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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,
I will be starting my first job as a junior associate in a medium law firm sized firm in April. My current wardrobe (3 Jos. A bank suits and a few cheap shirts) is wholly inadequate and not appropriate for the corporate clientele I will be dealing with. My initial budget is around $10,000, but an additional $6-8K will be available over the course of the first 3 months.
I was figuring I would use the initial $10k to buy 3 suits, 2 nice pairs of shoes, 2 belts as well as an assortment of ties and dress shirts. That should get me through the first few months, during which time I will pick up an additional 2-3 suits as well as a briefcase.

Please give me advice and/or comments on the following selections:
Initial $10K
Suits: I can't afford to go bespoke, nor do I think that level is necessary at this point. I figured I would go with some upscale M2M. I was thinking BB golden fleece or HF M2M. I know that Oxxford makes a superior brand of suit, but at a price point of $3500… it may be beyond my means at the moment. Anyhow, I figured I would go with the following suits; Navy, Charcol, navy pinstripe.
I can't decide between 2/3 buttons. I was thinking 2 buttons would be safer, considering I am not attempting to look stylish per se but merely professional.
3 suits @ $1600/suit => $4800
Shoes: I was thinking of going with 2 pairs of Edward Green M2M. Since I am just beginning to build a wardrobe, it will be necessary for these shoes to be relatively conservative and capable of going with any of the suits.
I thought that the chelsea would be nice in brownish color.
Dark oak

Burgundy


And the gladstone in black

2 pairs @ $1100/shoe = $2200

This leaves around $3000 for shirts, belts and ties
Belts: I am at a lost here. I know that Dunhill makes nice belts, but they seem a bit pricey. Any suggestions. It seems that paying $240+ for a belt is a bit excessive, but if someone can offer me a justification I may consider it...
Shirts: No idea here. I was thinking of at least 3 solid white shirts, 2 solid blue shirts, and as well as 3-4 more shirts with a soft stripe. Remember, I am just trying to build a base wardrobe. Again, I think M2M shirts are probably the way to go, unless someone can suggest a good shirt maker in the DFW area.
Ties: I really wouldn't know where to start here, accept to stay relatively simple. Again, I am not trying to look stylish or standout so much as just look professional.

Thanks for any comments or suggestions.

One last thing. I am leaning toward the Swaine Adeney Brigg Attache Case. Does anyone know why there is such a price hike on the hand-stiched version and whether the additonal expense is justified? Also, I think the Havanna is superb. Has anyone seen this in person?
https://www.classicluggage.com/english_attache_cases.htm
 

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I'm not going to try to answer your questions as I will leave that to persons more knowledgable about the specific things you are asking about; but I would like to comment on your statement that your Jos. A. Bank suits are inadequate for the corporate clients you will be dealing with. Unless your suits are worn or falling apart, I think you are overestimating how many corporate executives dress.

For example, I have a very successful friend who is both a CPA and an attorney. He is currently a vice-president of an international company located in the U.S. but he negotiates contracts all over the world. He personally handled the negotiations for a large contract with Heathrow Airport in London. My friend buys all of his suits at places like Macy's, Dillards, and J.C. Penney.

I'm not suggesting that you not purchase some nice suits. I'm just suggesting that you not dismiss the use you can still get out of your Jos. A. Bank suits. Wear some really nice shirts, ties, belts and shoes with them and you might find that they look better than you realized. :icon_smile:

Cruiser
 

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My 2 cents (I have nothing to do with Law however so a lawyer may contradict me).

Being in Texas, I would advise you picking up 1 lighter colored suit as well - not for court, but certainly appropriate for meeting clients during the day.

Also, I would hesitate picking up 2 MTM pairs of shoes right off the bat. Ideally, you should have 3-4 pairs of shoes (minimum) in your 'rotation'. The leather in the shoes should be given rest in between use, so having 2 black and 2 brown shoes would mean the shoes last longer. For $2200 you can certainly afford 4 excellent pairs of RTW shoes.

