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How do you spend on your wardrobe?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
I took the following quote from Mr. Naturlaut in the bespoke shoe thread.  (I hope he is not offended.  Because I live in Tokyo, I would be interested in hearing about the Japanese shoemakers he alludes to in his post.) "I would save up and order a suit/shirt/shoes from a maker I know I would not regret... which is also a reason why I restrain from ordering $45 shirts from Jantzen (which I know I would end up ordering 5 or 6) and get a $600 custom Kiton that I will not regret till the day I die. " I respect and understand Mr. Naturlut's thinking, and suspect that many may agree with it. Quite a bit of bandwith in the forum is devoted to quality (and price) of various suitmakers, shoes, and many other high end items and the value those items offer at their particular "price point."   My question (Acutally several, but I the theme is the same): How do you allocate money spent on your wardrobe?  My question is not "What percent do you spend on suits, what percent on pocket squares, and what percent on watches?  Rather I am interested in the distribution of money within different quality points within those various categories. I think that no matter how much money I end up earning, I would never purchase a $600 Kion custom made shirt or a $2,000 pair of bespoke shoes because I would be too worried about spilling coffee on the sleeve or scratching the toe stepping off of a curb on the way to work.  I have ordered 3-4 Jantzen tailor shirts and have been 95% satisfied. . . .and I probably won't feel too bad when the cleaners ruins one of them.   I have a very cheap solid mohair suit that I bought a year ago.  I have worn it almost every week this summer because with all of the traveling, I would rather wrinkle it than the other higher end suits in my wardrobe.  It strikes me that by having a very inexpensive suit and pair of shoes to wear on a day I have to catch three subways and walk several kilometers lengthens the life of my higher end items. Do those of us who believe that Armani Mani, Hugo Boss, Canali Proposta, Pal Zileri Pull, RL others, Zegna Soft are at the lower tier of the suit quality spectrum nevertheless put money into them, if only to reduce the wear and tear to our Attolini, Oxxford and Kiton pieces? Aside from people for whom money truly is no object, how do the rest of you "plan" your wardrobes?  And what do you put your money into?  Less money into workaday versatile items, or more? Would you put more money into a bespoke solid navy suit that you could wear almost every day and for almost any occassion, or into a bespoke tuxedo or herringbone hacking jacket that you would only wear several times per year? Bic
post #2 of 4
Great question. For me, I'd say utility is one of the main driving forces in determining how I spend my money on clothes. Take shirts, for example. I spent a good deal of money gradually trying to upgrade my shirts (from Polo to Zegna, then from Zegna to Brioni, then from Brioni to Borrelli), but then gave Jantzen a shot and realized it was pretty silly to wait for sales and still spend ~$100 for shirts that don't fit me or match my stylistic whims. With a few exceptions, I think all of my shirts in the near future will be custom Jantzen shirts: they're solid quality, especially for the money; they give me complete control over the product I get; and at the price I can afford to wear them out to parties and risk getting a beer spilled on it. If I start pulling down a high salary when I get done with school, I think I'll try a high-end custom shirt to see what the fuss is about, but on my current income (or lack thereof) $45/ custom shirt is perfect for me. Suits I'm a bit more fussy about since they're for special occasions (for me at least, I only wear them a handful of times a year) and it's a lot easier to differentiate a mediocre suit from a quality one, especially when you're the one wearing it. Of course my upper limit is generally $500, with a higher range if I ever can find a discounted Brioni/Kiton/Attolini-type suit. I've done pretty well so far, mostly with brands like Canali and all the Zegna-produced stuff, but again I do plan on going all out once I get the money. This may shock some here, but shoes are the item on which I spend the least. The reason is that I live in generally humid, rainy climates and rarely have the time to do the maintainence necessary. I think it would be silly to splurge on some Lobbs if you're going to walk in the rain every other day or if you're too lazy to polish them regularly (which I am). Usually I just wear sneakers or boots and keep my spending on shoes well under $100/pair, because I tend to be very hard on them. As many of the posters here show, it certainly is possible to be discriminating and pick up very nice clothes for pennies on the dollar. That is the philosophy I use when I shop. I may not be able to get the high-end luxury brands (of course, to the average person Zegna, Canali and the like probably are considered lux as well), but I still can maintain a good quality wardrobe without having to worry too much about economic factors.
