Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fashion: Modern Man's Guide to Budget Shopping/Dressing

Wool Varsity Jacket. 21Men. $60 $50. Currently on sale at the site as you read this.

As for my target audience for this post, the information provided is by and for use of young adult men around their 20's. I encourage everyone to read though! People might ask what credibility I might have and I can't say much, I'm going to be honest and just say to treat this guide as just someone giving friendly advice. Your early adulthood is typically a time to develop a sense of style and such and I will try and point you in the direction of where you might find your style and do it while being on a budget. This is because not everyone has money overflowing from their pockets so let us get to it.

"I would like to dress well but I don't know where to go and what to look for."

I don't want to sacrifice my comfort so that I can be dressed well."

You as a guy might have this concern but do not fear because I'll try to have it covered to the best of my ability.

"Why do I have to dress well?" Well actually, you don't. If you really don't feel the need to dress up then don't. You are a free, independent young adult and you have the choice to wear whatever it is you want. That's completely fine but then if you think about it, showing how well you are presented and care even a little bit about your style expresses a lot about you without even saying a word. Many people don't judge by appearance but many also do. You might also have to know what to wear for certain events in your life such as interviews, gatherings, school, or other activities.

"What should I look for when shopping for clothes?" Try and figure out exactly what it is that your wardrobe needs. Check if you need more formal wear if you have too much casual t-shirts. See if you need more variety for footwear. Find out if you have an adequate variety of clothing for the season. Like for example, if Fall/Winter is coming to you, do you have a good variety of outerwear or warmer clothing. Do your current clothes fit you well? Discover what your style is and play around with it.

"Where do I go to shop on a budget?" F.O.O.T.S.
  • Fast fashion retailers
  • Off price retailers
  • Online shopping which the 2 above might also provide
  • Thrift stores
  • Sales in general
Button-up Chambric Long Sleeve Shirt. 21Men. $18
Fast fashion stores: 21 Men, H&M, Topman, Zara. These are stores who keep up with current trends and produce their clothing quickly and at a very low price compared to designer and name brands.Their clothes can be very low in price but know that the production quality might not exactly be on par with more expensive clothes. These stores can have clothes ranging from active wear, casual wear, formal wear to even bags, shoes and accessories. Take good care of your clothes from these stores and in general to make them last long and be well worth your time and money
Relaxed Floral Pattern Button-up. Ross. $50 $10

Off price retailers: Ross, Marshalls, TJ Maxx. These stores have name brand items that also ranges everything you might need from athletic clothes to dressy clothes and accessories like ties and belts and bags. They are at discount prices for many reasons but are not limited to: past season items, overstock items, small defect(s) on the item. When shopping at these stores, you might want to find out when they stock their shelves because it can sometimes be difficult to find the exact item that you need at your size too. Make sure to inspect the stuff you find in store for any defects but for the most part, no one, not even you, might notice what the defect is if there is even any. For me, it is very nice to go to these stores for pants or socks because it's easier to find those items because those aren't as elaborate as tops.
Left to right: Hiker's Converse, Urban Outfitters, $70 $40. Tan Brogues, 21Men, $35 $16. Sebago Docksides, Outlet Mall $110 $80. Washed Trainers, Topman, $50 $20.

Online shopping: eBay, Amazon, Jack Threads. This can be for any of the stores I have mentioned as well. Look for good deals on items that you have been looking for in particular. There are many sales on store's websites as well as shipping deals. Make sure to check your favorite websites for sales especially on special dates like Black Friday, Winter holiday season, and just season changes in general. If you see an item you don't really need but have the want for it, wait and see if it goes on sale! Also, most retailers will make returning items easier by making it possible to return them in-store if there's a location near you.

Thrift stores: Goodwill. Thrift stores are places to get donated items and a very low rate. They have become more popular due to the popularity of the vintage style but there's quite a variety in these stores regardless. If you are lucky, there could be a specialized thrift store for more current styles for you. You have to have a lot of patience for browsing these stores because there is no telling what you might find and might not find. I honestly have not much experience with thrifting because it is hard for me personally to find items that fit me well.

Corduroy Blazer from H&M $50 $10. Suit Pants, Topman, $110 $30. Two-sided Belt, Marshalls, $10.
Sales and Outlets: You like a store even if they aren't categorized above? Well don't worry because a lot of stores have sale items anyway. Check online or in-store for items you might find useful to add to your wardrobe. Outlet stores have items provided at a slight discount compared to regular stores and tend to have more sale events.

"How do I know what to buy so I can dress stylish?"
Elbow Patched Sweater, 21Men, $20. Striped Sweater 21Men $20 $8.
First, think of what you are going to be doing for the day in which you are dressing for and the setting. We definitely don't want to have the wrong clothes for the situation. For example, if you were a student who would have to walk around to different classrooms or lecture halls, you might want to wear a pair of comfortable shoes and jeans. Applying for a job or going to a meeting, then wear a button-up shirt with a tie and have appropriate dress pants and shoes. Understand that formal wear tend to be more restrictive in terms of movement because those clothes are designed for less active activities.

Left to right: Topman, $50 $20. Urban Outfitters, $80 $20. 21Men, $24.
As you might have already heard, there are some basic rules to follow in dressing up as a gentleman. At least know or be familiar with them so you know how to break them to express your own sense of style. The main thing here is matching colors, patterns, fabric, and the general genre of the piece of clothing. Try to develop an eye for what matches with what and if not, ask the internet or your peers for advice. I'm not gonna sit here and explain to you that this matches with that because in the end, what you like is what you'll want to work with in matching items. The only thing I will say is that be very careful in matching two different patterns and to wear black belts with black dress shoes and brown belts for brown dress shoes in the context of formal wear.
The way you lace your shoes and keep them well kept say a lot about you.

Joggers feel in between pants and sweat pants. They're comfortable and don't look as casual as normal sweat pants.
Small details are something that guys have to work with because it can separate from bad to good to excellent. The fit of the clothes have a large overall impact on how another might see your whole ensemble. Try to make sure that the fit of your clothes bring the best image of you out. You don't want that blazer or jacket or shirt to make you look like you're wearing your older or younger brother's clothes, do you? Figure out how your personal fit and buy clothes accordingly. Try on clothes for size in-store and learn the basics of measurements because online, the sites usually provide a size chart so you can get what is right for you. It isn't good to guess and have an item arrive and be less than what you expected because then you have to use up time to return it or even worse you might have wasted money because you can't return the item.
Men wear t-shirts for at least 80% of their lifetime.*

Finally, learn to maintain your things and yourself. I'm not asking you to learn to do your own haircuts and alter or repair your own clothing. Make sure to have the basics like cleanliness and practice well maintained hygiene. Make sure you know if an item will shrink when washed and know how to maintain other articles of clothing that are not so simply washed. At least try to wipe those sneakers clean or those shoes well shined. If you're motivated enough, improve your health as well. 

You really don't have to care about other people's opinion about you since the only important opinion about you is your own. Ultimately, you should consider to do all this for yourself. Good character isn't bought and worn with expensive stuff, it is earned by living  as someone who works hard and puts effort into something you are passionate about.

Thanks for reading! Send me an email at koronvm@gmail.com for any advice or questions and I will try my best to help!

*Rough estimate

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