Casey C asks: I am a 26-year-old investment banker, and I’m new to the industry. Working to help corporations raise capital, and assist in acquisitions and mergers keeps me constantly surrounded by my superiors and I want to make a solid impression. I don’t just want to fit in, but I also don’t want my “greenery” to stand out. My professional wardrobe can be considered embarrassing in some circles so I really need a good starting point. What are the essentials? Help?!
Tom Talks: Building a wardrobe is like building a home: there are cornerstones; and for every gentleman’s professional attire there are five foundational cornerstones.
Suit up. These five colors/patterns allow for a little personality without an obnoxious monologue: solid navy, navy striped, solid grey, grey pinstriped and solid blue-grey. When you’re just starting out, money can be an issue, so just buy the best you can afford. These fab five colors will diversify your wardrobe so don’t be afraid to have an opinion. Play around with the colors a bit by adding different weaves such as solid blue-grey in nail’s head or tic weave. But don’t wait too long to build up your wardrobe. Even though you’re new to the industry, it’s important to invest in your first five suits from the start because you don’t want to wear the same suit more than once a week. Once you have the basics, you can start to build on them with classy patterns such as windowpanes and plaid, and add new earthy colors such as brown, olive and tan. Later on, you can socialize your wardrobe with classic colors such as black or light grey.
Button Up. The goal here is build up enough “stock” so you have three weeks worth of shirts; that way, if last week’s shirts are being held hostage at the dry cleaner’s, you still have an array of shirts in your closet to choose from. Think color. Think variety. I don’t believe in dark-colored dress shirts so stick with three white shirts; one white solid with French cuffs; four blue solids; one navy, one red and one burgundy striped; and one black or grey small pattern.
Sport Up. You definitely need a traditional blazer in either black or navy, but you also need a sports coat. Versatile patterns in grey, navy, tan or olive work well. The final decision depends upon your personal taste and fashion-sense.
Leg Up. Slacks are just as important as shirts. There are several core colors every gentleman should have. Think elemental and mineral colors: charcoal, mid grey, navy, tan, brown, and olive. Our number one selling color is charcoal, so that should tell you something. Again, these are the cornerstone colors; and once you lay a good foundation you can start to build on it by adding in different shades and textures.
Toe Up. When it comes to dress shoes, just start small: one black pair and one brown pair. Once your financial portfolio grows, invest in some burgundy. Matching belts are a must.
After you’ve graduated from the fundamentals, seek out a stylish overcoat, and for your fancier
affairs, a tuxedo. But don’t fret over those right now; just concentrate on mastering the basics. And remember, simple details such as functional button holes, edge stitching, and subtle monograms really make a good impression and build a respectable wardrobe.
Now you’re ready to make a lasting impression in the big city!