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Importance of wardrobe with new job
Old 01-31-2009, 01:52 PM   #1
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Importance of wardrobe with new job

Hey guys,
I start as a Jr. Associate in a medium size firm in march.

I currently own 3 suits, all purchased from Jos. A. Bank for around $400/piece. (charcol, navy, and olive). They don't look real cheap and they are semi-fitted (the store made some minor alterations upon purchase, but nothing significant... very far from tailor made IMO). They are in excellent shape (2 years old, 3-5 months of actual use). That being said, it is obvious that they are entry-level suits.


Should I immediately start setting back a portion of my paycheck with the thought of buying some nicer suits?

This is an expense I would rather avoid, but I do know how important appearences can be when starting a new job.

Lastly, my planned budget is very tight (most of my paycheck will be allocated to paying off my student loans ASAP) and any money spent on non-essential expenses will reduce this ability.

Thanks for the advice in advance.
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Old 01-31-2009, 02:06 PM   #2
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IMO, what is important here is how you compare yourself to the rest of the employees. If you feel comfortable with your attire, you will be confident in your workplace and with clients.

Throwing a few bucks in the clothing budget might not hurt. I suggest buying new shoes and a briefcase now.
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Old 01-31-2009, 02:13 PM   #3
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I think it's important to look like you belong at the firm. Take a look at the suits that the other associates are wearing and try to dress like them. I would think two nice conservative dark (maybe pin-striped) suits (e.g. Brooks Brothers) will probably suffice to get you started.
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Old 01-31-2009, 02:19 PM   #4
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Law firm, correct?
Plan A: Can you remember what people were wearing during your interview?
Plan B: If you can come up with a very good reason (need to do any HR paperwork beforehand?) to visit the firm before you start the new job, you can wear one of your good suits and see how it compares. They won't be scrutinizing between the interview and when you start the job.
Plan C: I'm not suggesting stalking here......but you could sit outside in a public place (outside the courthouse?) with a book to get a view of what ANY lawyer is wearing now. Don't be obvious.
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Old 01-31-2009, 03:12 PM   #5
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Law firm, correct?
Plan A: Can you remember what people were wearing during your interview?
Plan B: If you can come up with a very good reason (need to do any HR paperwork beforehand?) to visit the firm before you start the new job, you can wear one of your good suits and see how it compares. They won't be scrutinizing between the interview and when you start the job.
Plan C: I'm not suggesting stalking here......but you could sit outside in a public place (outside the courthouse?) with a book to get a view of what ANY lawyer is wearing now. Don't be obvious.
I actually interned there last summer. I didn't feel "out of place" per se, but I do remember there being a difference. Perhaps I will start putting money back and see how it goes for the first few weeks.

Thanks
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Old 01-31-2009, 04:47 PM   #6
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Are law firms peculiar in this? I recall my recently-hired BIL recounting having swapped some jocular(?) comments on his attire with some of the partners/senior people. It seemed perverse.. like they were testing him to see if he would toe some certain sartorial line OR resist and show backbone. We couldn't figure whether submission or backbone was the correct strategy.

Is this necessary or just hazing?
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Old 01-31-2009, 04:49 PM   #7
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I think dressing nice makes a difference but don't think having a $500 suit vs $1000 suit would make you twice as nice. I'm in similar shoes as you with wanting to dress nice for work. (i'm a young business/IT management consultant...)

I'm always keeping an eye out for good priced suits. I don't think one needs to spend "too much" for a good looking suit. When I bought my first suit for a holiday banquet at my first job I spent $300 something at Mens Warehouse. Then later I found a few suits for $175-225 at Macy's after sale which look just as good. Still name brand CK, Ralph Lauren, etc (though probably specifically made for Macys).

Also Brooks Brothers outlet had a nice sale at Black Friday or after Christmas where you can get some nice suits for about $250.

So I think looking and fitting into the workplace is good but you dont need to spend a lot to do so.

Plus you can rotate suits with different shirts/ties/belts/shoes and no one would be able to tell the difference.

