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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Everyone,

This is my first post on the website, of many, I hope. In truth, I have been perusing the sight for some time, and have garnered a great deal. For that, thank you all very much.

However, I have a conundrum now for which I would like to get input from some of the more knowledgeable forum members. Here is my situation:

I am currently in law school and have gotten a summer internship with the federal government in Washington, D.C. this summer. It has always been my dream work for the government (I know, I know...) and live in D.C. so I didn't mind the fact that the job is unpaid. That's right, I will be living on solely on my own dime this summer.

I have a few suits but have recently lost a lot of weight and so I need to do some shopping for this job. Of course, because it is unpaid I need to keep the wardrobe budget to a minimum. I will need probably 2 suits, several pairs of dress trousers and a few pairs of loafers.

My problem is that AAAC has really turned me on the the nicer things in the sartorial realm, to the point that I find it hard to accept something as basic as the JAB Executive level suits. With a price range of around $1500 for two suits and all the accoutrement, are there viable options for the trad look (flat front trousers, etc.), or do I need to just bite the bullet, and spend as little as possible, knowing that what I buy now will just be Goodwill quality in a few months?

I really like the cost v. value of things like Allen-Edmonds, Alden or Brooks Brothers, but it is hard to justify with so little capital at this point, and knowing that I will be stretching it to survive the summer. While impressions are important to me, so is breakfast. Thoughts?

Thanks guys,

SCL
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, well I suppose that probably is a good option. While my city does not have the best thrift shopping, ebay, I suppose, is like a thrift shop for the whole world.

I will look into that.

Anyone else have any suggestions, for example when the next BB or JPress spring sale will be going on?

Thanks again.
 

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The thing with BB, Press, etc sales is that the items still cost a good penny. The best deals I've seen at retail in some time were at the BB Warehouse Sale at the Madison Ave flagship.

If you do a little digging, and maybe a little driving, you might surprise yourself at what kind of thrift stores you find.

Up here in New Jersey, we have this. It's great, as it occurs in an area of great affluence - so many great garments can be found. There might be something similar in your neck of the woods.

Also, check out Giuseppe's blog. He's a master at thrifting.
 

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I'm not sure if this will do, but is your summer office a business suit workplace, or a jacket-and-tie workplace? In my thrifting experience, sack blazers aren't so tough to come by. It's the suits that are difficult to find (particularly those that don't require a ton of tailoring).

As a southerner, I suspect you know this feeling, but: It gets sticky in DC in the summer, so if you're going thrifting, remember to keep the fabrics light!
 

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Everyone,

This is my first post on the website, of many, I hope. In truth, I have been perusing the sight for some time, and have garnered a great deal. For that, thank you all very much.

However, I have a conundrum now for which I would like to get input from some of the more knowledgeable forum members. Here is my situation:

I am currently in law school and have gotten a summer internship with the federal government in Washington, D.C. this summer. It has always been my dream work for the government (I know, I know...) and live in D.C. so I didn't mind the fact that the job is unpaid. That's right, I will be living on solely on my own dime this summer.

I have a few suits but have recently lost a lot of weight and so I need to do some shopping for this job. Of course, because it is unpaid I need to keep the wardrobe budget to a minimum. I will need probably 2 suits, several pairs of dress trousers and a few pairs of loafers.

My problem is that AAAC has really turned me on the the nicer things in the sartorial realm, to the point that I find it hard to accept something as basic as the JAB Executive level suits. With a price range of around $1500 for two suits and all the accoutrement, are there viable options for the trad look (flat front trousers, etc.), or do I need to just bite the bullet, and spend as little as possible, knowing that what I buy now will just be Goodwill quality in a few months?

I really like the cost v. value of things like Allen-Edmonds, Alden or Brooks Brothers, but it is hard to justify with so little capital at this point, and knowing that I will be stretching it to survive the summer. While impressions are important to me, so is breakfast. Thoughts?

Thanks guys,

SCL
Fortunately, you haven't waited until the last minute. If I were you, I'd figure out the bare minimum before shopping for anything and then stick to that plan--if you jump at every bargain that comes your way, you'll end up with nice clothes, but perhaps not what you need for the office. I presume your job requires suits as opposed to sport coats. If that's the case, I'd figure on getting three suits, one navy, one charcoal and one khaki colored poplin. The navy and charcoal should be in the lightest weight wool available. I'd want five shirts, two white, two blue and one blue university stripe. Loafers, IMHO, aren't appropriate for suits. I'd want two pairs of no-nonsense oxford dress shoes, one black, one brown (think AE Park Avenue), maybe one pair of loafers, something like AE Walden. And I'd want at least a half-dozen ties.

So that's your (or at least, my) list. If your budget is $1,500, you can pull it off without resorting to JAB and the like, if you're patient, picky and careful.

Suits will be trickiest. Depending on your size, you can probably pick up at least one, if not all three, suits on ebay. If it were me, I'd inquire here about any seller before I bid to see if anyone has experience with them. Of course, it goes without saying that you need to have your measurements down cold before bidding and ask plenty of questions--how did you measure this garment exactly (and if they didn't go by a set of guidelines posted online somewhere, I'd be wary). There's a new thrift exchange on SF that might also be helpful.

