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Finding affordable menswear? (chicago)

post #1 of 135
Thread Starter 

I'm new to fashion (at 50 no less). My biggest challenge right now is money. Having learned the lessons of fit and quality, and being a shorter guy, most off the rack clothing does not work for me. I have signed up with J. Hilburn, been measured etc, to get some quality clothing. But at those prices, I may buy a couple things a YEAR from them. 

 

Same thing with most online stores, or the really good menswear stores. The amount of money I have to spend in a month on clothing is something like 50-100 bucks. Heck, a really good pair of shoes is going to be at least $150 (some would say more). A good sport coat is going to run me $500. You quickly see my issue. At such a rate, I can afford to buy maybe 8 things a year. 

 

Right now I have only one pair of shoes, no sport coat (I lost weight recently, my whole old wardrobe is gone) and a handful of shirts and 2 pair of trousers. 

 

I live in the Chicago suburbs. I am just wondering how I can find good clothing at decent prices. I've heard a lot of people saying places like Mens Wearhouse is terrible. I get they are not top notch, but the two pair of pants I have are from there and they are actually very very nice. (I do thing a lot of their stuff is overpriced for the quality). 

 

I could really use some help on some options to maximize my dollar. I have tried to find some thrift shops in the area and have had no luck with that either. I admit I am not big on buying used clothing, and even so, being smaller, not a lot would fit anyway. 

post #2 of 135
There's no quick and easy answer to your question.

With that sort of budget, you'll need to be resourceful.

Figure out what you like and develop your taste so that you can be more sure of your purchases and avoid wasting money on clothes that you regret buying.

You don't need to wear high end clothing to look good. If you can find items at Men's Wearhouse that you like and that fit your budget, then I don't see a problem with using them to fill out your wardrobe.

There are great deals to be had in the Buy & Sell subforum and on eBay. Save up for a nice piece of outerwear or a good pair of shoes.

Use the forum for inspiration, but keep in mind that you can have a very decent wardrobe without ever buying things like Edward Green shoes or Cucinelli cashmere sweaters.
post #3 of 135
Thread Starter 

Thanks, maybe I'm setting my sights too high. (Or dreaming a bit). 

 

I was actually just browsing H&M, which I have heard both good and bad about. They seem to have some nice things at decent prices. These Brogues

 

http://www.hm.com/us/product/86257?article=86257-A

 

This blazer

 

http://www.hm.com/us/product/56281?article=56281-H&cm_vc=PRA9

 

The main problem is going to be fit (aside from quality). I think I will go there and at least try some things on. 

post #4 of 135
In your situation, it's imperative to find a good tailor. You're fortunate to be in Chicago because you're sure to find one. Fit is always the most important thing. If you're buying off the rack or in the used market, a tailor can help both in terms of alterations and advice. The best ones will tell you when something just isn't worth trying to salvage without making you feel like chump - this may be to most difficult aspect of the trade to master!

As far as purchasing goes, the Brooks Brothers clearance page is your friend. The Egyptian cotton shirts for $100 are good value (don't waste $ on the cheaper inferior shirts) and nice trousers can be had for $75-150 (these do often need a little tailoring for optimal fit). With vigilance you can get a fully canvased jacket for less than $500, some as low as $250.

For shoes, the Allen Edmonds shoe bank (shoebank.com) should be your first stop. Meermin is also worth consideration if you want something a little sleeker.

Remember, the best way to save money is to buy the right thing the first time so do your research and be patient.
post #5 of 135
Thread Starter 

Thanks - great advice. I get you about the tailor, yet I have the same issue - affording the alterations. The stylist that signed me up for J. Hilburn claims she has a great alterations person. I'll probably give them a try and see how it goes. 

post #6 of 135
You absolutely need a jacket / blazer / sport coat. Incredibly versatile. You can dress it up or down. That should be your number one priority. And if H&M has one that fits you perfectly, I wouldn't turn my nose up at it. But you could do better even with your budget.
post #7 of 135
Thread Starter 

A jacket and a second pair of shoes are #1 and #2 on my list. 

 

The issue I am faced with right now is that if I spend 200+ bucks on a jacket, that is all I will be getting for some time - at least a month or so, if not more. I kind of feel like I can deal with some lesser quality items for now (as long as the fit is right, or I can get it tailored) so I have something more than pants and shirts. Then over time I can increase the quality. 

post #8 of 135
Affordable is my middle name smile.gif

99% of the time I always buy items when they go on sale. The internet is my go to source for finding deals. I've found good deals in the for sale section of this forum. I've been wearing Club Monaco sweaters, shirts, pants etc for years now. My cousin used to work for them so I got amazing deals.

Point is you have to tap into all sources to get deals. I got a pair of jeans from the gap at 50% off and they are holding up just fine.
post #9 of 135
Thread Starter 

Makes sense. 

 

I did make out pretty well the week after Christmas. I had gotten a Men's Wearhouse gift certificate, I had a rewards credit, and I had a coupon - plus they were having 2 for 1 sale items. So I walked out of there with 4 pair of pants, and 4 shirts for something like $250. That is the stuff I am currently wearing day to day (plus a few other things I got). 

post #10 of 135


http://www.menswearhouse.com/mens-clothes/sport-coats/mens-blazers/pronto-uomo-dark-navy-modern-fit-blazer-179F180F01

This looks serviceable. About 100 bucks.
post #11 of 135
Thread Starter 

Thanks, that does look nice. I was just looking at their sale/clearance stuff, and I think I might head over. 

 

I did stop by H&M. It was pretty disappointing. Their stuff looks nice in photos, but up close, it's pretty bad. Super thin material, low stitch count, loose stitching, etc. Their shoes were utter garbage. 

post #12 of 135
Try Banana Republic. They have sales all the time and their stuff is decent and should last you a while
post #13 of 135
This service, er, could be your best friend.

At the very least, stop buying from Men's Wearhouse and use more respectable retailers such as T.M. Lewin and (for at least pants) Lands' End. Florsheim might be adequate for dress shoes, if the right size (unknown) is available. Also, don't buy blends with synthetics, except maybe for sportswear.
post #14 of 135
Thread Starter 

So, I'm not quite sure I get the disdain of Men's Wearhouse. While I realize they carry some substandard, overpriced stuff - on the other hand they do carry some good brands and you can certainly stretch your dollar there. I bought two really, really nice pair of trousers there in December that I love, and I have gotten a lot of compliments on them (and so far, they are holding up well). Paid $80 and got one free. 

 

I was just there looking at the blazers/sport coats. They do have Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole and T. Hil. - some pretty nice stuff. (Nothing in my size today though). Looking at T.M. Lewin, I don't see much difference - especially in pricing. They have one sportcoat currently in my size for $200 on their site. 

 

Not trying to be contentious, trying to understand. 

 

I think you have to realize too that some of us are VERY stretched on a budget. This month I have $220 to spend - for me, that is a lot more than I normally have. And I just spent $100 of that on these J. Shoes (only my 2nd pair) 

 

http://www.shoes.com/mens-j-shoes-chuck2-wingtip-oxford-tan-navy-p2_id410768

 

If I don't find a way to get a blazer with my remaining money, it may be months before I can get one. 

 

A quick look at Land's End in dress pants, I didn't see much that appeals. A lot of ordinary stuff. I honestly think MW has a much nicer selection of pants - at least at the moment. 

post #15 of 135
Dude. Those shoes. Dude. Come on.
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