(i've only been out in the workforce a few years so just my perspective).
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Old 01-31-2009, 08:16 PM   #8
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(i've only been out in the workforce a few years so just my perspective).
Women and gay men can.

ha
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Old 02-02-2009, 03:20 PM   #9
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Caveat for me: I'm a woman who has never had a job that required anything more dressy than a clean twinset from Land's End. Having said that, here's what I'd do.

1. Take your existing suits to a good tailor and get them well-fitted to you. You said the place you bought them from did some tailoring; do you feel that they can fit better? If so, spend the money and get a really superb fit. This is a less-expensive way to upgrade your existing suits.

2. Buy a really good pair of shoes that will go with your suits and a really nice belt. Keep them polished.

3. Your attache case or briefcase is an investment piece that you'll carry for years, so spending some time looking and paying for quality will be a good choice.

4. Finally, I'd put some money aside each month to upgrade your suits. But I wouldn't do it now; I'd wait until you've been at the firm a couple of months and have a feel for what the internal dress code is. While your clothing will be important, how you perform on the job will be what really matters to the firm.

Good luck with the new adventure!
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Old 02-02-2009, 03:32 PM   #10
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Invest your first couple of bucks in "Dress for Success." The author took a very scientific approach to figuring out what clothing sends the right message.

I read the women's version when i got out of B-School. Best wardrobe investment I made.
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Old 02-02-2009, 06:24 PM   #11
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Ditto on the shoes and the briefcase being money well spent. Also, if they really are examining you, perhaps dropping some dough on a watch. You can get a used high end watch like Tag Heuer for a few hundred and be above criticism in that regard. It won't be the "limited edition Tiger Woods Earl Grey edition" but they aren't likely to see more than the logo and the genuine sapphire crystal. Also, if you wear glasses, a, high end pair (rimless?) is something I've noticed. If you do that and and get your suits tailored you've probably dropped a grand, but got a lot more than just one high end suit.
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Old 02-02-2009, 09:55 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Urchina View Post
Caveat for me: I'm a woman who has never had a job that required anything more dressy than a clean twinset from Land's End. Having said that, here's what I'd do.

1. Take your existing suits to a good tailor and get them well-fitted to you. You said the place you bought them from did some tailoring; do you feel that they can fit better? If so, spend the money and get a really superb fit. This is a less-expensive way to upgrade your existing suits.

2. Buy a really good pair of shoes that will go with your suits and a really nice belt. Keep them polished.

3. Your attache case or briefcase is an investment piece that you'll carry for years, so spending some time looking and paying for quality will be a good choice.

4. Finally, I'd put some money aside each month to upgrade your suits. But I wouldn't do it now; I'd wait until you've been at the firm a couple of months and have a feel for what the internal dress code is. While your clothing will be important, how you perform on the job will be what really matters to the firm.

Good luck with the new adventure!

Thanks for the advice.

I think the suits fit well. I stay pretty fit (I know, easy to do at 24), so I look decent anyway.

Thanks for the advice on the shoes. I will have a girl go with me to help me pick out two pairs of shoes and 2-3 belts, and maybe a few new ties. I don't have any fashion sense, lol!

I will look for a good briefcase. I have actually been looking at them and have had difficulty choosing between a soft or hard briefcase. I was thinking a hard one would be better since I don't need room for a laptop. Is one "more stylish" than the other? As a woman, do you have an opinion on this?
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Old 02-03-2009, 10:57 AM   #13
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My favorite shoes for air travel are Cole Haan loafers. Cole Haan also makes great belts. Their products 'age' well - I have a pair that are at least 15 years old and have been resoled several times.

Ask a member of your firm for advise on selecting a brief case. The firm may have a relationship with a vendor.
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Old 02-03-2009, 11:48 AM   #14
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Invest your first couple of bucks in "Dress for Success." The author took a very scientific approach to figuring out what clothing sends the right message.

I read the women's version when i got out of B-School. Best wardrobe investment I made.
Hm...while I'm not a fan of suits, my work place has the opposite problem. The group prides itself on its Salvation Army looks.
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:19 PM   #15
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It depends on the firm culture and community culture.

