You're standing at the sales rail of your favorite store.
You see a stunning brand-name shirt in just the right color.
It's 50% off!
You grab it and head to the checkout.
Who cares if it's a bit too big (or small)?!
If you've ever found yourself in a similar situation or you're just one of those men who likes to be careful about where and how he spends his hard earned cash (like me) this article is for you.
Today we're going to be talking about how to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to buying stylish, quality men's clothing.
Looking Good Without Breaking the Bank
Before you ask I'm not going to be talking about scouring garage sales and consignment stores – not that you may not be able to find something good at places like that but that's not our focus today.
This article is more on how to make well-informed and effective purchases in the long run that'll help build your wardrobe in a meaningful way that contributes to sending the right message through the outfits you wear.
I want to make sure that you don’t get raked over the coals when you're out there buying items you need and paying almost double the price you should be paying.
1. Only Buy Men's Clothing You Need
The amount of money you save is determined by the discount you get. Right?
Wrong. The most money you'll ever save is by buying only the clothing items you need.
I remember I once bought this orange vest and thinking back I don’t know what I was thinking.
It was back in about 2000 and I was a young Marine officer stationed at Carlsbad, California. I went to an outlet and I saw this orange vest and I knew I had to have it.
Of course there were a couple of things that were wrong with it: The main things were that it was a large and I wear a medium and that I had no idea how it would fit in my wardrobe.
But this thing was great and it was 70% off so I purchased it because I really liked it and it was such an amazing deal I felt justified in buying it.
Given that I liked it so much and that is was such a sweet deal I must have worn it every day, right?
Not quite. I have this picture of it in my head and it's the reason I remember this vest:
I was riding my motorcycle and I had all these layers on and because of the layers I had on it somehow fit but I wore it more like a signal vest so people could see me and cars wouldn't hit me than for any other reason.
Where is that orange vest now? I don’t know because I gave it away to goodwill years ago.
The point is we often buy clothing that we don’t need and by not doing that you can save more money than any other way.
2. Educate Yourself On Menswear
Our first point brings us to this one because the best way you can stop buying clothes you don't need is to know what you need and to do this you need to educate yourself.
If you're reading this I'm going to guess that you've seen a few of my articles or watched a couple of my Youtube videos and this is a great step in the right direction.
What you need to do now is watch a lot more of my videos and read a lot more of my articles until you know enough to make informed decisions.
I'm not suggesting you glue yourself to your computer for a week and do nothing but peruse my content but perhaps instead of reading an article a week, try and watch one video or read one article a day instead until you know what your style is and what you need to build up a good wardrobe.
There are also other great resources you could look at:
Aaron Marino over at I am Alpha M. – Aaron teaches men's fashion and personality in a laid-back, off-beat way.
FashionBeans – FashionBeans are a men's style website with a distinct focus on current fashion, so if clothing is your thing you should go have a look at them.
Articles of Style – What I love about Dan is that he's always writing about original topics relating to men's style.
Primer Magazine – Though mainly a Lifestyle site Primer has a nice Style section as well.
The Art of Manliness – Art of Manliness is a must-see for any aspiring gentleman. As with Primer they're not focused on style but they have some interesting style content.
Effortless Gent – Barron over at the Effortless Gent has some nice content and seems to focus more on a younger crowd.
The point is that you have to educate yourself. You need to be seeking a little bit of self-improvement every single day and I think being on someone's email list that really resonates with you is one of the best ways to do that.
So find your Yoda: find the guy that you really relate to and listen to what he has to say, learn a little bit every day and focus on educating yourself so that you know what to buy.
3. Create a Clothing Purchase List
One of the most important things you can do after reading this article is to make a list of what your wardrobe needs.
This list is a work in progress though and the chances are it could change as you get more educated and have a better idea of what your style is and what you have in your cupboard.
In my Men's Style System I provide you with an exceptional breakout list on what you need to build out your style, but if you're just starting off and you don’t know where to go just focus on what you think you need to get started.
You can also look at my article on Cladwell: How to Build Your Wardrobe From Scratch.
