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What's at the root of our fashion interest?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by VMan, Jun 22, 2004.

  1. shoreman80

    shoreman80 Well-Known Member

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    For myself, I'm going to place myself most closely in jn3's category #3 (I think you have a solid, if not comprehensive, list there). I got my BA in 2002, and worked odd jobs - college admissions, office, and bartending - before finding a "real job" I liked. Though I don't have to wear suits daily, I do wear a tie/jacket. It makes me feel like I'm going to work. [​IMG] Also, the time I spent in the office and in the various settings of college admissions made me realize even more how much people judge others based on appearance. I don't mean to defend book-by-its-cover judgment, and most of that judging is "Wow, he tucks in his shirt," not, "Wow, the Prince-of-Wales pattern on his MTM shirt is matched perfectly at the shoulder and sleeve." But still, clothes that fit and complement you are good for confidence, and confidence is good professionally. I'm glad I have a hobby that has benefits in addition to personal amusement.
     
  2. VMan

    VMan Senior member

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    Excellent posts, everyone. Thanks for the replies.

    That Jantzen shirt is an excellent idea, too bad I didn't think of that before Father's Day.

    Johnny,

    That list of reasons is comprehensive to say the least. I hadn't thought of many of those, but they all make a lot of sense. Value plays a huge part in everything, which is why I often compare purchase. Take PDC for instance; I have six pairs that I paid between $22 and $40 for, brand new. Mind you, these are all normal washes - none of that bizzare stuff. Levis run you $45 (maybe $30 on sale?) and for less than the Levis, I got jeans made in the US with very individual washes, hand-set pockets and details, and a perfect fit.

    Sticking with the PDC example, I felt no guilt purchasing those because I knew I would be able to wear them several times, and resell them on ebay for a small profit.

    The reason that I've been making many purchases over the year is that I'm upgrading my wardrobe - my style tastes are evolving, I'm trying to sell things that don't fit me well and replace them with better-fitting ones, etc.

    I had maybe 10 pairs of jeans, but I've replaced the Calvin Klein, Nautica, Guess, and some ill-fitting Diesels with PDC, Joe's, Earl, Levis Premium, etc. The funny thing is that I paid close to the same amount of money for the cheaper brands as I did the more expensive ones.
     
  3. VMan

    VMan Senior member

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    Oh, and one more important point I'd like to bring up:

    I do have clothing that I know will only get worn a few times before I sell it, and that's fine by me. Usually it's trendier purchases from D&G, Versace, Express, etc. and I don't pay more for those than I know I can get on ebay.

    However, I have made several wise purchases in the past on quality items, such as a Canali jacket from a consignment shop (almost brand new) for $10, plus $50 in alterations.
    I know with things like this, I'm better off spending a little more because not only will the item last longer, it will make me look better.
     
  4. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    Versaceman,

    I hear you about upgrading, and how that can make it seem like you are getting addicted to purchasing, when in fact you are just making calculated purchases in a short time period. That is where I am. I also was in that place when I was going to law school -- I was heading out East for the first time, and so for the first time had to buy clothes for all sorts of temperatures. I recall spending about $600 in one weekend getting sweaters, chinos, cords, wool coat, etc. Setting my suit purchases aside -- which is a whole different world that you will confront when you go into the business world, where you have to wear a suit either often or everyday (as I will be doing six months from now) -- I doubt I've spent anywhere close to $600 on pure sportswear during my post law school graduation rebuilding phase. Yet, I have gotten much nicer stuff.

    My style might change a bit in the future, but I sort of doubt it. This board has taught me a lot -- I think much of style changes stem from ignorance bringing you to the prior style that you are now getting rid of. So, I doubt that I'll have to do another complete overhaul in another three years. It will be a light replacement cycle starting in probably another three months (I'll keep rebuilding through the sale season, and will build up my suit wardrobe with W.W. Chan hopefully; shirts with Jantzen, which are on the way). I guarantee that I will feel a lot better making my purchases in bulk in calculated buys rather than a bunch of aimless, "Oh, I saw it for $8 at Gap" purchases. I like wearing clothes, not buying them. Once I have them, it's not like I need to keep buying. I just NEED them first.
     