In my firm the associates tended to dress better than the partners.

I bought a nice briefcase about a year after I started working and used it until the day I quit. I did buy it from a fancy store across the street from work which offered a healthy discount to people in my firm. It developed a nice patina of ink stains and banged up edges.
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Old 02-03-2009, 02:01 PM   #16
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Thanks for the advice.

I think the suits fit well. I stay pretty fit (I know, easy to do at 24), so I look decent anyway.

Thanks for the advice on the shoes. I will have a girl go with me to help me pick out two pairs of shoes and 2-3 belts, and maybe a few new ties. I don't have any fashion sense, lol!

I will look for a good briefcase. I have actually been looking at them and have had difficulty choosing between a soft or hard briefcase. I was thinking a hard one would be better since I don't need room for a laptop. Is one "more stylish" than the other? As a woman, do you have an opinion on this?
No opinion on a briefcase, but that doesn't mean there isn't a difference. I think Brat's and Martha's advice on what's normal in your firm is the ticket to follow. Personally, I think a hard case is more formal, a soft case more casual (just as natural leather or cowhide is more casual, polished and refined leathers more formal). But YMMV.

As far as having a second opinion -- good choice. Another couple of things to do might be 1) Look at an issue of GQ and see what looks good to your eye; write down the name of the shoes, photocopy the picture you like, whatever, and show that to the salesperson.

2) I know that here in town there's two places I'd go for solid opinions on men's professional attire: the Men's business section of Nordstrom's and the local haberdashery (which closed recently but there's gonna be a good one in LA). The clerks at both are always well-dressed, professional, and display good manners and taste. Find a place that specializes in men's professional wear of the upscale sort and go talk to the staff. Maybe you'll buy something from them, maybe not, but their ideas may be helpful. Oh, and talk to the guy who's wearing an outfit that you like.

Also, ditto on the watch. My brother-in-law is a professional pianist (among other things) at swanky nightclubs and said the two most important things in his wardrobe are his shoes and his watch.
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Old 02-07-2009, 07:52 AM   #17
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God, I'm glad I never had a job like that. The only time I wore a coat and tie to work is when I had to slip off and go to a funeral. As far a good watch goes, I'm trying to decided whether to replace my old timex that just played out. Probably won't, got the time on my cell phone.

Retirement sure has been easy on the clothes budget. I have bought a few golf shirts and shorts, but that's about it. No trips to the cleaners, no new dress shirts or slacks. May have to buy a new pair of blue jeans pretty soon.
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:35 AM   #18
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....

Retirement sure has been easy on the clothes budget. I have bought a few golf shirts and shorts, but that's about it. No trips to the cleaners, no new dress shirts or slacks. May have to buy a new pair of blue jeans pretty soon.
Yeah, It's so much fun making the switch I had to change my signature line.

I'm going from business casual to casual casual. May need a new pair of jeans and will use an episode of "Spin and Marty" as a primer on how to get the casual look.
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Old 02-11-2009, 01:23 PM   #19
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Yeah, It's so much fun making the switch I had to change my signature line.

I'm going from business casual to casual casual. May need a new pair of jeans and will use an episode of "Spin and Marty" as a primer on how to get the casual look.
I've spent the past couple of days in "pajama casual." But I can say that I normally am showered and in clean yoga pants by noon.
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Old 02-12-2009, 08:17 AM   #20
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Working in the nerdy engineering/research side of business had a lot of advantages for dress codes. Even had a guy working for me for many years that always wore very strange pants, always wondered where he got them and one day he admitted he bought comfortable pajamas and sewed up the fly. Another guy that worked for me apparently read Dressing for Success (3 piece suits, tie and socks matched, etc). We would go to a meeting where we were not known and he was alway addressed as if he was the one in charge and he got a big kick out of introducing me as the one to answer questions he was just support. I would be in either jeans or maybe dockers if I was trying to dress up, a nice sport shirt (no tie), and sneakers.

Had a few bosses that would occasionally make remarks about how we dressed but we out lasted all of them. Performance was more important that how we dress.

Jeb
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