattan with roommates is much less than $2000/mo for most analysts
-If you spend $500/suit and buy 2-3, that is $1000-1500, not $3000.
-Partying and brunch for $500/mo - OK, realistic
-Pay electric bill and buy food - no way is this $1200/mo for anyone, analysts are getting most meals for free. This is more like $500/mo for utilities and food for the average person, not $1200.

The sentiment that you should save a significant chunk of your earnings is great. I agree completely, and with salaries at $85K I think an analyst should be saving not only bonus but also a decent chunk from salary. But you are arguing against a straw man with ridiculous made up numbers like $1200/mo for food and electric for a single guy.

    • 1
Jun 5, 2015

-The standard advice on WSO is that NYU and Cornell are worth $200K more than UMich or UVA, even if you have to take out debt.

-I don't think $300/week for basic living expenses including food, utilities, non-work clothing, furniture, bedsheets, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, shampoo, shoes, eating utensils, laundry washing, and the like in Manhattan (where a lean cuisine box costs $4.49 and a washing machine costs $3 per load) is too far off the mark.

A studio apt costs $2000 in a walk-up, at least in the East Village. I've seen people pay $1700/mo to live with roommates and that was a few years ago. Perhaps $1500 may be a better number but I don't see how you go much lower than that. Mind you if you signed a lease on a rent controlled apt. in 2007, rents have gone up significantly.

If you work more than 60 hours a week and the dress code is business formal, I think you need five suits, not 2-3. Most Americans I know typically dryclean their suits once every 4-5 wears (sometimes more often) and it's probably smart to keep one suit behind in case you get stuck at work until after the cleaners close.

    • 1
Jun 5, 2015
IlliniProgrammer:

-The standard advice on WSO is that NYU and Cornell are worth $200K more than UMich or UVA, even if you have to take out debt.

-I don't think $300/week for basic living expenses including food, utilities, non-work clothing, furniture, bedsheets, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, shampoo, shoes, eating utensils, laundry washing, and the like in Manhattan (where a lean cuisine box costs $4.49 and a washing machine costs $3 per load) is too far off the mark.

A studio apt costs $2000 in a walk-up, at least in the East Village. I've seen people pay $1700/mo to live with roommates and that was a few years ago. Perhaps $1500 may be a better number but I don't see how you go much lower than that. Mind you if you signed a lease on a rent controlled apt. in 2007, rents have gone up significantly.

If you work more than 60 hours a week and the dress code is business formal, I think you need five suits, not 2-3. Most Americans I know typically dryclean their suits once every 4-5 wears (sometimes more often) and it's probably smart to keep one suit behind in case you get stuck at work until after the cleaners close.

-I really do not think anyone rational, even on WSO, thinks NYU is worth $200K more than UMich. I'd rather go to UMich over NYU at the same price. You may find an outlier who is an idiot but I don't think that qualifies as standard advice.

-OK, well you said $1200/mo for electric and food, not for every other living expense. That's reasonable.

-For analysts I've seen those with roommates at around $1500-1750/mo.

-Even at a "business formal office" you rarely wear your suit jacket. Only at meetings/etc, so you need a jacket at the office but you will not wear it everyday. You need 2-3 suits with 2 pairs of pants each. And I would not advise dry cleaning a suit jacket after wearing it 5 times in an office environment.

-Bottom line is even if you assume the worst case numbers you put up, the hypothetical "WSO Analyst" is spending $2000/mo on rent, $1200/mo on other expenses, and $500/mo for entertainment, for a total of $3700/mo. So with an $85K salary he's probably saving about $1000/mo from salary and saving all or most of his bonus.

Jun 6, 2015
mk1275:

And I would not advise dry cleaning a suit jacket after wearing it 5 times in an office environment.

This. I think this is one of the biggest problems young (and old, too probably) americans have. I don't know whether it is not being taught properly or what not, but you do not need to clean your suits that often. It shortens the life of the suit dramatically. If you are rotating your suits and they're 100% natural fabrics 2x a year is probably more than enough.