  5. norcaltransplant

    norcaltransplant Senior member

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    I actually really enjoy the adventure of bargain shopping. I've learned a lot from this site on how to identify/appreciate fine clothing and to focus on details rather than a tag. Actually, some of my most recent purchases have had tags removed (don't worry, not from EBay).

    I'll readily admit that I spend more money on clothes than I should--and I don't even have the Etro/T&A/Versace closet that my younger peer displays. But I do love the stuff that I own, and it brings a great deal of satisfaction/confidence when I'm dealing with people twice or three times my age.

    I guess clothes have become a hobby for me. A functional hobby that conveniently overlaps with my professional dress.
     
  6. VMan

    VMan Senior member

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    I love bargain hunting. To me, clothing is a hobby as well, and shopping for bargains is all part of the fun. As far as the Etro/T&A/Versace, I've purchased those for lower prices than I bet anyone here could imagine, so I hope nobody took that as bragging. I don't brag about labels, the only thing I brag about is the bargains I've experienced [​IMG]
     
  7. MikeF

    MikeF Senior member

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    Instead of joining this figurative circle jerk, let me suggest this: we all probably spend way too much on clothes relative to our income. I wish that when I was 20 I had put my money in a savings account instead of blowing it on clothes, however good the deals I found might have been. A beautiful, perfectly-fitting wardrobe is cold comfort when the home you want to buy your wife is $150K out of your price range. Also, consider the benefits to your academic performance of taking the summer off from work - even if it means you can't buy Etro shirts - instead of working 40 hours per week during what could otherwise be your vacation.

    Also: beware of the pretention almost invariably attributed to 20 year-olds who buy $400 shirts - at any price - particularly when they do so before they buy a home, car, etc. While we all like to look good, there is such a thing as looking too good, unless you're prepared to accept the flak and resentment that comes with fancy clothes at a young age. Remember: no one knows how little you actually paid.
     
  8. Alias

    Alias Senior member

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    I know I do. That's why I'm imposing a moratorium on myself from buying anything new until I can save a bunch of cash and put that into my savings/funds/portfolio/whatever.
     
  9. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    Clearly a home, etc. comes before clothing. The only reason I am allowing myself to move into the working world with a half dozen nice suits is because I have been extremely frugal for the past ten years and because I know that I am guaranteed a high income job whenever I feel that I need money. This is why Banana Republic was a splurge for me in college, but now its that Borrelli sweater or that Chan suit because now I'm making about $60 an hour at work.

    You are right MikeF that there is clearly a thing as dressing too nicely, expensivel. But I feel like I've earned the right to spend $3500 - $4000 on 5 suits, seeing that I currently make that amount of money (after taxes) in appx. 2 weeks.
     
  10. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    It seems such a statement depends on context. From a conventional setting there might be such a thing as dressing too nicely. However if one were young, and worked in say the fashion world or to bring it up again, the art world.

    As well as certain gay circles.
     
  11. quill

    quill Senior member

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    Also: beware of the pretention almost invariably attributed to 20 year-olds who buy $400 shirts - at any price - particularly when they do so before they buy a home, car, etc. Â While we all like to look good, there is such a thing as looking too good, unless you're prepared to accept the flak and resentment that comes with fancy clothes at a young age. Â Remember: no one knows how little you actually paid.
    It seems such a statement depends on context. From a conventional setting there might be such a thing as dressing too nicely. However if one were young, and worked in say the fashion world or to bring it up again, the art world. As well as certain gay circles.
    LabelKing, I think you've hit the nail on the head. Sounds like VersaceMan's father is guilty of a little FAE (Fundamental Attribution Error), overestimating VM's character traits and underestimating the context of the situation(s). I do understand what MikeF is saying, as I am considerably older than VersaceMan. However, I don't think any of us can truly know why another person does what they do. Personally, I think VersaceMan sounds very mature and intelligent in his approach, moreso than would normally be attributed to a person his age. Fundamental values have been in contention since mankind began, and that isn't going to go away. As long as the risks and the benefits are clear, understood, and controllable, then I myself don't feel I can judge VersaceMan in any way. But if you have any doubts at all, VersaceMan, then my only suggestion would be to hedge your bets: buy the clothes you feel are worth it, and also put a little away for something more long term (further education, house, etc.). Then you'll feel good that you are contributing in a healthy way to all concerns. Who was it that said "Everything in moderation"? A truer word was never spoken.
     
