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  1. #1

    Fashionisto
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    Smart Wear Help

    Hi all, hope you all had a pleasant Christmas !

    I have a problem that I feel I need huge help with!

    Im only 18, have just recently finished my a-levels and am taking a year or two out to work. I have (finally!) found a job which I start next wednesday at a large insurance firm.

    The dress code is smart, I have been told to wear trousers, shirt and tie, and a suit jacket is optional.. HELP!

    I have only ever worn a suit/formal wear to that extent at like proms/summer balls/interviews if i remember correctly.. hell, i only learnt to tie a tie properly yesterday when my dad told me!! There are around 300 people working at this place, and fashion is huge to me, so I need help, and fast !!

    What kind of shirts do I wear? I literally own one or two casual shirts and thats it.
    What kind of shoes do I wear? The only black shoes I own are a pair of clumps from year 10 school uniform and black military boots (not very wearable!)
    What kind of trousers do I wear? Black and grey pair perhaps?

    At the moment all I own is those two shirts, (one grey but poorly fitted, and one black and with faint white stripes) and a pair of crappy black trousers, and a slim fit navy casual blazer...

    What shirt and tie combinations work ? What rule is there for trousers and shoe colour? What shirts pair with trousers? What do I wear on top of my shirts if its not a suit jacket (perhaps a bit over the top)

    I have probably 20-30 quid to spend on two trousers, maybe 10-20 quid on a shirt, and im sorted for ties, my dad has a HUGE collection I could probably steal from, and about 20 quid on a pair of shoes... dont want to go too overboard with budget as this job isnt hugely long term!

    Apologies for the essay, any help is MUCH appreciated. Thanks

  2. #2
    Jay's Avatar
    Jay

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    OK, the first and most important thing is to keep it simple. You have a limited budget so want to get maximum wear for minimal effort, so everything has to go with everything so you can create variety for minimal cost, so here are a few simple guidelines to help you do just that.

    1. The shoes: go brown or tan, not clumpy, leather, laced and avoid square toes: whether a brogue is your thing or something more simple, it doesn't matter. Black shoes will only go with black trousers in the work place so not a good option for mix and matching.

    2. The trousers: avoid pleats and buy a straight to slim leg (if they don't fit the length perfectly find someone who owns a sewing machine and beg them to take them up so they have a half-break, which is basically a slight fold as they fall onto the shoe). Buy 2 pairs: one navy and one mid grey (these two colours go perfectly with brown/tan shoes).

    3. The belt: buy one as close to matching the shoes as possible. Keep it simple, leather with a small buckle. No fuss needed.

    4. The shirts: go for classics: they are classics for a reason. If you aren't wearing a suit don't buy double cuffs and cufflinks (they look silly in my opinion). Everyone should own: plain white (make sure the material isn't so thin you can see through it), plain pale blue. From there buy perhaps a gingham in pink or blue, a pale pink. Stick with blues and whites and add in ginghams, checks, stripes as you get bolder (but don't go bold and gaudy - simplicity rules in the workplace). Buy them in a slim or tailored fit: baggy shirts look dreadful.

    5. The ties: you can't go wrong with ties in navy and red (darker looks better) with the clothes listed above (make sure the tip of your tie is in line with your belt when done).

    6. Accessories: a simple tie bar (really cheap) will add a little flair.

    The keys to looking good aren't the amount of money you spend (although this helps), they are confidence and fit. Make sure everything fits well, wear it like you own it and you'll look great.

  3. #3
    William Colman's Avatar

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    As above - make good use of the sales as well, you'll be able to pick up loads of stuff at the moment so start searching. On a limited budget, stick to Topman, Zara, Burton, H&M etc

  4. #4

    Fashionisto
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    Charles Tyrwhitt and T.M. Lewin have good sales on at the moment. If there's a store near you it would be worth heading to one of them for your shirts. Quality is pretty good and they'll actually take your measurements/check the fit is right, a service that you won't get in M&S, Next, Burton and most of the other high street retailers that the majority get their work clothes from.

    It might also be worth looking at Slaters. With your budget it's difficult to argue with £75 for a complete suit (jacket, trousers, shirt, shoes, tie), although the shoes do go against Jay's advice about brown shoes (good advice).

    Would you be able to justify a higher budget if the clothing could be incorporated in to casual/smart-casual looks outside of the workplace? There's quite a lot of articles on here that make use of smart brown shoes/gingham shirts/wool trousers/blazers in various casual and smart casual looks, meaning your purchases don't need to be solely for the workplace.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay View Post
    Black shoes will only go with black trousers in the work place so not a good option for mix and matching.
    I've never seen the problem with wearing black shoes with either navy or grey!

  6. #6
    WinterShorts's Avatar

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    I am no expert, so for the most part I would bite my tongue. However, I would suggest a deep red, burgundy, shoe, as red is the only colour of shoe that can be worn with any pant (except purple, but I doubt you are wearing a purple suit to work.)

  7. #7
    Jay's Avatar
    Jay

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maverick View Post
    I've never seen the problem with wearing black shoes with either navy or grey!
    Black with grey is doable, but black and navy is a hideous combination.

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