Jun 6, 2015
very.chipper:

mk1275: And I would not advise dry cleaning a suit jacket after wearing it 5 times in an office environment.

This. I think this is one of the biggest problems young (and old, too probably) americans have. I don't know whether it is not being taught properly or what not, but you do not need to clean your suits that often. It shortens the life of the suit dramatically. If you are rotating your suits and they're 100% natural fabrics 2x a year is probably more than enough.

Do I need to wash my hands after shaking hands with you?

I mean there's some very basic hygiene practices civilized people should follow:

-Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
-Take a shower most days and after working out. Apply deodorant, not cologne.
-Wash your clothing after you wear it.
-Dryclean the stuff you can't wash at least once every several wears.

PS: cologne and cigarettes don't cover up the BO.

    • 4
Jun 6, 2015

It's not like your suit is touching your body and getting nasty from that. You are wearing at least 1 layer in between it and your body (more if you have an undershirt, sweater, etc.). If you wear it and let it air out it shouldn't smell unless you perspire heavily and sweat through the other layers.

Jun 5, 2015

I don't know why anyone is buying ten $80 dress shirts. Ten Charles Tyrwhitt shirts run you $500 at most, and most people, especially "rising investment bankers" also don't need ten new shirts. What did you wear with a suit or a blazer in college? What did you wear to your interview? Your "old shirts" can last you at least a couple paychecks alongside your new additions, if not 6 months to a year.

Also, why are analysts buying $200 shoes? Buy $100 Bostonians starting out. This is NYC - your shoes are going to get absolutely shit on with the rain, snow, sleet, and street sludge. I don't even wear nice shoes when I visit. You can turn into a shoe connoisseur later in life.

    • 1
Jun 5, 2015

Actually you can buy 4 CT Shirts for $150 (net):

https://www.livingsocial.com/deals/1464126-100-or-...

Jun 5, 2015

Nice. I wish I didn't own way too many button downs already.

Jun 5, 2015

Great write-up. Any advice on choosing "fitted" versus "super fitted" shirts? I'm specifically referring to brands like TM Lewin and CT, who both have options for fitted/ super fitted. For someone who is lean and in relatively good shape, how should one go about choosing between fitted/ super fitted? If let's say normally my collar size is 15.5 in and sleeve is 35, do I have to alter these numbers when choosing between normal shirts and fitted/ super fitted shirts?

Jun 5, 2015

"Fitted" vs. "Super Fitted," at least when it comes to CT, it more about chest/gut size than anything else. I am not a skinny jeans type of guy at all, but when I'm in good shape CT's "super fitted" is a fantastic look and not too skinny at all. When I'm not, it makes me look like I'm fat eurotrash.

Jun 5, 2015

I have some Thomas Pink shirts and love their fitted. Compared to the older BB shirts I feel if I've gone from 1982 to 2015 in one fell swoop. If you're less than 15% body fat and have a smaller frame, you can think about "super fitted." In my experience collar size is the same; unfortunately, at least with Pink, their slim/extra-slim does not take in account sleeve length. I had to bring up the sleeve length an inch or so. Simple tailor fix; shouldn't cost you more than $10-15/shirt.

Jun 5, 2015

Nice thanks !

Jun 5, 2015

Would it be okay to buy multiple charcoal grey/ navy blue pants in a more generic, cheaper brand?

Jun 5, 2015

I'd also encourage any young frugal kids to look at department stores like Nordstrom and Macy's. Nordstrom has their own brand shirts and then pants if you aren't wearing suits. They won't blow anyone anyway, but are 100% materials at good prices with free shipping and a liberal return policy. I've also heard that they put AE shoes on sale sometimes. Macy's has some good sales on 100% wool suits in a variety of brands for like $225-275.

Jun 6, 2015

No, I meant $300. If you're buying five $300 suits you're spending $500 more than you need to.

Jun 6, 2015

What about your slacks?