  12. FIHTies

    FIHTies Senior member Affiliate Vendor

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    Allow me to weigh in here, as a child of parents with European backgrounds that came to this country with nothing. VersaceMan: (and can we get some First names here if thats OK with everyone? I am Jonathan). First of all I think that you should thank your parents, and judging from past posts, you do appreciate them. They are only concerned and looking after your best interests. Second of all. There is no way that you will convince your parents that your 20 dollar pants are better than his 10 dollar pants. His feeling is If they do the job for 10 dollars than why spend 20? Thats 10 dollars wasted. Dont even try to explain to your father the difference between single needle tailoring or double needle. MOP buttons? Whats wrong with plastic? Forget about a trying to explain fully canvassed suit vs. a fused. He is from a different school of thought and you will be talking to the walls. The only thing that will come out of it will be his feeling that you are developing frivolous habits. What I recommend is that as long as you are comfortable with your purchases and you are honest with yourself that you are not being irresponsible debtwise, then buy what you want to buy and dont discuss it with your parents. In my business I buy certain tech products without discussing it with my Boss/Mother, cause i KNOW that we need them and i KNOW that my mother will fight me on it. Its her nature and I cant argue with it. She has built a wonderful business with that kind of tight ship running. After the purchase has paid for itself I then file for reimbursement showing how it paid off. DOes that mean that my mother isnt capable of running the business? No, it just means that she thinks differently. Same here. Just be honest to yourself about what you can handle, and beware the dreaded Credit Card, which allows you to spend more than you should. Why do we dress a certain way? I think that dandyism in its lesser pronounced and obsessive stages allows us to a) express and distinguish ourselves in a day that other's impressions of us are made within the first second of visual inspection, and b) for the younger crowd its a means of breaking away from the uncouth and vulgur ways in which the young men and women dress nowadays (and without gettng into examples I think that we all know what I am referring to). I admire a young man that looks good because (contrary to your fathers impression) he feels respectful of himself and has a certain self regard and dignity that he feels and wishes to portray. Its not for naught that when we enter into the presence of people greater than us we attempt to display ourselves in the best possible way and that includes dressing our best. So tell me. Whats wrong with it if we always look our best so long as we dont become obsessed with it? JJF
     
  13. VMan

    VMan Senior member

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    FIH,

    My dad was born in Paris, and came to this country at a young age. Needless to say, money was relatively tight and he thinks I am spoiled, even though I've been working since age 14 and am a very responsible person.

    You're right, it's impossible to convince the average (non clothes-minded) person about the benefits of nicer clothing, or educate them on the types of things we talk about on this board.

    So far, I've avoided using a credit card. This whole discussion isn't really about money, it's about why I'm so interested in clothing. I have the money system worked out. My paychecks from my regular 8:00-5:00 job are direct-deposited into a savings account; this money is not touched, and will be used in the fall for books and tuition. I sell quite often on ebay (though I've put it off due to summer and my job) and make on average $200 to $400 a week doing this. I figure that I use my own creativity and enterpreneurship on ebay to make that money, so it should be mine to freely spend. I use this for clothing, going out with friends, spending money, etc. and I save the extra.

