Summer 2016 Shopping Guide for a Business Wardrobe

GTMonkey's picture
Rank: Baboon | 127

Hi Monkeys,

The purpose of this post is to create an organized place where I've found nice deals for a business wardrobe. Again, the purpose is to find a good deal. I don't want to read through the comments and find some hotshot high schooler giving me flack for not wearing Versace. In general, if you really want good deals, you need to be constantly scouring the internet for good deals. Browse fashion websites to constantly find good deals.

Picking the Right Clothes
This section is a general guideline. I think everyone needs to forge their own sense of fashion. Granted, there's not much room for diversity among business casual wardrobes. Find what clothes you like and the most important thing is to be confident in them. The more you like your clothes, the more you will wear them.
But no matter what, the most important factor when finding clothes is to find clothes that fit. In general, the slimmer you are, the better clothes look on you. However, a slim person wearing a classic cut shirt is going to look extremely foolish, because of all the excess fabric around the sides. A wider person wearing a slim fit is going to look like this.
Lastly, as a disclaimer, I have a slim, athletic build so I prefer websites that have fitted clothes.

Suits
I will not be including links to buy suits, because I think suits should be bought in person and should be tailored accordingly. Even if you get your measurements exactly, each suit fits differently. Try your suits in person at a physical location and then buy it via the online website if you must.

Dress Shirts
Dress shirts are the bread and butter of any business casual wardrobe. Most people on WSO consider white and blue to be the only colors you should wear as a SA or FY-Analyst. I agree with this. When you're an MD, you can dress like Gordon Gekko but until then, stick to the basics.
My personal favorites are:

Dress Pants
Dress pants are obviously as equal as dress shirts, but you can get away with less diversity. As in, you should own more dress shirts than dress pants, because it's more noticeable when you repeat shirts than pants. I've seen people on WSO say that the colors you should usually wear up north are generally darker colors (black, charcoal, grey, etc.) but lighter colors are okay in the south (khaki, biege, white, etc.).
My personal favorites are:

Ties
I really really like ties. One thing I hate though is how expensive it is to get a respectable collection. I prefer 2.5" ties because of my build, but if you're average/above-average weight, a 3" tie might fit you better. Remember, it's important to fit your build.
As far as tie designs go, stick to more conservative ones. Solid designs and striped ties are classic choices.
My personal favorites are:

Shoes
I usually like to go around and find good deals for shoes. In general, I prefer wingtips and strong brown shoes. I don't like square-toed shoes or god forbid, slip-ons. Some people like Clark's and desert boots, but I'm not a fan of them at all.
In general, Amazon is a great source for shoes, or just browse around your local mall. It's important to find shoes that are comfortable, because you're going to be in them all day long.

Socks
I don't care about the brand name of my socks at all. Literally, no one is going to see them unless you yank your pants up to show off that you have some (insert bullshit brand) $100 socks.
My personal favorites are:

I bought some argyle socks from Uniqlo a few years ago and I've loved them. Their quality is great and they were extremely great value for their price.

Again, the views expressed in this thread are extremely subjective. I'd love to get some feedback from you Monkeys.
In particular, what kind of fashion do you guys bring to the office? What's a typical day to day outfit like? What's a go-to outfit?

Hope you guys enjoy,
-GTMonkey

Comments (49)

May 11, 2016

Thanks for the post, particularly important since this is the period FT analyst plan their arriving on wall street or banks. I have been thinking of how to build my dress shirt and pants collections since I start work this summer.
Any advice on quantity needed for each section? how many shoes, shirt colors etc.
What do you think about wearing pink dress shirt on a Friday.? Also love ties but for love of God I can't see the utility of them.

Thanks for the post

May 11, 2016

Great to hear you like the post. It took me forever to right. That's why I made the post as I'm just rounding out my wardrobe myself.
As far as quantity goes, the first thing to establish is your budget. I would aim for around 7-10 dress shirts, 5+ pants, 5+ socks (I do my laundry weekly). If your budget is higher, I would aim for a few more in each category.

