Finding the perfect suit isn’t all that easy. It took Samantha Shih some soul searching before she decided to take a leap of faith and build her own business, 9TAILORS, which provides custom tailored suits and dress shirts for clients in Boston and New York. We sat down with Shih for a Q&A to get tips on how to revamp your closet without burning through your next paycheck.
Mochi: What are key things to look for when choosing workwear?
Shih: I am a traditionalist when it comes to building my wardrobe staples. I look for two things: color and fit. For instance, blazers are my go-to item when I want to look polished. I own them in black, navy, cream, tan and gray. You can’t go wrong because they’re classic and can pull any look together. Fit is even more important when you’re purchasing tailored pieces. The blazer, no matter the price, must fit. The shoulders should feel snug and the waist slim. The jacket silhouette depends on the style that I’m going for.
Mochi: How do you persuade people to invest in business attire while being price conscious?
Shih: First, be patient. Curating a wardrobe takes time. Don’t be tempted by those sales that scream, “Three suits for the price of one.” Those suits will likely end up collecting dust in your closet. A well-edited wardrobe consists of quality pieces that fit and flatter. Second, know your dress-code policy at work. Once you have a sense of how formal or casual your colleagues are dressed, then you can figure out what your needs are. Then, allocate a small portion of your budget each month or season to purchasing new items for your closet. A recent college grad’s budget is tight; there is no sense in buying items for work you won’t end up needing or wearing.
Mochi: What are your tips on dressing comfortably stylish yet versatile for the office?
Shih: I’m on the road a ton, and I rarely have control over the temperature wherever I go, so layers and comfortable shoes are key. I’m typically in trousers, a custom silk top, a cashmere sweater, or a custom blazer. I rely on flats. Tieks makes fantastic flats that fold up into your purse, so I can switch into heels when needed.
Mochi: How many white dress shirts is too many?
Shih: I love white dress shirts because they’re effortless. Audrey Hepburn epitomized the carefree-yet-stylish look. I’m a firm believer that you can never have too many (especially if you’re clumsy like me) white shirts! But if you’re on a budget, you’ll need at least two white dress shirts and one less-expensive, wrinkle-free option that you can easily throw on over jeans or pair with a skirt. After a season or two of wear, refresh your wardrobe with another one. But you’ll also need a dress shirt that is more luxurious in a cotton-sateen that you can wear for special occasions, a night out, etc.— think Sharon Stone or Carolina Herrera on the red carpet.