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Time Vs. Money – Two Factors Men Must Consider When Building An Interchangeable Wardrobe

sharp dressed man

This outfit was put together with less than $50! Click the photo to see more examples….

This is a sponsored post brought to you by my friends over at Blue Claw Co.  More than just a sponsor – Blue Claw is the luggage company I use to protect my custom business wardrobe when I travel.  Their bags look great, and are made to last right here in the USA!  – Check them out by Clicking Here.

 

It’s possible, with patience and effort, to dress yourself exceedingly well at minimal cost.

In fact I’ve had hundreds of men proudly share with me how they’ve outfitted themselves for pennies on the dollar.

The common thread among them though is it took time – often times years of thriftiness - to save that money.

It’s also possible to go from nothing to well dressed in a matter of hours.

However this path is going to cost a lot more – oftentimes 4 to 10 times as much as what the thrifter spent.

In this article I’ll be sharing with you two strategies to building a wardrobe – one leveraging time, the other leveraging money.

Learn when to use one, understand when it’s worth choosing the other.

 

Strategy #1: Saving Money; Spending Time

This is the patient man’s game.

If you don’t desperately need to upgrade your wardrobe for a set event — a new job, say, or a sudden social duty that your current clothing isn’t up to — you can play the bargain-hunter.

The goal with this strategy is to keep an eye out for bargains that meet your needs.

When you shop, you aren’t shopping for a specific item or look. Rather, you’re shopping for good prices on classic wardrobe items.

dressed sharp gentleman on a budget

Another gentleman looking sharp on a tight budget! Click to see more.

Browsing is encouraged when you have the time to do it. Keep an eye on websites like Dappered.com that report on bargains in the world of menswear. Note the key word there, “report” — a big part of Dappered’s value is that it analyzes the bargains and talks a bit about the fashion of the items on sale, rather than just spamming you with a list of every deal on the internet, as many similar but lower-quality sites will do.

For thrifting – check out websites like Thrift Store Runway for inspiration or The Houndstooth Kid for guidance.  Also – make sure to read my classic piece on “Dressing Sharp for Less” at Art of Manliness.

The value of time is that you don’t have to buy every deal that comes your way. You can afford to be picky, choosing only pieces that are ideally-suited to your wardrobe and come in the proper size. You can also have them adjusted at your leisure, rather than limiting yourself to items that either have a perfect off-the-rack fit or can be adjusted very quickly by the seller.

The disadvantage of this leisurely strategy is, obviously, that it takes years to build a full wardrobe. If you’re currently trying to upgrade from a collection of nothing but jeans and T-shirts, it could be months before you’ve acquired even the basics. Men who’ve recently come into a need for nicer clothes — or just fashionable men who like to change their “look” seasonally, for that matter — aren’t going to be able to meet their needs with slow, careful, best-value purchases.

For them, the second approach:

 

Strategy #2: Spending Money; Saving Time

Brooks Brothers store

Everything you need is here – for a price!

Most of us would, given the choice, prefer to save money where we could, but when you need a suit for an interview in two week’s time, you have to make some compromises.

The choice to pay full price for an item now, rather than wait for a sale later, isn’t limited to men on a deadline, either. Many top-notch items never make it to sale price, especially at higher-end retailers and manufacturers. That rare “gotta have it” piece that’s absolutely perfect for your needs is something you’ll want to by at sticker price before it sells out.

Brooks Brothers While it’s harder on the pocketbook, there are some advantages to a strategy of buying what you want when you want it, rather than waiting for the appropriate sale. You aren’t limited in your options — whatever style or item you like best, you can go ahead and buy, regardless of whether a similar but not-so-perfect piece is on sale for less. The emphasis is on your needs and wants rather than on what’s available.

This is usually the best strategy for men with a very specific set of goals: someone who needs two good business suits for a new job, say, or someone with a bit of cash to spend who wants to update his wardrobe with a set of casual, patterned dress shirts. On those specific items he can cater entirely to his tastes, and then perhaps switch to the first strategy, keeping an eye out for deals on less urgently-needed pieces.

Of course, a man with ample discretionary income can buy to his tastes with impunity. But even those of us who lack quite such deep pockets can, from time to time, benefit from spending more money to get a better, more immediate result.

 

Best of Both Worlds: Balance Your Buying

The ideal strategy is, of course, a mix of both of these.

For the most part, a sensible man will try to maximize value, waiting until the perfect items are also the sale items. But an experienced shopper knows that sometimes the best pieces are not bound for the sales rack, and that you have to occasionally strike while the iron is hot.

Taste is the real key: be conservative in buying clothing that works well but does not astound, and be willing to spend more on rare occasions when you find something truly perfect. Soon enough, you’ll have an impeccable wardrobe for all occasions.

 

This is a sponsored post brought to you by my friends over at Blue Claw Co.  More than just a sponsor – Blue Claw is the luggage company I use to protect my custom business wardrobe when I travel.  Their bags look great, and are made to last right here in the USA!  – Check them out by Clicking Here.

 

 

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About Antonio

Antonio Centeno is President of ATailoredSuit.com and the founder of RealMenRealStyle.com. He has created over 700 articles & videos on men's style, blogs over at the Art of Manliness, and is the creator of the internet's best selling personal presentation course - A Man's Guide To Timeless Style. Antonio has studied clothing design in London, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. He is a former US Marine with an MBA from UT Austin and a BA from Cornell College. He loves to hear from old friends and make new ones.

  • jen

    Taste is the real key: be conservative in buying clothing that works well but does not astound, and be willing to spend more on rare occasions when you find something truly perfect. – Words to live by

  • Eric

    Great read Antonio, thanks for the feedback. As a man who is currently wanting to upgrade his style I will be using a combination of the two techniques. I may spent some money up front to get some basic items, and then take my time and exercise frugality while filling in the rest of my wardrobe.

  • menstyle

    Thank you Jen! Those are great words to live by. :)

  • menstyle

    Sounds great Eric. Good luck!

  • Achowalogen

    Good ideas. I try to choose items (such as a sports coat) that can be paired with more than one color of slacks. Also, I find that varying shirt colors and ties can change an outfit totally. I have worn the same sports coat and slacks with different color shirts and different ties, and most compliment me on the new outfit. If it works . . .

  • menstyle

    Thank you sir! And yes, changing shirt-tie combos really do change the look of the whole outfit.

  • menstyle

    Thank you sir!

  • Ash

    Hi Antonio, I’ve recently discovered your sartorial articles and find I really enjoy your perspective on sharp dressing. As a British gentleman I thought I was style conscious, but I now suspect that I have been stuck in my ways for a few years and rather predicable in my clothing choices. Your articles have made me think about my own style and I’ve found myself becoming a little more interested in clothing of late.

    My own top tip ~ well I’m a big fan of ties, they are often an afterthought for many men, who wear the same tie day after day. Of course, ties can be expensive, especially those top-end silk affairs. I’ve recently got into buying my ties from Hong Kong and Singapore, they are all hand stitched and a fraction of the cost of similar ties from the shops. E-bay has worked for me in this regard and I highly recommend the experience.

    Best regards,

    Ash

  • menstyle

    That’s a great suggestion Ash and I’m sure the readers will appreciate it.

    Thank you!