May 11, 2016

couple thoughts:

  1. great list, wish I had this years ago when I was shopping for my business wardrobe
  2. charles thyrwitt sleeves run short in my experience, order 0.5-1 inch longer than you normally would. also for shirts, non iron is totally fine, but fit is most important in my opinion.
  3. if you can make the choice between buying 5 cheap shirts and afford to get them tailored versus 3 brooks brothers that will fit like a garbage bag, go with inexpensive & tailored.
  4. for ties, I personally despise the tie bar (quality), but they are cheap. I've had the best luck at places like stein mart and the discount rack of department stores (belk in the south, not sure what the equivalent would be up in NYC), but the issue with poor quality ties is you don't get a good knot that stays throughout the day. my experience has been that the tie bar ties look nice untied and have decent designs, but when you tie them they loosen within only a couple of hours. I guess the point is shop around, feel the tie, learn what you like, don't be afraid to tie the tie in store, and try not to spend more than $30 per tie when you're just starting out
  5. for shoes, beware of too good to be true deals. my first dress shoes were something like this and they were a steal when I bought them. little did I know this treated/shiny/mirror leather looks good for maybe 2 weeks, and unless you shine your shoes weekly, these babies will crack quickly and look shitty within months. I'm being realistic when I say that I know no 22yo has the time/desire to shine his own shoes this religiously (though you should), so don't make it as big of an issue. if I could do it all over again, I'd spend the extra money on allen edmonds.
  6. also for shoes, get at least 2 pairs. leather is a skin, and you're sweating in it all day long, it's best to not wear the same pair of shoes 2 days in a row. if loafers are acceptable (are they?), maybe get some captoes and loafers. if not, get captoes and wingtips.
  7. general care: always put shoe trees in your shoes when you're not wearing them. have legit hangers for your shirts, pants and suits, not the wire hangers from the dry cleaner or those plastic shits you get from target. use a shoehorn. iron your shirts. don't overclean your clothes, the processes used to dry clean plus the damage done by washers and dryers will shorten the life of your clothes. if you really stink, then yes wash shirts after each use, otherwise you can go 2-4 wears before washing assuming you're in an air conditioned office all day. hang your ties up, don't drape them over a hanger (get something like this).
    • 4
May 11, 2016

Regarding your tie comment, I live in the south and we do have Stein Marts, although they're rare and unpopular.
Do you wear a tie to work every day? I'm still deciding if I want to do that. I personally think dress shirt + tie looks miles better than just dress shirt, but investing into a nice tie collection is so damn expensive.

May 11, 2016

I do wear a tie everyday. if you're worried about shopping at popular stores, then my advice won't really work for you, I shop based on value. but I remember when I was starting out, I'd go to stein mart, find some tommy hilfiger or michael kors ties for about $10-30 a pop and look just as good as the guys shelling out $80 for some department store bullshit.

but about wearing a tie everyday, I would not do that if you don't have to, except maybe for presentations, otherwise it just gets in the way. I'd go by what everyone else in the office does. if the associates and VPs wear ties, wear a tie. if they don't follow suit. nobody likes a suckup.

I'll also second the AE comments. I got my park avenues for $225 from an outlet store in Maine. I found out my size and just called the outlet, found out when they had sales, and got them that way. also nordstrom's annual sale is good for AE, I got another pair during that for around 60% off.

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May 13, 2016
thebrofessor:

couple thoughts:

1. great list, wish I had this years ago when I was shopping for my business wardrobe

2. charles thyrwitt sleeves run short in my experience, order 0.5-1 inch longer than you normally would. also for shirts, non iron is totally fine, but fit is most important in my opinion.

3. if you can make the choice between buying 5 cheap shirts and afford to get them tailored versus 3 brooks brothers that will fit like a garbage bag, go with inexpensive & tailored.

4. for ties, I personally despise the tie bar (quality), but they are cheap. I've had the best luck at places like stein mart and the discount rack of department stores (belk in the south, not sure what the equivalent would be up in NYC), but the issue with poor quality ties is you don't get a good knot that stays throughout the day. my experience has been that the tie bar ties look nice untied and have decent designs, but when you tie them they loosen within only a couple of hours. I guess the point is shop around, feel the tie, learn what you like, don't be afraid to tie the tie in store, and try not to spend more than $30 per tie when you're just starting out

5. for shoes, beware of too good to be true deals. my first dress shoes were something like this and they were a steal when I bought them. little did I know this treated/shiny/mirror leather looks good for maybe 2 weeks, and unless you shine your shoes weekly, these babies will crack quickly and look shitty within months. I'm being realistic when I say that I know no 22yo has the time/desire to shine his own shoes this religiously (though you should), so don't make it as big of an issue. if I could do it all over again, I'd spend the extra money on allen edmonds.

