Please help me to make an ~*~impression~*~
June 15, 2007 4:07 AM   Subscribe

Men's FashionFilter: I need to update my develop a wardrobe for the Fall and after.

I am a ~30 yr. old male, 6', ~130 lbs. I'm a grad student and am going to begin teaching this in late August/ September; I would like to learn to dress a little more professionally (yet edgy, if possible-- not completely traditional or "buttoned-down"), and to this end I need your advice on what to buy. For the sake of the question, assume that I have no clothes at all, and am going into this Tabula Rasa.

Also assume that I have a limited budget-- I am willing to spend a bit to have a stock set of interchangable basics, that I can then accessorize and build upon over time, but I can't go crazy. Also understand that I don't care at all about labels-- I'm interested in good clothes that won't fall apart, but clean and label-less is good.

If it matters, I have very short hair (buzzed #1), a moustache, and small goatee that I generally keep well-groomed and close-cropped. pics here.

I want everyone to say "whoa. He cleans up nice."
posted by exlotuseater to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (please disregard the "this" in the 2nd sentence, dunno how that got in there)
posted by exlotuseater at 4:26 AM on June 15, 2007

You're quite thin, so I would think in terms of layering. Button-down twill shirt under a sweater, for business casual winter. For dress-up, same shirt under a sportcoat.

Edgy but professional = dark colors, to me. Most guys look good in dark blue, regardless of eye color - I don't know why. Dark grey is also good.

You don't have glasses in the pics, but do you wear them? Wireframe glasses = hot/edgy/smart.

Sorry, I'm pre-coffee, that's all I got right now.
posted by desjardins at 5:33 AM on June 15, 2007

Best answer: back after caffeination. check out the dude in the orange sweater at the top of this page. I wouldn't go with that color, but that looks classy.

reversible belt, to save $

get shirts you don't have to iron

here's a v-neck sweater that goes well with your coloring (and look! it's on sale!)

last word of advice: find a classy female friend (but not a brand-snob) who will go shopping with you. Some of us are just born for this; I adore taking my fiance clothes-shopping and would probably dress all his friends if it weren't weird.
posted by desjardins at 5:45 AM on June 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Most of the cool male teachers where I work wear dark-wash jeans. Nothing makes a guy look nicer than a really good-quality pair of jeans, and the darker they are the more acceptable they are for work. Even if you couldn't wear them daily, you might be able to get away with them on Fridays.

They also seem to wear chinos or khakis with brightly-colored button-down shirts...colors like pink or bright blue.

And yeah...v-neck or crew-neck sweaters for layering would be great.

Good luck!
posted by christinetheslp at 6:17 AM on June 15, 2007

Best answer: i have been that thin in the past and i am nearly the same height.

my advice is to find clothes that FIT and worry less about the texture, etc, for just looking 'good'. at your size if you wear most clothes they'll swallow you. form-fitting is good.

dress shirts from H&M and express for men are great. the H&M ones are cheaper and many of them are made with poly-blend so they come out of the dryer without an ironing. the express ones will just fit great. pants from express are great as well, although sometimes a little pricey, at least for my budget. but you should be able to buy a new wardrobe for just a few hundred bucks. 5-10 dress shirts and 3-5 pairs of dress pants.

oh and since you're thin - flat front pants will look much better on you.

a nice silver watch (or gold if your belt buckle is gold too) will be a good accent.
posted by kneelconqueso at 6:26 AM on June 15, 2007

Best answer: Nice black leather dress shoes. Keep them shined up a bit and never let them get too scruffy. Whatever else you're wearing, good-looking leather shoes will set you apart from your students and make a good impression -- especially with the ladies!
posted by junkbox at 6:54 AM on June 15, 2007

If you're anywhere near NYC this weekend, you're in luck. Hugo Boss is an excellent label for high-quality, professional-yet-edgy menswear (tailored clothing, sportswear, shoes), and they have a sample sale twice a year, then next one starting this Sunday:

Jun 17-21 at 317 W 33rd St, near 8th

Check out their site to see if you like the look. If so, I recommend showing up EARLY as the lines are loooong (think hundreds of gay professionals showing up to update their wardrobe on the cheap).
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:00 AM on June 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


*their site
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:01 AM on June 15, 2007

I agree with kneelconqueso-fit is very important, and frankly pleated-front pants don't look good on any man. Echoing the dark colors suggestion, a dark burgundy-red would also be a good choice for you.

Check out this shirt-the slight iridescence gives the standard dress shirt a bit more 'edge' without being too flashy. (Also note the model has flat front pants!) You probably want to invest in one or two pairs of good wool pants as well as a stable of cotton pants for slightly dressier occasions.

Also, if you find you're having trouble with fit, I suggest checking out Land's End custom clothing section. My husband has a hard-to-fit frame, and he recent bought a custom short from LE that fits *much* better than a lot of things he's found in stores. And LE clothes wear very well.

Final word of advice--when shopping, you *must* try *everything* on. You cannot rely on just picking your size--clothes will be cut differently, hang differently, etc., from one brand to the next, and sometimes a color that looks good/weird on the rack looks weird/great on you. (And do what desjardins says-take a friend w/good style sense to help).
posted by DiscourseMarker at 7:13 AM on June 15, 2007

*that is, the wool pants are for dressier occasions. must have more coffee
posted by DiscourseMarker at 7:15 AM on June 15, 2007

Best answer: I have always been a fan of mixing high end, classic, quality pieces with cheaper edgier, trendier pieces.