Lastly, good luck! I envy your wardrobe budget :aportnoy:
 

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What do other junior lawyers in that position wear ?

Ten grand seems a large outlay, unless you want the stuff anyway and just need an excuse.

I always maintain that a plain black Oxford is a standard business shoe. Less expensive models like Loake will do for work. Brown shoes are not a business requirement either. They are a clothing forum thing.

A few reasonable dark suits navy, charcoal and grey should not cost the earth. I do not know enough about brands mentioned to give an opinion though.
 

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Your plan sounds very good, its the right number of suits and whatnot in the right color combinations. I wouldn't go crazy on the shoes but I would get some Aldens or Allen edmonds rather than custom. Allen Edmonds, Coach and Johnston and Murphy have nice belts and depending on where you buy the shoes the belts will be dyed to match the shoes (Even Alden offers this). Brooks Brothers has a nice MTM shirt program (consider the lead time however) and I wouldn't be afraid to toss in a few good Ike Behars or the like form the nearest Nordstroms. As for the ties, try brooks or nordstoms and dont be afraid to take a shirt on a suit hanger, throw a suit over it, put it in a suit bag and bring it with you so you can lay some ties on it, nobody will care. you may want to read up on ties a bit or get Andy's CD-Rom to help out with the overall execution of your plan (its what $20 something bucks of intel for a 10k plan?).

...Sounds like fun to me !
 

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I understand the desire to dress well, but I think you might be overdoing it a little for your first position. Depending on your body type, the mtm suits may or may not be a good choice. If you can get by w/o going mtm at this point in your career, I would try to do that. BB has plenty of other suits that won't break the bank. I would definitely recommend waiting until one of their better sales to buy suits. They have some of their 1818 suits 2/$1000 at certain times. While they aren't the same level as GF mtm, they are fine for someone in your position.

As far as shoes, I completely agree with comments from others, you would be fine with AE, Aldens, or other comparables. 99% of the people that you will encounter wouldn't know the difference and the ones that do know would probably think you're crazy to spend that much for your first pairs.

Don't get me wrong, I think you have excellent taste in clothes/shoes, but I just wouldn't recommend it at this point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I understand the desire to dress well, but I think you might be overdoing it a little for your first position. Depending on your body type, the mtm suits may or may not be a good choice. If you can get by w/o going mtm at this point in your career, I would try to do that. BB has plenty of other suits that won't break the bank. I would definitely recommend waiting until one of their better sales to buy suits. They have some of their 1818 suits 2/$1000 at certain times. While they aren't the same level as GF mtm, they are fine for someone in your position.

As far as shoes, I completely agree with comments from others, you would be fine with AE, Aldens, or other comparables. 99% of the people that you will encounter wouldn't know the difference and the ones that do know would probably think you're crazy to spend that much for your first pairs.

Don't get me wrong, I think you have excellent taste in clothes/shoes, but I just wouldn't recommend it at this point.
Thanks for the advice, and I completely understand where you are coming from.

I was sort of looking at the wardrobe as an investment in my career. I know that a nice wardrobe can last a lifetime (or at least a fairly long time) if cared for properly. Additionally, the compensation level at the firm is what I would consider competitive and the above mentioned budget is not really unaffordable. Not saying that I could afford to spend that kinda money every year (or even every 5 years), but it is not out of line with what I expect to spend for a respectable wardrobe.

Regardless, Perhaps a slower approach is more appropriate. What I don't want to do is take an intermediate step, and have to re-buy in three or four years. I just want to do it right the first time.

IF you were going to build a wardrobe similar to the abovementioned, how would you go about it?
 

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Are you in the location where your new employer is, or are you trying to put your wardrobe together for a relocation? The reason I ask is that what another post said is very reasonable, it seems to me: find out what the other associates are wearing. Did you look around when there to ascertain that? Is there someone working there that you know who has some fashion sense and can advise you?

