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Frugality (aka no money) and Menswear

Ezio

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For those of us who are in, let's say, the lower income bracket, how do you handle your desire for style, menswear pieces, suits, etc, trying to balance quality and cost, and not being able to get stuff that looks great cause sometimes... you just can't afford it?

Something I've noticed over the past couple of years as I've tried to clean up my act, change my life, get ahead in life, etc, is just the sheer cost that comes with trying to look and dress better. Now of course, we save money to get quality stuff that will last a long time, that goes without saying, but it often feels like (at least to someone who isn't steeped into the whole menswear game besides buying stuff from the GAP during Black Friday) that a lot of the cool, interesting, unique suits, clothes, shoes, gear tends to be priced extremely high, enough that there's a psychological kneejerk reaction to the cost of luxury goods.

Now of course, there are brands that cater to guys in lower income brackets. I've gotten two phenomenal suits from Spier and Mackay for under $300 each and it's definitely the best investment I've made in terms of clothes this year. SuitSupply has the Napoli Line, there are overseas companies that can do custom leather/shoes, etc etc. But at the end of the day, if you're not making enough money where you can spend a **** ton on clothes and other goods that are all a part of style and menswear, and you see other people wearing 2K suits and 1K shoes and carrying $700 briefcases, how does that make you feel and how does it impact your purchasing/style/shopping habits?
 

c0de

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It doesn't matter what anyone else spent, what others buy has no effect on my purchasing habits.

I come from a humble background, so I am careful where I spend my money (or so I think). That said, I buy less items with higher quality. You don't have to cater for every cool/interesting/unique item, build a base/minimalist/core quality wardrobe that reflects your style and has a low cost per wear (not necessarily low cost). Save up and be smart about what you buy.

A lot here seem to sweat by buying second hand; and although it's not for me it might increase the attainability of dressing well at a low cost..
 

yanagi

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at the end of the day, if you're not making enough money where you can spend a **** ton on clothes and other goods that are all a part of style and menswear, and you see other people wearing 2K suits and 1K shoes and carrying $700 briefcases, how does that make you feel and how does it impact your purchasing/style/shopping habits?

Are you comfortable in what you wear? Do you look at yourself in the mirror and go, "yeah, I look good"? Then that's all that matters.
 

Becon

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Now of course, we save money to get quality stuff that will last a long time, that goes without saying, but it often feels like (at least to someone who isn't steeped into the whole menswear game besides buying stuff from the GAP during Black Friday) that a lot of the cool, interesting, unique suits, clothes, shoes, gear tends to be priced extremely high, enough that there's a psychological kneejerk reaction to the cost of luxury goods.

There are quite a few members here who shop in a price bracket I can't. Fortunately, you can still get quality at lower prices. Here's an example. A lot of guys here will post their Crockett & Jones or Church's chukkas. Both great brands and great shoes. But there are very good alternatives for a little less. Loake Kemptons are fantastic shoes as well. Right now they're on MassDrop for $200.

https://www.massdrop.com/buy/loake-1880-kempton-chukka-boots

Be patient, do lots of research, and you can find very high quality alternatives at attainable prices.
 

Joe Schmoe

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Character, not clothing, is what counts. A lot of people who dress well... just dress well. They aren't smarter, successful, or more decent than you. They just have more money for clothes.

Also, you can definitely look great on a budget. A good friend of our family came to the United States as a (legal) immigrant 35 years ago. She's always been poor -- very poor. But she's always looked great, and so have her children. She can't afford anything nicer than Target or Macy's, but she pays a lot of attention to her outfits and is careful about her appearance. We give her clothing regularly but most of her outfits are ones that she chose herself.

If you develop a good eye for clothes, you can do the same thing. The trad look works very well when you are on a budget. Honestly, 90% of dressing well is selecting the right outfits and learning to do things that guys aren't used to doing, like choosing complementary colors. Budget isn't that important.

I buy nice clothes when I can because I like them. But you can look just as good on a budget.
 

Sartorially Striving

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Knowing your measurements and hitting up ebay is a good solution. It seems that the resale value on clothing is pretty poor. Not sure why, but it seems to be. Heck, there’s a ton of new with tags stuff that is hugely discounted. I’m sure there’s a reason that the seeming screaming deal isn’t, but they must sell.

And it is true that anything misrepresented can be returned. Had a recent incident where a jacket was billed as flawless, but had a run on the breast. Sent it back and raised a stink when they tried to bill me for shipping. Got my money back. Anything that isn’t in great shape I just pass on.

As far as the post about content character vs. packaging, there’s truth in that, but my experience is that packaging matters a lot. I can get away with a mediocre suit in my business, but I better be wearing a suit. Show up without a tie and you’ll have no credibility at all. It’s not fair, but is fact.

The thread on thrift shop finds suggests there are some great deals to be had there as well. I suspect there’s a lot more hunting than finds, but that’s part of the game if a $1500 to $5000+ bespoke suit isn’t on the agenda.
 

dieworkwear

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Depending on your budget and what you're after, you can develop a really great personal style around thrifted clothes and second-hand finds. It's hard to create certain classic menswear looks on a budget, particularly high-end suits. Certainly possible, but it requires time and a lot of knowhow, maybe through searching around for deals and knowing your measurements (although, even then, getting the look right can be so time consuming, you're spending resources in other ways).

