Wardrobe buying strategy

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by AlanC, Apr 21, 2005.

  1. AlanC

    AlanC Minister of Trad

    Messages:
    7,805
    Likes Received:
    66
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    Location:
    Heart of America
    Okay, it's time I rein myself in and actually bring some discipline to this whole wardrobe thing. The past 18 months has seen substantial upgrades in virtually every area of my wardrobe with most credit going to the knowledge I gained from SF and AA. However, I've found of late that I'm prone to impulse buying that dilutes my already fairly weak buying power.

    To bring some discipline and direction I'm thinking of working up a written priority list of things I, um, "need" in my wardrobe, and doing a three tiered budget: bigger purchases, which will require longer term cash accumulation, smaller purchases, which still need to be done systematically, and petty cash for those great deals that pop up from time to time.

    Thoughts? Suggestions? Anyone else do this?
     


  2. newyorker

    newyorker Senior member

    Messages:
    185
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2005
    After spending tons of money (well, relative to what I make.) on upgrading my wardrobe, here is what I found really matters, and makes me happy.

    Humbly, this is my opinion:

    1) In suits, sportsjackets, shirts and trousers, fit is everything. Fabric quality, construction, etc is a lot less important. If unique fabrics are more expensive, settle for the more conservative ones. Collar is important. A person would do well with 5 conservative dress shirts and 3 casual shirts. Shirts that fit you well, with good collars and with conservative fabrics will 'look' better and more expensive (yes, that's right) than a Borrelli that does not fit you.

    2) Accessories are worth spending money on. They are a small investment considering that you wear them so often. And you are judged as a person on a large extent on how you accessorize and the quality of your accessories. Get good watches, belts and shoes. These three are most important followed by wallets and briefcases. Keep shoes shined always.

    3) A very very good haircut is important. It is possible to get a very good haircut for $20-$25 even in NYC. To get an 'excellent' haircut one would need to pay substantially more, and one needs to weigh whether it is worth paying the difference. It is very likely one can end up with a bad haircut even when paying lots of money.

    4) Being fit and having a good skin complexion is probably the most important things one can do to look good. I have a very disciplined skin care regimen (see 'Body consciousness' thread) and others have given me compliments. Unsolicited. I'm still trying to improve my fitness level - and of course, that's a lot harder than sticking to a skin care regimen.

    I'd love to hear what others have to say. It's good being part of this community.
     


  3. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

    Messages:
    2,686
    Likes Received:
    13
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2004
    I disagree almost completely with point 1 of your post. I don't think fit is "everything." It is clearly the most important element, but I wouldn't sacrifice fabric quality, and with suits I definitely wouldn't sacrifice construction quality (there is a threshold below which I won't go). Both elements play a huge role in comfort (especially with shirts) and fit.

    I agree with the basic premise that if one has limited funds, he should not nevertheless try to dandify his wardrobe with cheaper alternatives. Rather, sacrifice some of the dandyism and get a good rotation of go-to suits, shirts, and ties.

    I also agree that good shoes are by and large the best bang for your buck. But that's only the case if you buy them sparingly -- it doesn't matter how long a Weston sole lasts if you only wear it once a month because you have 30 pairs of shoes. If I had to do it over, I'd get five pairs of shoes and spend as much as I was able on each.
     


  4. maxnharry

    maxnharry Senior member

    Messages:
    1,398
    Likes Received:
    7
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2005
     


  5. chorse123

    chorse123 Senior member

    Messages:
    10,448
    Likes Received:
    74
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    I'm a big nerd, and created an extensive Excel spreadsheet of my wardrobe to deal with a similar situation. It helped me to get a concrete sense of what I had, what I needed, and where I could trim the existing wardrobe.

    One of my largest concerns was that I could cover the seasons, which in New York violently fluctuate. I created columns for each month, then marked which months would be suitable for every item. I found that I was way too light in summer clothes, and needed a good fall sportcoat, so over about six months I ordered a Spring/Summer navy-blue windowpane suit, a beige linen summer suit, and a yellowish-green herringbone tweed jacket for fall/winter. I'm a big fan of custom here because it allows you to have exactly what you're looking for, without compromises. My budget doesn't stretch much either though, so I've had to be creative (see the current experiment with Vaish) All told those three were under $1000. It also lent me some discipline with purchases. I forced myself to pass up some beautiful shoes at the PS sale because I really need black shoes. My guide is to only buy it if it fills a hole or replaces a dying garment.

    At the same time, I try to plan ahead for clothing purchases. For example, if the budget stretches, I'll try to get some more summer trousers in July, maybe even a new sportcoat or suit. I also need to get some more grey flannels for the fall, and perhaps another suit or jacket.

    I also track my daily wear, and run the numbers to see how often I use items (suits, shirts, ties, & shoes). I'm finding that variety is great and something to shoot for, but how much you like an item is MUCH more important. I wear my favorite ties two or three times as frequently as the others, which are practically painful to wear. Only buy it if you really LOVE it. Forgot about the deal. You won't care if it's a deal when you're sleepy and need to put together an outfit that is both appropriate and brightens your day. Combined with the rules above, it works well.