I think Cruiser is right that you should spiff up the shirts and accessories and initially go with your JABs until you size up what is going on. This is especially true if you are relocating, as you can make some serious and costly blunders without knowing more about local taste.

As for the pictured shoes, they look very ordinary indeed for $1,000 a pair. Unless you have some orthopedic problem with your feet that require special fit, why would you need to spend that much and get something that boring?

All in all, it just seems that you are putting cost over value, for some reason.
 

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I agree that it is somewhat of an investment in your career, but as you are starting out, you need to spend some time there to get an idea of what is both appropriate and practical. Don't spend a bunch of money on something that you won't end up using enough to justify the cost. Just because you can afford something, doesn't mean it's necessarily the best use of your money.

I have been in your situation recently where I needed to build a wardrobe to work on Wall St. You have the right idea about suits, start with charcoal, navy, navy pinstripe. I would also add a charcoal pinstripe.

I think you would be severely overspending on shoes and belts if you went the route you're thinking. Wait on that level of shoes & belts until you have established yourself. You can easily find belts under $100. I would actually buy more shirts than you suggested, otherwise you'll end up at the dry cleaner more than you want. With the mtm shirts, that is a personal choice. I would love to do that, but at the associate level, it wasn't the best value choice for me personally. I have been completely happy with BB or other comparable shirts for about $50 a piece on sale.

As I have accumulated items in my wardrobe, I have mixed some higher cost items with others that are less expensive. For example, I have some GF suits, but also some 1818 rtw suits. I have several pairs of AE shoes that I am completely happy with and have no desire to trade up for mtm. My belts were less than $50 since I personally place no value in a belt. I have never noticed another person's belt, unless it was something I thought was tacky.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Are you in the location where your new employer is, or are you trying to put your wardrobe together for a relocation? The reason I ask is that what another post said is very reasonable, it seems to me: find out what the other associates are wearing. Did you look around when there to ascertain that? Is there someone working there that you know who has some fashion sense and can advise you?

I think Cruiser is right that you should spiff up the shirts and accessories and initially go with your JABs until you size up what is going on. This is especially true if you are relocating, as you can make some serious and costly blunders without knowing more about local taste.

As for the pictured shoes, they look very ordinary indeed for $1,000 a pair. Unless you have some orthopedic problem with your feet that require special fit, why would you need to spend that much and get something that boring?

All in all, it just seems that you are putting cost over value, for some reason.
Thanks for the comments. Honestly, I am not what you would consider a "fashion concious guy". I worked at this firm last summer and the associates dressed nice and I felt a little out-of-place in my suits. For instance, the suits I own don't have a true breast pocket but merely a flap sewn on to appear like a breast pocket.

I don't intend to put "cost" over "Value, per se. Could you elaborate on that a little? Are the brands I listed considered "vastly over-priced", or somewhat under-valued? As for the shoes, my goal is to get a nice pair of shoes that look professional. That is why I lean more towards the conservative look.

I am very new to this sort of thing, and honestly am just looking to build a professional wardrobe. My main concern is underbuying the first time, and having to go back around. I am certainly not attemtping to throw away money, just trying to build a quality wardrobe that will last.

Thanks for your comments and any/all recomendations are appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I agree that it is somewhat of an investment in your career, but as you are starting out, you need to spend some time there to get an idea of what is both appropriate and practical. Don't spend a bunch of money on something that you won't end up using enough to justify the cost. Just because you can afford something, doesn't mean it's necessarily the best use of your money.

I have been in your situation recently where I needed to build a wardrobe to work on Wall St. You have the right idea about suits, start with charcoal, navy, navy pinstripe. I would also add a charcoal pinstripe.

