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I had a business casual event the other day, however it was more on the formal side of business casual.
I went with cream chinos, navy/pale blue alternate stripe socks, blue suede shoes w/ brown laces, blue "textured" shirt, navy suit jacket. Was complimented a plenty.
I know everyone is about best brands out there and looking your best. If you're looking for something a little lower on pricing, but still good quality and looks, I recommend H&M. Prices are good and so is the quality. However, it's not Gucci or Boss quality. You get what you pay for.
Have you considered Custom made suits? Bespoke clothing can work really great in my opinion. Working with a team of bespoke tailors, I have seen numerous customers who permanently switched to bespoke clothing when it comes to suits. Even if you are getting a highly stylish suit from a big brand, you may not be able to get the perfect fit which bespoke clothing can provide. Its your choice of course on which way to go, just giving my honest opinion.
I will have to add, shop around
it also helps to get their emails on the shops you like to use. especially allen edmonds, they always have good deals going on.
I would also have to all a good couple of belts that are nice will last a good while than the cheaper one's.
for my suits i prefer a 3 piece because not many people wear them and i like to stand out when i wear a suit.
make your style your own. usually when i walk into a bar, women always notice my shoes. you would be surprised at how they are good conversation starters.
go to a proper cordwainer/cobbler to get fitted for shoes the right way. most people feet are 2 different sizes.
I also read you were looking into pinstripes
That takes the right suit and person to pull it off. i would avoid them unless you can pull it off. pinstripes are not in right now
I'm just seeing this now, so apologies if the below doesn't work for you.
My place of work is business casual, and I must say those who wear polos simply look out of place, particularly those who wear their shirts not tucked in or their belts left loose. When the weather is really warm, I'll sometimes wear a dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up at least part way, though I've tended to simply wear my shirts normally of late.
Ralph Lauren have some really nice clothing, though I tend to stick to their pants alone. For shirts, I've gone with Hugo Boss, Zegna, a shirt I recently bought from Syd Jerome in Chicago by Ingram (half off!), or J-Crew. The only problem I've found with J-Crew is their materials tend to wear out faster than normal which is unfortunate given how expensive they are relative to other brands including Boss. Heck, even their underwear costs $25 a pop and my brother had a pair wear our within a year, and one of my shirts started to show significant wear after a year as well.
For shoes, my opinion holds it's worth it to invest in a pair or two of nice shoes and re-sole them when the time comes. One black pair can go a long way. Allen Edmonds make some very fine shoes, and if you're reasonably close to their Wisconsin headquarters, they have a shop where you can find 'factory seconds' - nearly perfect shoes which have a sometimes imperceptible imperfection at a steep discount. Add to that they have an annual factory sale, and you can find a $400 pair of shoes at $200 out the door. Independent of manufacturer, when you're looking, keep a close eye on how the shoes are constructed: differently formed shoes of the same dimensions will accommodate different feet differently. Panel count and fitment can affect how pliant, accommodating, and form-fitting the shoe is.
Take-away: I've found some great deals from J-Crew and Macy's, just as I've overpaid for a Zegna shirt. It pays to maintain a keen eye and shop around!
I usually get most of my shirts from J Crew, Ralph Lauren, and Brooks Brothers. For pants I'd say Bonobos might be your best bet depending on your leg size. Their slim straight fits very nicely, although it does run a bit long and they do have some quality problems (inconsistencies with size) but their customer service is amazing so you shouldn't have any problems. Another solid option for pants is J Crew urban slim. For shoes I'd look at AE.
When I don't have school I usually dress in suits, I have a lot Gucci, Armani, Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, etc. suits. Dress shirts I have everything from Nordstrom in house brand to Calvin Klein to Gucci and other high brands. Dress shoes I have a pair of brown leather To Boot New Yorks and black pair in the same brand. Belts I don't remember all remember is that I have a brown one and a black one to match my shoes. Then when school starts usually I just wear a whole bunch of polos with chinos from like Levi's or Abercrombie. The polos range from Express to RL to Burberry so a big collection of colors and sh*t. Shoes usually a pair of Nikes or RL shoes...
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Check out Thomas Pink op
I'm not sure where you're located, but if there is an Off 5th (the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet store) near you, I highly recommend shopping there...
You can get Gucci, Ermenegildo Zegna, and Brioni dress shirts for a little more than Brooks Brothers pricing. Also, Armani, Gucci, Burberry, Versace, and Ralph Lauren suits for great prices as well (relative to retail, of course)
I never buy midrange at full retail, when for the same money, you can go designer from an outlet source. No one knows but you and your accountant, and showing up to initial meetings and events, hell even happy hour, in a $3500 outfit, can make quite the first impression.
how much are you looking to spend on the shoes and the clothes?
I tend to wear alden shoes and allen edmonds. i prefer leather soled shoes, but that is just me. they last about 5 times longer than most shoes. I have really wide feet that are hard to fit. so i always pay out the nose for good shoes.
I always wear ralph lauren polo's. they hold up really well after many washes.
i am not a big brooks brothers fan, they look like their styling never left the 80's and 90's. it feels i don't know like old people clothes.
always feel your dress shirts. cheap ones just feel cheap and wear out in 3 months. good shirts hold up for a long time.