or Connect
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › Philosophy on clothes buying
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Philosophy on clothes buying

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
I'm curious about the clothes-buying philosophies of the members of this forum.  Many of you, it seems, are willing to invest the time required to get great deals on Ebay or at discounters like TJ Maxx.  It also seems that many of you have a lot of items in your closet.   My philosophy or approach is quite different.  I don't particularly like surfing Ebay or shopping at TJ Maxx, so that if I were to go that route, I'd factor in the cost of my time, and then I'm not sure that the deals would be such great deals.  I'm also very picky about fabrics, colors, fit, etc., and probably return 1 item for every 2 that I buy (even when I've had the opportunity to try the item on in the store).  For that reason, I didn't have much luck the couple of times I tried buying ties on Ebay.  Finally, I prefer to have just a few items in my closet that I really like and really feel comfortable in, e.g., 2-3 suits, 6-8 dress shirts, a similar number of ties, a couple of casual shirts, a pair of jeans, a couple of pair each of dress and casual shoes, and a couple of belts (my assumption is that this "bare bones" wardrobe is much smaller than the average poster's). Bottom-line, I guess, I'd rather pay $100 for a shirt that I really like than get three $33 shirts that may be a great brand but which I'm not crazy about for whatever reason.  I also wouldn't mind paying full price for the $100 shirt and would be unmoved by the fact that the $33 shirts were marked down from $300. I'm interested in hearing how others think about these issues.  I was raised in family in which we did all of our shopping at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, etc., and have only recently adopted the above philosophy after realizing that the 90%-off items in my closet weren't a great deal if they weren't ever worn.
post #2 of 36
markr, I'd say you're totally right about the value of a bargain. A huge percentage markdown on an item one won't wear renders it less of a value. A full-price item one uses daily and lasts a long time is arguably a better value to the buyer. This, of course, ignores questions of clothing design/art. Someone who pays full-price for an item, wears it once and never again, but to the exact desired effect on the exact appropriate occasion might find that to provide value (of course, this person likely doesn't concern themselves with "value" or even shopping, which is really what we're talking about, right?). Personally, I like to strike a balance. There are hits and misses at discount stores/outlets and ebay. You're likely to get more hits paying full price with the accompanying level of customer service. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy looking for and finding "bargains." It's worth the occasional miss for the great finds. I admit, I have a few shirts that I bought because they were tremendous deals that rarely get off a hanger. And, if I know I have a need that can be met by full-retail, I'm not above (below?) going that route. All in all, I enjoy the hunt and its payoffs, and suffer the consequences as they come
post #3 of 36
my personal strategy is more or less the polar opposite of yours. I more or less haven't paid full price for any item that I can remember in years, even the two LV taiga wallets that I have, I managed to obtain at a 50% discount due to knowing a LV associate. I am able to purchase suits from ebay sight unseen because I can wear 44R off the rack and it fits me as if it was tailored, and a quick glance at measurements allows me to determine whether items will fit. I also have a "moral" objection to paying full price for clothing as I have contacts in the industry and know what the cost of manufacturing is for those items. Even at 10% of retail, you are still likely paying several times what it costs to make most items (at least most mass market items, tailored clothing is different) I also like to alternate my wardrobe on a daily basis, so typically I will wear different items, for a number of reasons, first because I like the variety and also to avoid dry cleaning items too often to prevent both higher costs and material degradation. My wardrobe is probably not too large compared to some people on this board, but I own about 10-12 suits, 5-7 blazers, 30 or so dress shirts, 20 polos and 20 or so pairs of jeans, and very little of my wardrobe is dormant as I rotate constantly. Many of my favorite items were purchased sight unseen.
post #4 of 36
dear markr.. I read your post .. and i have to say u and I have same philo on buying clothes. I do not buy an item from ebay just because its highend label with low price. I'am willing to pay more if an item has what i am looking for. When buying clothes, $$$ comes 2nd on my list, 1st is fit and style im looking for.
