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What's at the root of our fashion interest?

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
Hey guys, I hate to break up the light mood with a more 'serious' discussion. However, it's been on my mind and I think it is important to discuss. Background info: Did some outlet shopping today with a friend (at the Versace store in SouthEast Wisconsin, and at the Gurnee Mills outlet mall in Illinois) and got some good deals. At the Versace store, I picked up two Gianni Versace Couture line (not V2 or anything....these are the top line) dress shirts in dark navy and medium gray for $60 each. I considered this an excellent deal, because the shirts fit me absolutely perfectly, the material is nice, and basically I got a $400 shirt for the price of a Banana Republic shirt. I also picked up a pair of Kenneth Cole NY light brown slip-ons for $20 (low quality I know, but they look so nice with jeans and this pair is actually visually-pleasing) at the outlet mall. The price was right for all items purchased; I would have never considered buying them at full retail. Anyway, I get home and show off my purchases. The parents are not happy at the money I spent - seems to be that a college student can't have a treat once in a while. The main concern, as my dad later tells me, is not how much I spend, but rather why I am purchasing such expensive clothing. He feels that it is due to three reasons; I have low-self esteem, I feel the need to pretend I'm someone I'm not by wearing expensive labels, or that I am depressed and need to buy things to make myself happy. Here is what I think. I like to look good, everyone does. I feel better about myself (I may suffer from a touch of low-self-esteem, but I'm probably the same as everyone else) when I know I look good. I get confidence and my day is better. I also think it makes me more 'attractive' to the opposite sex. He sees this as a problem, because I'm using shallow reasoning. However, by looking nice, you can attract the girl and make a good first impression, which will give you a later opportunity (open the door in a sense) to show off your personality and what a good person you are. I'm not trying to be someone I'm not, but I do like nice things. By the way, I am 20 years old. I have enough money to keep me happy and I do make as much money as I need by working a 40-hour a week job, as well as selling clothing on ebay. I do get a sense of satisfaction by opening my closet in the morning and thinking "hmm...should I wear the Versace, the T&A, or the Etro shirt today?". Kind of like my hard work has paid off. I have just been constantly upgrading my wardrobe over the past three years (american eagle/nautica -> Express/Banana Republic -> Diesel/Kenneth Cole/Armani -> Etro/T&A/Versace) and it's hard to step back down to purchasing something 'lower' on the tier of brands. I do like spending money. Ever since I was six or so, I've always been a spender. It's just shifted from Legos and Matchbox cars up to clothing. I save my money, and I'm nowhere close to being in debt (save for student loans), but I spend a good chunk of what I make. So, any more thoughts on the issue?
post #2 of 41
Well, it's hard to find fault with your dad's point of view. He probably didn't grow up with the idea of upgrading his wardrobe constantly. He probably didn't place as much importance on trying to look good, either. And now, he sees his son running around and buying big label stuff on a regular basis. It's easy to sympathize. However, you can try explaining your point of view to him. First, tell him you appreciate his input. Then, explain to him that the clothes you buy are the "nice things" you get for yourself to kind of show yourself that your hard work has paid off. Insist that you'd never pay full retail for these things. A question: How long has it been since your folks got you any clothes? Mine haven't for the longest time. Why? I get stuff for myself, and I'm happier with what I get. Of course, I didn't tell them how much those C&J Handgrades were... but I can honestly tell you that I'm never going to buy those crappy excuses for dress shoes at the local store again.
post #3 of 41
I like to dress well and spend lots of time on my clothing because it is my creative outlet. I'm not a great writer, I can't paint, I was never good at anything musical, so the best way I know how to express myself creatively is through the clothing I wear. I enjoy putting together different types of looks. I love to mix and match clothing colors, textures, and mediums. I also cannot stand the feeling of cheap fabric on my skin and I loathe the way ill fitting garments make me look. There is no turning back now.
