When I graduated from college the sum total of my “professional” wardrobe included two suits – a medium gray herringbone and a dark char-brown (both with a vest), the navy blazer I’d had since high school (Thanks again, Dad and Mom!), one gray slack, three dress shirts, and a handful of ties. The shoes I had aren’t even worth mentioning. All but the blazer had been purchased with money I made working during the summers of my college years. By today’s valuation, I had invested close to a thousand dollars per suit. It was a lot of money at the time, but I thought they were awesome, and I always felt amazing when I put them on.
Q: How did I end up with a brown suit as one of my first two, and didn’t even own a navy suit until years later?
A: I liked it, and nobody suggested that I do any different.
More recently, as a professional clothier, I have had the pleasure of helping several fortunate young men get started with their professional wardrobe. In almost every case the clothing has been a gift from parents, grand parents, a mentor, or everyone’s favorite – the “rich uncle.” Such a gift is nothing short of a sound investment and a big vote of confidence. A few key pieces of professional clothing will go a long way to create a great first impression and set a young person on to the path of success.
Chris R. just got a new solid dark gray suit, white shirt, and a great tie as a Christmas gift from is parents. His first chance to wear it will be for no particular reason other than to show off for his older brother. C.P. got his first new suit, a dark blue solid, as a gift from his parents just before his senior year of college in preparation for senior year events and the interviews that will get him the job that will get him off of the family payroll.
Either a dark blue/navy or dark gray solid suit is the clear choice to begin building the “dress up” portion of your wardrobe, particularly for those who aspire to work in the fields of finance, law, politics, or sales and marketing. The versatility, universal acceptance, and powerful symbolism of either suit is unrivaled. Either one is your one essential suit.
With respect to style, a classic two-button coat and a flat front pant, with our without cuffs, is the way to go. If you’re having a suit made, you may also want to add a matching vest, though I would advise against adding the vest to the look in most interview situations, lest you come across a bit too charming.
As every main dish needs a side or two to complete the meal, your dark solid suit will need a white shirt for formal and/or conservative occasions and another shirt, maybe a stripe or check of some kind, to mix it up and add flavor. Be sure to add at least one shirt with French cuffs. Why? Well, for one, there are just too many fun cufflinks that need to worn. There is truly something for everyone, including your school if you went to one of more than 100 Division I schools now represented in our NCAA collection.
Your look will be complete with a pair of black dress shoes and coordinating belt of the same color, dark socks that are essentially the same color as your pants, and a selection of ties and pocket squares.
Michael K. just got two outfits from his grandfather for his college graduation. A dark gray solid suit is the foundation piece, complemented by a blue windowpane sport jacket and navy solid pant to provide a more casual alternative. Both look great with a light blue solid shirt and sophisticated neat pattern tie. He also got a green check shirt and coordinating tie that he really likes with the gray suit. The gray pant from the suit can also be worn with the sport jacket, so there is a lot of natural versatility in everything he picked out.