I think you would be severely overspending on shoes and belts if you went the route you're thinking. Wait on that level of shoes & belts until you have established yourself. You can easily find belts under $100. I would actually buy more shirts than you suggested, otherwise you'll end up at the dry cleaner more than you want. With the mtm shirts, that is a personal choice. I would love to do that, but at the associate level, it wasn't the best value choice for me personally. I have been completely happy with BB or other comparable shirts for about $50 a piece on sale.

As I have accumulated items in my wardrobe, I have mixed some higher cost items with others that are less expensive. For example, I have some GF suits, but also some 1818 rtw suits. I have several pairs of AE shoes that I am completely happy with and have no desire to trade up for mtm. My belts were less than $50 since I personally place no value in a belt. I have never noticed another person's belt, unless it was something I thought was tacky.
Thank you. So, you would recommend that I go with the 1818 style suit and a more reasonably priced shoe such as the allen edmonds?

At that level shoe, can you get away with only having one or two pairs? One of the above posters mentioned that the shoes needed a period of rest to allow the moisture to release from the leather (I assume into the shoe tree).

Additionally, would you recommend 2 pairs of slacks/suit? On my current suits, the slacks have warn a bit on the legs and seat and I have only owned them for a short period of time. It seems like having two pairs would extend the life of the suit.

Thanks again
 

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I think the 1818 suits are a great value for someone in your situation. I also have two GF suits (both otr) that I love. As you can tell, I'm a huge BB fan, so keep in mind that my recommendations apply to other brands at this level, I'm just using BB as my reference since that's what I'm familiar with. I also have a hugo boss suit that is my 5th suit. Many don't like that brand, but I can't say that I have any complaints since it was purchased on sale -- before I started reading AAAC :)

I have two pair of AE shoes that I rotate. One pair of black captoes and one pair of black wingtips. Both styles are conservative and are likely to last me for years, especially since they can be recrafted. You could definitely add brown if that is practical for you. I found that brown shoes were more of a want than a need for me personally, so I haven't purchased any yet. Definitely use the shoe trees and rotate the shoes to preserve them.

As far as adding a second pair of pants with the suits, I never felt the need to do that. If the suit is of good quality, I think the pants should hold up fine. I wear suits every day and haven't experienced any issues yet.

As far as your question about the brands you mentioned, I won't comment about them being overpriced/undervalued, I would just say that they're not necessary at this point in your career. I think there is a new sentiment around the country about overspending on certain things given the economic environment. It's better to look professional, without overdoing it, which I think is what you're after anyway.

If you do choose BB, I strongly recommend waiting for their sales where you can often get 25% off, plus you can open a BB credit card and save an extra 10% (or something like that) on your first purchase. I was able to save a ton of money by doing this, which I was able to apply to shirts, ties, etc.
 

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Thanks for the comments. Honestly, I am not what you would consider a "fashion concious guy". I worked at this firm last summer and the associates dressed nice and I felt a little out-of-place in my suits. For instance, the suits I own don't have a true breast pocket but merely a flap sewn on to appear like a breast pocket.

I don't intend to put "cost" over "Value, per se. Could you elaborate on that a little? Are the brands I listed considered "vastly over-priced", or somewhat under-valued? As for the shoes, my goal is to get a nice pair of shoes that look professional. That is why I lean more towards the conservative look.

I am very new to this sort of thing, and honestly am just looking to build a professional wardrobe. My main concern is underbuying the first time, and having to go back around. I am certainly not attemtping to throw away money, just trying to build a quality wardrobe that will last.

Thanks for your comments and any/all recomendations are appreciated.
Are you sure your suits don't have breast pockets? Most suit jackets come with the pockets stitched shut, and to open it you actually have to cut/pick the stitches out. I have never seen a suit with pockets that couldn't be opened.
 

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Slow and Steady....

No need to rush on the wardrobe outlay. I say, take it nice and slow. Start with a basic solid navy Brooks suit in a fit that looks well on you, a grey chalk stripe or the like, a nice Brooks navy blazer, and some grey variations of the county club pants.