post #3 of 4
All products reach a point at which diminishing marginal returns set in and it costs progressively more to squeeze out an extra 5% in quality.  I am perfectly content to purchase products that are 90-95% as good as the "very best" and put the savings toward items that have a good chance of appreciating in value (real estate, stocks, etc.). When deciding how close to the best I want to buy, I consider three factors: 1. the frequency with which I will wear the item, 2. the expected lifetime of the item if treated well, and 3. the ability of the item to attract compliments. I am more willing to spend on an item that I will wear frequently because I derive more utility from wearing something than viewing it hanging in my closet.  I am more willing to spend on an item that will last longer, because I can rationalize the purchase price being amortized over many years.  And I am more willing to spend on an item that is likely to attract compliments (particularly from the opposite sex).   Applying these factors, I am willing to devote more resources to watches and shoes.  Because I work in a business casual environment, I am a little less willing to spend on suits and dress shirts.  And slacks to me are the biggest waste of money of all -- no one notices a nice pair, and they wear out very quickly.
post #4 of 4
I have been financially independent since young and long before college days, and my main concern when I was young was always to find the most long lasting items to minimize repeated spendings.  It has become a habit, and when I make clothing purchases I worry more about their life span than spilling-wine accidents.  Actually, I have never encounter any accidents on my clothes before, as I am quite a careful person.  My shirt could still look 99% new after a whole year of wear. Life span --- how well they hold up their appearance and character/properties in time.  As my wardrobe has to meet the demand of my work place, my shirts/suits/shoes have to hold up well.  Though accidents can happen, --- they could happen to your car or your house too, but you will still buy a $50,000 car or spend your entire savings on your house, or for us city dwellers, we blow our entire savings into a prison cell apartment.  For one thing, I never bring shirts to dry-cleaners.  In the olden days, I didn't because I couldn't afford; and now, I realize I do a better job than they do.  How much you spend also indicates how much care you put into your purchases.  However, I don't always spend big.  A custom Kiton or bespoke shoes make up a tiny fraction of my purchases --- but when I do make these seemingly big purchases I have to spend it on the best.   Maybe it's old fashion Chinese thinking, when I am comfortable with a $500 custom Kiton, but I try never to spend $1 on a bad purchase.  If I only have a dollar to spend I have to spend on the best one-dollar could buy, but never the MOST it could buy.  Hence you don't see me bidding on eBay often. Also, my ability to fit close-to-perfect into a ready-made 15" or 38R is a blessing. My recent puchase of a Borrelli shirt only needed a sleeve adjustment on my left arm. When trying the shirt on in Borrelli store, Giuseppe (owner) grasped with awe as the shoulder was perfect. Secondly, I always consider the resale value of an item I buy.  I spend horrendously on gadgets, as I know when something new comes out in 3 months I could sell the 'obsolete' one on a resale market and fetch a high price --- since it was only 3-month old, and, as Thracozaag can be my witness, my desk-full of 'old' gadgets look as new as what you see in a Sony showroom.  (You'll see me auctioning my 'old' Sony Clie as a new one is coming out in a week; the sale price of my old one probably covers 90% the buy price of the newer model.)  Clothing is a little difficult, though I know if I were to sell off my Kiton shirts it will still fetch a decent price on eBay as I keep them well and they are top-quality shirts.  On a parallel note: in case you need to sell $500 worth of Jantzen shirts (about 10 shirts) it still will probably fetch a lower eBay price than a custom Kiton (not to mention 10 times the work and multiple fees).  A ready-made Kiton sells for ~$200 (or more) on eBay, but I have seen second-hand custom Ascot Chang shirts went for a mere $10 on eBay as no one knows his shirts .  Maybe my math is all wrong....
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