How and Where To Buy Clothes

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A question I get asked most often is where I get all my clothes.  The second most asked question is how do I afford it.  While its true dressing well can be expensive, it’s only expensive when you go for high end products and never shop sales.  Here, I’m going to explain to you some of the tricks of the trade I’ve used to amass my wardrobe.  Just remember that my style is very affordable.  

1.  Don’t Shop In Just One Place

Just like you shouldn’t eat at just one restaurant, you shouldn’t just shop at one place.  Explore your mall or check out your town!  Shopping in different places ensures that you will have a diverse wardrobe!   Doing so won’t let you look like a character or too “basic”.  There’s nothing wrong with liking brands, but you shouldn’t be a brand whore. Experience other places!  And that leads into….

2.  Don’t Shop High-End, Shop At Mall Stores 

None of what I own are from Nordstrom or Macy’s.  It’s all stores where you all already shop at!  Thanks to places like H&M or Zara, dressing up has never been easier!  You never have to shop at Nordstrom to get nice stuff and I wouldn’t recommend it anyway.  These places are boring and too expensive for anyone!  Also, many of these stores also have Outlets or Factory stores which sell items for cheaper than normal retail. But I can understand that these places can be pretty expensive with their full prices.  So that’s why you should…

3.  Check Sales and Outlets

There’s no way I can afford to buy $100+ blazer and suits everytime!  It’s very rare for me to ever buy anything full price.   It’s always a great idea to check out your local outlets like Citadel and Ontario Mills!  If not, always check out the clearance section or wait when the stores have their 50% off their clearance! It’s how  I picked up an awesome plaid jacket for $30 bucks! This practice is done often in many stores like:

H&M

Aldo/Call it Spring 

Banana Republic

J. Crew

These stores all occasionally put extra discounts on their clearance or sale items; just go every so often.  If their clearance doesn’t have an additional markdown, don’t buy it.  It’ll probably still be there when they have the sale!

Other stores like J. Crew offer a 10% student discount! Always keep your ID with you!

4.  Remember Some Stores Are Seasonal

If you something find that’s not a basic plain suit or shirt, it might not be there if you wait too long!  Use your discounts on the special, expensive items and not for the ones you can get anytime.  You gotta be quick and efficient.

For example, my plaid jacket was in stock during Christmas but once it was January, it was already on its way out.  Now its no where to be found!

5. eBay Is Your New Friend 

You won’t always get lucky, but every so often, someone lists something great, whether its designer or vintage! This is where I got my awesome 1940’s leather jacket (and half my vintage collection in general).  It’ll take time, looking through pages and pages of searches, but you’re bound to get something eventually, like a nice jacket or shoes!

Personally, I like to find accessories on eBay.  Neckties and pocket squares are seldom on sale at stores and sometimes the best patterned or textured ones can be expensive (like $80 at J. Crew)!  Just remember to search “slim” or “skinny” ties, because you’re probably going to get a whole bunch of fat 70s-90s ties.

6.  It Helps To Know Your Size 

For years, I just assumed I was a Medium because of what people expected.  After trying a small, I realize that it fit me better, made me look slimmer, and gave me confidence.  So whether shopping in person or shopping online, it helps to know what your size is!  For buying suits or jackets online, measure your shoulders and chest; the latter is something you can’t change with tailoring.  I’m about a size 36R-38S because my shoulders are 17.5″ but my chest is more of a 38″.   Since many companies tend to have odd size differences (I’m H&M Small but Uniqlo XS) it can be confusing when figuring out your size, so you should…

7.   Actually Try On Clothes At The Store 

This will ensure that you buy the right size!  Don’t just hold it to your neck or legs, take it into the dressing room and put it on!  Sure you can always tailor it later, but why not save by making sure it fits when you buy it?  Unsure about how the blazer will ft or if its too tight or baggy? Try the damn thing on!  There’s no sure fire way you’ll know how it fits or looks unless you try it on.  Guys today are so lazy that they end up buying clothes that don’t fit and end up looking like crap.

8.  Check Out Thrift Stores and Vintage Stores 

Thrift stores are like a physical eBay.  It’ll take a while until you find something good, but when you do it feels great.  It’s like finding buried treasure!  If you want to see if you could find vintage leather jackets, varsity jackets or even some high end shirts or shoes, scour your Goodwills, your Aardvarks, and your Out of the Closets!  

It also doesn’t hurt to check out your local vintage stores! While most are expensive, others can be very affordable!  Why get a fake varsity jacket from H&M for $60 when you can go to American Vintage and get a real leather one for $40?  Just like seasonal clothes, vintage and thrift stores have high turnover rates.  If you see something you like, buy it now!  You probably won’t see it again.

9.  Look at Online Stores 

This is my last stop for clothes. JackThreads and Gilt are geared toward younger menswear enthusiasts and offers significant reduced prices on streetwear and “hipster” stores that you could only find in LA or Hollywood.  If you don’t live close to these areas, I suggest these websites!

If you prefer sticking to buying at stores you see at the mall, Banana Republic and J. Crew Factory websites have more selections and much larger sizes available than what you’ll find at the store.  And just think, J. Crew Factory is already cheaper, so you check their online clearance…on a day with reduced clearance?  Think of the savings!

10.  Set a Limit

Here’s a small guide to what I buy and how much I usually pay for it:

Basic Plain Button Ups [Don’t buy if over $30] – H&M

Patterned Dressy Button Ups  [Range should be $20-45]-  Uniqlo, H&M J.Crew and Banana Republic

Patterned Casual Shirts [Don’t buy if over $30]- H&M, Uniqlo, J. Crew, PacSun

Sweaters/Cardigans [Don’t spend over $40] – H&M, Uniqlo, Banana Republic

Jeans [Buy only when Buy one get one free/50% off] – PacSun

Socks [Buy in deals, never go more than $15 for a single pair] – J. Crew, Zara, Banana Republic, eBay

Ties [Buy only if less than $30] = Thrift Stores, J. Crew, eBay, Nordstrom Rack

Suits – H&M (Don’t go over $150 total), Zara (Don’t go over $300), eBay (Don’t go over $150 with shipping), Thrift (Don’t spend more than $40)

Blazers/Sportcoats – H&M and Uniqlo (Don’t go over $70),  Thrift Stores (Don’t go over $20), Zara (Don’t go over $100)

Pants – Banana Republic (Shop sales, don’t go over $50), H&M and J. Crew (Don’t go over $30),

Conclusion

Dressing like me isn’t hard or expensive; I just put a lot of my time and money into it.  Whether you’re looking for a good suit to stand out or you want to start dressing with some sprezz, if you follow these steps with practice, you’ll be able to build and awesome wardrobe.  Just remember:

1.  Don’t Shop In Just One Place

2.  Don’t Shop High-End, