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Upgrading to an Adult Wardrobe
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Tapestry Offline

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Post: #1
Upgrading to an Adult Wardrobe
This thread is specifically focused on my experience upgrading from what I would deem a college wardrobe. Whether you went to college or not this is basically the casual, generic male wardrobe of the early to mid twenties Western male. There are really two main variations of the college wardrobe that I see a lot. The most prevalent would be the t-shirt and jeans or t-shirt and untucked cheap button down. The other would be the frat boy variation which consists of bright colored shorts, pastel shirts and loafers or boat shoes.

Without getting too Freudian let's examine what both of these general wardrobes say to the world. The first, the t-shirt and jeans variety indicates you are young, somewhat immature, probably lacking significant net worth, and are partially support by debt or family, and therefore can choose comfort over style.

The second, frat boy fashion indicates you have generational wealth and no need to pursue fashion for the sake of career or social connections. The bright shorts, visors, loafers are borrowed from nautical fashion and the idea of a boat or a yacht is a powerful symbol of consumerism out of reach to most working stiffs.

In both cases the clear trend is comfort over style.

I was of the t-shirt and jeans variety. The last time I really bought clothes, besides a few items here or there was my junior year of college. My wardrobe consisted of a few pairs of jeans, tons of graphic tees, casual shoes, and cargo shorts. Dressing up meant replacing the graphic tee with a patterned button down, untucked.

There's nothing wrong with wearing casual clothing except for the fact that it will not set you apart from others in any way, and the older you get, the more you are sending a signal that your are unambitious and complacent, whether true or not.

I think a main reason I see many older men holding onto the college wardrobe is the lack of milestones after this time. You start picking your own clothes in high school, and then again at college age is the first time you really buy them with your own money. But then you slowly drift into the working world, and with the stagnating economy of the last 8 years many do not have a reason to purchase higher end clothing. I believe that a good milestone though, for lack of any others, would be age 25. At that age you should begin ditching the beer pong t-shirts and buying some real adult clothing.

I recently went through this process and this post marks some of the lessons I learned. Most men have a hard time with fashion, and there really aren't a lot of good, simple sources for help. The high end fashion stuff like the classic magazines and their websites are really out of touch with the common man. Unless you are navigating the higher circles of NY or LA you are going to look severely out of place. On the flip side, looking at retailer websites is going to give you too much choice. They simply are content to sell you anything and everything, the common man is lost.

First, a few basic rules or trends that I learned. Must have missed the memo on some of these for the past few years.
- It's impossible to upgrade your wardrobe in a day or two. If you try to do it all at one you will not only get discouraged but end up wasting a lot of money. The whole process for me took about two months.
- Don't buy anything unless it fits perfectly. The difference between an adult wardrobe and a college wardrobe is that you are showing off your perfected body (in theory) instead of logos, funny graphics, and college mascots. If something is too loose, or too tight, just wait, you will find something better. You can also note the size and brand and order online, with free returns there is very little downside.
- For younger men, slim is in, but there is a big difference between slim and tight. Also a big difference between masculine slim which shows off the form of a well-maintained body and skinny which is effeminate and ridiculous looking. The effeminate skinny stuff is being pushed by fashion designers and should be avoided.
- Checkered patterns, plaids, and pastels are in. But I can see these being out of style as quickly as they appeared. Avoid going "all in" on this stuff and being stuck with it for years. Avoid the really effeminate pastels as these fall into the same category as the really skinny stuff the fashion designers are pushing on young men.
- Cargo shorts are out. Do not buy them and get rid of the ones you have.
- Avoid stuff you know you are not going to wear often. I was tempted to buy a lot of blazers and jackets just because they look good, but I knew for my circumstances I would hardly ever wear them.
- Mind your budget. Not everything you own has to be expensive. Some low end stores sell almost identical products as high end stores, but the high end stores will love to take your money for them.

The Process:

I first started by cleaning out and organizing my closet and drawers. Anything that was stained or discolored I threw out, this included white shirts that were trending toward beige. Anything that could be salvaged went in a pile for thrift store donation. The thrift store pile included all my cargo shorts, shirts I couldn't remember the last time I wore, anything that didn't fit correctly, and some of the goofier graphic tees I had. If you are hesitant to throw things out, because you "might wear them sometime," at least segregate them into a separate pile, out of the way so that they don't interfere with your daily wardrobe. Another thing I did was throw out a bunch of socks. I now only have one style of black crew socks and one style of black athletic socks. There is no need to look through piles of them every morning. Sounds insignificant but is a nice time saver.

