Ever thought to yourself, “if only I knew what I know now, back when?”
Well this is one of those times I want to share about my first “real” suit.
Real in my mind meant spending $799 because that’s what the big boys spent back then, quality or brand was not even a thought. I had 2 cheap suits hanging in the wardrobe and at the time early in my finance career, I didn’t care much for shirts, suits or leather shoes and practically lived in ripped jeans and a scoop neck tee.
My corporate wardrobe consisted of black and, black. No regard for fit, fabric, sleeve length, leg length, heck I didn’t even know what a lapel was.
That changed when a few of the top salesmen in the office suggested I step up my game and head down to a major suit retailer on the corner of our block. To be a top performer started with dressing like one, and right they were.
Always quick to point out their latest new suits with coloured lining, fitted pants and silk ties I wanted to fit in and impress. They also had another rule…. no black, black is for funerals or waiters (so they told me). Their advice; if I am only going to own one decent suit, then go for Navy or Grey and no patterns. (More on colours next time).
I went to the retail suit store and tried on various suits. The salesperson was great but, the suggestions and tips went way over my head so I went with what I knew; Black, and to mix it up I went with a pinstripe (Clearly going against the advice I had been given). The suit was unaltered, and to my vague memory fit ok off the rack.
So now I had a real suit, the problem; my wardrobe was black, black and black pinstripe. My other issue was that my new “real” suit fit the best, felt the best, had coloured lining and made me look like an Italian mobster so wearing it Monday to Friday soon wore thin with the fashionistas in the office.
What that first experience taught me, is that style and building a wardrobe requires some thought, direction and research (all things in 2017 you can do online or with the help of a stylist). What works for others may not work for you, follow your own style rules.
My advice to my younger self; have a look in mind, wear what suits you and your personality and remember to always look and feel comfortable in what you wear.
If you only have 1 or 2 suits on rotation, I wouldn’t opt for anything too bold or with a distinct pattern (pinstripes or checks). Start with the basics, such as solid colors then move on to subtle patterns and grow from there.
This will allow you to rotate through different shirts and ties to create different looks throughout the week and not make it so obvious your wardrobe isn’t 5-10 suits deep.
My preference today, is to add a new suit to my collection on a regular basis. The more you rotate the less wear and tear you have on your existing garments. This is difficult but not impossible if you can only opt for 1-2 suits at a time as stated above, but you can slowly build your collection by simply opting for a complimentary pair of chinos to the jacket or different fabric altogether, again complimenting the primary jacket.
Having the variety willl allow you to wear the same outfit more often and change your look entirely on a daily basis and creating the appearance of a bigger collection.
Alternatively as your collection grows, instead of those extra pants, opt for a sports jacket and mix texture with linen for the warmer months and/or a tweed through the colder months.