Need to get some new duds, need fashion advice

starlanceriistarlancerii Registered User regular
edited June 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
So I need new clothes.

I'm starting a new job in a couple weeks up in NY, and I'm supposed to wear "business casual". Problem is, I'm not entirely sure what this is, and I don't know how or where I can update my wardrobe without making my wallet cry out in anguish.

For background, I've never been much of a clothes person - ever since middle school, I've pretty much worn cargo pants (pockets are awesome) and a t-shirt. Maybe a jacket if it's super cold. I also have one suit and a correspondingly nice button-down shirt, with a pair of dress pants. And a tie. That's pretty much it. I don't really go shopping either - I renew my supply of pants on the cheap every couple of years, when I visit Asia, and my t-shirts come from random organizations from college that happen to be giving away / selling them.

But now that I've graduated and am going to start working, I kinda need to update my wardrobe and get some business casual stuff. Unfortunately, I'm not particularly sure what constitutes business casual, or where I should go about getting it. Any thoughts / suggestions?

For bonus points, I kinda want to update my casual wardrobe too. A t-shirt and unremarkable pants do not impress the ladies. Unfortunately, I'm somewhat out of touch with popular culture, so I'm not entirely sure what is acceptable.

I should probably confirm that I am a guy, in my early twenties.

tl;dr: I need to know what kind of clothing to get for "business casual", and where to get it. Bonus points for not making my wallet suffer too much. More bonus points for suggesting casual street clothes to impress the ladies more than a t-shirt and cargo pants.

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Posts

  • TokyoRaverTokyoRaver Registered User
    edited June 2008
    Business casual is khakis/chinos and a collared shirt, no tie. Some people go with the sneaker-shoe, most people just go with plain black/brown shoes, but no sneakers.

    Polos are generally acceptable.

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  • supabeastsupabeast Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Wool slacks and button-up shirts will cover most business casual needs, and make sure to get an extra blazer to keep at the office in case something comes up. At a very conservative employer, or if you are fat, go with pleated pants, otherwise go with flat fronts. Do not buy collars that button-down or khaki pants, those are clothes worn by men who never stopped dressing like children or are dressed by their wives. Your best option for the slacks is to watch the big chain stores and hit up the big sales at places like Banana Republic, Jos. A Bank, Brooks Brothers, and of course the department stores. Decent shirts can be found at H&M (but won’t fool people who know what good clothes look like) with Banana Republic being the next step up. Ties are not mandatory but are acceptable for business casual; don’t be caught dead in a tie that isn’t made of silk. Don’t get cheap shoes, because walking around Manhattan in bad shoes can be excruciatingly painful.

    If you’re thin go shopping during the day on Weds-Friday. Because most Americans are fat retailers stock mostly fat sizes, especially when it comes to mens clothes, so they run out fast on weekends and choices get limited. Restocking can take a few days, so Monday and Tuesday usually suck, too. And remember, if you go to a department store during a big sale and take out a store credit card you can get steep discounts (just make sure to pay if off ASAP, store card interest rates are vile).

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  • TokyoRaverTokyoRaver Registered User
    edited June 2008
    As far as places to get it, Gap's a good start

    This site seems pretty good at outlining it

    http://www.career.vt.edu/JOBSEARC/BusCasual.htm

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  • TokyoRaverTokyoRaver Registered User
    edited June 2008
    supabeast wrote: »
    Wool slacks and button-up shirts will cover most business casual needs, and make sure to get an extra blazer to keep at the office in case something comes up. At a very conservative employer, or if you are fat, go with pleated pants, otherwise go with flat fronts. Do not buy collars that button-down or khaki pants, those are clothes worn by men who never stopped dressing like children or are dressed by their wives. Your best option for the slacks is to watch the big chain stores and hit up the big sales at places like Banana Republic, Jos. A Bank, Brooks Brothers, and of course the department stores. Decent shirts can be found at H&M (but won’t fool people who know what good clothes look like) with Banana Republic being the next step up. Ties are not mandatory but are acceptable for business casual; don’t be caught dead in a tie that isn’t made of silk. Don’t get cheap shoes, because walking around Manhattan in bad shoes can be excruciatingly painful.

    If you’re thin go shopping during the day on Weds-Friday. Because most Americans are fat retailers stock mostly fat sizes, especially when it comes to mens clothes, so they run out fast on weekends and choices get limited. Restocking can take a few days, so Monday and Tuesday usually suck, too. And remember, if you go to a department store during a big sale and take out a store credit card you can get steep discounts (just make sure to pay if off ASAP, store card interest rates are vile).


