Friday, April 09, 2010

Reader's Question: New Job, New Wardrobe

We have another question, this one from Pete in San Diego. To send your questions email us at: Or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

Do you have any suggestions on how a young man newly interested in updating his wardrobe, after college and now starting to job search should begin?

For this exercise let's assume this new college graduate has a typical college wardrobe, which is anything but appropriate for the workforce. This will mean he needs to start from scratch and focus on classic essentials that will last him a few years, or at least until he starts making enough money to buy some real clothes. Over the next week we will explore the essentials to a versatile work wardrobe.

To start, the key is about the fit. Inexpensive clothes that fit well look much better than expensive clothes that aren't the right size. So when buying the first round of clothes, it is better to focus on the fit then the brand. Then upgrading the quality and the brands in the closet as time progresses. The only exception is shoes, which we will discuss later in this essay. The essentials are classic, conservative and safe, as the last thing a newly hired professional wants to come across is anything but. Beyond reputation building a classic and conservative wardrobe will ensure the largest amount of use out of the items. By sticking to classics, the items can be worn again and again without raising an eyebrow or a snide remark. Whereas a young professional breaking out a brown glenn check suit with purple over check is not only seen as unprofessional but wearing that suit more than twice a year will probably roll some eyes.

The items that are needed can be bought for around $3K to $5K, depending on brands and how much is in the closet already. As time goes, additional items can be added yearly or every few months to keep the wardrobe fresh and expand the options. What every man needs is:
  • Suits - a minimum of 2 suits, maximum of six
  • Dress shirts - classic shirts between 8 and 12
  • Dress shoes - one brown & one black
  • Belt - one reversible belt
  • Sport Coat - at least one universal odd jacket
  • Wool slacks - a minimum of four wool slacks
  • Sweaters - wool sweaters, a minimum of two
  • Chinos - 2 pairs of clean dress chinos
  • Ties - at least six to ten ties in classic patterns & width
  • Watch - one classic watch
  • Overcoat & Raincoat - one of each
  • Accessories - Pocket squares, Tie Clips, Socks, etc.
With this list in mind we will further explore each item in detail over the next three weeks.

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