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Feedback on how to prioritize spending on wardrobe overhaul

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

 

The backstory: Approximately 2 months ago I made the decision to educate myself on style as my next life project, which I take pretty seriously (involving months of research, organized binders, commitment in time and money, etc.) I have definitely made some strong initial strides given how completely unaware I was previously, and concentrated most of my early efforts on altering/tailoring a lot of the clothing I already owned to actually fit me correctly, and researching without necessarily buying a lot of what I want my eventual “look” to be. About to hit my 30s, I have settled on a dressier look exemplified on the StyleForum WAYWRN thread – dressier shoes, blazers, shirts, pocket squares, etc. – obviously it will take years to get to this point, but I am willing to put in the effort.
 
The issue I am currently facing is given my budget on my wardrobe for the year and the significant upgrades that are basically required across the board, how to prioritize what to purchase. I am hoping some feedback here might help narrow my focus. I have a list of “wants” and tried to trim it down to what I would consider “needs” based on simply not having these items represented in my wardrobe:
 
* Pair of black dress shoes
* Pair of brown dress shoes
* 2 Dress shirts
* Pair of jeans
* 1 Suit
* 1 Blazer
* Pair of sneakers
* Pair of casual dress shoes 
 
I am doing my due diligence with trying to be as economical as possible – regularly visit thrift stores, scour ebay/craigslist, and check the styleforum for sale sections, follow dappered.com for clearance items, hold out for the rare super-sale, etc. My budget for this year is ~$1,100. There are a couple reasons it is tough for me to prioritize these items.
 
I am trying to value quality that will last my years over quantity that I will need to replace in a year. A great example is the shoes – I was one of those guys that thought the bottom-barrel leather square toe slip on shoes from Marshall’s constituted legitimate dress shoes to pair with a suit. One of my first new purchases after starting this endeavor was to go out and get a pair of decent leather brown oxfords that matched most of my dress attire from DSW, but being my only pair of dressy shoes I feel comfortable with over these last couple months these things are not surprisingly starting to feel the wear of being worn almost every single day without rest day after day. 
 
From talking with some shoe salesmen at higher-end stores and reading online, the more higher quality dress shoe absolutely makes a huge difference in terms of comfort and longevity, but even $500-600 shoes (that I can grab on ebay for about $250) can’t be worn every day – I need a minimum of 2 to alternate, ideally 4 at some point to truly keep them fresh. 
 
A similar situation with my suits – in retrospect, part of me wants to wage war on MWH for putting no effort back when I bought all of my last round of suits into educating me on how to determine what I should wear – I have 2 suits, one that is very serviceable, one that is acceptable, and the rest of my closet is full of either super-padded shoulders, shoulders that are too big for me, pleated pants, etc. Again, with a suit quality definitely matters in terms of longevity – I don’t need to drop $1k on a suit, but there are plenty of suits around that price range going for $300-400 if you search long enough. My work will entail me being at conferences/trade shows that last 3-4 days in a row where + regular use for work and I am concerned of both repetitiveness and burn out of the two I currently own.  
 
Between these 2 shoes and 1 suit alone, even being relatively frugal, that is basically half my budget right there. That doesn’t even address more casual wear – I currently have only 1 pair of jeans that actually fit me (formerly too big at the waist boot-cuts now collect dust in my closet), my previous casual shoe was a dreaded generic gray New Balance, and I am in pretty desperate need of dress shirts that fit properly and aren’t worn down.      
 
To top it all off, much of the stuff I am looking at will also require tailoring (suits, blazer, dress shirts). I finally got off my ass last year and dropped around 20+ pounds off my frame – hence why basically all my clothes needed to be tailored, and forced some stuff that couldn’t be to become obsolete (jeans, some jackets, dress shirts).  This will only further cut into my budget.
 
So all this being said, how should I look to prioritize my spending? I am not even including the accessories that I need to acquire at some point down the road, pocket squares, ties, coats, another watch, etc.
 