Jun 6, 2015

That's the part I've never understood. My dad told me from when I was young that I should only get my suits dry-cleaned 2-4 times a year but man...after a time or two in the summer those crotches get a bit rank from the ball sweat

    • 1
Jul 14, 2015
CRE:

That's the part I've never understood. My dad told me from when I was young that I should only get my suits dry-cleaned 2-4 times a year but man...after a time or two in the summer those crotches get a bit rank from the ball sweat

Febreze those S.O.B.s and spare your suit the dry cleaning

Then nothingness was not, nor existence. There was no air then, nor heavens beyond it. Who covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping? Was there then cosmic water, in depths unfathomed?
-- Nasadiya Sukta

    • 1
Jun 6, 2015

Oh shit I was talking about the jackets....pants definitely need to be cleaned often especially during the hot, humid summer months....

I think every other wear should be a good cycle....if you have two pairs for each suit then you're cleaning them a little over once a month which sounds gross, but it's really only two wears...

Jun 6, 2015

Any chance we could discuss something about sweaters? Whether plain vs. half-zip and preferred colors, styles (round neck, v-neck) etc?

Jun 7, 2015

Ok, you've really got it figured out. Smart to buy multiple pairs of pants for the same suit- the pants are always the first to tear, and I agree they probably need to be drycleaned more often, ceteris paribus. (In the US they often don't sell separates for higher-end brands).

Jun 10, 2015
IlliniProgrammer:

Ok, you've really got it figured out.

I'm not sure if you're being serious or not, but I think it is a good system.

Smart to buy multiple pairs of pants for the same suit- the pants are always the first to tear, and I agree they probably need to be drycleaned more often, ceteris paribus. (In the US they often don't sell separates for higher-end brands).

Yes, get worn more as they get more rubbing while sitting in chairs, etc. And yes, cleaned more as not as many layers in between the skin/fabric (and your ass smells worse than your pits). And yes, this is annoying and I think they should do it more, but 1) I'm not really in that price range yet, and 2) the people who are in that price range churn through suits and don't worry about which piece needs replacing.

Jun 7, 2015

Disagree with a few points but overall probably one of the best guides I read. Cannot emphasize fit enough. You can get away with the cheapest clothes as long as they fit well.

Jun 8, 2015

Save time and money. Find a bespoke tailor. There are several that come from HK a couple times a year, that sell suits and shirts at reasonable prices (i.e. $500-700 a suit and $60-70 a shirt). These aren't fire sale prices, but nothing beats bespoke.

Shoes are different story and the poster is on point there. Even though someone recently mentioned a custom shoemaker (i.e. cobbler) in the NYC area.

Jun 8, 2015

Gray shirt?? Try again

    • 2
Jun 9, 2015
Going Concern:

Gray shirt?? Try again

Pretty 90's

Jun 8, 2015

great post!

Is a windowpane suit too much for a student? I already got a dark gray (little lighter than charcoal) suit and a navy blue with very fine pinstripes (Theory and Boss), and I'm looking to get a third suit for the next summer, haven't decided if I'm going for a Mr. ned or a Hickey Freeman suit, but I want to buy my first canvassed suit. Would these brands / windowpane-style suits be too much?

Jun 9, 2015

Do watches play an important role in you formal attire?

Jun 9, 2015

Stay away from Gray shirts, those are meant to be used by fat men only

Jun 10, 2015

Lessons learnt, all my subjective opinion across a few continents and years (edit: somehow my page-long comment is getting squashed into a nonsensical paragraph, apologies):

