Gentlemen, we've all heard this excuse: The only way you can look great is if you have a lot of money.
I'm here to tell you that's NOT true.
What if I told you that you could revolutionize your wardrobe on a tight budget?
That you could transform yourself into a new man with just $1,000?
Yes – not only is it possible, but with a little patience, it can be incredibly easy.
If you want to be ready for any occasion, stick around, because I'm showing you just how you can perfect the art of budget men's style.
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Priority 1. One Suit ($200)
If we're going to build the right wardrobe, we need to hit the ground running. I don't care what kind of man you are – a constant professional, a business owner, or a uniform man – you need to own AT LEAST one suit.
You're going to want a navy, charcoal, or mid-gray color on the suit.
“Antonio, why not black? I see it all the time!” Just because you see it everywhere doesn't mean it's right. Black is more appropriate for black-tie occasions… or funerals. To get started, you want a color that's a little less formal and still great for the office.
Plus, you'll get maximum interchangeability out of those colors. Yes, the interchangeable wardrobe is paramount here. Those of you that follow my channel and blog know that I've spoken at length about it, but when you're on a stringent budget, you need to make every purchase with that in mind.
Alright, let's get back on track. You want to avoid patterns of any kind in your first suit. I've got nothing against patterns – I wear them all the time. However, you want something subtle to start with.
If you start wearing patterns, you'll draw more attention. That piece becomes instantly recognizable and people will notice it if you wear it again. All of a sudden, you're sending the message that you can't afford more than that jacket.
Where do you find a suit under $200? It's easier than you think! Men's Wearhouse frequently has specials for $150-$200. You can be certain that department stores like Macy's will do the same.
As always, the fit is king.
Priority 2. Dress Shoes ($200)
The very next focus you should have following a well-fitted suit is your first pair of QUALITY dress shoes. Looking to spend about $200 means that you can find a decent compromise between quality and budget.
So what should you get? Brogues? Definitely not. Your first pair of men's dress shoes should consist of some simple black cap-toe Oxfords. An Oxford shoe is any dress show with a closed-lacing system. This means that the eyelets are sewn under the shoe's vamp.
This makes for a sleeker, more elegant look – suitable for the office and business casual looks. It's an incredibly versatile piece that will serve as your workhorse shoe. The only thing that it won't look great in is jeans.
You may have to go a bit beyond the ideal budget, but consider going with goodyear welting or blake stitch construction. This guarantees that if your soles wear out, you can replace them without tossing the shoes in the garbage.
Priority 3. Three Dress Shirts ($99)
Ok, we've just eaten up 40% of our total budget on suits and shoes alone. We need to start being more picky with our budget going forward, so stay frosty!
Next up: dress shirts. You're going to want something to wear under that suit, right?
3 decent shirts for under $100 is easier to do than the last two categories. Gents, never underestimate STORE BRANDS. You can find some exceptional dress shirts in the clearance racks of either Jos. A. Banks (1905) or Men's Wearhouse (Joseph Abboud) for approximately $20.
What's more, Target (Goodfellow & Co.) offers dress shirts ranging between $15 and $25. Walmart (George) has them at $15 a lot of the time.
What about color? Simple – white and light blue. You can either go two whites and one blue, or two blues and one white. The material should be as simple a weave as possible – as little texture as possible.
Why? Because those two colors will match with anything you can possibly imagine as far as wardrobe goes. They're also subtle – they won't draw too much attention, so folks will simply assume you own multiple shirts of the same color (which you do).
Priority 4. One Belt ($50)
The basic rule of thumb when it comes to belts is matching your leathers. If you followed along so far and purchased your black dress shoes, then you should go ahead and buy a black dress belt to go along with it.
It's important to make the distinction between dress belts and casual belts, and that distinction lies mainly with width. Dress belts are approximately 1 inch wide, while casual belts range between 1.5 and 1.75 inches. If this is your first leather belt, then you should definitely hunt down a dress belt.
Priority 5. One Tie ($20)
Ties are used less and less in today's world, but the right tie can really bring together an outfit in such a way that only a tie can.
If you want to be ready for that next interview or that company presentation, then you NEED a tie. Prices range wildly, but you can find a polyester tie to suit your needs easily within the $20 range.
If ties become something you enjoy as part of your signature style, then expand on colors and patterns… down the line. For now, focus on a deep and rich color. This can be a deep green, or perhaps a red. I hesitate to recommend blue, because it may look off with a navy suit.
Priority 6. Underwear ($50)
All the undershirts, underwear, and socks you need should run you no more than $50.
We can keep it simple here. As far as undershirts go, I prefer v-necks so it doesn't show underneath my dress shirts. You can grab 6-packs of store brand undershirts at either Target or Walmart for $15.
What about underwear? We got briefs, boxer briefs, and boxers. Briefs are typically less expensive if you're looking to save the maximum amount of cash. The same principle applies – easily found for $15 per pack of five at Walmart or Target.
However, you may want more than 5 pairs of underwear to last you the week. I'd consider shopping at Amazon to see if you can get any 6 or 7-packs for a similar bargain.
Finally, we have socks. A good hack here is to spend $10 on a pack of black athletic crew socks. You can actually get away with using those with a suit, and you can take them to the gym! Versatility at its finest.
What Else Should You Add?
At $619, we are still well below our desired budget. Congratulations! You got the most important things down.
But what else can we add? Using the principles we've already discussed, you can build off your foundation by adding EVEN more to have a perfectly well-rounded closet.
Here's what I recommend.
One Sports Jacket ($200)
A sports jacket is a great piece for a more casual wardrobe. You can wear them with trousers, chinos, or jeans!
As always, go simple and dark for your first jacket.
Sports jackets can easily be quite expensive depending on their quality, but you can probably find a Charcoal jacket at Men's Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank for that price. They frequently have specials putting them as low as $100!
Department stores like Macy's likewise have sales that can put sports jackets down to approximately $60.
One Pair Of Jeans ($40)
A pair of well-fitted jeans is essential for any casual outfit. Levi's are a very sought-after brand, but you can look to store brands for the best deal. Even so, you may just be able to find some Levi's for $40 if you keep your eyes peeled.
Pocket Squares ($20)
Pocket squares are a great way to accent an outfit. I would stay away from stores like Men's Wearhouse for this one – individual pocket squares can be expensive. Instead, seek out some cotton squares on Amazon. They're available in whole sets for just over $13!
One Polo ($25)
These are useful additions to an elegant casual outfit, and they can be worn under a sports jacket!
Polos at Amazon, Target, and JC. Penny are available for as low as $10 and up to $25 – the choice is yours!
Summary – Budget Men's Style
At last, we have a complete closet adorned with every single thing we need to embark on our style journey.
And it cost us a grand total of $998.
Being stylish is certainly an investment, but it's not so much about money as people seem to think. It's more about having the knowledge, doing your research, and bearing the patience to seek out the best quality for the lowest price.