post #5 of 36
The deciding factors in shopping habits don't really involve personal philosophy so much as one's financial status and time schedule. For example, a lot of posters here are students, who thus have limited funds and a more flexible daily schedule, which leads them towards a bargain shopping approach. In my case, I'd say that I probably couldn't be happy with the quality/styling of a suit that retails for less than $1500. I'd love to just walk into a boutique and take one right off the rack, but that amount basically exceeds my bank account balance, so paying full price isn't a choice I have. Of course I get some latitude in the fact that I don't have to deal with a 9-5 job and don't have an urgent need to get a suit right away, so I instead bide my time and hunt around for bargains. I also am pretty independent and unconcerned with atmosphere, and don't need to be catered to by salesmen in an upscale setting (both of which are tacked on to the costs). There's more risk involved, but again, paying retail just isn't an option, so there are times where I'll just have to "settle" for a Zegna-level suit with slightly different styling features from the ideal Kiton-level piece I want. I don't buy just because something looks like a good deal, but I don't have the money to be a perfectionist either. My wardrobe isn't my ideal wardrobe, but it's one that I'm happy with, and more importantly, one that I can afford. If you can afford to be just walk in and buy whatever you want, then go for it. But given the huge markup that retail clothing carries, as well as the fact that it is pretty easy to get something close enough to what you want by just waiting and shopping around, I have no reason to pay retail.
post #6 of 36
Quote:
....My wardrobe is probably not too large compared to some people on this board, but I own about 10-12 suits, 5-7 blazers, 30 or so dress shirts, 20 polos and 20 or so pairs of jeans, and very little of my wardrobe is dormant as I rotate constantly. Many of my favorite items were purchased sight unseen.
personally i don't think that's 'too large', although it's way larger than mine is right now. i'm new to the notion of having a 'considered' or 'planned' wardrobe, so i'm basically starting fresh. i'm in the middle of a huge closet purge, surrounded by big stacks of old unused clothing of questionable quality. your inventory is probably about where i'd like to be eventually (but don't tell my wife). (maybe less jeans though, and more odd trousers.) can you tell me, did you set out consciously to build your wardrobe, or did it just sortof happen? is it the kind of thing where you can track the history of its development, or has it been that size/distribution for as long as you can remember? i'd like to get a sense of how long it took to get to your wardbrobe's current state. also, does the size stay current? i.e. if you buy a new suit, do you get rid of an old one? /andrew - trying to find the new normative condition
post #7 of 36
Quote:
I also have a "moral" objection to paying full price for clothing as I have contacts in the industry and know what the cost of manufacturing is for those items. Even at 10% of retail, you are still likely paying several times what it costs to make most items (at least most mass market items, tailored clothing is different)
Same here. As for tailored clothing, I can tell you that the wholesale price for at least one of the top suit manufacturers in the US (one of the manufacturers that does the most handiwork even on the canvas front) is about 180% lower than the ultimate retail price at say, Neiman Marcus. I try not to pay more than 50% retail, anytime.
post #8 of 36
Quote:
Quote:
I also have a "moral" objection to paying full price for clothing as I have contacts in the industry and know what the cost of manufacturing is for those items.  Even at 10% of retail, you are still likely paying several times what it costs to make most items (at least most mass market items, tailored clothing is different)
Same here.  As for tailored clothing, I can tell you that the wholesale price for at least one of the top suit manufacturers in the US (one of the manufacturers that does the most handiwork even on the canvas front) is about 180% lower than the ultimate retail price at say, Neiman Marcus.  I try not to pay more than 50% retail, anytime.
what's the whole sale price for Brioni or Attolini suits do u think?
post #9 of 36
Quote:
what's the whole sale price for Brioni or Attolini suits do u think?
Not sure, haven't dealt with that market.
post #10 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I also have a "moral" objection to paying full price for clothing as I have contacts in the industry and know what the cost of manufacturing is for those items.  Even at 10% of retail, you are still likely paying several times what it costs to make most items (at least most mass market items, tailored clothing is different)
I used to feel the same way -- retail's for suckers.  But then I got into a situation where I needed some dress shirts relatively urgently and didn't have the time to make repeated shopping trips out to the 'burbs.  I made a trip to Nordstrom Rack and picked up 5-6 shirts that were good brands and great prices (e.g., Ike Behar, Facconable, for $30 per).  I thought I had scored, but now a year later, I've realized that the shirts don't fit perfectly or there other things that keep me from really liking them.  I think my tendency used to be to let my guard down when faced with a great price: "Well, it might not fit perfectly, but it's 90% off."  In order to find a sale item that fits perfectly and is also a nice color/pattern, you really have to invest a lot of time.  Typically, I find that the stuff on the sale rack is there for a reason.  Now, I my tendency is to be quite skeptical of sale items: "Do I really like this item, or am I just attracted to the low price?"  I usually ask myself, "Would I be willing to pay full price for it?"   It's pretty common sensical, but it actually took me a long time to realize that 1 $90 shirt that I wear 30 times is just as good a value as 3 $30 shirts that I wear 10 times each.  I read somewhere that you should have a list of all your clothes on your closet door with the price you paid for them.  Then, every time you wear an item, you should make a mark next to that item on the list.  That way, you can compare the "cost per wear" of each item.  I haven't (and can't really imagine) actually keeping such a list, but I like the idea of thinking of your clothing purchases in terms of cost per wear.