  • you can't get decent bespoke for < $1,000, even in Asia. My current tailor in Singapore, who cut me a deal because I was one of his first Singapore customers, was $800 for just a tweed jacket. A decent worsted two piece would be $1,300 at least. If you don't want to spend that much, but want a good fit, buy OTR and adjust. No, the various online bespoke services are not going to fit. No, you don't get a floating horsehair canvas and hand-sewn buttonholes for $300.
  • Stick to (low-ish thread count) worsted in winter and fresco in summer. Hard wearing, good looking, formal. Leave fancy materials and the supers to dandies and those who can replace their suits every 2 months.
  • As Thomas Mahon likes to say, fit is everything. A cheap suit that fits you like a glove looks more expensive than an expensive suit that doesn't. I got fatter and my beautiful ridiculously expensive Loro Piana just wrinkled in a nasty way instead of draping neatly. Go to the store, see something you like, check it's got no plastic in it, and if you like it, buy it.
  • There's always sales. Ask older folks where and when. Very unique tip: if you're ever in Tokyo, check out Komehyo (Shinjuku branch) which has absurd prices for second hand branded stuff; you can find impeccable Brioni jackets for $200! It's also great for second hand, certificate-included brand jewellery but you shouldn't have that problem for a few more years. Riskier, but in the UK at least, the Salvation Army had the occasional bespoke suit for 30 quid. I got my first POW check DB suit there (obviously not suitable for the office but damn). Also, Savile Row "proper" (Dege & Skinner, G&H, A&S, etc.) has a massive sale in early January, and also sells off the suits of customers who couldn't pay, for a fraction of what they cost to make (e.g. 300 GBP for a 3500 GBP two piece), not to mention heavy discounts on accessories (ties used to be 20 instead of 80 GBP for example).
  • Don't try and be elegant. It's a waste of money and time. Most people do not care beyond your not looking offensively stupid (3 different stripes in 3 bright colours kind of thing). You'll have both money and time later, and considerably more exposure to the people in the social group you'll end up belonging to, giving you good guidelines to follow (each is different). You're about to spend two years in a cave, effectively, so optimize for comfort without being noticed. American Psycho is a fantasy.
  • Brown vs black in town is unimportant, even in the UK, for most normal people - buy a decent (Goodyear welted) pair of each and rotate, which is more important than being correct, and gives you the flexibility to "dress down" e.g. with tweed (which def doesn't match black). PS: if you're the kind of person who likes to say "no brown in town" and feel smug, you deserve to be slapped, as I did when I used to say it. Especially in the UK. Dark brown is more versatile and less noticeable than oxblood, light brown, etc. And as per Kingsman, Oxfords not Brogues, not because of relative stylishness but because nobody notices you're wearing the same Oxfords twice in a row.
  • Easy rule: navy and grey go well together. White shirts always look best. So, navy suit(s ), charcoal suit( s), 2 button, single breasted, couple of grey ties and navy ties, and wear one with the other. No patterns, stripes, overchecks, etc. (people will remember them and see you're wearing the same suit x times a day). Nobody will notice you, but nobody will notice that you're wearing the same 5 Ferragamo ties either. Many people think that class is correlated with being understated, avoiding patterns, loud colours, etc. so to those who care, you'll look great. One example of how class is associated with dress is the movie The Ipcress File, where the suit, tie, shirt, shoes and fit of what characters wear is used to indicate their relative place in society, with Colonel Ross (very dark navy suit, white shirt, and burgundy/navy club tie, exactly like Prince Williams' favorite outfit) at the top and Palmer navigating between the enlisted and the officers. In the long run, be careful not to signal the wrong class as being perceived as a fake is more damaging than being perceived as being from a lower class which you actually belong to.
  • Easy way to look elegant without worrying about matching the tie: buy grenadine ties. It's a small weave that looks very nice, not shiny, understated, and not a school tie, unnoticed by normal people and respected by savvy dressers, without the ridiculousness and overstatement of a wool knit tie. Bonus: if you buy grenadine, POW check or houndstooth, or other small patterns, in grey/silver, that can double as a wedding tie. Useful in 3-4 years when the carousel begins. Sam Hober has a great selection; are they expensive, yes, but these ties will last a lot longer than most things you find for a lower budget (e.g. Tie Bar), and they are 1/3 of the price of similar quality ties from the UK or US makers with a decent reputation. Bear in mind they take ~2 months to arrive because they are hand made for you and he is very popular.
  • Invest in quality. My Harvie & Hudson shirts from > 8 years ago STILL look good. Honestly, I don't wear them that often anymore (1-3 times/month/shirt?), but wow. In contrast, the $60 shirts I got made by a local shirt company here looked frayed after 3-4 wears. I don't think much of TM Lewin, Thomas Pink and Charles Tyrwhitt (coincidentally the ones that spend fortunes on international marketing), but the less well known makers like H&H, New & Lingwood, etc. on Jermyn Street all offer great quality at relatively low prices. Companies fight for the place of decent entry level Goodyear welted shoe; Meermin is the current winner. Obviously you take a risk ordering online but the price charged by decent makers these days (C&J etc.) is so ridiculous it's worth taking the risk and the time to get the right fit. For one pair of C&J Oxfords you can probably buy a complete set of shoes in Meermin.
Jun 10, 2015