    Generally good advice, gotta respectfully disagree with him on the khakis as they're a staple of BC, but to each their own. Personally, I don't like tan, so when I was business casual (I'm suit now, unfortunately) I was usually wearing black flat-front cotton pants. They were great.

    As far as shirts with top buttons, I don't see why that's a dealbreaker, you just don't button them. Some shirts aren't meant to be worn without ties, those types you'll need to avoid, but generally versatile shirts that can be worn with or without ties are what you want (and those include top buttons)

    And don't you dare shop at H&M for business casual stuff. Their quality is awful. Absolutely atrocious. You'll regret it right away. Gap/Banana Republic should be your first stop.

    TokyoRaver on
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  • GameHatGameHat Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    supabeast wrote: »
    Wool slacks and button-up shirts will cover most business casual needs, and make sure to get an extra blazer to keep at the office in case something comes up. At a very conservative employer, or if you are fat, go with pleated pants, otherwise go with flat fronts. Do not buy collars that button-down or khaki pants, those are clothes worn by men who never stopped dressing like children or are dressed by their wives. Your best option for the slacks is to watch the big chain stores and hit up the big sales at places like Banana Republic, Jos. A Bank, Brooks Brothers, and of course the department stores. Decent shirts can be found at H&M (but won’t fool people who know what good clothes look like) with Banana Republic being the next step up. Ties are not mandatory but are acceptable for business casual; don’t be caught dead in a tie that isn’t made of silk. Don’t get cheap shoes, because walking around Manhattan in bad shoes can be excruciatingly painful.

    My two cents;

    I love the look of Banana Republic, but I can't wear their clothing. Why? I'm fat. Not grotesquely so, but I'm definitely heavy. Nothing I've ever tried on there has ever fit me properly. YMMV, of course - but if you're not slim I wouldn't spend much time there. Like I said I do like their clothing though.

    I would expand on the "good shoes" - the first thing I look at when meet someone is their shoes. Yes, I'm a bit weird. But cheap shoes are a giveaway for a chump. Good shoes, even with fairly casual dress, almost always impresses. Especially the ladies.

    ...not that I'm a fashion expert. Lucky for me I work in a lab so I wear shit clothing because once a month an outfit will get ruined by a chemical spill.

    GameHat on
  • TrowizillaTrowizilla Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Khakis will make you look like an overgrown frat boy at work. Go for nice button-down shirts + slacks. I like Express for button-downs, but they tend to run rather slim. You can always roll the sleeves up when you get off work, and that + a nice, dark denim pair of jeans will look nice for going out.

    One thing that will make you look much nicer is getting things tailored to your body.

    Trowizilla on
  • TokyoRaverTokyoRaver Registered User
    edited June 2008
    No one wearing business casual has any need to get things tailored to their body except maybe pants hemmed

    Overkill

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  • ArminasArminas Student of Life Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    I am/was in a similar situation, but if you're genuinely confused about what clothing is and isn't allowed at your new job (assuming that you've got the offer letter, etc.). I would call your contact at the company, this might be your future supervisor or perhaps someone in Human Resources. Ask them about the specifics of the dress code and if there's actually something they can forward to you for your reference. My company sent the dress code circulatory as part of the hiring package.

    Also, if you went in for an interview to the company, do you remember what everyone else was wearing? Those are usually pretty good guidelines to follow. But so far the advice I've seen in here is pretty solid. A couple pairs of wool slacks, collared shirts that work with the pants and I would actually get a tie or two just in case you want to look a little snazzier. If you're still unsure, check out the online shops and see what the models in the business clothing section are wearing. Gap, Nordstrom, Macy's, etc. Or if you have the time, visit a nice location for one of your retailers and find a sales associate.

    From my own experience, they tend to be quite helpful, just explain that you're looking to update your wardrobe and that you could use a little bit of help looking professional. If you care about the cost, try and go during a sale (you can find out when these are by looking online, oh, and it's July 4th super soon).

    Arminas on
  • Monolithic_DomeMonolithic_Dome Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    If you aren't a clothes person and you just want some pants that are cheap, comfortable, and practical, then look no further than dickies

    They don't stain, they don't wrinkle, you machine wash them, and get them in black/khaki/navy and they look just fine in a "biz cas" setting.

    Wal mart sells them for $17.