Pair all with Brooks shirts and rep ties, how could you go wrong?

Regardless of the amount expended, your taste may change over time, and so might fashion, even slightly. Therefore, don't go in before having worked a day spending like you are "going for broke". Just my 2 cents.
 

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Two pairs of shoes, definitely! You can't keep wearing the same pair of shoes for long, as that will create foot problems as well as shoe damage. I liked the colors of the shoes you pictured, and they are pretty "safe" and conservative. But it seems to me you could get good, well-fitting shoes like those for a lot less. Brooks Bros. shoes of that type run around $400 to $500, for instance. One black pair and one pair in one of the other colors would do you for most of the clothing choices people have recommended.

My thought is that, as some others have suggested, you get a couple of nice but not outrageously expensive suits, Brooks for instance. Then look around to see who gets favorable notice for what they wear and follow suit. That takes a little time and observational acuity. You don't want to mistake flash for substance, even though that gets noticed.

My prior comment regarding "cost over value" is just that, because something costs a lot doesn't necessarily mean that it is a good value. It's hard to go wrong with Brooks suits, if you want something solid and professional and well-enough made. Leave the bespoke for later, when you are up for partner:icon_smile_big:
 

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Ties: I really wouldn't know where to start here, accept to stay relatively simple.

I don't care how good you look, the first brief you put out with this kind of grammatical error will seriously impair your professional growth.

Aside from that, I like your thoughts on the suits and shirts. The shoes are a bit excessive for someone in your position and I'd consider C&J or Alden to save a few bucks. As for ties, you won't go wrong with Hermes or Barba. Kiton, Brioni and Isaia make nice ties too. I would consider braces rather than belts. They are more comfortable and your pants will drape properly. Trafalgar makes quality braces that are reasonably priced.
 

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I completely disagree about the braces, especially for someone just starting out. I have worked in the finance industry for nearly ten years and cannot think of a single person that wears braces. I could be wrong, but I find it hard to believe that the dress at a law firm is that much different.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Ties: I really wouldn't know where to start here, except to stay relatively simple.

I don't care how good you look, the first brief you put out with this kind of grammatical error will seriously impair your professional growth.

Aside from that, I like your thoughts on the suits and shirts. The shoes are a bit excessive for someone in your position and I'd consider C&J or Alden to save a few bucks. As for ties, you won't go wrong with Hermes or Barba. Kiton, Brioni and Isaia make nice ties too. I would consider braces rather than belts. They are more comfortable and your pants will drape properly. Trafalgar makes quality braces that are reasonably priced.
LOL, yea I suppose that would be a sloppy error where it to find itself into a piece of my work-product. I do plan on proof reading my briefs slightly more carefully :).

Thanks for the comments. I have never tried on a pair of braces... Always thought they looked silly on guys in their mid-20s. I may look into a pair however.
 
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My $0.02 as a junior partner at BigLaw. Please pardon my typos. It's late and I'm tired. :cry:

