Anonymous asked: Hey y’all! Firstly, thanks so much for the work you do! I love your blog and I’m hoping to get some advice. I’m a college age transmasculine-ish human being and I have my first real job this summer! I’m looking to put together some staple professional type wardrobe pieces, preferably suited for hot weather and a 5’1” body. I don’t know where to start! Any tips?
Courtney says: Congrats on the real job! Depending on the dress code of the job, you could be needing professional things from the spectrum of chinos and polo shirts up to a full power suit. I think it’s always better to err on the side of more professional rather than more casual, especially when you’re just starting out in a new job and want to do well. Depending on whether or not you’ll be in air-conditioning mostly or going in and out often, try to find good quality clothes in summer fabrics that will breathe, like cotton, seersucker, linen, and even madras if you can dress it up.
I recommend some good staple chinos for sure, probably two pairs. You could swap one of those for some linen or cotton trousers if you want to amp up the dressiness. Find some that fit you very well— if your clothes fit you, you’ll look more put together. I’ve had good luck with J. Crew and American Eagle, and though I haven’t tried Dockers, I have heard good things. All accommodate for smaller folks.
Shirts can range from polos to button down collars to standard suit-quality button ups. These can be dressed up or down depending on how formal you want to be, or with what you’re pairing it. I recently wore a button up J. Crew shirt to a summer wedding, and with an H&M cotton suit and a silk tie and pocket square, I was definitely formal enough. J. Crew boys’ shirts and sweaters are some of the best fitting tops I’ve ever found off the rack, and the quality is so good they will last a long time. As a 5’ 2” 120 lb individual, I order size 14 in boys’.
Boys’ Secret Wash Shirt in Garment-Dyed, at J.Crew for $39.50
I myself don’t really wear polos, as I wore them for years as part of my Catholic grade school uniform, but I’ve heard really good things about polo shirts from the Gap. Slim silhouette, soft cotton, lots of colors that still look professional.
Blazers of almost any kind will dress up an outfit instantly, so if you can find a good summery one that fits, you now rule the proverbial sandbox. I usually try to find something in slim fit and then hem the cuffs myself. I’ve had good luck with H&M, Zara, and Topman, and of course thrift shops are always your friend. Blazers and shoes will be the most expensive pieces of this kind of wardrobe, but if you take good care of them they will last a very long time.
Blue Skinny Blazer, $160 at Topman
Shoes are tricky when you have smaller feet. “Real job” wear says your shoes should be leather or look like leather. I’d recommend Bass penny loafers as a work-appropriate shoe that’s easy to find in small sizes. I wear my Clarks’ Desert Boots with colored laces with chinos, and deal with Aldo oxfords being just a bit too big for me with a slightly thicker sock when I need something dressier. Cole Haan is beautiful as well. Check out Sonny’s shoes post for more ideas!
Bass Wayfarers, $99 at Bass
Gurcanti men’s leather oxfords at Aldo for $109.98
Finally, the details are going to add that extra flair. Neckwear will almost always dress up an ensemble, even in summery fabrics, but if you want to go all out, a silk tie will never do you wrong. I like bow ties from The Cordial Churchman. (Sonny adds: I’ve had great luck getting designer bow ties for cheap at Loehmann’s!) When buying neckties, I generally look for skinny ties to accommodate my smaller frame. Other details like vests, suspenders, watches, and cufflinks only broaden the scope of your wardrobe. Good luck with your new job, and stay stylish!