post #4 of 41
So, Versaceman. I'm just a dab older than you, but I'll tell you what I think. (1) I think that all the different age groups actually have different reasons. (2) I think that it CAN be the result of low self-esteem, but is probably not in most cases. (3) For those of us in our early 20s (or mid-20s and finally finishing school and going to the real world for the first time), I think that buying nice clothes makes us feel like we are truly growing up. For me, I have a sense that I want to shed my youth, and part of doing that is appreciating a fine suit, or a beautiful shirt, as opposed to how comfortable my Gap t-shirt is. To this extent, I'm obsessed about finding great value for my money, and to a lesser extent "building" a wardrobe. The two go hand in hand you see. (4) For the older fellows, it might be a hobby. They have the money and it is satisfying to have nice clothes the same way it is satisfying to me to play the finest golf balls. (5) For other older fellows, it may be an attempt to gain their youth and attractiveness back. (6) For many of us, and I think this spans the age groups, it is that we have come to appreciate the feel and look of a garment much like we would appreciate art. (7) For nearly all of us we actually know that in the long run we are getting value for our money. This may not apply to those who buy compulsively in trends. Trend shoppers may treat shopping/buying more as a hobby, or have an addiction, while timeless piece shoppers may (but not necessarily) be more inclined to view their purchases as "investment pieces." (8) Like going to (arguably) the best law school in the country, wearing nice clothes differentiates us from the crowd. Whether that makes ourselves feel better or serves the functional purpose of making us appear more attractive to others (be it sexually, or as a job seeker, etc.), I see no reason why dressing nice or hanging your diploma from your wall are distinct in terms of the personality void that the two things fill. One may arguably be more functional (yes, I'm talking about the diploma), but in terms of psychosis this is probably irrelevant (because I can tell you right now that it is hardly the functionality of the diploma that drove me to choose law school A over law school B, which was offering me a huge scholarship). (9) As long as you are buying for purely functional reasons and looking for values -- i.e I need a dress shirt and realize that this $150 Borrelli shirt I saw at the outlets will last me three times as long as this $30 DKNY shirt, and will also be twice as comfortable (which will increase productivity and sense of well-being), then I think your parents probably misunderstand your purchases. I've noticed that I've been spending some money lately -- but not tons -- and that I'm considering say, getting three or four suits from W.W. Chan. But I also realize that I am ridding myself of all the old clothes I hate and that are worn, and realize that my new purchases are in the style I like, fit me well, are timeless, and will last substantially longer than my other purchases. In addition, because of this fact I will end up saving closet space, which is a good thing. In addition, I think that learning if fun. And that's what I've enjoyed most about this board. Before this board, I though that the Vestimenta suit I saw for $600 at Filene's Basement was a STEAL. Now I can tell just be pinching its lapels and chest that it is fused crap that is totally machine made, and that the Oxxford for $750 is by far and away the better purchase. Does that mean I'll purchase the Oxxford (or in my case, purchase it and not return it )? No. But it means that I have the knowledge to know what to do if I did want to make the purchase. And I like that, in the same way that I like learning about heart surgery even though I am not planning on being a doctor. Personally, it sounds like you are treating clothes as both a hobby and a business. So, you may be distinct from someone like me, but maybe not by much. Just make sure you don't always sense yourself needing to have MORE. If I were you, I'd sit down and say, "What do I need?" Then only buy those items. You may have a vice -- mine are expensive ties that I find on markdown; I'm a sucker for buying more even though I have plenty (I'm always saying, well, I don't have the particular shade in a repp stripe yet ). But cut those down. For instance, I can tell you right now that I won't be buying another dress shirt for at least 12 months. I got the 12 that I wanted/needed from Jantzen, and I'm done with it. I can tell you right now I don't need another pair of black dress shoes. Etc.
post #5 of 41
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I also cannot stand the feeling of cheap fabric on my skin and I loathe the way ill fitting garments make me look. There is no turning back now.
