We aren’t born with a sense of style (I know I wasn’t). Years ago I knew nothing about fashion and style, and could have easily made someone’s worst dressed list. Now that I make more public appearances I make more effort to look nice and have better style than this guy used to (yes, that’s me)
Katie wrote a great piece on ways to stay fashionable on a budget. Here’s my follow-up – a step-by-step guide of men’s style on a budget.
Every girl crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man – ZZ Top
1. Define your style
If you’re having trouble figuring out what shirt goes with what pair of pants you own, enlist some help from someone you know who does. It can be easier if you have a cool friend to help you.
But if your friends have no fashion sense either you can turn to someone that does – the Internet.
Use a Google image search to look up the style of an actor/singer/celebrity you like. For example:
Save some pictures to your computer, phone, or tablet. For example here is one I came across that I like:
2. Style on a budget?
Other than buying more black t-shirts with logos on them, I limit my wardrobe makeovers to once a year. I’m not a big shopper, and I don’t try to be a fashion icon. Katie and I each have personal spending allowances, which caps what I spend on myself.
Pick a dollar amount that fits your budget, and you have in cash. As you will coming up cash can get you a bigger deal.
3. Get shopping
Once you’ve got some pictures to work from and a budget, it’s time to recreate the fashion of the stars at a discount.
How do you do that?
Break down your style into:
- What do I own already
- What do I need to buy
Let me use this picture as an example:
- I own dozens of black shirts, so I don’t need to buy a black shirt
- I don’t wear hats, so I wouldn’t need to buy that
To get close to looking like this guy in the picture I would need to buy a pair of white jeans and new boots. Off I go shopping.
4. Where to shop for men’s clothes on a budget
I’m going to include all of my favorite places to buy men’s clothes for cheap. The list is in no particular order.
Hand’s down Kohl’s is where I buy most of my clothes. What? Kohls? Yes, Kohls. Maybe they are a close tie with Amazon. It doesn’t hurt the store is one mile from my house. Kohls is great for:
- Rock-n-roll band shirts
- Work-out gear
- Long and short-sleeve shirts
Shopping on eBay
If you’re looking for a cool style, you must check out – English Laundry on eBay
Brand new English Laundry shirts can cost close to $100. Ouch! But you can find them at deep discounts ($20-$30) at Nordstrom Rack and on eBay.
I own around ten English Laundry shirts that were all bought off eBay.
I’ve also bought slightly used shirts off eBay with no issues. If I can save 80% for a shirt someone else wore a couple of times, that’s fine by me.
Think you can pull off wearing a shirt like this one? Yes, and you’ll get plenty of compliments too.
Amazon is a great source of unique t-shirts. Plus, it’s great for accessories too like:
I picked up this $13 skinny red tie off Amazon.
Neiman Marcus Last Call
If you’ve never been to Neiman Marcus, let’s just say you can buy a suit jacket for $4,000.
In some cities, you can find the clothing rejects and last seasons’ fashion at deep discounts by shopping Neiman Marcus Last Call.
For example grab yourself a Pshycho Bunny polo shirt for $22, compared to $95.00 originally.
If you’re looking for designer jeans you can occasionally find a pair of 7 jeans that were originally $198 for $50.
Shopping outlet malls
I visit outlet malls for one reason – Banana Republic Factory. The Banana Republic Factory outlet store has something for everyone.
I don’t care who you are or what your body type, everyone looks stylish in Banana Republic clothes. It’s hard not too because their clothes just match.
However I’m not a fan of Banana Republic prices, so I only go to the discount stores at the outlet mall, never the regular mall.
Sitting in my closet right now are four pairs of dress pants, two dress shirts, and my winter coat – all from the outlet store. It’s hard to beat the prices, the quality, and the style.
Use Macy’s free personal shopping service
Hands down one of the best things you can do is work with a personal shopper. Macy’s personal shopping service is FREE to use, and there is NO OBLIGATION to buy anything.
I can’t recommend it highly enough. Here’s how it works:
- Call and ask for an appointment. Request a stylist that is similar in age to you. For example, if you’re in your 20’s then ask for a young hip girl or dude to help you. You’ll get better results by working with someone in your stage of life.
- Speak with the stylist on the phone. You’ll get an initial consult lasting a few minutes. Explain clearly what you want. Casual? Business casual? I asked for rock-n-roll style.
- Show up. Block out 1–2 hours for your appointment. Which means don’t show up hungry. You’ll have a lot of clothes to try on. Your stylist will have pre-selected a range of clothes for you to try on.
- Don’t be shy. I walked into the dressing room where the stylist had every article of clothing that I would never wear. Light blue colored shirts, brown pants. I told her immediately I wouldn’t wear any of it. We then spent the next 30 minutes walking around the store picking out clothes I would wear.
- Take your time. If you’re doing the total wardrobe makeover, it can take some time to try on all the clothes.
- Try out shoes too. Trust me; you probably don’t have a nice pair of shoes that match all the nice clothes you’re about to get.
- Don’t feel pressured. If you only find one shirt you like out of twenty, don’t feel forced to buy stuff. It might be the store has a poor selection. You can always come back. I might buy 20% of what I try on.
Ask for a discount
Don’t miss this – ASK FOR A DISCOUNT!
As I was wrapping up with my personal shopper, I asked her:
What kind of discounts can I get for being a first-time customer and for paying cash?
She then started digging around a desk drawer for some discount she could give me.
When we got to the checkout counter, she mentioned a sale was starting in a few days. If I waited until the sale started, I could get 20% off everything. BOOM! They held onto my clothes, and I came back in a few days and got the discount.
Ask for a discount.
I get most of my shoes from Zappos.
If you’re confident in your shoe size, I’ve bought shoes off eBay before too. Sometimes you can find last season’s or last year’s styles at 50% off.
Online shopping services
Online shopping services aren’t cheap. I’ll mention a few of the places where you can order matching outfits in case you want to spring for something nice. However they don’t meet my definition of men’s style on a budget.
I haven’t used any of these services because I get sticker shock when I look at the prices. Plus I’ve never found one that matches my style.
Additional tips for saving money on men’s clothes
Shop the clearance racks
Every clothing store has a clearance rack hidden away in the very back. Walmart has them, Target has them, the Banana Republic has them.
Yes, most of what you’ll find is that ugly brown shirt with the fancy stripes nobody would be caught dead wearing. But you can sometimes find a winner, and you might even find it in your size. My $20 windbreaker was a clearance item I found at a sports store at the outlet mall.
When is the best time to shop?
The best time to go shopping are the first two weeks of the new year. Stores are clearing out all their Christmas inventory and Winter inventory to make room for Spring.
The next best time is at the end of each season when stores are making room for the new season’s fashions.
But you can always find some type of deal year-round.
Your turn: Got any tips for men’s style on a budget?