Do you have any tips or preferred retailers to recommend as I amass a collection of formal attire?
June 15, 2010 1:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm needing to amass a basic collection of formal wear. Do you have any tips or pointers?

Hello. I am in need of a more formal wardrobe, so I'm in the market for new shoes, new pants, new shirts, and new suits. Perhaps even some new accessories to match (watch, sunglasses).

I'd like to procure some fitted shirts. Simple. One gray, one white, one powder blue. A simple gray suit and a simple black suit. Some loafers (slip on and lace up alike).

Do you have any tips, pointers, preferred retailers for this type of thing? I typically wear casual attire, so this is a little bit of new territory for me.

Any help's appreciated.
posted by dep to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Just go to Brooks Brothers.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:03 PM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Do you have a Nordstrom's nearby? When I got married, I went there for shirts and a belt and got the most amazing service. I even ended up bringing home an extra pair of pants. I didn't need it, but I understand they do alterations as well. For shoes, I went with zappos, and got some pretty good stuff for not as much as you would think.
posted by Gilbert at 1:08 PM on June 15, 2010

Seconding Brooks Brothers. It's not cheap, but the goods and service are great.
posted by onepot at 1:20 PM on June 15, 2010

Since you're new to this, I'd advise you to stay away from department stores (which can be victims of the latest trends) and go to retailers that always stock the classics at a reasonable price. Brooks Brothers is good, but it's a bit more expensive than it needs to be.

For entry level suits, go with Jos. A Bank (despite their horrid, perpetual advertising campaign). Styling is very classic and it's hard to go wrong w/ the basics. Pick up a blazer and some grey trousers too.

For the shoes, Johnston and Murphy is the way to go.

Charles Tyrwitt for the dress shirts. If you aren't horrendously overweight, get their slim fit shirts (American dress shirts can often hang like a muumuu, so it's good to have something that actually "fits").

Once you've got the basics down, and you're comfortable with a more formal style, I'd suggest you start bargain-hunting at places like Filene's Basement. I've gotten some great designer suits there at very good prices.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:21 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding Jos. A Bank for good quality and reasonable prices. Great deals if you hit the sales.
posted by maxg94 at 1:36 PM on June 15, 2010

Best answer: A basic place like Jos. A Bank is a good idea. I would also add that taking your off-the-rack suit to a tailor afterwards would be an excellent idea. He can take the pants in around the wait and in the seat. Having the pants fit just right and making the jacket look a little more tailored and less boxy will leave you feeling more confident and wearing the suit much better. It's a small added cost for a much better looking suit.

Slim fit shirts. Anything that's billowing out at the sides is unseemly.

Learn to tie a half-windsor knot if you don't know already. Youtube has tons of good lessons.

Also, invest in shoes. Don't go for cheap crap. Allen Edmonds are a good way to go. A nice pair of Oxfords will never go out of style.

And if you're looking for good advice for men there are a lot of style blogs out there. Start with It's aimed at men who want to graduate to a more adult style sensibility but don't really know where to start.
posted by fso at 1:41 PM on June 15, 2010

Need help tying a tie? - the end.

If you have patience and generally know what you're looking for (fit, style, brand, whatnot), eBay can work out nicely. Word of caution: colors might be skewed, which has been sad for me a few times. Also for the knowledgeable and patient: Ross and similar discount stores. Not well organized, and not all stores are the same (some have better variety of one sort or another), but you can get inexpensive brand-name items.

I can get behind spending good money on shoes. I have one pair of nice brown shoes I got at Nordstrom on sale some while back, and the sole is only now going out, years after first buying it, and I could probably get it re-soled and all would be well. Cheap shoes have been handy, but the material ages more quickly, with the top side showing weird wrinkles and fold marks more easily, and the soles wear through within a year or two.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:58 PM on June 15, 2010

The larger thrift shops usually have formal wear. Try the upscale ones (Gentleman's Resale), the Salvation Army and those run by churches, where you can find formal wear donated by widows.

Goodwill has a national auction site with VERY low prices.
posted by KRS at 3:01 PM on June 15, 2010

Admiral Haddock has it straight out the gate. If you have a Brook's Brothers outlet near you, you can save a ton of money, too. I drive an hour to get to one every couple months or so.
posted by Nattie at 3:59 PM on June 15, 2010

Depending on how conservative a look you're going for, I'm not sure black is the best choice for your second suit. Unless you live in New York or work in a profession like advertising or publishing, the order I would go with would be more like a solid charcoal gray, a solid navy, then one of the above but with pinstripes, and only then start working in a black suit.

I agree with fso's recommendation of investing in Allen Edmonds for shoes. It's hard to go wrong with a pair of black Allen Edmonds Park Avenues as your go-to dress shoes; classy, comfortable, and they'll last forever. eBay can be a good place to look for shoes if you know your size and stick with new-in-box condition.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 6:35 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've had the most success with Nordstrom (main stores and the Rack) for clothing and shoes.
Occasionally Banana Republic has a few things; this can be dependent on the season and location of the particular store, I have found.
posted by nickthetourist at 6:35 PM on June 15, 2010

As strangely stunted trees mentioned, avoid black suits. They're good for funerals and not much else. Stick with greys and dark navy.
posted by fso at 1:36 PM on August 4, 2010

« Older How do I get some ceiling vents to stay in place?   |   Bed, not that kind...needed in... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.