    This also helps clarify hits and misses. The mtm beige shirt and brown flannel trousers, regardless of how well they fit (very) or the deal (also excellent in one sense, at about $150 for both), were a huge mistake. They don't look good on me. I never wear them. Now I will avoid brown for suits, and lean back towards grey and navy, which look much better, and I revert to with frequency.

    A lot of this is common sense, but for me, the on-screen presentation helps reinforce it.
     


  6. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

    Messages:
    2,686
    Likes Received:
    13
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2004
    I think that a good haircut is defined as one that both (1) properly and carefully executes the customer's desired style, (2) flatters the customer's facial features and natural hair qualities.

    The stylist should recommend -- or at least counsel -- to the customer what type of cut would flatter his face, head, and hair qualities, taking into consideration his profession. But the stylist must then properly and carefully execute that style. That requires skill and attention to detail. For example, I cut my hair fairly short but still enough to style. The top should be a bit choppy and thinned a bit. When it is done badly, a clippers and straight scissor is used. When done well, a serrated scissor and a "knife" is used -- the hair lays properly that way.

    I think that this standard for "good haircut" sort of avoids defining "good haircut" as one particular style.
     


  7. joseanes

    joseanes Senior member

    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Location:
    Marlborough, MA, USA
    It would be interesting to see examples of this method (spreadsheets) -- of course, removing any private information out of it.

    I have thought about doing something like that, but haven't found a good way of doing that.
     


  8. NewYorkBuck

    NewYorkBuck Senior member

    Messages:
    482
    Likes Received:
    13
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2004
    I do exactly the same, but not only w clothes - all my expenses.

    As I have said, the only "expense" I will not budge on is savings. This makes it very difficult to overspend. If I spend more in one catagory, it must come from spending less elsewhere. You know, kinda exactly opposite of what the gov't does.....
     


  9. MilanoStyle

    MilanoStyle Senior member

    Messages:
    1,674
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    Fit is important, but so is quality and construction. But if I had to rate them, I had to go with:

    1. Fit and style.
    2. construction
    3. Fabric quality

    Also, let not forget about having a nice white smile for looking good.
     


  10. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

    Messages:
    20,605
    Likes Received:
    390
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Location:
    greater chicago
    the other part of the strategy is mapping out how you want your overall wardrobe to look - I try to have my suits all in one of two cuts and made of similar fabric, all in dark blue or gray, all of my shirts are of two patterns, my ties all fit a certain look. I would nver buy anything that didn't fit in with the overall look of the wardrobe. At this point almost the only things that I buy are replacements.
     


  11. chorse123

    chorse123 Senior member

    Messages:
    10,448
    Likes Received:
    74
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    Happily. I'll need to find a way to bring it from home to work though, which may take a while under current new apartment circs. In the meantime, this is how it's laid out..

    A page each for:
    Current wardrobe
    Wardrobe by month
    Order history (useful for Jantzen changes.) and future orders
    Daily tracking
    Random notes

    Current wardrobe is broken down by groups (suits, shirts, etc.), with a row for each item. This page has a 12-narrow-column section for the months, corresponding X marks next to the item, and a wide column to add 'x' marks for each time I wear something.

    By month is just a chart of months and number of suits and sportcoats for that month. This was more useful when originally assessing my wardrobe.

    Order history is self explanatory. I like to include order date, cost, delivery date, notable features, etc. Much geeky fun had here, especially in planning future orders. It's great for Jantzen, noting fabrics I may want to order as well as the measurements I used.

    The tracking page is done as a 6 week grid (which can be repeated down the page). Each week has a column, with a group of rows for each day (jacket, trousers, shirt, tie, and shoes). This helps to see if I'm overdoing it, say, on the pinstripe grey suit with red ties.

    Wow. I'm a nerd.
     


  12. Dakota rube

    Dakota rube Senior member

    Messages:
    14,506
    Likes Received:
    193
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2005
    Location:
    A bit better than yesterday, all day vomiting for
    A friend of mine who travels extensively for business has a wardrobe that is entirely black and white; no color whatsoever. It is stark, but fits his complexion and hair color nicely. He said it allows him to pack for almost every contingency, and in about half the space. Works for him; I couldn't do it.
     


  13. alchimiste

    alchimiste Senior member

    Messages:
    577
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2005
    Location:
    a fine country
    I do this for shoes: when I wear them and when I polish them.

    I also have sheets for shirts I own (each is given a score based on a bunch of parameters) and what I want to buy next.

    J, can we have a forum dedicated to nerds? Something like "nerdwear and spreadsheets"?

    Mathieu
     


  14. tgfny

    tgfny Senior member

    Messages:
    370
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2005
     


  15. chorse123

    chorse123 Senior member

    Messages:
    10,448
    Likes Received:
    74
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    Thank you. [​IMG]
     


Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by