Fashion On A Budget

Today with the economy being what it is, none of us want to spend an arm and a leg in order to look stylish. Fortunately, we don’t have to. There are plenty of ways to look stylish without spending a fortune. As the Budget Fashionista says, “frugal is the new black.” Magazines aren’t always the best depiction of this. So the next time you are admiring a model’s sleek pin stripe blazer, and then the listed price makes you spit your coffee out all over the page, close the magazine and pay attention to these tips instead.

Shop the clearance racks. Stores such as Old Navy, H&M, Target, The Gap, Banana Republic, and The Buckle are all good places to shop for clearance items. You can find basics here such as jeans, sweaters, button down shirts, tee shirts, and khakis. The trick to shopping for sales in popular retail stores is to be patient, or to think a year ahead. For example, most people start thinking about purchasing a new summer wardrobe in mid spring. However, this is when summer stock is new and at full price. If you can wait until late June to purchase summer apparel, this is when summer clothing will begin to be on clearance.

There’s nothing wrong with second-hand. Stores such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army and Plato’s Closet can be excellent places to find blazers and sport coats. Look for ones that are tweed, wool, or cashmere. Don’t bother with polyester, as it tends to look inexpensive and does not wear well. Check the inside of the jacket, not just the outside. You’ll want to find one that is fully lined. Make sure the fabric is not pilled, and that the shoulder seem sits on your shoulder.

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But don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. It’s important to remember that sometimes stores put things on sale simply because they want to get rid of them. Never buy things just because they are on sale. If you buy two $30 button down plaid shirts that you sort-of like and might wear every now and then, but they were originally $50 each, you’re not really getting that great of a bargain. You are better off investing in a singular, regularly priced item that is $50 and that you will wear frequently, such as a brown ‘pleather’ jacket or a great pair of dark wash jeans.

Add accessories. Men who throw on a pair of khakis and an un-tucked polo shirt with no belt for work every day tend to look like they are dressing on a budget. But the trick to dressing on a budget without looking like you are is to accessorize appropriately. Some staples that every man should own are: a pair of sunglasses; a houndstooth, plaid, or solid colored scarf; a necktie and necktie accessories; a black leather belt; a brown leather belt; a pair of dressy (non-sneaker) shoes; and a newsboy or fedora hat.

Consider cost per wear. There is nothing wrong with investing in one somewhat pricey apparel item every now and then. But it should be something that you will wear frequently, so that you have the lowest cost per wear possible. For example, if you purchase a $130 black velvet blazer for your office Christmas party, and do not wear it for any other occasion, the cost per wear of this piece is $130. But if you spend $130 on a light tan pair of linen pants and wear them once a week throughout the spring and summer, the cost per wear is only about $6.50. The latter is obviously more worth your money.

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Avoid clothes that are super trendy and/or peculiar. You might see an orange fur-trimmed corduroy jacket on a store rack and think it’s just about the coolest thing since sliced bread. But it’s not likely to be a lasting piece in your wardrobe. It is instead likely that in a few months after you buy it to be something that you pull out of your closet, then put back before you even leave the house. When shopping on a budget, it is best to stick to pieces that are versatile and can be mixed and matched.