  • Don't spend too much to start. Use what you have and buy more judiciously. See what you like and and what you don't like. What you wear often and what you don't. There is nothing worse that spending $1,200 on a pair of shoes that work out to be little more than a pair of expensive shoe-tree holders. Also keep in mind that as a junior associate, you'll probably be looking a a lot of documents (document reviw for contentious work, due diligence for non-contentious work) and wondering why you're looking at them and what your superiors expect you to find. You're clothes are going to get trashed doing this.
  • Client image.
    • Unless you and your firm are really unusual, if you're respresenting business clients, as a first year associate you're not going to have much contact with clients to worry about. And then most of the contact you will probably have, as an associate or a partner, will be via phone and electronic media. Not often will they be close enough in person to look for hand stiching on your jacket or whether your shoe is C&J on the 337 last or EG on the 888. Any who can tell the difference will be exceptional.
    • So don't worry too much about how your appearance affects clients. Once you get past the level of clean, coordinated, and well tailored, the return really diminish and you're paying a lot without getting much in exchange. Most people you encounter will wear square toes bicycle toes with chinos and golf shirts and won't can't recognize appreciate the difference between G&G and D&G.
  • Unless the clients and the lawyers you're goin to work for spend to much time here at AAAC and SF, none are going to know the difference between what you have now and what you're considering purchasing.
  • Keep your money. You can upgrade your wardrobe for a lot less. With the way this economy is, you may not be a junior associate at this law firm for long. We just fired several first year associates at my firm during the Thursday Morning Massacre last week.
    • Start out your shoes with something like AE, especially for the shoes that are pretty standard. From the Shoe Bank or on sale you should be able to get a pair plain black captoes oxfords for less than $250. Either the Park Avenue, or becuse you're younger, the Soho.
    • For the money, JAB offers many good suits. Go and get them on sale at JAB or other like places.
    • I highly recommend the Wizard of Aahs on eBay if you're just starting out. Exceptional quality, style, and details for the price. And good service too.
  • Gain knowledge to find what works and what does not, and then get what you really like without over-paying. You need to hit the books and do some reading. I suspect that you just took, or are about to take, a February bar exam. Well in your off time before you start work or spend a lot shopping, read each of these:
    • Garner on Writing and Language by Bryan Garner. This is not a sartorial book, but you're going to be a lawyer. That means your work will be mostly in the medium of words, especially written words. Chances are your law school didn't do a great job of preparing you for that. Odds also are that your new firm won't either. Unless you're one of the really lucky ones - and the "accept" for "except" gaffe avove suggest you're not - you're going to have to learn on your own. This book is the place to start.
    • Dressing the Man by Alan Flusser. The parts on colors and matching patterns is excellent. IMHO, you can skip that parsta at the beginning on what kind of hair and skin tone you have and what to wear with them.
    • Gentleman by Bernhard Roetzel. Excellent section on shoes, though many think Roetzel is too enamoured of Church's.
    • The Suit by Nicholas Anton Gioavanni. Focus especially on the chapter of advice to young men.
  • After reading these books, especially Flusser, you should be able to find a good tailor and help him help you to get your clothes to fit well. That will be worth more than a whole closet full of bespoke shoes. If I had a dollar for every poorly fitting $2,000 suit I saw I's have a lot of bespoke suits.
  • Get Andy's Encyclopedia of Men's Clothes and keep it nearby as a reference. Indulge the shameless plug for our founder here.
  • Browse and seach here for more threads here. Focus especially for advice for those just starting out.
  • Style Forum is also a good place to learn too, but the crowd over there is far less genteel. The advice you will get is somewhat less conservative and they express it in far coarser prose. I like that, so I frequent that forum too. Among many others, there is a poster over there who goes by the handle of mafoofan. I like what he says and I think he offers a lot of good advice for young lawyers. He writes well too. But beware of follwowing him blindly - you could soon wind up as a debtor under Title 11 of the United States Code. ;)
  • Read Will's blog A Suitable Wardrobe. Then go back and read through the archives of his blog.
  • Stay with simple and subdued ties. I like Filene's Basement for ties at comepetitive prices. eBay too! IMHO, you should at least have:
    • Navy solid.
    • Burgundy solid.
  • Regarding braces, most, including Antongiovanni, suggest that young men avoid them. As a rule, I have to agree. But they are, IMHO, much more comfortable and practical. So I'd offer the following exception - wear braces if:
    • They're solid or subdued colors. Like ties, a pair of navy and a pair of burgindy solids are a good start.
    • You keep your jacket on most of the time so few frequently see your braces. Can you do that doing document reviews in the baking Texas summers?
  • All this advice is based on your stated purpose of fitting in to your role as a young lawyer. If wha you really want to do is get some really sweet shoes, shirts, suits, neckwear, etc., then disregard most of my advice. :icon_smile_wink: But still read Garner. :teacha:
 
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