Best clothing brands for men in their 20's
May 21, 2012 2:54 AM   Subscribe

What are some good clothing brands for young men in their 20's?

I'm in college right now and about to enter the working world soon. My closet is filled with Abercrombie, Hollister, and other preppy clothes. Want to get rid of all those and shop for new clothes that are more appropriate for my age (22). What are some good brands that I can look into that will not break my wallet?
posted by Parh6512 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Zara's men's section, Banana Republic, JCrew, Express men's are some of the common brands for men in their early 20's. Those should be within budget, but they are like the next step/upgrade of preppy clothes. You can definitely make a working wardrobe from those brands.
posted by ichomp at 3:12 AM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Depends on your career path, too. If you're in an office job, you may have good luck hitting department stores. They aren't as stylish as some of the places ichomp mentioned, but that usually means that they'll run sales on things you won't have to re-buy the next year (or throw out because you look dated). For practical men's clothes (khakis, button-downs, polos) I've had good luck at Dillard's and Belk. Just look for menswear sales, which are often out-of-phase with their major sales, which tend to be more female-oriented. Also make sure you feel the material and try the clothes on... there is a wide range of quality, especially in pants.
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:43 AM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

H&M-their prices vary from not that expensive ($20 for a shirt) versus very expensive. It's worth visiting their store. As for pants, only invest in three for now-one khaki colour, one black, and one navy blue. It won't be obvious if you wear the same pants regularly compared to shirts...
posted by livinglearning at 4:16 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Jos A Bank is a reasonable place to shop for basics: three suits, three pairs of pants (black, grey, khaki), and a half dozen dress shirts (blue and white are the staples here).
posted by ellF at 4:34 AM on May 21, 2012

Are you looking for interview outfits? Two suits (one dark, one light) will be good and then just great shirts and dress pants with ties. I like the Express men's and Banana Republic, but I find that Macy's has similar styles (sometimes better quality) but cheaper!
posted by Yellow at 5:06 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

May I recommend Reddit's Male Fashion Advice subreddit as a good source of info?

Here is a bit of their wiki, which has a lot of recommended stores.

And here is the main subreddit- there are lots of daily posts, but check out the right sidebar for lots of links to fashion guides and basic wardrobe essentials. I think they have a ton of great info, especially for someone transitioning from college-type wear to mid-20's style.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:47 AM on May 21, 2012

You can also make an appointment at J Crew or Nordstrom for a personal shopper.
posted by empath at 5:50 AM on May 21, 2012

Are you talking about clothes to wear at work? What kind of job?
posted by J. Wilson at 6:04 AM on May 21, 2012

Jos. A. Banks is only ever a reasonable bet when they are running one of their crazy sales. Their MSRPs are horribly inflated, which is how they can get away with "buy 1 get 3 shirts free" or whatever Crazy Eddie type promotion they seem to run every few weeks. However, their stuff is decent for the (sale) price.

You can get fairly nice business shirts (pinpoint Oxfords) from stores you might not necessarily consider: L.L. Bean and Lands End both make nice ones. They are better, IMO, than many of the department store house brands and not much more expensive -- actually, I'd go further and say that Lands End's shirts are on par with Brooks or Banks or any of the standalone mens stores in terms of quality. The pants are not bad either. There is no way to tell the brand just from looking at them, unlike with more casual clothing.* You can order them from either store's catalog, once you know what your size is.

As for pants, only invest in three for now-one khaki colour, one black, and one navy blue.

I would concur with this, except that I would advise strongly against getting black pants, and recommend instead getting dark charcoal. It is just as flexible in terms of what you can match it with, and has the benefit of not making you look like a waiter.

You'll need to just take a day and go to a bunch of stores and try some stuff on to find what brand, cut, etc. fits you; some people look good in flat-front pants, other people need pleats. My closet is a random smattering of various brands of pants from a bunch of different stores, so I don't think that brands matter as much here. I have off-the-rack trousers that fit, just by random chance, as well as nice tailored ones, but I'll probably never be able to find them again.

Big department stores like Macy's are better, in my experience, than specialty stores for small items like socks, undershirts, etc. The specialty mens stores can really screw you on stuff like that. However, it's worth spending some money to get good socks (long enough so that you're not showing leg, ever, regardless of sitting position) and undershirts (good ones will last longer before the collars get stretched out and crappy).

This all pertains to business / work clothes ... I am unfortunately not much help on the casual side of things, as when I'm not in business clothes it's generally just cheap-jeans-and-t-shirts for me. I think that a lot of what is appropriate for you will depend on your peer group, and that's influenced by where you live and a lot of other factors.

