Men's Style Filter: What essential clothing items should a man own? Specific recommendations welcome. (lots of details inside)
Yet another "Time to upgrade my wardrobe" thread.
I want to look like a million bucks without spending a million bucks. I have the very ambitious goal to look as good looking as I can without surgery.
What are the essential pieces I should buy - and by essential pieces I don't mean "a nice blazer" or "a great pair of jeans" I mean give me brand names and stores, and tell me when the sales are or when I should try in the store & then buy online. If there's a better forum for this (and I know there are some good fashion forums) point me to them - and not just because you heard it's a forum that discusses fashion, but because you're active there & have improved your fashion IQ tremendously by participating.
Facts about me:
- I'm 34, going on 35
- I live in New York
- I'm 5'6"
- My arms are short.
- My neck is wide, always has been & working out makes it worse.
- I weigh 186 lbs
- I work out and have muscular arms & legs and a big muscular ass from years of cycling & skating. Euro pants don't fit me, and some of the slimmer jackets that used to fit me don't anymore - my shoulders are getting to broad from that rowing machine.
- I also have a bit of a belly. (not terrible, I don't exactly have the "V" I did in college, and it jiggles a bit, but it's by no means of beer belly proportions, think of it as love handles + enough belly to make love handles - diet is underway, but I don't expect to reach my college weight of 145 ever again, especially since I've put on muscle since then.
- I have tiny feet. Really tiny - short, but wide. It's almost worth its own thread, but let's just say I'll be experimenting on Zappos because shoe shopping in stores is insanely difficult (not to mention embarrassing). Merrel (non fashionable, super comfortable) and Fuevog (funky fashionable, not super comfortable) and just sneakers (adidias, nike) have served me well until now, since they come in unisex sizes & cater to wider (read: human proportioned) feet.
- Everything else is normal size, thank you very much.
What I currently dress like:
& black tees
are a staple. I like this look a lot - it's rock & roll
, it goes just about anywhere (or I go just about anywhere in it). It shows off my arms, does just enough to hide the belly & psychologically, just does it for me as a classic, iconic look that matches my personality. I do occasionally either meet or catch a glimpse of someone else who dresses like this & think either: That guy looks like someone I'd like to hang out with or that guy is a massive douche. There is no in between with this look.
- Black pants (from anywhere, hemming pants is easy - Filene's Basement
on 6th ave has a good selection of black pants). I buy what fits & looks decent (no pleats, thank you very much) and get them hemmed. Mostly cotton, but I may switch to wool if you show me how & why.
- Button shirts (from J. Crew
- they fit nicely. Mostly white, some stripes and some of that ubiquitous gingham). Finding shirts in general hard because of my short arms + large neck. Most button shirts come in "wide neck = long sleeves" and I hate that "neck is too big to button the top button
" look almost as much as I hate the 'sleeves gathered around the wrists' look. Another option is made to measure - I've been to Addison on Madison
but wasn't crazy about fabric selection & fit options (but maybe I should reconsider?). The J. Crew shirts are also great because they're soft cotton, so don't look bad if I take them out of the dryer & stick them on a hanger instead of ironing them. (I used to iron - I got lazy. I also used to get my shirts laundered - I got cheap.)
- A suit jacket from H&M or Banana Republic
on occasion. These are okay, but I know the quality isn't great & know I look like a guy who got a suit jacket at H&M or Banana Republic. Or at least feel that way. Suit jackets are somewhat outside of my comfort zone. I'd like to own one or two of really good quality, probably tailored, all sewn & no glue, something that will "last a lifetime" - can I do this without breaking the bank?
- Very comfortable, but very ugly shoes (not my fault - shopping is a nightmare & I'm lucky I have these - again I'll be looking to upgrade but realize I may be on my own here).
- None-too fashionable coats & jackets. These need to be upgraded, but I don't really want to spend a thousand dollars on a camel hair trench coat. I have some nice stuff for spring/fall, but nothing nice for winter. What is a(n aspiring) stylish New Yorker to do when the temperature dips? I'm not convinced woolen overcoats can match goose down in February - can I pull off a ski jacket and still look rich? I think so - tell me how.
- I'm lazy. If I can't pay someone to launder it & if it can't go on a hanger after it comes out of the wash/dryer, then I'm not going to wash it - my wasteland of sweaters that were worn a few time & then never washed can attest to this. So nothing that requires special attention.
- I don't get haircuts nearly often enough, but when I do I go to Chelsea Barbers
and they do a good job.
- I like a bit of facial hair. I have that typical Asian 'hair grows in patches' thing that prevents me from going full beard or getting a real good 2-3 day stubble, but I try.
- My wallet + keys, etc. are too damn fat & bulk out my pants in all the wrong places. How do I fix this without resorting to the mugger's delight of keeping my wallet in my back pocket, or the long slim wallet in the blazer I always carry.
What I want to dress like:
Ever see someone on the subway (or pick your other "where lots of random people collide" location if your'e not in NY) and go "What are they doing on the subway? Shouldn't they be in a taxicab on their way to a party with A list celebs?" That's what I want to look like.
I want to look like money. Not in a Donald Trump kind of stuffy business way and not in a "looked like they stepped off the runway & went straight toTop Shop" of-the-moment trendy fashion model kind of way, but in a "my parents had money so I've dressed well my whole life, so I'm comfortable in an situation - business, dinner, drinks. I can dominate it all with or without a suit" kind of way. I want a look that can go from the workplace to the bar & not have me look like the mass of middle management chino + button shirt wearing masses that are OH so easy to ignore, and not (necessarily) having me look like upper management either. A bit more artsy than that, but still classic and still powerful/influential/charismatic. That's right, I want my clothes to be charismatic.
I want to go into a business meeting & have everyone assume I'm an authority based on how I'm dressed (I'll take care of the sounding like an authority part), have women check me out on the subway on the ride home thinking "I wonder which of his mistresses lives in Brooklyn and why he isn't taking his Mercedes," and when I go out for drinks I want to grease the wheels of socialization as much as possible. In brief, I want to be this guy
(who, incidentally, stepped off the cover of John T. Molloy's Dress for Success
), but without the Darth Vader/American Psycho vibe.
For some reason the phrase "Hugh Grant meets Jude Law" is popping into my head as people who pull this off well (though Hugh Grant is the kind of guy I tend to make fun of as the "romantic comedy guy who stars opposite Sandra Bullock"). Realizing I don't have the looks to star opposite Sandra Bullock or Nicole Kidman, how do I put together a wardrobe that says "Well, he may not have the looks to date a movie star, but he's got the money & taste."
So, Metafilter - how do I do this on a budget? Let's say I'm willing to spend ~$300-500 a month upgrading my wardrobe. Walk me through the absolute essentials. Take me to specific stores, even specific aisles of specific stores & do everything for me but tell me whether or not it fits nicely when I go to the dressing room. Tell me what to buy first, what to buy second. What can I buy to upgrade my current wardrobe, and when I'm looking to replace, what should I replace it with? When should I buy brand name, when can I go cheap? I'd rather have a few good pieces (perhaps several of them to save me from doing laundry + keep them from wearing out) than lots of mediocre stuff.
It's March 1- let's put together a "staple outfit" that I can own by May 1, buy a few choice items in bulk when the sale hits, and expand on throughout the year so that by autumn I'm a new person.