My middle school basketball coach stressed sticking to the fundamentals. He said “If you want to win, you have to stick to the fundamentals.” At that age, he was correct. Just starting off in the organized game, we needed to focus on perfecting our dribbling, passing, defensive stance, layups, and midrange jumpers.
Well, the same has to be true for your wardrobe. Just like Mike wasn’t born with the ability to dunk, most of us won’t leave college with 4 well tailored suits, 2 sports coats, a blazer, 20 fitted shirts, 4 pair of quality dress shoes, and ties for all occasions. I know I wasn’t. I actually had 5 suits upon graduation but only two were proper business attire. I had a decent pair of black lace ups and a subpar pair of tan slide on dress shoes. I rotated through blousy shirts because I was unaware that trim fit was an option. What I’m saying is, though I am now a very well-dressed man with an extensive wardrobe, I started off where many of you are. But I worked at it. I got the dribble with my left hand down. Then I worked on my right (I’m ambidextrous so that may sound backward to most). Then I worked on my layups. Then I… Well you get the metaphor. I’m not Mike yet but I’m certainly not Kevin Hart, MVP for being the clown of the game.
I’m talking about these staples but where am I suggesting you start? Well I’m glad you asked.
Some people will say a suit. I say a suit if you can afford one. But don’t buy a suit just to have a suit. Buy something that is going to be timeless and hold up with the intentions of timelessness. Being a wardrobe stylist at Nordstrom, I can certainly say that I have seen my share of nice suits. At my Nordstrom location, a nice nested suit starts at around $600 and that’s on the lower end of things. As opposed to going to another retailer that maybe having a BOGO sale but you may not get as high a quality of suit. But anyway, if you do go with a suit, start with a charcoal grey one. It is ideal for every occasion from a business interview to a funeral and can be worn year round without looking odd.
If you cannot afford a full suit right now there is nothing wrong with that. You’ll get there. But what you should invest in are a few good pairs of pants. 3 dress slacks in black, grey, and navy and one pair of quality khakis. Pair those with 8 dress shirts (at least 2 whites, 1 light blue, and a few patterned shirts), some good looking (low-costing) ties and you’ll have a great starter set. And, if you really want to put together a nice outfit, add on a nice navy blazer. Any department store will have one or you can do what I did and get one that just happens to fit like a glove from a thrift store. Now, don’t try to do all this at once unless you have $600-$700 of disposable income. Instead, commit to adding a piece or two a month. Yes, it may cut into your whiskey and beer budget but, in the long run, did you really need that anyway?