Next I developed a plan for what I wanted, quantity and type. I came up with, roughly:
2-3 pairs of slim, pocketless shorts
2-3 pairs of nice jeans
5-10 pairs of slacks, varying colors
5-10 dress shirts, varying colors
4-6 more casual, button down shirts
4-5 V-neck t-shirts
2-3 long sleeve t-shirts
2-3 polos
5-10 ties
2 belts
3-4 pairs of shoes
1-3 suits

These are the basics for what I would consider an adult wardrobe. In general, slacks and slim dress shirts are now my standard fair. For casual stuff I can throw on the jeans and a more casual shirt, or jeans/shorts with a V-neck or polo, long sleeve t-shirts in the colder weather. Alternate classic black and brown belts as needed and black dress shoes, brown boots, or casual shoes as well.

As stated the idea behind this wardrobe is that you are showing off your body, not your clothing in and of itself. In high school, it's all about brands and which brands identify you into a certain clique. In college, it's mainly about comfort, comedy, or (gag me) irony. But from about 25-40 you are dressing for the prime of your life. Comfort should take a bit of a backseat to displaying full-formed masculinity. The idea is to wear form-fitting shirts, pants, etc., and what's important is not who made the clothing or where it came from. The important thing is who is wearing it.

Now the hard part is where to get this stuff. You don't want to overspend in either time or money. I really didn't have a plan as I haven't been to many different stores over the past few years, but having largely completed this task I know how I would do it differently.

First recognize that some of these items you can get very inexpensively for virtually no drawbacks. For instance a black belt is pretty much a black belt; a V-neck is pretty much a V-neck. There are stores that will sell you a $10 V-neck and stores that will sell you a $50 V-neck. The only difference is probably how long they will last, but this is rather insignificant for a t-shirt.

So in general you want to spend less on:

so you can spend more on:
Dress shirts

and somewhere in the middle you have:
Dress pants

I would recommend starting with the cheapest stuff first and working your way up. That way, if you don't find it cheaply, you will still find it, but you won't overpay for it.

The Actual Buying Process

Believe it or not, Walmart is great for the cheapest stuff I listed. T-shirts and shorts are not going to be the bulk of your wardrobe, and they aren't that important. Most of the stuff is $10 or less and virtually indistinguishable from the same stuff you will get at higher end stores like Banana Republic. It might wear out faster, but you might rip or stain a more expensive item just as quickly. The only criteria here should be how well the stuff fits you. If it doesn't fit perfectly, don't buy it. Move on to something else.

After your cheap stuff you move on to dress pants, shirts, and ties. I hit up the Express Outlet store for this stuff. One reason I like this store is that it is geared toward younger men who are not overweight. This is pretty much the opposite of department stores nowadays. I bought most of my ties here for the same reason, they have a limited selection but they are all cutting edge. You can go to a department store and be overwhelmed by the selection, in addition to wasting time you will end up selecting out of date ties as well. This store is expensive though so you have to follow your deals you will pay through the nose.

For the middle of the range stuff I mostly went to department stores. This would include for jeans and more casual button down shirts. Avoid the off the rack jeans and go for some higher end ones. Two brands I found that I liked were Guess and INC. These are both geared to higher end purchasers instead of guys looking to go fishing all weekend. You can also find cheaper dress pants here, the only problem being you have to wade through so many out of date and oversized versions. You can also try stores like Banana Republic, J.Crew, though their margins are higher. Another option if you are cash strapped at this point is to try stuff on in the store and then find it cheaper online. I deliberately avoided Gap, Old Navy, American Eagle, anything that specifically caters to the college crowd. If you can only afford that stuff I believe you are better off saving your money for some nicer options.

For the higher end stuff, you definitely want to do some price comparisons. Every man should own a basic black suit. After that, if you have enough money/need, you can go with blue and a khaki summer suit. Jos A. Bank and Brooks Brothers are good options but expense. JAB usually has a sale twice a year where you can get two suits for the price of one. Men's Warehouse is a more affordable option, so is Express if you wait for their suit sales.