6. also for shoes, get at least 2 pairs. leather is a skin, and you're sweating in it all day long, it's best to not wear the same pair of shoes 2 days in a row. if loafers are acceptable (are they?), maybe get some captoes and loafers. if not, get captoes and wingtips.

7. general care: always put shoe trees in your shoes when you're not wearing them. have legit hangers for your shirts, pants and suits, not the wire hangers from the dry cleaner or those plastic shits you get from target. use a shoehorn. iron your shirts. don't overclean your clothes, the processes used to dry clean plus the damage done by washers and dryers will shorten the life of your clothes. if you really stink, then yes wash shirts after each use, otherwise you can go 2-4 wears before washing assuming you're in an air conditioned office all day. hang your ties up, don't drape them over a hanger (get something like this).

So you don't wash your shirts after each wear? Never heard of that before

May 11, 2016

yep, forget where I read it but I've been doing it for years. It's not for everyone because some people sweat a lot, have body odor, etc

May 26, 2016
thebrofessor:

2. charles thyrwitt sleeves run short in my experience, order 0.5-1 inch longer than you normally would.

I agree with this completely.

I'll also add that if you're a long-time CT shirt buyer like myself, within the last year or so they changed their fits to be more slimming. I'm an athletic guy with broad chest/shoulders and a slim waist and the Extra Slim Fit used to be my go-to. Now though, that's way more for skinny guys, and I buy the Slim (the middle option.)

May 11, 2016

For quality suits and shoes at a good price, I would recommend SuitSupply and Allen Edmonds.

SuitSupply has both off-the-rack and made-to-measure options. OTR works well for me after tailoring and they have in house tailors that are phenomenal and cheap. Just make sure your suit jacket fits as pants are easier/cheaper to tailor.

If you're strapped on cash after doling out on everything else, you can also go to shoebank.com to find Allen Edmonds "Seconds", which are new shoes that have not passed their very, very rigorous quality inspection (a single stitch out of place, a scuff on the bottom, a dot on the heel). All of my shoes are from there and it has saved me hundreds while still giving me some very top quality shoes.

May 11, 2016

Wow I've never heard about the "Seconds" thing. That seems like a "refurbished" product from the electronic industry.
I'll definitely keep that in mind in the future.

May 12, 2016

Way, way better than refurbished nonsense...refurbished means it was broken in some way and they "fixed" it...AE seconds are brand new with minor, minor flaws. Like @AZMonkey said, AE has incredibly high standards, so you likely won't even be able to tell what is out of place with the seconds.

May 11, 2016

Not a fan of brown shoes or light trousers. I cant remember the last time I saw anyone wear brown shoes well with a suit.

Stick to black shoes and navy/charcoal trousers. Oxblood and navy can look quite good too..

Suits: Suit Supply, their in house tailoring will make sure it fits. Although a colleague has a Hugo Boss suit and it just looks really really smart, slightly pricier though.

Socks: Uniqlo (Great shout OP)

Shoes: Russell and Bromley (not sure if they are too well known in the US but great compromise on price/quality) and loafers are sweet just keep them simple.

Ties: eBay can be good for a few classics, depends on your style.

May 11, 2016

Brown shoes look great if you pair them well. They look horrendous with black, but I prefer a dark grey myself. IMO, black shoes look better on older people. Young professionals should strive for a "modern man" look.

May 11, 2016

I googled brown shoes with suit and I found a ton of outfit combos that work great. I'm a big fan of (brown shoes + navy pants) or (brown shoes + grey pants)
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/fb/e7/ff... https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/c5/bc/c0...
http://www.asuitthatfits.com/offthecuff/wp-content...

May 11, 2016
GMG:

Ties: eBay can be good for a few classics, depends on your style.

I will second this, and not necessarily just for classics. I'll typically buy a lots of ties and just throw out the ones you don't want / like. You'll typically average ~$5 a tie if you are bidding well. I've gotten some pretty nice ties this way (Thomas Pink, Ferragamo, Zenga).

Just go on ebay and search "Ferragamo" tie lot (or whatever your favorite / desired brand is)

May 11, 2016
GMG:

Suits: Suit Supply, their in house tailoring will make sure it fits. Although a colleague has a Hugo Boss suit and it just looks really really smart, slightly pricier though.

Hugo Boss suits look great. They have nice fabric with a great cut but their absolute dogsht for quality. I used to do all Boss suits but I would crush them in about a year. I've gone with Canali since and I find that their suits hold up really, really well.