**TL;DR – between learning how to not dress like an idiot and losing 20 lbs., need to start overhauling both work and casual wardrobe with $1,100 budget for the year – need help prioritizing spending. **
post #2 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by PiCcolocV View Post


The backstory: Approximately 2 months ago I made the decision to educate myself on style as my next life project, which I take pretty seriously (involving months of research, organized binders, commitment in time and money, etc.) I have definitely made some strong initial strides given how completely unaware I was previously, and concentrated most of my early efforts on altering/tailoring a lot of the clothing I already owned to actually fit me correctly, and researching without necessarily buying a lot of what I want my eventual “look” to be. About to hit my 30s, I have settled on a dressier look exemplified on the StyleForum WAYWRN thread – dressier shoes, blazers, shirts, pocket squares, etc. – obviously it will take years to get to this point, but I am willing to put in the effort.

The issue I am currently facing is given my budget on my wardrobe for the year and the significant upgrades that are basically required across the board, how to prioritize what to purchase. I am hoping some feedback here might help narrow my focus. I have a list of “wants” and tried to trim it down to what I would consider “needs” based on simply not having these items represented in my wardrobe:

* Pair of black dress shoes
* Pair of brown dress shoes
* 2 Dress shirts
* Pair of jeans
* 1 Suit
* 1 Blazer
* Pair of sneakers
* Pair of casual dress shoes

I am doing my due diligence with trying to be as economical as possible – regularly visit thrift stores, scour ebay/craigslist, and check the styleforum for sale sections, follow dappered.com for clearance items, hold out for the rare super-sale, etc. My budget for this year is ~$1,100. There are a couple reasons it is tough for me to prioritize these items.

I am trying to value quality that will last my years over quantity that I will need to replace in a year. A great example is the shoes – I was one of those guys that thought the bottom-barrel leather square toe slip on shoes from Marshall’s constituted legitimate dress shoes to pair with a suit. One of my first new purchases after starting this endeavor was to go out and get a pair of decent leather brown oxfords that matched most of my dress attire from DSW, but being my only pair of dressy shoes I feel comfortable with over these last couple months these things are not surprisingly starting to feel the wear of being worn almost every single day without rest day after day.

From talking with some shoe salesmen at higher-end stores and reading online, the more higher quality dress shoe absolutely makes a huge difference in terms of comfort and longevity, but even $500-600 shoes (that I can grab on ebay for about $250) can’t be worn every day – I need a minimum of 2 to alternate, ideally 4 at some point to truly keep them fresh.

A similar situation with my suits – in retrospect, part of me wants to wage war on MWH for putting no effort back when I bought all of my last round of suits into educating me on how to determine what I should wear – I have 2 suits, one that is very serviceable, one that is acceptable, and the rest of my closet is full of either super-padded shoulders, shoulders that are too big for me, pleated pants, etc. Again, with a suit quality definitely matters in terms of longevity – I don’t need to drop $1k on a suit, but there are plenty of suits around that price range going for $300-400 if you search long enough. My work will entail me being at conferences/trade shows that last 3-4 days in a row where + regular use for work and I am concerned of both repetitiveness and burn out of the two I currently own.

Between these 2 shoes and 1 suit alone, even being relatively frugal, that is basically half my budget right there. That doesn’t even address more casual wear – I currently have only 1 pair of jeans that actually fit me (formerly too big at the waist boot-cuts now collect dust in my closet), my previous casual shoe was a dreaded generic gray New Balance, and I am in pretty desperate need of dress shirts that fit properly and aren’t worn down.

To top it all off, much of the stuff I am looking at will also require tailoring (suits, blazer, dress shirts). I finally got off my ass last year and dropped around 20+ pounds off my frame – hence why basically all my clothes needed to be tailored, and forced some stuff that couldn’t be to become obsolete (jeans, some jackets, dress shirts). This will only further cut into my budget.

So all this being said, how should I look to prioritize my spending? I am not even including the accessories that I need to acquire at some point down the road, pocket squares, ties, coats, another watch, etc.

**TL;DR – between learning how to not dress like an idiot and losing 20 lbs., need to start overhauling both work and casual wardrobe with $1,100 budget for the year – need help prioritizing spending. **

I have to shave off the beard I just grew reading all this.
post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Man Of Lint View Post


I have to shave off the beard I just grew reading all this.


