Build my Wardrobe
February 27, 2007 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Help me update my wardrobe into the realm of "creative casual."

I work at a job that allows business casual and "creative casual" style of dress, and I have always tended toward the casual, with little business or creative involved. Recently, however, I have received a promotion and want to update my warddrobe. I will basically be starting from scratch, and want to go for the creative casual look, similar to this Banana Republic clothing. What are the essentials? What are the dos and don'ts? Any advice would be appreciated, as well as links and store recommendations. Thanks!
Oh yeah, I'm a guy.
posted by trueluk to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The Banana Republic link about covers it, I think, with the button downs and the blazers and the khakis. Turtlenecks might also work, if you're into that. The Gap is probably cheaper than BR.
posted by crayolarabbit at 10:05 AM on February 27, 2007

First off, nothing makes you look better than wearing clothes that actually fit your body. Regardless of your body type (skinny, husky, tall, lumpy, whatever), try things on in the store. Only buy those items that actually fit or that you plan to tailor later. In pants, this means knowing your waist and inseam size; you should have just a little give in the waist, and your pants should be long enough that no sock shows when you wear shoes with thick soles. In shirts, there shouldn't be too much extra bunchy fabric around your waist; if you're wearing them untucked, they shouldn't hang so low that they cover your whole butt. Sleeves should start about where your shoulder actually does, and should extend past your wrist (a little shirt cuff should show from under your coat sleeve). Jackets should not be unnecessarily roomy.
Step two: colors and patterns. Most people gravitate toward simpler clothing because it's less risky and will more easily match the rest of their wardrobe. But if you're looking to get noticed, pick a bold color. Wear something striped or paisley. Match two colors, rather than a color and a neutral: instead of a green shirt under a black sweater, why not a green shirt under a blue sweater?
Step three: accessorize. Don't be afraid to wear a tie with jeans (again, colors and patterns = good). Have an array of belts (brown, black, colored, striped, leather, cloth), but never, ever wear brown shoes with a black belt or vice versa. Maybe a nice understated ring? Own a watch or two? Details make the difference.
As for stores, I'd say H&M is a good place to start because it's relatively inexpensive but still work-appropriate. Obviously you've found Banana Republic. Also look into Club Monaco and Sisley for slightly pricier (but still lovely) creative casual options.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 10:17 AM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm 6'0 and 175lbs. 80% of my closet came from Banana Republic. I pretty much dress like those models. The great thing about BR is that everything there works on me. The fit, the colors. I don't even try things on anymore.
I find that the Gap is more hit or miss and their clothes fit differently.
If you live anywhere near an outlet mall, they probably have a BR outlet. I can go in there and spend a hundred bucks and walk out with five shirts and two pants. Their outlets offer huge savings over the mall stores.

Layering is important to create a look like you get on that BR page. Be willing to give it a try. Some people hate having more than one shirt on. I like it because it gives me a little more mass.

Bottom line- go to any store that offers the type of clothes that interest you and spend some time in the changing rooms with a bunch of new things. I love that I've found one store that works for me because I know before I go in there that I'll walk out with something that works for me.
posted by Thrillhouse at 10:37 AM on February 27, 2007

I don't know what the shopping is like in Lincoln NE, trueluk, but if it's anything like where I grew up in Arizona, then it's slim-pickins on stylish creative clothing. And the places that one does find often cater to older customers whose shapes and sizes are not exactly the same as yours may be (assuming you're young and hot, which is how I basically picture everyone I talk to online).

My first recommendation is to actually take a trip to get your shopping done. Assuming you can afford it, the most worthwhile thing you can do is book a weekend trip to visit a big city like Chicago where you can visit lots of stores in a short amount of time. You may even save money despite the plane ticket if you catch some sales.

Sounds like a radical option, I know. But if you have any friends or family to visit anytime soon, that's the perfect opportunity to seek out stuff that may not be available locally.

I had good luck at Uniqlo, and also at Club Monaco as mentioned by HICST. There is a LOT to be said for thrift stores when it comes to this look. Not only can you find most of your basic layering items such as fun dress shirts, but they are cheap enough that the expense of getting them tailored is way easier to stomach. And the tailoring really can turn an ugly shirt into a really awesome one. And often that's where you'll find lots of designer-labelled items anyway.

When it comes to building a new look or wardrobe, it can sometimes be crucial to have a friend on hand to tell you when you're deluding yourself with a particular item. However I choose to go it alone, because ultimately I'm really the one who has to feel good in what I wear, and if I'm experimenting with new looks I don't want people around crowding me with their influence.
posted by hermitosis at 10:37 AM on February 27, 2007

Accessories can update an outfit without breaking the bank. Think about buying some funky belts, a cool watch, hip glasses, etc.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:00 AM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

What does "creative casual" mean? I've never heard the term before (of course I work in a very corporate environment so that's probably why).

Anyway, If you're looking at Banana and H&M, I'd also suggest French Connection and Zara, if they have one where you live. They both have euro-y boy clothes.
posted by echo0720 at 11:13 AM on February 27, 2007

The one thing they are always telling male guests on What Not To Wear is that the shoulder seams should be at your shoulder. Lots of guys tend to get shirts too big, the shoulder seams are sagging and sloppy, and they look like Tony Soprano. Wearing clotes that fit is key.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:36 AM on February 27, 2007

Don't be fooled by the word "creative". It's code for confidence.

"Creative casual" means "we'll tolerate some of your personality showing up via your clothes as long as you don't take it too far." So let's see who you are. Take a style or color or piece of clothing and make it yours. If you have some Dutch heritage you're proud of, find a way to work some orange into your outfits. If you were a punk rocker in your former life, are you willing to wear skulls on your socks? Every day? Could you be that guy with the beautiful pocket watch and pull it off? Stuff like that.

Whatever you wear, wear it because you rock.
posted by cocoagirl at 12:33 PM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I like Paul Smith, stylish without being loud. You have to keep up on it (that is buy new every season) to keep from looking dated. Anything more flamboyant than Paul Smith (as far as color selections go) and people will think you are weird.
posted by geoff. at 1:38 PM on February 27, 2007

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