Everything else should be relatively easy. Secondhand BB shirts are widely available on the bay for about $25 apiece. Ties on the bay abound for less than $10--you can skimp here and go with secondhand JAB or the like. Don't pay more than $100 a pair for the shoes. So, if you go entirely used, your budget, worst-case scenario, would look something like this:

Suits at $100 each: $300
Shirts at $25 each: $150
Shoes at $100/pair: $200
Ties: $50
Alterations (a wag, but figure $60 per suit): $180

Grand total $880. That means you have $600 of wriggle room. And I'm presuming you already have belts in black and brown. I'd set a drop dead date to get what you can used, then use JAB and the like as a backup plan.

Figure your costs will be less if you score some stuff on the AAAC thrift exchange. If you can get by with Navy blazer and slacks instead of suits, your costs may also be less, and if you can do the blazer deal, do.

If you find all this stuff secondhand, which frankly isn't likely, you'll be able to use it past this internship. Keep in mind that you'll likely be gaining weight as years pass, if you're like the rest of us, so whatever you get won't have a shelf life past age 30 or so.

All this is just my opinion.
 

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As I recall, you can get 2 Brooks Brothers suits for less than $1500 when they're on sale. I know they had a 2 for $999 deal this winter, but even if it's not that good of a deal, I think it's a possibility. This is assuming that you already have the necessary shirts, ties, and shoes. But even if you don't, BB shirts aren't expensive (3 for $199), and ties and shoes can be gotten on Ebay for vastly reduced prices.
 

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Solid advice from the guys above. One more thing to add (and I'm ready to take heat for this): it's OK not to dress 100% trad. There is some nice stuff available at Marshalls, Burlington Coat Factory, etc. that is cheap and will hold up nicely for at least the summer. Some even look "trad-like" in terms of colors and little padding on the shoulders. Those chains don't carry sacks as far as I know, but if you need a couple of suits on the cheap-cheap that look decent and hold up for the summer, you could do worse.
 

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Try the Goodwill in Aiken, SC. It's not terribly far away and I've always had better luck finding quality stuff there than almost anywhere.

Added bonus: The Steeplechase is also this weekend.
 

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I am currently in law school and have gotten a summer internship with the federal government in Washington, D.C. this summer. It has always been my dream work for the government (I know, I know...) and live in D.C. so I didn't mind the fact that the job is unpaid. That's right, I will be living on solely on my own dime this summer.

Thanks guys,

SCL
This is a little off the topic but may be useful.
You need to begin thinking about your ROI. Not just in terms of your education but also your bottom line.

A whole summer spent working for free is...
If this intership is vital to your education is it possible to work someplace else and actually make money? Or maybe even start a small business that can generate income while the gov't gets your services free?

If you generate more income you can buy some of the finer things you see here.
For example, start a car detailing side business for before or after hours of free work.
Tell the employees that get paid that your starting a side business to help finance your education while you work there for free.
I'm sure you could get enough paid employees willing to let you detail their cars for a small fee.
10 cars in 1 month at $30 buys 2 pairs of new discontinued Allen Edmonds.
10 cars at $50=$500
20 cars at $50 =$1000
In one summer you can get your education and get paid.
You'll have more than enough money to finance your wardrobe.

Just a thought.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Everyone,

Thank you all so much for your prompt replies and the helpful suggestions. Clearly thrifting and Ebay are the best ways to get quality product for cheap.

I will definitely patrol the boards for offers and otherwise spend my time wisely bidding on some quality items.

Thanks again for the suggestions, and if anyone has anything to add of strategies, or great deals they know of, it will be greatly appreciated.
 

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Couple of thoughts - First, look at Graham & Gunn suits (don't know if they come in the sack but they are great suits for the money - charcoal gray and blue will do nicely). Second, since you will be in D.C. for the Summer - consider a seersucker suit. An earlier thread mentioned that STP had a Haspel on sale for less than $150 (added bonus - you can wear the pants with a navy blazer). A poplin suit would be another good addition. B&C
 

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scl10,

Welcome. Go down to 5-points and check out the Gentleman's Closet. It's a higher end consignment shop that can have some pretty nice stuff. When Grainger Owings has their seasonal sale, whatever is left over heads down there. Dean is the guy who is usually in there, with his stinky mouth yellow lab "Cotton." Tell him Blake form Clemson sent you.
 

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Oh, and ask Dean if he can order you some Allen Edmonds, I think he may be able to give you a good price on new ones.
 

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I think 32roll's strategy is a good one. You should easily be able to get shirts and ties via Ebay, and most likely shoes (grapevinehill.com is worth checking as well for shoes).

However, I will say that I have had no luck buying suits on ebay. If you can't find 3/2 sacks in your price range, you might consider the "suiting essentials" at Brooks. Current deal is two suits for $799. Would at least be an alternative to JAB, and would provide you with flat front trousers.

Another possibility to consider is making your navy suit a navy poplin. O'Connell's has 3/2 sack poplin suits for $325.
 