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May 11, 2016

Great comments. I would only add Meermin for oxfords and premium outlets for suits.

May 15, 2016

It isn't a matter of looks, it's a matter of protocol. The old adage goes "no brown in town", and if a senior guy/client holds that to be true then you WILL be judged negatively for wearing brown shoes with a navy/charcoal suit, no matter how "sharp" you look. I like the look myself, but the upside (someone liking your outfit slightly better) does not weigh up to the potential downside (someone thinking you have no grasp of correct protocol).

EDIT: This goes for London.

May 11, 2016

I don't think is true at all. That's ridiculous to claim that bankers only wear black. Look around and you'll see much more than that

May 11, 2016

I want to get a pair of horse-bit loafers. Any solid brands I should look into for a reasonable price? Hoping to find something on sale under $100.

May 11, 2016

solid and under $100 don't usually match, sorry bro.

    • 1
May 11, 2016

It's been said a thousand times but I want to emphasize that fit is by far the most important consideration to keep in mind.

I would suggest taking the time to go and get fitted for a MTM / custom dress shirt before you start working. There are a few choices but knot standard / indochino / black lapel are all decent options and not insanely expensive. Only buy one on your first trip and plan ahead because they usually take ~4 weeks to be delivered. When you get the shirt, try it on and consider having the showroom (or a friend who's into dudes) give you their thoughts about the look. Note any adjustments necessary and get a copy of your final measurements for future reference.

It can be a huge pain in the ass the first time through but it's hard to find OTR shirts that fit well especially if you have an athletic build. You'll thank me when people start asking you where you get your shirts and/or when ladies start trying to buy you drinks.

May 11, 2016

The "black shoes only" thing is officially dead (at least in the US). As long as you know the very basics of how to match colors, you'll look far better pairing brown shoes with a blue, navy, or even gray suit

    • 1
May 11, 2016

The problem there is the US isn't exactly famous for sartorial elegance..

Best Response
May 11, 2016

sartorial elegance? really? I don't even think prince charles says shit like that.

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    • 1
May 11, 2016

Okay..

Well I'm going to add something for WOMEN. even though it is a male dominated industry, a lot of women are confused on what to wear (should I try to be fashionable or not?)

DON'T TRY TO BE FASHIONABLE.

Especially for summer internship, wear business formal for the first 2 weeks to try out your group. If they wear business cas, cool. But always try to be as conservative as possible.

For Suits,
Depending on your budget, you can find business suits anywhere. Try for dark colors.

If you really don't want to break the bank for an internship, go to Macy's. They have good quality women suits there and always have a sale on Saturdays(I just noticed this recently)

Do not try to buy a pencil skirt and match it with a blazer. That is not business formal. The blazer and the skirt/pants need to be the SAME material. Again, wait out and see the vibe.

No pinstripe. Just no.

For dress shirts,

At any time you wanted to be fashionable, this is it. You can get away with a lot here. BUT NO CAMI TANK TOPS. Do not wear that under your suit. Get nice dress shirts. A button up or a dark colored shirt. I even got away with a crop top (I had a high waist suit skirt on). If any accessories, it should be minimal. You are working, you want to be known for your work.

Brooks bros, NordstroMs, Macy's, banana Republic, express, and Lord and Taylor'Swift all have great options.

Dress pants
Really, you only need 2 good expensive suits and a lot of shirts and dress pants.

Good quality pants can be found at the places above. Best bet for deals is at Macy's or go to fashion outlets for the bargain hunter.

Last note:
Sometimes, SOMETIMES you can find good shit at the thrift store. Seriously, depending on where you live. I found a Versace dress at a thrift store in Hollywood and some Jimmy Choo shoes. I paid $40. Best day ever, rare though. But it happens.

Also if you have questions about plus size or petite, i know some good places for that too :)

Happy shopping!!

    • 2
May 11, 2016

The reason brown shoes aren't recommended is that black shoes go with pretty much every suit/pant colour, while brown is only appropriate for navy and gray (and a few others).

Not only that, you need a matching belt to go with the shoes. So buying one pair of black shoes and a belt is much more versatile than brown.

Add brown to the wardrobe once you've got the basics covered.

May 11, 2016

best advice i can give on this: get outttt. i wear untucked oxfords, chinos, and clarks to work everyday.