    The main concern is that I'm dressing nicely for the wrong reasons. Nobody realizes that it's just part of who I am. I went through all of high school wearing the same semi-trendy things as everyone else, and now it's time for me to be different. I do it because I like it. My father feels clothing is a means to cover your skin, rather than a means of self-expression. An old t-shirt and a pair of jeans or denim shorts is all you need for 95% of occasions in his eyes, so I am out of line by purchasing nicer things.

    MikeF,

    I wish I were able to take the summer off from work, but sadly I am paying for my tuition and books, so I really need to work. During the school year, I take things easier and only work every few weekends (but I sell on ebay to give myself spending money). I see your point about looking too good, and I fear that. However, it's not like I'm walking around school in Gucci suits and Lattanzi shoes. I'm buying mostly jeans, flat-front slacks, dress shirts to be worn untucked, and unique t-shirts. Nothing that is really 'dressy'. I just avoid the baggy jeans and logo t-shirt trend that most everyone else follows at my university. I doubt anyone recognizes the Etro logo (my friend thought it was a work shirt from an Amoco [or whichever gas station has a Pegasus as their logo] station) or recognizes the difference between my PDC jeans and everone elses A&F's.

    Quill,

    Thank you for the comment on my maturity. For some reason, I've always felt a bit out of place with my peers...not to sound snobby or anything, but I think I might have grown up too fast. Friends have commented on that before, on how I act more mature. It's just who I am I guess. I still like to go out and party with friends and have a good time, but my general interests that have come and gone through the years (men's style, cooking, astronomy, gardening, aquariums, fly fishing and fly tying, etc) have always been different from theirs. I've been trying to keep a good balance of spending and saving.

    Oh, by the way, I'm Eric.
     
  14. NavyStyles

    NavyStyles Senior member

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    Eric, If you haven't already -- you might want to speak to your father about some of the things brought up in this discussion. Mainly that you "recycle" your clothes money and remember to stash some away in savings. I don't think he can argue with that. I know you said the main problem was his confusion of why you are buying the clothes. Perhaps you could give the analogy of Legos and Hotwheels. When you were a child, these things were a part of you. Personally, I spent a bit of time everyday working on some type of Lego structure from ages 5-11 or so. Not to toot my own horn, but I was very talented and creative with the Legos. I think Mike C mentioned that clothes are his outlet for creativity. Perhaps you feel the same. Even if you don't, the clothes are a part of your person. Each person has a certain style. Your father wouldn't have taken away your toys as a child. Once he realizes why you buy the things you do, he won't try to make you give up your newer, more fashionable "toys." - Curry
     
  15. Duveen

    Duveen Senior member

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    I have observed that people always find a way to part with their money.  Whether that is stereo equipment, video games, computer equipment, a nice car, or more house than they actually 'need'.   The guy who is scandalized at the price of your suit might think nothing of spending an equal amount in computer equipment.  And he would use the same rationalization that we do when investing in 'good' clothes - saving money in the long run - in this case by buying equip to beat obsolescence.  As with those on this board, the reality is that he will likely overspend on things that he loves. A rigorous cost-benefit analysis might show that unless he does freelance videography at good profits, the expensive video-editing software he bought for his hobby is unlikely to pay for itself.

    The other reality is that clothes are as much part of the tools of the professional trade as a hammer is to the artisan.  When working in an office environment, self-presentation is a big part of one's value to a company (particularly in consulting, sales) and it does have a measurable effect on advancement.  While one can advance without being a dandy (just as one can build a house without a top-of-the-line saw), the 'right tools' often make it easier to get ahead.

    Basically, unless one is advocating straight-up Puritanism (focusing on the bare functional minimum in all things) one is allocating resources to one thing or another (clothes, house, travel, dining, saving to pay for any of the former at a later date).  All savings has its end in expenditure.  

    While I'll grant that real estate appreciates and clothes generally don't, what VersaceMan is doing seems to be circulating through lots of purchases. His skill in keeping his clothing budget liquid makes this vice even less of an issue - and unlikely to leave him magically $150K in the hole when he needs the money at a later date.
     

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