If only there was some concise summation of the post at the very end to spare reading the entire thing! :)

post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Man Of Lint View Post

I have to shave off the beard I just grew reading all this.

+1. "Due diligence?" "Prioritize spending"? This is a Style Forum, not a Budget Oversight Panel for your style. And $1,100 isn't going to go very far with "SF-approved" stuff.

You might be better served asking individual questions in the "Ask a Question" thread. And look around the thrift store bragging and PSA threads
Edited by jrd617 - 2/14/12 at 12:12am
post #5 of 26
I love these threads.
post #6 of 26
For maximum impact, start from the ground up. A good pair of shoes make all the difference. I would make an exception to the rule for eyewear, if you wear that regularly. A new pair of glasses makes a huge difference in terms of style and how you are perceived by others.
post #7 of 26

I mostly spend on classic and sturdy shoes, apart from tailor made suits.

post #8 of 26
Think about what you (will) wear most often and upgrade those pieces first.
post #9 of 26
I thought this was going to be simple...something like. Do you give your clothing overhaul budget a higher priority than your rent, bills and food budget?
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrd617 View Post

+1. "Due diligence?" "Prioritize spending"? This is a Style Forum, not a Budget Oversight Panel for your style. And $1,100 isn't going to go very far with "SF-approved" stuff.

Yeh it will buy you ONE "SF approved" shoe, choose left or right.
post #11 of 26
* Pair of black dress shoes - Allen Edmonds, or Alden on ebay

* Pair of brown dress shoes - Allen Edmonds - Choose a wingtip or captoe with broguing and this will also cover the last item on your list

* 2 Dress shirts - Look at Brooks Brothers sale section for $45.00 each, or you can get their Luxury shirts on sale for $88/ea (made in USA, too).

* Pair of jeans - Levi's 501 or slimmer cut. Can find a sale on raw selvage every once in awhile for $100 or so.

* 1 Suit - Blue or Gray, plain. I found a gray flannel Brooks Brothers at Nordstrom for $500 during their semi-annual sale. Or shop Brooks Brothers at their semi-annual sale for ~$500

* 1 Blazer - Brooks Brothers, Nordstrom Rack, or even a local menswear store that does Made-to-measure. I will likely order a MTM H. Freeman navy hopsack blazer for $475 on sale from my local shop. This won't leave much room in your budget, though... However, you could get the blue suit above and have the buttons replaced with a dark brown horn color for the jacket to double as a blazer. This would leave the black shoes out of the picture, though.

* Pair of sneakers - New Balance, look for some Made in USA, $100

* Pair of casual dress shoes - see above.


You may have to spend a little more, but you will find that these items will last you a lot longer than you anticipated. Good luck.
post #12 of 26
Unless you need something really conservative, skip the black shoes until next year. Brown is much more versatile.
post #13 of 26
Since you wrote a lot, far too much actually, I am going to take the time to respond. You will be lucky to get half of your want list on your budget, so act accordingly.

Your first purchase should be shoes. The bigger entry level shoes here are Allen Edmonds and Loake. Each brand is going to have its pros and its cons, as well as its supporters and detractors. AE is the most readily available brand, so I'd get yourself properly fitted immediately, email the shoebank as there is currently a seconds sale going on, and order some. If you want first quality, pm user allaboutshoes as he will give you the best deal.

Black - AE Park Avenue. There's a reason it's the best selling shoe
Brown - McAllister, Strand, Player's Shoe
Casual - Clark's desert boots and a sturdy loafer.

Sneakers - I hope that this is just for running and athletic training.
post #14 of 26
You are getting good advice so far. With only $1100 I would start with:

  • 2 pairs of shoes, one dress, one casual (AE Strands are good for dressing up or down) ~400-500. Get shoe trees!
  • a solid pair of jeans ~50
  • several solid dress shirts ~250. Get some nice shirts that fit. These will be noticed.
  • Be patient and get a great deal on a high quality solid navy or solid charcoal worsted suit. I would go with navy, and you can use the jacket as a SC until you can buy a real SC. ~400
post #15 of 26
Start with a pair of brown or tan loafers and one pair of brown cap toe shoes. A dark pair of jeans and several Brooks Brothers trim fit OCBD on sale.
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