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Help! I'm completely lost

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    Help! I'm completely lost

    I had a bit of an epiphany several days ago. I looked in the mirror and was bothered by what I saw. Perhaps I overly romanticize the fashion sense I had when I was younger. Perhaps I never had much sense at all. Either way, I need to make some changes. I'm almost 34. I have a wife and child. I wouldn't call myself sloppy, but I'm not remotely meticulous about my dress and that's something I very much want to change. Most of my wardrobe has come from Van Heusen, and takes the form of clothes that my wife would charitably describe as "too old for my age." I'm not that avant garde by nature, but I see what she means. Most of it is loose fitting dress shirts, slacks, a black belt and black pants.

    Recently out of the blue I became interested in watches, and that has dovetailed in to a broader interest in being more fashionable. But honestly I feel completely lost and don't know where to start. I'm not capable of doing a wholesale redo of my wardrobe, but I do want to transform my appearance. I just don't know where to begin and where to look. I go in to a store and my eyes instantly glaze over.

    I guess more than anything I'm looking for advice on the sort of essentials/core wardrobe staples that I should try to build around. Also specific places that would be good to shop (I'm budget minded).

    More details:

    -I'm 5'11 and 175 lbs, used to be rail thin but now have a little pudge around the waist I'd like to work off. I am a 42R.
    -I'm super fair with thin blond hair.
    -As dorky as this sounds, my current fashion icon is Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor's character on How I Met Your Mother). There's something very appealing about the way they do his attire on that show, something I'd kind of like to emulate.

    A couple other relevant pieces of info:

    -I work at a university, and those of you familiar with academia will understand that the bar for fashion is set pretty low around here. I have to wear suits every once in a while at events, and even then I'm fine with a blazer (I just want it to look more "put together"). In fact, they kind of think of me as the dressy guy in the office just because I tend to wear a tie on most days.
    -Stuff I like: earthy tones, darker hues, jeans, corduroy, sport coats rather than suits, sweater vests (both cardigan and regular v neck).
    -What I have to work with that might be semi-decent: lots and lots of diagonal striped ties--too many to count, in every color possible, two fairly new two button sport coats, one black and one medium grey, and recognizing their popularity on this forum--I just bought a pair of brown suede oxfords that seem like they'll go with a lot of different stuff.

    I recognize this is kind of long and rambly message, but I'd really appreciate some advice.


    Fraser, the guy who is tired of looking like a schmuck

    Just quickly: For deals, pay attention to the website, Joe will post lots of deals etc.

    Find a tailor and have your shirts taken in assuming they are the right sleeve length and neck, cost will be about $20-25 a shirt on average. If they are somewhat fitted, you might be able to get away with darts. has a trial shirt if you want to explore the MTM(made to measure) route. has decent prices, I have a suit jacket I asked them to make more blazer like, was about $125 it's a wool blend has constant sales %30 off is avg: You will be able to get wool pants and tailored fit(slimmer than normal) shirts from them at quite a discount along with chinos.

    Bonobos has more fitted clothing I have zero experience using them tailors more towards people that want fitted clothing as well, they have constant sales, a bit expensive but they fit very well.

    For Suits(and shirts vest etc): All are Made to Measure except Suitsupply

    Itailor would be your cheapest along with the Jcrew Thompson suit on sale

    Indochino right now has a sale on their stuff - Fused hybrid suits

    Black Lapel sells half canvassed(Full Canvas is +$150 if you want it), my first MTM suit was from them, very impressed. Be on a lookout for %15 off coupons, if not you can get %10 off quite easily by asking.

    Suit Supply(Half Canvassed) in a WSJ comparison with master tailors, their suits constantly tied the $3600 Armani suit for build quality etc, they are not MTM however and would most likely require a bit of tweaking from a tailor(NOT a dry cleaner/alteration!)

    There is InStitchu from australia but i have no experience with them/just heard about them

    Also, I really like Antonio's videos
    Last edited by shad0w4life; November 21, 2012, 03:45 PM.


      Hi Fraser, welcome to the site.
      I would suggest reading the $1500 wardrobe on the main Dappered page or the Ramen Noodle wardrobe over on Putthison or more detail on The Silentist

      All three are great places to start building a simple wardrobe that focuses on classic pieces that can be used in almost any situation. Between JCrew Factory, Lands End and LEC, and Banana Republic sales a very versatile closet can be put together without too much of a cost.


        Wow, lots to digest there but I think you've come to the right place. The biggest thing, and you'll read about it a lot around here, is fit. Common problems are shirts that are too "billowy" in the body. Jackets that are way too big in the shoulders. Focus on fit and you'll instantly look more put together.

        A couple good "Fit" links:

        Others will chime in, but I just thought I'd get started with the most important thing IMHO.

        EDIT: One last thing. I'm sure you'll be perusing the mothership at (at least that is the first thing I did when I found the site), so you'll want to check this out first in case you're unfamiliar with some of the jargon:
        Last edited by jputman08; November 21, 2012, 03:47 PM.


          Well it sure seems like your head is in the right place. You seem to know where you want to go with things. I'm just not sure you've giving enough credit to where you're at. A lot of the things you rattled off sound pretty good to me, and they sound like the sort of thing Ted Mosby would wear (which isn't a bad thing). There's a key element that wasn't brought up much, though, and that's fit. If you're wearing these things and still don't like what you see in the mirror but you can't quite put your finger on it, perhaps things don't fit quite as well as they could. If that is the case, then you could upgrade your existing wardrobe with a trip to the tailor without the expense of starting from scratch.

          Also, how are you doing in the shoe department? You mentioned brown suede oxfords so that's cool. What else have you got? Allen Edmonds is about to have a hell of a Black Friday sale with closeout items going for $99 and you can order over the phone. It may be the opportunity to patch some holes in the collection.

          Also, if you wear a lot of ties and they're all striped, consider branching out. Try different patterns and materials. Also, be honest with yourself about which ones are worth keeping and which ones should be retired.


            Oh! Also consider paring down your existing wardrobe. That will keep you from wearing things you don't like just because they're clean. If it needs tailoring, get it tailored. If it's old and busted, consider donating it. If it's something that you reach for first when you've just finished the laundry, then obvously it's a keeper.

            This will also help you identify the holes in your wardrobe - the places that need particular consideration.


              Originally posted by FraserCA View Post
              -I'm 5'11 and 175 lbs, used to be rail thin but now have a little pudge around the waist I'd like to work off. I am a 42R.
              -I'm super fair with thin blond hair.
              As everyone's mentioned, the top priority is fit. Your skin tone and hair color will make greys, whites, blues, tans, and orange work really well. You also mentioned that you have some pudge around the middle that you want to get rid of. Tailoring is the key if off the rack shirts don't fit you but I would actually hold off from tailoring until you achieve the weight loss you are looking for (just to save money).

              Start off with basics. A simple fitted shirt with a tailored blazer and pants with a tie that goes brings it all together in a simple color scheme looks great.

              And Welcome to dappered forums! What kind of professor are you?


                You also mentioned that you have some pudge around the middle that you want to get rid of
                Properly fitted sport coats and suit jackets can create an slimming optical illusion, but ill-fitted jackets will have the opposite effect. It's a secret that women have known for hundreds (or possibly thousands) of years except they call it the "empire waist".


                  Everyone here has offered great advice. Start with fit. At 5'11 and 175 with some "pudge" I'm having a hard time envisioning a 42r. Make sure your jacket size is correct. Makes a world of difference. From there just acquire classic pieces and start with mostly solid colors (light blue and a white well fitted dress shirt, same colors in Oxford button down shirts, some solid ties in materials other than shiny silk, etc). Pudge or not, look into things labeled "slim." Van Huesen isn't slim in my experience.
                  "You don't need money to dress better than you do" - Salvatore Romano


                    I don't have anything to add to what's already been said, but just want to say that you're in good company here. Like you I'm in my 30s with a wife and family and have just recently become interested in dressing better, and also have a bit of pudge around the waist. ;-) The guys on here are super-nice and helpful to noobs like us without being condescending or snobby (unlike other menswear forums, so I'm told). Welcome!


                      Good luck! And good on you for bringing a bit of style to the world of academia!


                        One of of us...

                        Welcome! Make sure you definitely check out those full wardrobe/rebuilding articles posted earlier - they are very helpful tools in figuring out where you want to go. Even if you don't buy everything in the $1500 wardrobe guide, it will give you a good sense of where to start, and what to get now.

                        As far as brands, when I first started revamping my wardrobe myself a couple years ago I found myself buying a lot of Lands End Canvas, Gap, J Crew factory, Uniqlo and Tie Bar. Even to this day, I've gravitated around J Crew because of their promo deals and fit. Once you find something that fits you well "off the rack", you'll naturally gravitate towards them for future purchases. You do have to watch out for some brands that have a tendency to differentiate their sizes within their own brand, where a S in one shirt fits more like a M. If you're like me you'll likely experiment with other brands early on and learn from them. I bought some Banana Republic stuff when I first started, but realized I didn't like the way their shirts/sweaters fit me. I've found that Dockers Alpha Khakis fit me really well, and ended up buying it in all available colors at the time.

                        Having only seen a few episodes of HIMYM, I think Ted's style focuses a lot on dark wash jeans, v-neck sweaters, plain t-shirts and blazers. I'd say focus on getting some solid foundation on those pieces (again, read those articles!) and when you (and your wallet) feel comfortable you can branch out a little bit into brighter/funkier colors and patterns if you see fit.

                        Dappered has always been my home when I first started out, and still remains a great place for info and frequent updates. Also the members of this board are incredibly helpful for answering whatever questions you may have and offering suggestions. Even if you're just a lurker, you will learn a lot.


                          This is kind of a ted style outfit(sans tie) and I want to replicate it....stupid jcrew not putting my tall merino on sale. But he does a bit more brown and blues for the sweater.

                          And Ted of course
                          Last edited by shad0w4life; November 22, 2012, 12:33 PM.


                            Thanks to all for the helpful insights. I have a lot to read and consider. Not knowing where else to start, I thought I'd address the tie situation. I whittled it down to twenty. Getting rid of the ones on the right, keeping the set on the left. I do have solid black, navy, and grey--which seem to be part of the essentials mentioned in a lot of the material referenced. Anything else glaringly missing in the tie arena?


                              Wait...why are you getting rid of those ties on the right? I sort of like that purple one with the white dots. Regarding ties, it looks like you're pretty well set on the more formal ties/ones you can wear with button up shirts. Have you considered knit or wool ties to add a bit of texture in your more casual getups? Not everyone is a fan of those, but I like the look and it could help you branch out, especially if you plan on expanding your wardrobe past professional.