post #11 of 36
I find a mix of the two styles works best for me. I bespeak suits from Saville Row, shirts from Turnbull and shoes from Cleverley and Green. And I save the price of my shirts each year by saving half the retail cost of my neckties, pocket squares, jewelry and other items on eBay. Will
post #12 of 36
well, if you look at what discount/ebay wholesale sellers are selling Brioni/Attlioni suits on, they are probably paying at least 20-30% less than their "Buy it Now" price if not more, otherwise why would they sell it? To faustian: I've kinda built my wardrobe and kept it fairly updated, upgrading some components while retiring some items, I've sold/given away some suits while upgrading my wardrobe from more mass market brands like Boss and Armani Collezioni to Oxxford, Zegna, RLPL (St Andrews) and Brioni. As for my dress shirts/polos, I've done the same, replaced items as they've become older with higher quality ones, such as RLPL, Zegna, Brioni, Turnbull & Asser, Lorenzini, and Etro.
post #13 of 36
Quote:
It's pretty common sensical, but it actually took me a long time to realize that 1 $90 shirt that I wear 30 times is just as good a value as 3 $30 shirts that I wear 10 times each. I read somewhere that you should have a list of all your clothes on your closet door with the price you paid for them. Then, every time you wear an item, you should make a mark next to that item on the list. That way, you can compare the "cost per wear" of each item. I haven't (and can't really imagine) actually keeping such a list, but I like the idea of thinking of your clothing purchases in terms of cost per wear.
i think such a list would be most interesting and illuminating. but it seems tedious.    ...anyway what i would expect to see, in my case, is that the most precious items would receive the least wear, while the cheapest ones would get worn most often. it would probably be best for those prone to neurotic feelings of guilt, to view such a list as an average-per-item affair, rather than to dwell on the cost of each piece. of course if an item receives no wear at all, that's when you have to start thinking 'fish or cut bait'. as for the 1-at-$90 vs 3-at-$30 shirts, there is also the possible value of color and pattern variety to factor in. (not that this necessarily trumps quality and fit.) /andrew - drowning in bait **edit: added quote to bring the post into the world of linear thought
post #14 of 36
Mark: While I can agree with your comments to some degree, I think much of it at least in the area of fit, depends on your body type. I am almost a perfect 16 1/2 / Large, or 44R, which means almost off the rack stuff fits me perfectly without alterations, whether I buy it for full price, or 90% off. I think some people are able to wear off-the-rack items due to their build, and some people need MTM. I'm lucky to be in the first category, and can purchase lower priced or discount items without too much browsing. I agree that there is a higher time investment, but I live and work within 10 minutes of four of the largest shopping malls in the US (Fashion Island, South Coast Plaza, The Block at Orange, Irvine Spectrum) in Orange County, so shopping is easy for me, and I have almost unlimited access to all brands. I guess if I lived in a smaller city shopping for higher-end brands that I like would be more difficult. Personally, some of my favorite items that I wear the most (Paper Denim & Cloth Jeans, RLPL shirts, John Varvatos and Theory blazers, Oxxford suits) I obtained at 60-90% off. Since I really haven't purchased anything at full price ever, it is difficult to draw a comparison, but at least personally, there isn't a situation where I would go in, and get a "perfect fit" from something full price and get it, because almost all items in my sizes are perfect fits for me.
post #15 of 36
Thread Starter 
Faustian: Presumably you could "weight" different occassions for wearing an item differently. For example, a Saturday around the house might count half a point, work, one point, date or important client meeting, two points, etc.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Classic Menswear
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › Philosophy on clothes buying