I hope this thread is of some utility in helping others to upgrade to a basic adult wardrobe. These are really my opinions and experiences and are by no means definitive or even correct. I realize styles, options, and prices vary greatly by region so any other advice is encouraged.
(This post was last modified: 05-30-2016 02:09 AM by Tapestry.)
05-30-2016 02:00 AM
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Suits Offline

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Post: #2
RE: Upgrading to an Adult Wardrobe
(05-30-2016 02:00 AM)Tapestry Wrote:  Every man should own a basic black suit. After that, if you have enough money/need, you can go with blue and a khaki summer suit.

Please explain your reasoning regarding the basic black suit.
05-30-2016 05:17 AM
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Lagavulin Offline

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Post: #3
RE: Upgrading to an Adult Wardrobe
(05-30-2016 05:17 AM)Suits Wrote:  
(05-30-2016 02:00 AM)Tapestry Wrote:  Every man should own a basic black suit. After that, if you have enough money/need, you can go with blue and a khaki summer suit.

Please explain your reasoning regarding the basic black suit.

Good point - black was my colour of choice when I bought my first suit at 18 years of age and clueless about style. Navy and/or grey are better choices.

I'm currently upgrading my wardrobe and I would agree that if you try to do it all at once you will waste money, as you will make mistakes, and/or find better items once you have already paid for and worn stuff.

A point to bear in mind for younger dudes is that your taste will change as you mature, you will also likely broaden and fill out, so if you won't get a lot of wear from suits then one will do. No point in buying 3 if they're not going to see the light of day more than once or twice a year.

For anybody looking to upgrade their wardrobe in the manner you talk about it would be worth seeking advice from a professional, not something I have done personally but I would consider it if unsure of my own style, or if spending several thousand bucks on new clothes in one fell swoop.

This guy breaks down the staples of a mans wardrobe pretty well, he also does consultations. I found his website via the forum, I think he might actually be a member here too:

If in the UK you can sign up to get daily emails with style ideas from this company, they also provide an online consultation service whereby you email them a photo of yourself and they will take into account your height, body shape etc and send you suggestions based on what it is you want. I'm sure similar services exist in other countries, pretty useful if you need a bit of help:

Style forum is also a pretty good resource for researching new looks and purchases, again I found this one via the forum:

I strongly recommend anyone does a bit of research before dropping serious cash on a new wardrobe. I had it in mind to buy a pair of Wolverine 1000 mile boots before I looked on style forum and had my eyes opened to whole new world of possibilities and realised I had to step my game up further still.

Don't limit yourself to local shops, the internet is a wonderful place.

If serious about buying a few new suits and 10-15 shirts consider going somewhere like Thailand and getting them tailor made. You can get cuffs, collars etc personalised and it will fit better than off the shelf stuff. The money you save will pay for your holiday.

Lastly, don't upgrade your wardrobe to this extent before you've worked out for a while and got your physique roughly where you want it to be - it would be a waste to purchase all that stuff then start packing on muscle and have to replace it.
(This post was last modified: 05-30-2016 09:53 AM by Lagavulin.)
05-30-2016 09:32 AM
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Running Turtles Offline

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Post: #4
RE: Upgrading to an Adult Wardrobe
(05-30-2016 02:00 AM)Tapestry Wrote:  - Don't buy anything unless it fits perfectly.

Good datasheet, I just want to add something to the above principle: Certain things need to fit, but not everything. I'll give some examples, but many items can be tailored to fit you, even if it is way off in the store.

Shirts: Make sure it fits in the neck and somewhat follows your body shape (not "classic fit" or anything similar). Unless you're overweight or buying from a designer brand, a shirt that fits in the neck will normally not fit on your body. This is not a huge problem however, as it can be taken in by a tailor. Mine does it for €13 ($15).