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  • Shazkar ShadowstormShazkar Shadowstorm Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Go to Macy's when they have a sale
    Look in Sunday papers for coupons
    My dad never pays more than 20 bucks for a shirt, usually less

    EDIT: I mean, I love Gap, and BR and Express, but if you don't want to spend lots of money, just do what I said w.r.t. Macy's or other department stores

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  • DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
    edited June 2008
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a pair of khakis in your BC rotation, regardless of whatever advice people have given here.

    I wear a tie and nice slacks (occasionally a suit) from Labor Day to mid-june and then BC from mid-june to Labor Day, so I'm able to just wear my regular pants all summer because I have them. If you're looking for BC acceptable pants that don't need to be dry cleaned, or are not khakis, find a golf store and buy some there. Ashworths are very comfortable.

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  • reddogreddog Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    If you're up in NY, go to H&M and check out their stuff. Everything in there is pretty much business except for their jeans. You're good to go with some khakis...any dark colored slacks/pants...anything that doesn't look like jeans.

    And for shirts...button downs, no tie, polos, you don't have to tuck in your shirt if you don't want to...but on your first day its always good to be safe. Then go from there.

    I was told it was business casual here at my office and then I learned first day that jeans are ok and so are hoodies! So first day...be safe with button down, tucked in, dark pants...next day go with what you learned from everyone in the office.

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  • AtomBombAtomBomb Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    I was in the same boat a little while ago. I ended up going with BR because it fit the best (I tried some of the big department stores and felt like I was wearing a tent). They seemed pretty reasonably priced compared to the department stores, but I still ended up spending about $400 for a week's worth of stuff. Luckily the new job pays more than the old one did :)

    Oh, something I forgot. I went from a job where I walked around a lot to a job where I sit at a desk. Coupled with the fact that the stresses of a new job ended up reducing the frequency of my gym visits the clothes I bought have gotten a little tight. I'm working on it now, but you may want to go an inch or so up if the clothes still look good.

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  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Problem with "business casual" is that it means different things to different companies.

    Your best bet is chinos and a collared, button-up shirt. Polo shirts, may, or may not be ok. Same goes for khaki-colored pants. First day I would go with slate pants and a striped shirt--pretty much right in the middle between formal and casual.

    J. Crew and Banana Republic are both good places for business casual type clothes, Banana Republic is more on the dressy side though. Even if those stores are out of your price range, you can go there to get a feel for what type of clothes you should be getting, then head over to Macy's or something and pick up the less expensive version.

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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    If you're getting khakis and polos it almost doesn't matter where you get them. $150 khaki's don't look much different than $30 khakis (though they do feel better).

    If your idea of BC is more formal, get inexpensive dress shirts at the department store (e.g. Dillard's and Foley's), Van Huesen looks fine and is cheap. Expensive dress shirts don't look much different than cheap ones, they'll be 100% egyptian cotton or whatever and will wrinkle like hell. Higher poly-blends will stand up to wear during the day better but may chafe (wear a white/light close-fitting cotton undershirt, prevents chafing and sweats rings at armpits). If they fit like a tent then opt for the "fitted" variety. Buy nice pants (goto Nordstrom's or a boutique), a $150 pair of pants looks much better than a $30 pair, especially if it's been altered to fit you properly (e.g. brought in or let out at waist, take fabric out of the seat, cuffed or flat hems). With care and wardrobe rotation, you can get 5-7 wearings out of a pair of slacks before they really need to be dry cleaned.

    If you're not sure what to wear, buy a pair or 2 of dark-colored (brown, black, slate, navy) Dockers and a few inexpensive, long-sleeved, button down (but w/out button-down points), white/off-white dressshirts. Wear tucked w/belt, no tie, and shoes, not sneakers. Observe what everyone else is wearing and change accordingly.

    Djeet on
  • Aurora BorealisAurora Borealis Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Yeah, learn to hang your pants and jackets properly and you will save yourself a lot of ironing and laundry. And it's in your best interest to learn how to iron a shirt. Clothes that are properly cared for always look better and adds little to the expense. An inexpensive shirt that is immaculately clean and pressed nicely will look better than a costly one that's stained and wrinkled.

    H&M is better for business caz if you're a girl and thus can't get away with wearing the same four shirts all the time. I loves me that store, but unless you know your fabrics and construction, it's easy to go wrong there. A dude is better off buying things that are a little more expensive but will last out the year. They can be good for things like socks though.

    Speaking of which, if you take care to keep your socks and belt and shoes in the same color palate, you will be much better off. If you wear a brown belt with black shoes and white or navy socks, you will look sloppy and/or colorblind. If you are colorblind, better to put away your pride and ask someone if something matches.

    Aurora Borealis on
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