Oh yeah, this one's a big deal for me. I can never go back to the days of ill-fitting dress shirt collars, cheap $5 ties, baggy suits, and awful dress shoes. Whenever I see one of my buddies wear these things, I cringe and try not to point it out, telling myself that "They're happy with what they have, and that's what really matters." Because it is what really matters in the end. Some people are happy with spending a bunch, and some people are happy knowing that they can spill soup on their shirt and not have to worry about it. Of course, there must be some sort of balance to maintain... which is why we like getting the expensive, high-end stuff for cheap. Edit: And I second Johnny's advice on sitting down and figuring out what you actually need versus what you want. Like him, I have a penchant for Zegna ties I find on eBay. Last time it was navy, this time it's dark brown. In the shoe thread started by A Harris, I listed the shoes that will complete my wardrobe, bringing my total pairs of shoes owned to 9. Do I need lots of shoes? No. Do I want them? Sure, why not. But in my limited financial situation, I have money to spend on other things (books, games, art supplies, food) and so I have to try and maintain some sort of balance. Also, I find that owning a select few items that are of high quality makes you appreciate them more and treat them like the gems they are. If you have hundreds of Borrelli shirts, who's going to care if a button comes off on one of them? But I freak about scratching my C&J's.
post #6 of 41
Interesting side note: My Dad didn't understand how I could spend so much money and time on clothes either, though he would buy Zegna, Canali, and bespoke tailored clothes. His sportswear was always crap until recently. I've swayed him to start buying Purple Label items. Help your dad out, don't argue with him on it. Next Father's Day, take his measurements and drop the $40 on a custom Jantzen shirt for him. Maybe he'll understand then...
post #7 of 41
By the way, I've now been at work for over 14 hours today -- and I can tell you right now that I really being dressed in well fitting, fine clothing. I have a Polo Philip shirt on and the cotton is incredibly soft. I have a super soft cotton undershirt on. I have a pair of lightweight banana republic dark grey cotton pants on, and they fit me perfectly. I have Lorenzo Uomo merino wool socks on, and a pair of Polo dress shoes that are super comfortable. Have I been more productive in these clothes (obviously not my nicest, but still fairly nice and expensive by anybody's standards)? YES. When I have to wear a suit to work, will I feel more comfortable in a fully canvassed suit with light shoulder padding and a perfect fit, as opposed to some heavy, stiff, fused shit that (1) is just plain uncomfortable, and (2) makes me self-conscious? YES... In the long run, will that land me better jobs? YES..........
post #8 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Well, it's hard to find fault with your dad's point of view. He probably didn't grow up with the idea of upgrading his wardrobe constantly. He probably didn't place as much importance on trying to look good, either. And now, he sees his son running around and buying big label stuff on a regular basis. It's easy to sympathize. However, you can try explaining your point of view to him. First, tell him you appreciate his input. Then, explain to him that the clothes you buy are the "nice things" you get for yourself to kind of show yourself that your hard work has paid off. Insist that you'd never pay full retail for these things. A question: How long has it been since your folks got you any clothes? Mine haven't for the longest time. Why? I get stuff for myself, and I'm happier with what I get. Of course, I didn't tell them how much those C&J Handgrades were... but I can honestly tell you that I'm never going to buy those crappy excuses for dress shoes at the local store again.
I buy all my clothes, with money I earn myself. The only recent exceptions would include my winter coat (only a $150 purchase though - I shop smart) and my running shoes. Sometimes, if I'm home from College and I'm going to Chicago for the day or something, my mom will give me $50 in 'fun money', but 99% of the time everything I buy is with my money. My dad grew up in a fairly strict household, so I see his point of view. It's not like I'm buying tons of stuff all the time (well, I am) and just throwing the old stuff away. I'm constantly eBaying my old stuff and either breaking even or making a small profit (all my normal purchases are at deep discount), so I'm kind of recycling my 'clothes money'. He knows the kind of discounts I get (I'll only buy at 50-90% off retail). He doesn't really agree with me on how good they are, or why I am buying them. I purchaed two brand new pairs of $190 PDC jeans for $40 each once, and he cringed at how much I spent. He has his own company and makes excellent money, but to him jeans cost $12, a shirt is $10, and a really nice shirt is $20.