That said, I think there's often the idea here that style has to be a Neapolitan suit and an expensive pair of English shoes. Those looks are hard to achieve well on a budget, but there is a ton of possibilities if you broaden your horizons. Lots of guys who look terrific in thrifted/ second-hand clothes, either by relying on more causal outfits or doing something like a retro tailored look. Really depends on what works for your lifestyle, budget, and personality.

To take a random example, Eric Kvatek is a fashion photographer. His IG is mostly for his photography, but sometimes you see photos of him on the account. He's one of the most stylish guys out there, I think, and his look isn't that hard to achieve on a budget.

https://www.instagram.com/eric_kvatek/
 
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aristoi bcn

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It depends a lot on your needs.

A bespoke wardrobe for a man who needs wearing a suit on a daily basis is considerable more expensive that one of a man who doesn't.

I think it's possible to look great on budget. You just need to find a brand/pattern/cut that works for you. Brands like Gutteridge, Massimo Dutti, SS or Boggi come to mind. Once you have a core wardrobe you can spend more money in accessories (ties and leather) that will last you longer than suits/shirts/underwear.
 

maxalex

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Too many people, men and women, own closets full of crap. Much better to invest in a few timeless and well made garments. The same principle can be applied to the other basic necessities of life: food (eat less of better stuff), and shelter (a small home, built of fine materials, is better than a mcmansion built of mass produced junk).

Some clothing can last a long time, like a navy blazer or a pair of oxfords—here I mean longevity both in the sense of style and durability. So those kind of clothes are worth saving up your money until you can afford something of good quality, new or used. (Don’t buy any tailored clothes on eBay that can’t be returned; proper fit is more important than brands or style.)

Other clothes are generally not bought used, like shirts. But even the best new shirts will start to fray around the collar and cuffs within a few years, so don’t buy $200 shirts if you’re on a tight budget. You can get very decent all-cotton broadcloth and Oxfords from MTM sources like Proper Cloth or Ratio for under $100, and they will fit much better than those OTR jobs at department stores. (Don’t buy more than one until you get the fit just right.)

Finally there are clothes that as far as I’m concerned should always be bought used. For example I can think of only once in my life when I bought a new pocket square, and that was re-crafted from vintage Japanese indigo. eBay is thick with vintage and NWOT pocket squares for the cost of a couple beers. Why anyone would regularly pay $100 for new ones from Drakes or Rubinacci is beyond my powers of reason, and I’m not poor. I’ll add that a good selection of pocket squares (and ties if you wear them) will let you get away with fewer suits and jackets, simply by varying your accessories.
 

CloudLi

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Too many people, men and women, own closets full of crap. Much better to invest in a few timeless and well made garments. The same principle can be applied to the other basic necessities of life: food (eat less of better stuff), and shelter (a small home, built of fine materials, is better than a mcmansion built of mass produced junk).

Some clothing can last a long time, like a navy blazer or a pair of oxfords—here I mean longevity both in the sense of style and durability. So those kind of clothes are worth saving up your money until you can afford something of good quality, new or used. (Don’t buy any tailored clothes on eBay that can’t be returned; proper fit is more important than brands or style.)

Other clothes are generally not bought used, like shirts. But even the best new shirts will start to fray around the collar and cuffs within a few years, so don’t buy $200 shirts if you’re on a tight budget. You can get very decent all-cotton broadcloth and Oxfords from MTM sources like Proper Cloth or Ratio for under $100, and they will fit much better than those OTR jobs at department stores. (Don’t buy more than one until you get the fit just right.)

Finally there are clothes that as far as I’m concerned should always be bought used. For example I can think of only once in my life when I bought a new pocket square, and that was re-crafted from vintage Japanese indigo. eBay is thick with vintage and NWOT pocket squares for the cost of a couple beers. Why anyone would regularly pay $100 for new ones from Drakes or Rubinacci is beyond my powers of reason, and I’m not poor. I’ll add that a good selection of pocket squares (and ties if you wear them) will let you get away with fewer suits and jackets, simply by varying your accessories.
I disagree on food, house and clothes. If someone live by this philosophy, all I imagine is a pathetic life.
 

Sartorially Striving

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I feel sorry for you.

Yeah, McMansions just reek of tackiness. I’d rather have one of the old Craftsman homes in Coronado than any of the big houses around me. Huge homes with zero architectural interest often speak to the commensurate personality of the owner.

Food? Give me a small meal at my favorite sushi place any day. I don’t need a 22 ounce tomahawk steak. 6 to 8 ounces of protein is plenty.

Now, as I wander into my dotage (just hit my fifties recently), im trying to figure out my clothing. Work attire is easy—suit and tie. It’s casual wear where I struggle to find something appropriate for my age, demeanor, and the pleasure I still get watching American football at a dumpy bar.
 

An Acute Style

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Well over 90% of the items in my wardrobe are less than $90. I'm willing to spend $180 on a two piece suit and $270 on a three piece. I make exceptions occasionally for boots and outerwear, but not often. The $90 limit does not include tailoring which I drop a pretty penny on from time to time. I spend a lot of time on eBay looking for deals. They're out there, that they will cost you in time to find. Most importantly, figure out what your style is all about. Don't waste money on fads and trends. #menswear or otherwise. Lastly, find a good tailor. They can sometimes take good items to great. Good luck.
 

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