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Two Words That Strike Terror Into the Heart of Tony

Say it with me very quietly: business casual.

I've received an informational packet on the firm I'll be working for this summer. It's kind, informative, relentlessly cheerful, and had some chocolate in it. But it also told me that the dress code for the summer was business casual, and that I should bring one suit in case I needed it.

I figure I'll go overboard and bring two.

Still, that leaves me with many days of the week that I must dress for. And as any of my fellow students will tell you, I'm not the guy that Columbia Law School will put forward when GQ comes looking for its Men of Overwork Spring Special. Indeed, the Queer Eye guys would take one look at my closet and start complaining they aren't paid enough. I have a few pieces of casual clothing that might pass muster, but otherwise I get by on some relatively neutral jeans and some relatively neutral shirts, in varying combination.

Sometime in the next few weeks, I'll have to arm myself with a credit card and go face the terra incognito that is New York men's fashion, making some creditable attempt to acquire the start of a casual wardrobe. (Clothing prices in London are just too high to wait until I get there.)

This Crusoe needs a Friday. This Dante needs a Beatrice. Heck, this Charlie needs a Wonka to lead him through a slightly malevolent chocolate factory, and I'd settle for the less-fluffy Johnny Depp version. (Though, please, show me clothing that's a little more restrained.)

Perhaps I'll do what I normally do when I find some situation that tests the measure of this man: call in favors like there's no tomorrow. Time to start looking through the various folks whose computers I've fixed for fashion mavens, clothes horses, or someone who knows Esquire from Maxim from Tattoo Quarterly.

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Comments

If you can get it together to go tomorrow, it's no sales tax on clothes week. Someone told me it ends on Friday, but that might not be correct. Or you could go to NJ, where it's no sales tax all the time (but that's harder than just going downtown, of course). I might use this as an excuse to go to Bloomie's...
Nice post. Two tips: 1) One suit. Wear it the first day, smuggle a coat hanger in your bag with a pair of jeans and comfortable shoes, and at the end of the day leave it and your dress shirt on the hanger and your shoes in your office for the rest of the summer. Walk home in your jeans and undershirt. (I meant to say you should wear an undershirt, too.) You probably will never need to wear the suit, but you should have it lest it keep you out of a court day or whatever. 2) Brooks Brothers isn't selling good clothes, strictly speaking, nor are they selling status anymore, since even S&C folks can tell Thos. Pink gets you more cachet. What they are selling is the slim comfort that someone who has no idea how to dress himself can go into the store, pay roughly 2 1/2 times received value, but walk out with something that's fine for work. Okay, fine, but rather than exchange the money for the good-enough-ism, look at a bus ad or two and convince yourself that you can shop for clothes. Go to Filene's (79 & B'way), discount fashion, and wander around the mens' section (you won't look any more lost than any other male in there). The shirts they sell for $28 to $35 are usually in the realm of what you should be looking for, as long as the buttons aren't made of pennies and the sleeves go all the way. One blue shirt, one white or off-white shirt, and at least one with stripes. And you're cool. Pants... eh, pants are pants. Get at least one pair unpleated. Okay, a third. Buy some clothes now, but you're going to go shopping again this summer when you see what you wish you'd have bought. So keep it light for the time being.
Oh, and the metaphor is "this Dorian needs a Sir Henry." Still in purgatory, remember.
Tony: Didn't Sir Henry meet Dorian when he was being painted, and wasn't the lad already well-dressed?
From a 0L dreading the same thing, good luck. If you succeed, please let everyone know. Give us a reason to hope.
You mean that T-shirt I sent you doesn't count? Sheesh.
Tony the Pony knows what he's talking about. I couldn't have said it better myself. Get someone to go shopping with you (someone with a good eye) to provide a second opinion. But please, dear God, no khakis and golf shirts. Remember, you're going to be a lawyer, not an engineer or a computer programmer.
I'm not very fond of golf shirts anyway. Thanks for all the excellent advice, though.
You should check with someone from london to see what's current, but that will be obvious when you get there. White button down shirt, short or long sleeves. No tie, or loosened tie. Slacks that aren't jeans and aren't loud, shoes that are comfortable but aren't sneakers. Dress like your boss, a little fancier than the other interns. Thrift store suits are disposable and acceptable business casual. Do most of your shopping in london, with a local guide who knows where the bargains are. Mail it back home at end of summer.
Two words for you, Tony, PERSONAL SHOPPER. The main Bloomie's in town has personal shoppers (Lex and 60). The service is free. My suggestion would be to make an appointment; phone numbers are on line. Tell her where your going and what your doing...let her bring you a ba-zillion outfits. This is the fun part - if you do this right, you never have to leave the dressing room and everything in your size in the store will come to you! Buy 1 outfit she suggests, then go to filene's and buy everything else she showed you. ** I use the law school convention of "she" but "she" maybe a "he."
Dressed, fine. I'm just sayin' treat fashion like a sin (pride) rather than redemption (a la Beatrice... or even Willy Wonka). Just sayin'. TtP
Filenes is good on a law student budget. Along with Filenes, on a law-student budget, you can also go to: Century 21 (down by WTC) (it has the cheapest presentablt shirts around, at ~$20 for some of them, as well as some $30-$40 range shirts). Burlington Coat Factory (29th and 9th, or something like that). Kill two birds with one stone by getting some nice, button-down, long-sleeve shirts that wouldn't look bad in a suit and tie. Then, you can either wear them with no tie and slacks ( = business casual) or wear them with a suit and tie ( = regular business attire).
I was looking for someone I meet a few time 30 years ago named Tony Pony saw your post on the web pages. The preppies around here put on a pullover sweater over a long sleeved shirt, and flip the cuffs ends over the sweater. Cashmere is the best & they button the sleeve button for formal. Then also turn down the collar over the out side of the sweater for casure and inside for formal so they can button the top button. V-necks are o k when you don't button the top button. Blue jeans are a must now days. Prepies by their blue jeans too long so that they can roll a nice cuff, over their Guchies. Always wear clean guchies. & Huh ya, they iron the blue Jeans, so there is a defined crease in the front. The preppies I knew bought coats that are long wool (past knee,) Hu, huh pockets need to be slanted not straight flat pockets. And the real rich kids wear buck skin not formal black, unless they are playing hard ball. Navy blue is for Hard ball too if I remember right. My x was an Actuary. All the attorneys out here seem to wear dark blue suits if they want to win law cases. Did you say your in law school....
The preppies around here put on a pullover sweater over a long sleeved shirt, and flip the cuffs ends over the sweater. Cashmere is the best & they button the sleeve button for formal. Then also turn down the collar over the out side of the sweater for casure and inside for formal so they can button the top button. V-necks are o k when you don't button the top button. Blue jeans are a must now days. Prepies by their blue jeans too long so that they can roll a nice cuff, over their Guchies. Always wear clean guchies. & Huh ya, they iron the blue Jeans, so there is a defined crease in the front. The preppies I knew bought coats that are long wool (past knee,) Hu, huh pockets need to be slanted not straight flat pockets. And the real rich kids wear buck skin not formal black, unless they are playing hard ball. Navy blue is for Hard ball too if I remember right. My x was an Actuary. I took a couple of last classes and one of my instructors said something like, "All the attorneys out here in CA seem to wear dark blue suits if they want to win law cases."

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