There are things that you should spend more money on:
When you go cheap with these items it's noticeable...and it does not make a good impression. High end jeans make all the difference in fit after multiple washings. Wearing dark denim is good. Since you're skinny I'd say that you could pull off the skinny jeans/slacks look really well.

I'm not going to support a reversible belt, because those are tacky.

Try Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus--Neiman's has a Last Call sale in August and in January. I stock up on all of my professional clothes then.

Also Club Monaco, H&M, and Banana Republic have good cheap clothes and great sales from time to time.

Honestly, I've gotten some great stuff from Target. Their clothing just doesn't hold up after a few washes though.

Go cheap on:
Plain tee's (American Apparel etc.)
posted by dearest at 7:47 AM on June 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

I would definitely agree that it's worth spending more money on good jeans - there's nothing worse than badly fitting jeans - good jeans can really flatter.

If you're looking for attire for fall onwards, a scarf in a dark colour or pattern could look good, and wearing and alternating scarves is a good way to show an edgier side...
posted by farfaraway at 11:23 AM on June 15, 2007

Response by poster: okokok really good stuff all around; I'm tempted to mark all of these as "best answers."

I have a few dress shirts, will take the "no-iron" suggestions from kneelconqueso and desjardins.

I have a nice form-fitting v-neck, will look into more/ similar.

Will buy several pair flat-front pants!

Will look into good dark denim jeans... brand recommendations?

I own a dark blue (with very light, fine pinstripes) wool two-piece suit, with three-button jacket. Will consider getting another suit. Suggestions?

Chinos/ khakis with bright shirts... dunno about the bright, but khakis are always good.

Greg Nog: I agree-- I am looking for the clothes to complement my internal edge, to highlight it, as it were.

More, please!
posted by exlotuseater at 11:47 AM on June 15, 2007

I'm 6' and 155 lbs, but was 130 lbs at this height for the majority of my adult life.

I would advise the following:

1. don't wear clothes that are too baggy; I often did this because I was self-conscious about my weight, and looking back it wasn't a good thing.

2. look at the people in your environment who are shaped similarly to you, and emulate them somewhat; it's harder to look good if you also look unusual in that environment.

3. have you thought about losing the facial hair? I have a goatee right now, and I've gotten compliments with a beard as well, but if you're looking for clean, no facial hair is the way to go. You'll look younger, too; dunno if that's a bad thing in this case or not.
posted by davejay at 11:47 AM on June 15, 2007

I agree with davejay, but depending on your age, maybe you can get away with just losing the mustache. As it appears in the pic, it's a bit untrimmed. Also, I think you should grow the head hair just a *teensy* bit longer.
posted by desjardins at 12:09 PM on June 15, 2007

Best answer: if you are a graduate student who is going to be teaching (i assume the undergrads at your school), i don't really think you need to invest money in a bunch of suits, and certainly i think labels like hugo boss (even discounted) are going to be out of your budget if you say it is limited.

if you want to go for professional yet still hip, i say look at penguin. ( original penguin—also, not sure if this is still valid, but you can save 25% by entering code OPGFF0619 at Checkout—and penguin clothing). back in the day, they were a straight up square menswear label but of course, now it's ironic. i also love modern amusement for guys–the details they put into their clothing, down to custom designed snaps and buttons is amazing. they both really nail the casually preppy yet hip look down cold. both labels also make shoes but for shoes, i think it's perfectly acceptable for you to wear lifestyle sneakers (just make sure you keep them in good shape). a good pair of leather monkstraps and a low/ankle boot are also great options to have as well. get a 3-5 blazers and lightweight jackets, several button down shirts, and several knit shirts, long and short sleeve. because you are thin, you can layer without worries. get some nice tees and layer those over a long sleeved knit or under a button down (only partially buttoned), and either of those options can go under a blazer if you are feeling it for that day. both labels even have suits so if you are feeling the need for one, you're all set.

can not emphasize enough the value of good jeans so lay down for some nice ones, in darker washes. if you get pants, never get pleats—pleats just bunch out weird in the crotchal area in t just think that no matter how much you might think you look good in pleated pants, you still aren't gonna look better than you would in a pair with a flat front.

make sure all of your clothes fit, and fit close to your body. if you go for anything more elegant than the casual suits penguin and modern amusement have, i would go for a narrow three-button suit. i think that always looks much better on taller guys, particularly if they tend to be thinner. it's also an edgier silhouette than your average two button.
posted by violetk at 4:45 PM on June 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

oh, i just also want to point out that i feel that j. crew, banana republic, etc, and some of the other suggestions on this thread are perfectly fine in terms of being stylish and not as conservative as say, oh brooks brothers, and you honestly can not go wrong wearing them. but if you are looking for more edgy wear, i would put them on the more conservative end of that spectrum. depending on what you are going for, they might be just a little too vanilla so if you want a look that falls a little further to the hip end, you should look for smaller labels who have their finger on the streetwear pulse and yet can translate those trends for the casual professional is a better bet.
posted by violetk at 4:55 PM on June 15, 2007

you asked for jean recommendations, and i've gotta go with the levi's 527s. they are relatively boot-cut, low rise (will help keep them form fitting and less dumpy looking), and relatively slim-fit. plus they're only like 30-40 bucks usually.

i wear them pretty much exclusively and i get compliments from women about my jeans all the time. i'm 5'11", 160 pounds and the 31/32s fit me great.

i also hear good things about lucky jeans, although i'm too cheap to spend that much money on them. calvin klein's have worked for me in the past too.
posted by kneelconqueso at 1:31 PM on June 19, 2007

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