* In fact, I'd go further and say that one of the hallmarks of adult mens' clothing, as opposed to preppywear, is that it doesn't advertise a particular brand, at least not in an unsubtle way. Brands like Brooks Bros. that do show a logo (on some product lines) are sort of the exception and are arguably pretty déclassé compared to unbranded stuff that stands out on quality or fit alone.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:16 AM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

Department stores are a great resource when getting work clothes, especially if you're in a more "business attire" than "business casual attire" workplace. Basic button-down shirts in a few colors and patterns (subtle stripes and plaids keep you from looking like you're restricted too much by a dress code...unless your dress code prohibits it), black, navy blue, charcoal grey and tan pants are pretty much all you'll need. It's really hard to find chocolate brown pants for men the past few seasons, but I really like to have a pair of those, as well, since I like warmer colors and tan can look too casual sometimes.

Don't disregard discount stores like Marshall's and TJ Maxx, either. It takes some hunting, but you can get some surprisingly decent clothes there if you look, and can grab some really good deals if you purchase slightly off-season.

I think every guy should own at least one great suit, probably in charcoal grey if it's your only one. That way, it's appropriate for a number of occasions, and not too funereal. Also, if you can afford it, get a sport coat, which can be used for more formal occasions with a pair of dress trousers, and can also spiff up a jeans-and-button-down-shirt for a date.
posted by xingcat at 7:21 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm going to nth department stores. I like Macy's because they have a sale pretty much everyday, and if you have their card/coupons, you can get high quality clothing very inexpensively.

I got Husbunny a lovely Kenneth Cole suit in charcoal gray for $150, which I thought was very fair.

Get two good pairs of shoes. You can't blow it with Cole Haan loafers, comfy, durable and high quality. Keep them shined.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:44 AM on May 21, 2012

I will be going to school full time along with engineering internship part time. My job doesn't require us to have business attire. Nice pants other then jeans and shirt works well. I want to buy clothes that are appropriate for school as well. I don't want to look try hard in school with pants and button down shirts. Like Polos and tees would work.
posted by Parh6512 at 7:57 AM on May 21, 2012

I wish I'd discovered Joseph A Banks Wrinkle-Free shirts in my 20s. Would have saved a lot of time, money and looking like I'd slept in my work clothes.
posted by kjs3 at 8:06 AM on May 21, 2012

Brands don't matter for shit if you don't know how to put together outfits or don't understand fit. And if you've been dressing out of A&F and Hollister your whole life, you've probably never really given thought to those things. Check out Put This On to learn how to dress like a grown up.
posted by greta simone at 8:33 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

As a mid-20s girl, I recommend Express for their style - but shirts only. You can get jeans anywhere. If you sign up for their coupons, you'll be able to get 30% or more off, depending on how much you're spending.
I do not recommend H&M because their quality just isn't there, and they also tend to carry more youthful styles.
But yeah, Express Men's just has a certain "hey, he looks good" without being too much, or distracting.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:58 AM on May 21, 2012

For more casual wear, Uniqlo; for nicer things, I love Brooks Brothers non-iron clothes.
posted by Brian Puccio at 9:57 AM on May 21, 2012

Bring someone with a sense of style with you after explaining to him or her what you'd like to look like if the idea of picking out a new wardrobe is overwhelming.
posted by Brian Puccio at 9:58 AM on May 21, 2012

Jos A Bank stinks. Run away from that place. I made the mistake of buying a suit there--after finding a decent jacket; two of them had visible fabric defects. The suit was literally coming apart at the seams after a year or so of light wear. They have those crazy sales because their stuff is garbage. When they routinely have "buy 1, get 2 free," you know the "regular price" is inflated, but even those sale prices are a ripoff for their stuff.

Express can be good, though in my experience the quality of their wares has dropped. They also have downgraded their stuff; it used to be easier to find wool pants there, but now they have mostly cotton or polyester blends.

Banana Republic has grown more expensive in recent years. Their stuff is somewhat boring but the quality has been good, and besides maybe you want boring anyway. I have a shirt of theirs in my closet that has held up for years, and I have some dress pants that I have worn so much that the pockets are getting holes, but they are otherwise holding up quite well.

J Crew--I'm not sure I could recommend buying anything dressy from a place that shows its models wearing dress pants, dress shoes, and no socks, with high water pants and exposed ankles; but hey, maybe I'm too easily prejudiced.

Zara is not bad, especially for the price.

I have very bad luck finding anything decent in a midrange department store like Macys. I am average height but with a smallish chest, at least for the US (36") and most department store stuff is just huge. Maybe you will have better luck if you are bigger, as I think most of their work clothing is for middle aged men who are spreading out. It's not even worth getting underwear in a department store because as far as T-shirts go Hanes from Target or Walmart or will be even better and at a lower price.
posted by massysett at 10:00 AM on May 21, 2012

Brooks Brothers.
posted by lotusmish at 3:55 PM on May 21, 2012

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