post #9 of 41
I would love to tell Dad about Jantzen shirts. But then I'd have to disclose that I found some obscure Hong Kong tailor on the internet. What explanation would I have for that? And how do you propose I take Dad's measurements?
post #10 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I like to dress well and spend lots of time on my clothing because it is my creative outlet. I'm not a great writer, I can't paint, I was never good at anything musical, so the best way I know how to express myself creatively is through the clothing I wear.    I enjoy putting together different types of looks. I love to mix and match clothing colors, textures, and mediums.    I also cannot stand the feeling of cheap fabric on my skin and I loathe the way ill fitting garments make me look. There is no turning back now.
I agree - I mainly spend more money than the average guy because I like when clothes fit just right. Usually, you have to spend more money to get that. However, to prove I am not entirely label-driven, I recently picked up a slim-cut mercanized-cotton polo shirt in black. Seems to be well-made, and almost on par with Bobby Jones. Where did I get it? Target, for $6.
post #11 of 41
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I would love to tell Dad about Jantzen shirts.  But then I'd have to disclose that I found some obscure Hong Kong tailor on the internet.  What explanation would I have for that?  And how do you propose I take Dad's measurements?  
I was actually thinking about doing this for MY dad.
post #12 of 41
Versaceman, Your dad is definitely just ignorant of what a good price is. I mean, a pair of Gap jeans cost $48, and they almost never go on sale. But my dad is the same way -- he goes with jeans from Costco. I just bought a pair of Joe's jeans for $45 -- a big purchase on sportswear for me -- and a Borrelli cashmere sweater for $125 (my biggest ever sportswear purchase). But I really do believe that it will save me money in the long run -- I doubt that I'll make my standard 3 jeans a season purchase because the cheaper ones end up getting out of form (though I have gotta give it up for the current Gap loose fit jeans, which I love); and I definitely won't keep wasting money on "sale" sweaters (I just always keep buying sweaters for $30, buying like five a season because I just can't find a sweater I love. But my last five sweater purchases have been for good discount, good quality, not that much more, and are timeless and fit me well -- I'll be satisfied with them longer and thus will not buy as much in the future). I used to have a big problem with buying these too big -- I've been rectifying that the past 6 months, and my wallet and my closet are noticing the difference (yes, I've actually bought less).
post #13 of 41
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By the way, I've now been at work for over 14 hours today --
Whoa dude, get outta there.
post #14 of 41
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(johnnynorman3 @ 21 June 2004, 9:43) I would love to tell Dad about Jantzen shirts.  But then I'd have to disclose that I found some obscure Hong Kong tailor on the internet.  What explanation would I have for that?  And how do you propose I take Dad's measurements?  
I was actually thinking about doing this for MY dad.
Yeah, I realized that. But, see, I was also WANTING to do it for MY dad. But I'm just musing, "What an asshole I'd look like". I took enough crap by buying him a suit for my wedding (truth be told, he had previously bought a Ruffini (?) for $180 at a department store. I told him to take it back. I hope he realizes that a Canali Exclusive for $105 more if a SLIGHTLY better deal ).
post #15 of 41
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(johnnynorman3 @ 21 June 2004, 9:40) By the way, I've now been at work for over 14 hours today --
Whoa dude, get outta there.
I'm working on a brief that is due to be filed in court tomorrow. I'm currently waiting for the partner to get back to me with edits to work on. Hopefully I'll be gone by 2 EST. I think I'll be coming in LATE tomorrow though. Maybe I'll head down to Newbury St. and pick up some brown Peale & Co. with my BB gift card that I bought on Ebay as my present for securing my future promotion.
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