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I think 32roll's strategy is a good one. You should easily be able to get shirts and ties via Ebay, and most likely shoes (grapevinehill.com is worth checking as well for shoes).

However, I will say that I have had no luck buying suits on ebay. If you can't find 3/2 sacks in your price range, you might consider the "suiting essentials" at Brooks. Current deal is two suits for $799. Would at least be an alternative to JAB, and would provide you with flat front trousers.

Another possibility to consider is making your navy suit a navy poplin. O'Connell's has 3/2 sack poplin suits for $325.
Good call on navy poplin for summer in D.C. And right on about ebay suits. Ive bought three. One was a J. Press seersucker that had perspiration stains around the collar. Another was a BB navy with mismatched trousers and jacket. In both cases, I got my money back (it pays to check seller feedback). In the third case, I scored an as-new Pressidential navy suit for $75, a fantastic score. If you do buy an ebay suit, I'd pay via PayPal on a credit or debit card, which allows you order a chargeback in case you get screwed. It's an easy automatic refund as opposed to hassling with PP's arbitration process. Huge leverage in the event a seller doesn't deliver as promised.
 

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I'm probably going to regret this but...

Columbia SC has some of the best Goodwills anywhere. I just hope your not my size! Check out the Goodwill on Garner's Ferry and the one on Decker.

In the last couple of months I got a beautiful blue Hickey Freeman suit for $12 - Pretty similar to this $1700 one only in blue:

I've picked up wool Orvis Black Watch pants for $4.75

A couple of pairs of Polo linen pants ($4.75ea); A pair of Dumas seersuckers pants ($4.75); Black Mezlan captoes with shoe tress ($2.50);Filson moleskin pants for ($4.75). Got a nice 2" Rooster bowtie for $1 and a nice madras blazer not too long ago.

Tried on a blue and an olive poplin Brooks Bros. suit, both too big for me but about $12 each and in perfect condition a couple of weeks ago.

My latest score was a cool blue blazer with pick stitching, a ticket pocket and functional sleeve buttons made from Vitale Barberis Canoni wool - about $6.

If you really don't want to wear thrift ( I wore thrifted suits for both my 1L and 2L internships and am wearing my new Hickey Freeman to court tomorrow - but hey more for me if you don't) then check out the Brooks Brothers factory outlet at Myrtle Beach. You can get a few poplin suits there for not a lot of money that should get you through the summer.

Here's one on sale for $99.00:

https://www.brooksbrothers.com/IWCa...ection_Id=372&Parent_id=305&Product_Id=971014
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Clemsontiger, I have been to the Gentleman's Closet in the past, but never with a particularly discerning eye. I will have to give it a closer look the next time I am down in 5 points.

Charlie500, your secret is safe with me. I had never given any thought to being able to find decent workable clothing at Goodwill, but where I grew up Goodwill was really only good for ratty t-shirts.

TDI GUY, I had given the "suiting essentials" a thought, but knowing that they do not get very favorable reviews on this forum, I now think I might be able to find greater quality thrifting and maybe even save some money. However, the suiting essentials will probably be my fall back.

Everyone else, thanks for the replies and general suggestions. The responses are all great and the time everyone takes is a large part of why this forum is so successful. Keep up the good work.
 

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There is a song I once heard on the government radio station about when you die, all your stuff goes to the thrift shop.

My advice is to get your shirts and suits cheaply, because you'll be wearing them for 4 months. Once you're a lobbyist, you'll be able to afford much better.

But do get 2 pair of nice black or brown laceups. When I worked as a Legislative Assistant, I did everything from run around and fetch tea through to long days at my desk writing speeches through to getting my bosses luggage to the Legislature for his government flight to XYZ. You won't get sore with a 400 dollar suit, but at the least, Rockports, Clarks, Ecco, Florsheim or Alden shoes are a minimum.

Don't bother with loafers, and don't buy used shoes. Vintage Florsheims are what I wore through high school and part of university. But in all honesty, for 4 months without pay, you'll probably appreciate a few pairs of nice shoes as you'll be on marble and cement a lot.

The other nice thing about shoes is if you don't buy the latest fashions and avoid fashion-forward models, you may be able to wear the same shoes a few years down the road when you are making enough to afford the BB suits.

Also, I have a special attraction to seersucker. I was the only person in my age group at the legislature from "the South" (south of Canada), so I played it up a bit by wearing seersucker. Got great attention from the female staff. I think it takes serious stones to wear a cotton suit in DC and they're very practical.

Also, if you can afford it, when you've got 3-4 suits off Ebay, start looking locally for as many pairs of pants as possible. Again, don't be too picky about quality, but I found I could wear a suit jacket for a week in a temperate summer but had to dry clean pants every few days. I moved temporarily for work and only brought about 5 pair and by the end of 3 weeks I definitely needed dry cleaning services.

Do you have a car? Maybe you could see if your parents are willing to borrow it for the summer weekdays and pay you a stipend for it (50 dollars a week would definitely cover bag lunches and a beer on Fridays after work), no doubt a boon to a younger sibling and maybe helpful for your pocketbook. I found my home capitol to be a very walking friendly city.

Thomas
 
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