Part of their service includes a list of items you need and this can be a great resource to give you a better idea of what you should be looking at.
What you wear is also going to be strongly influenced by what you do and where you live.
If you're a lawyer in New York City you're going to have different needs than if you're a master electrician and you're over in Shawano, Wisconsin and you're going to have a little bit different needs in terms of what should be in your wardrobe.
But there are items that need to be in your wardrobe and for that reason you have to put together that list.
When you make this list make sure you focus in on your needs first and then focus on your wants. That tuxedo you've been eyeing may be a great want but you'll be better buying a good suit you can wear to work instead.
Once you've identified and created your list it makes it really easy for you to decide where you're going to spend your money.
Certain pieces are investment pieces that you have to have and other pieces which are nice to have but you only want to spend money on them after you've invested in having at least a good suit.
And when I say a suit I mean the whole outfit:
- a nice suit that fits you well with both the trousers and the jacket made from the same fabric
- a light-colored dress shirt that fits you well
- a matching tie
- good quality matching shoes
- other related and matching accessories like a belt/suspenders, cuff-links, etc.
Make sure to get a muted tie so that you can wear it to a wedding and a funeral. That outfit is an excellent example of one of your go-to investment pieces.
These articles are great for identifying your most basic pieces and good investment articles:
7 Timeless Fashion Tips for Young Men
10 Style Rules To Live By – Ten Timeless Fashion Guidelines For Men
Build an Interchangeable Wardrobe
What you should take away from this is that you need to have that checklist and a brilliant idea is to make it a shared document on Google Docs so you can solicit advice about your choices from people more knowledgeable than you are.
4. Check The Menswear Store Return Policy
Whenever you're out shopping be sure to look at the store or website's return policy. I remember buying something on Lucky's website that was a clearance item.
I didn’t realize until after I received the item and it didn’t fit very well was that I couldn't send it back because they have a “no return policy” on clearance items.
This struck me as kind of strange and I actually talked with the manager and they accepted it back but it's one of those things that you don’t want to have to do it.
Make sure you work with or buy from a company or person you can make a return to if you're not satisfied.
And don't be afraid to test the waters so to speak. If you're working with a custom clothier he shouldn't be looking to build out your cupboard ten shirts at the same time.
Initially you want to get one shirt and get the fit and style right and make sure you're happy with it before having him build the other nine shirts out.
It's also not just return policies but making sure you know how they deal with other issues like having something that needs to be adjusted, repaired or possibly exchanged.
So before making a purchase make sure you know what their general and specific merchandise policies are.
5. Don't Fall For the Hype
This type of thing happens especially around the holidays. You're going to see Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Labor Day, Halloween, Christmas and Valentine's Day sales to name but a few.
Merchandisers try to get you into their stores and engage you in the company. I'm not going to name names but I'll point out there are some companies that are always having a sale going on.
I remember watching a show where some kid's father told him he could invite some friends to their family restaurant for a free soda. Good-naturedly the kid invites each and every kid at school for a free soda.
As kids start filling the restaurant for free sodas the dad starts freaking out until he sees them ordering fries and burgers and other stuff to go with the free sodas.
This is something merchandisers know and capitalize on: If they can just get you in with that one super deal chances are you'll end up buying some regular-priced items as well.
You may go in to buy those 20% off cuff-links and then you see some really nice dress shirts and those shoes you've always wanted and before you know it you need a trolley.
Advertising and purchasing psychology are multi-million if not billion dollar industries and merchandisers will knowingly or unknowingly trick you into parting with your hard-earned cash by making you feel guilty, happy, sad, frustrated or even thinking that you're getting one over on them.
You can avoid this by not being swayed by your emotions and sticking to your checklist.
If you understand you're only buying what you're going to need, if you educate yourself, if you create a list and if you understand the return policy, then this last one should be pretty easy.
So now that you know what you need to do go out there, get educated, make your list and if possible get someone to mentor you either through a course or personally.
In the long run this will save you money and prevent you from ending up with a cupboard full of clothes you never wear.