Secondly, make sure the shoulder seam covers your shoulder bone exactly. To test this, press on the shoulder seam while wearing the shirt and standing up. If your finger lands right on top of the edge of the shoulder bone, you're good. This is important as it's too expensive or not possible to tailor.
This is about as clear as it gets:
[Image: oglhXJF.jpg]

Blazers: Make sure you can close the top button without an "X" forming across your center front torso. It should be snug, but there should be no "X".
This is too tight:
[Image: B4p48Dl.jpg]

Again, as with the shirts, the shoulder pads should end exactly on the end of your shoulder bone. Test it the same way. With a blazer or a suit jacket, you should also be able to see too big shoulder by what I believe is called "shoulder divots" in English.
This is what I mean:
[Image: 0WBa5AW.jpg]

If the arm length is off (it most likely will be), make sure to have it tailored. Your jacket sleeves should be tailored to end around 0.5cm (1/4") above the end of your shirt sleeves, like the image below:
[Image: hj6RKGH.png]

I believe a jacket/blazer can be taken made tighter in the back as well, but I haven't had this done and I'm unsure what it would cost.

Suits (the member 2 posts above me) has an excellent datasheet on getting custom made suits, but if you're on a budget and don't have access to low-cost tailors in China and South-East Asia, then you're going to have to buy a suit that "almost" fits and have it altered by a tailor. Department stores may be able to do it, but normally they're either expensive, shitty, or both. Yelp is a good resource to find a tailor, but honestly, shirt and jacket sleeves can be taken in by anyone with a sewing machine.

Do make them measure both arms individually since your arms may be different in length!

Finally, pants/jeans: Make sure they fit over your thighs. If you're like me and have solid legs, you might have to go one size up in the waist to make it fit. A tailor and fix this as well. The pant leg of course, can also be shortened.
05-30-2016 11:02 AM
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PhDre Offline
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Post: #5
RE: Upgrading to an Adult Wardrobe
(05-30-2016 05:17 AM)Suits Wrote:  
(05-30-2016 02:00 AM)Tapestry Wrote:  Every man should own a basic black suit. After that, if you have enough money/need, you can go with blue and a khaki summer suit.

Please explain your reasoning regarding the basic black suit.

Exactly, a black suit is fairly useless.
- It cannot be worn to a black tie event.
- It is less appropriate for business than navy/dark blue/grey.
- It cannot be worn with a lot of shoe colours.
- It doesn't look as good as navy/dark blue/grey/... especially on white and black guys.
- No one is going to bat an eye if you show up at a funeral in a navy suit.

Unless you are an undertaker, buying a black suit is probably a waste of money.

An I also disagree with the khaki. First three suits are preferably navy, (dark) blue and grey since these three colours combine with nearly all dress shirts, ties, pocket squares and shoes.

(05-30-2016 02:00 AM)Tapestry Wrote:  - Avoid stuff you know you are not going to wear often. I was tempted to buy a lot of blazers and jackets just because they look good, but I knew for my circumstances I would hardly ever wear them.

Good advice.
Buying items that combine well can save you a lot of money. A suit, a pair of dress shoes, two dress shirts, two ties and two pocket squares already give you 8 different outfits if you pick the colours and patterns carefully.
For instance:
- navy suit
- brown oxfords
- white and light blue dress shirt
- blue and burgundy tie
- two pocket squares that go well with these colours
This is enough if you're not required to wear a suit for work.
05-30-2016 11:22 AM
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Easy_C Offline

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Post: #6
RE: Upgrading to an Adult Wardrobe
If you aren't sold on Navy, Charcoal is a good option. It's more flexible than any other color.
05-31-2016 10:03 PM
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Surreyman Offline
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Post: #7
RE: Upgrading to an Adult Wardrobe
I liked the analysis of the ubiquitous hoodie-Tshirt-jeans-trainers outfit. Very hard to look good in that combo, and if you have a young face you will fuck up your game with that outfit.

I notice a lack of sweaters, coats or jackets, do you live in a hot climate?

Regarding casual or smart-casual clothes, you can really upgrade your casual wardrobe with a decent trucker jacket. If you're on a budget, just buy it from thrift store, these things last forever anyway. To avoid the Canadian Tuxedo effect, make sure the jacket doesn't match your pants. Double denim can work as long as it's non-matching, but have a look at other fabrics too.

[Image: c1f809fb4bddb6c15aa10181da10ed3f.jpg]
[Image: levi_mens_jackets_Mtruck_L.jpg]
06-01-2016 10:30 AM
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