Is Jos A Bank a new bulge bracket?! Investment bankers have only heard of bespoke and Savile Row. Ain't nobody got time for Jos A Bank (?!)

    • 2
Jun 12, 2015

Looking forward to pt2

Jun 16, 2015

iF you are a conscious about how you look and cant afford, currently, to buy some expensive tailored suit, I recommend hitting up H&M and other stores as such for suiting. I know that they are more chic style clothing, but if you can invest time to check the quality and feel the fabric, they will be amazing. Importantly, slim fit are ESSENTIAL!!!!!!!!!!! they make you look trim and short off a couple of pounds!

    • 3
Jun 18, 2015

What's more acceptable, a dress shirt with or without a pocket? As far as I can tell, both are equally as acceptable.

Jun 19, 2015

No pocket, if you want to be formal (and especially in finance), and french cuffs rather than button.

I've started buying casual shirts with pockets as I'm flying a lot. When travelling, being clean shaven and wearing a crisply ironed shirt means you don't get "selected" for interviews or the "random" baggage search (especially in Australia, if you ever go there). The pocket is a nice place to store your passport, ticket and Visa paperwork if applicable. Those shirts also have button cuffs, so I can roll them up in the overwhelming heat of South East Asia.

Jul 17, 2015

I currently have a pair of cole haans and I love them. however, all of the cole haans ive seen don't have a leather outsole.

has anyone identified a pair that do?

Aug 16, 2015

No specific recommendations, but here are my two cents after a few months of mania:

A) I get that places have cheap suits. but at least get half-canvassed so that you're not on a heartbreaking 2-year rental before dry cleaners sent the fused suits to hell. (hint: 346)
B) The fit is real important. Start with slim or trim fit, and maybe you need zero tailoring, or maybe the job will be simplified enough.
C) Charles Tyrwhitt seems to have fine shirts. I do some side shirts with CK and don't know if it's too bad according to others' standards. I do heather gray undershirts though. Your suddenly-not-solid arms and shoulders from undershirts, look horrible. 100% cotton dress shirts is minimum, but probably supima or egyptian cotton. I like non-iron myself..
D) I like Bostonian and Clark shoes. Most of them are feather light and stylish. Saw those Cole Haans and they're nice too.
E) Get more pants! They'll run out quickly and you'd be hanging out with a lonely jacket with no bottom and no substitutes. Get an extra pant or a washable one for the sacrifices.

Aug 26, 2015

Great Information! Find a versatile collection of cheap sweater dresses with fine workmanship at Shoppersfeed. If you have any query, let us know through an e-mail.

Nov 8, 2016

Thanks for sharing this tips about fashion. You guys can also get the best quality these products at boutiqueken (boutiqueken/)shop.

Aug 22, 2017

Well, above mentioned post is very useful.

Aug 22, 2017

What are your thoughts of a lighter brown shoe such as a walnut for an equity research intern?

http://global.allenedmonds.com/shoes/mens-shoes/ox...

Jan 11, 2018
    • 1
Jan 15, 2018
Oct 3, 2018