Being Thrifty and Stylish: A Shopping Guide for Men
The global financial crisis has spawned the emergence of the “recessionista”— fashionista dressing and shopping on a drastically reduced budget. And even with economists forecasting a gradual recovery of the global economy, recessionistas have not abandoned their thrifty ethos. They have proven that one can be well dressed without needing to break the bank. Recession or not, any stylish gentleman loves a good deal on great clothes.
So what are the ways to achieve sartorial satisfaction on a smaller budget?
The Web is one big virtual sale rack, and it allows you to do comparison shopping effortlessly, at the mere click of a mouse. You have access to hundreds of labels and retailers, and you get to read what other shoppers have to say about their products and services.
While you’re online, get on retailers’ and designers’ mailing lists, so you are alerted about sales, new products or special offers.
The downside to online shopping is you can’t try items on or inspect them for damage, so make sure you read the fine print carefully, know the store’s return policy, and shop only from reputable sites.
Thrift stores offer a wide range of items from designer and mass market labels to retro and vintage pieces, allowing you a lot of flexibility in creating your look. Besides the usual items you’ll find in any boutique, thrift stores also carry inexpensive accessories such as shoes, belts, ties, handkerchiefs, beanies and scarves.
The great thing about thrift store shopping is it gives you access to many one-of-a-kind pieces, so the likelihood of walking into a party and meeting someone else dressed in the same threads is relatively small.
Because thrift stores are packed with a lot of inexpensive stuff, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or waylaid. Make sure you stay focused on the look you are trying to build. Even if that pile of cheap ties looks tempting, make a mental inventory of the items you already have in your closet. The general rule is each purchase must match at least four items in your wardrobe. If it doesn’t, it’s not worth buying.
If the idea of wearing other people’s castoffs is not your thing, other sources of cost-conscious style are garage sales, mall sales, street markets and secondhand consignment outlets.
Mix and match
You don’t need to be decked out in cheap garb from head to toe, or wear an ensemble made up entirely of haute couture. Mix and match inexpensive items with more costly ones.
Many retailers and labels now offer brand new suits at less than $1,000. When buying inexpensive suits, look for those that can be worn with other clothing. These types suits usually come in fabrics such as pastel cotton twill, black sharkskin, or synthetic blends, which give them a fresher, more contemporary vibe.
The suit jackets from these labels are typically shorter, have narrower shoulders and a higher armhole, and the pants are more slim-fitting, allowing these items to be worn separately and coordinated with other garments and accessories to take your look from the office to a night out on the town. While you’re trying one on, make sure to get yourself a set of mid-priced or cheap neckties to match the suit.
Look for classic pieces
Resist the temptation to buy trendier pieces, even it they are on the sale rack. Instead, invest in items that come in classic, traditional cuts. You will be able to get more mileage out of classic items because they will never look outdated.
Try out unknown designers
Less established designers often offer fresher and more distinctive designs than mass market labels, at a fraction of what you’ll pay for with haute couture. Develop a relationship with these designers and they’ll be more than glad to return the favor by offering discounts and privileges to let you be the first in line to get a preview of new items or collections. Many are also willing to offer additional services, such as alteration or free shipping.