May 12, 2016

For those of you (like myself) who are just starting out their careers and need shoes, check out Aldo. Around $80-$130 for a decent pair of dress shoes if you take care of them. Fit is pretty true to size, although I have found that I order half a size smaller here and there. I have shoes that have lasted 4-5 years from them (@thebrofessor I am oddly the type to shine and polish every few weeks).

Also, if you can get to a Nordstrom Rack near you, guarantee you can find a pair of pants, a suit, some shoes, or whatever it is that you are looking for. The key is to know your measurements before you go, because if you ask a store attendant to measure you... well you may have a suit that would fit a sperm whale.

...

May 13, 2016

You mentioned to stick with white and blue shirt. However do you have any recommendations of the shades of the blue shirt I should wear? I am working at BB and will mostly take out my suit jacket when I am working so shirt is important.

I bought 2 Brooks Brother light blue and 2 white shirt but they both look same specially light blue. What other shades can I buy for shirt?

    • 1
May 11, 2016

Hey Kincaid,

Don't know why you got monkey shit. Your question is valid.
As far as color/style of your shirt, pick what you like. My fashion sense is likely different from yours. If you pick a shirt you like, you will enjoy wearing it more and feel more confident in your skin.

Regarding shirt designs, look into small gridded ones. In general, plaid is a no go. Striped shirts look pretty good imo. Again, look into your personal preference. You can consider buying some shirts and returning the ones you don't like. You just have to pay a shipping fee if you order online, or run back to the brooks brothers retail location.

May 11, 2016

Lol autocorrect fucked your name up.

May 11, 2016

If you're going into banking as an analyst, I honestly recommend just getting a wardrobe of white shirts. They're easier to match than blue in my opinion (blue shirt + blue suit = nope) and everyone in banking wears white generally. When you're tired after a 4 hour nap you also care less about what you look like. Why think when it's so much easier to wear white?

May 26, 2016
AZMonkey:

(blue shirt + blue suit = nope)

Ridiculous comment

May 13, 2016

I will be doing a SA S&T stint and had a question about pants. Should all my pants be suit pants (and specifically pants that I can wear with my jacket)? I have heard to keep a jacket and tie at the office as to always be prepared but doesn't that mean I need to be wearing the pants that match that suit? I have 2 suits, should I buy multiple pairs of the pants that match those suits? Thanks for the help

May 17, 2016

No. Suit pants should be worn only with the Jacket. Have a separate set of dress pants

May 13, 2016

Nice post! For any SA's reading who are on a really tight budget, combatant gentlemen gets the job done in regards to suits, personally tried their modern fit and only needed a slight take in.

Also, I recently was told by HR that the dress code for my SA is business casual, would suit with no tie be appropriate?

May 13, 2016

Suit no tie is probably the right way to go. Some guys will take it further and not wear a jacket but I'd advise against that. Appearance is important and I think easing into a looser dress code can make you look sloppy if there are people constantly wearing suits.

May 11, 2016

http://mrdavis.com/best-undershirt/
If you sweat a decent amount (like me) get these undershirts. The tone ones hide better under your shirts (if you're white) and they fit kinda like an under armour so they don't bunch up at the bottom

May 15, 2016

Lol at no brown in town...just walk around NYC and you'll see more people wearing brown shoes + suits than black shoes. You can really tell who actually works in the industry and who doesn't.

    • 1
May 15, 2016

Entirely location dependent. You'll look like a clown showing up to work in brown shoes in London.

May 15, 2016

I should've added that this goes for London, where you will struggle to find any senior bankers without black shoes. Still think getting MS for it is pretty harsh.

May 15, 2016

I'd recommend spending a bit more on socks and getting merino wool. Especially in the summer, this material will breathe better and keep your feet dryer longer than cotton. Smartwool makes a good one called "airlite" - you can find on Amazon.

May 26, 2016

shoebank.com - this website is great, factory second AEs normally at half the cost. These shoes often have minor defects in them, like a missed stitch or something. I have bought two pairs from here (oxblood park aves and walnut strands) and have been unable to find the flaw.

May 26, 2016

Blue/white shirt (David Donahue, Boss, etc- Nordstrom has sales coming up. Shirts are ~80)
Navy/charcoal pants- Boss, Perry Ellis, Etc
Allen Edmonds/To Boot NY/ Italian shoes
Do not, do NOT buy solid ties. Nobody looks good like that.

Buy quality and you'll enjoy your investment (your image). Buy cheap, and well, we won't respect your decision. I'm not saying she'll out a grand on clothes, but don't skimp on your image, especially in this industry.

    • 1
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