Sorry ladies, this is a guy post. Of course, I don’t mind if you read it. In fact, I would appreciate any comments from your perspective. And you might just have a man-friend, father, or brother that could use a helping hand to look stylish without breaking the bank.
As someone who is on their way to becoming financially independent, I hate buying new clothes. They cost me everyday dollars and they don’t last forever. On the other hand, I like to dress stylish because I like to, and it can help in a career. Or in other ways, like getting a free hotel upgrade or better service at a restaurant.
As you know, you’re more likely to get ahead if you look the part in the office rather than come to work wearing a potato sack outfit. That’s just the way it works. By advancing in your job and career, presumably making more money, you’re also pulling your retirement date closer. Or accelerating whatever financial goal you have. Plus, we guys can really turn a girls head by looking stylish, a great perk!
Clothes don’t have to be expensive, at all.
First, where to shop? I like Banana Republic the most because I’m a tall and slim drink of water, and they are one of the few places that sell medium-tall sizes. I only buy from them when they have 40% off, which is fairly regularly. Sign up for their email and you’ll know too. I also like Marshalls and Amazon.
Okay, so let’s cover the building blocks for your closet.
1. One white and one blue Oxford Cloth Button Down (OCBD): from Old Navy for under $25.
2. One white and one light blue collared shirt: Banana Republic Slim Fit Poplin is what I own, on sale about $35.
3. Either a blue or black two-tone Gingham with one lighter tone: also, Banana Republic and under $40 on sale.
4. Black, camel, navy and grey V-necks. I own the Merino from Banana Republic – they’re going six years strong. Look for them around $30 on sale. Avoid the silk/cotton/cashmere combo, they pill too easily.
5. A striped shirt, light grey stripes works with anything: mine is from Banana Republic, currently none online but should run about $40.
After you’ve covered these basics, maybe throw in a Chambray shirt and a Madras.
All those shirts above? You can wear them by themselves or under those V-neck sweaters and look pretty darn good either way. V-neck sweaters are the do-anything and super versatile part of your fall and winter wardrobe. Dress them up with one of the collared shirts or dress them down without. There’s a ton of combinations you have now.
For cold mornings, think about getting a thick button-up sweater as well as a slim cardigan.
In heavy rotation during fall and winter should be dark denim and corduroys. The summer is when you need to mix in a pair or two of chinos.
1. Invest in at least one pair of chinos, I dig the Dockers Alpha Khaki, a go-anywhere do-anything workhorse that’s $35 when discounted.
2. Buy a pair of Levi’s 514 in “Tumbled Rigid” wash. They’re slimmer than the 501’s but not skinny and should run about $30 during sales.
3. I find the same cut is perfect for cords too. The 514 Corduroys, with a high wale, can be found for about $20 at Marshalls. Keep to versatile colors like brown, khaki or grey.
The two pairs of shoes that cover nearly all footwear scenarios:
1. Converse Chuck Taylors in Black. These can be dressed up or down and only get better with age. The Converse can be had for about $30.
2. Clark Desert Boots in Beeswax. Super versatile and like Chucks or Scotch, get better with age. The Clark’s can usually be found for under $80.
I’ve been mulling over a pair of Sebago Hamiltons in Brown for the winter months, but I’m not quite sure if I’m ready for another pair of shoes!
The total for the whole wardrobe listed above is under $500. That’s a good chunk of change, but you’ll look awesome and these items are classic – they won’t go out of style. Additionally, everything should last you for a few years (like the sweaters at 6+ years).
Lastly, there’s one thing that will add immensely to how awesome you look – a decent tailor. Take the time to find one that you can build a relationship with. My tailor Randy takes in the sides and sleeves of my shirts for $10, so that they don’t cling and billow. Clothes should skim the body.
Tailoring makes a $20 shirt I get from Old Navy look like a much more expensive shirt. It’s unfortunate I have to get my shirts tailored, but most shirts have the fit of a trash bag. The clothing manufacturers make cuts to fit the average body shape and size, which means clothes can be ill-fitting for many people. So a tailor. Find one. Make friends with them.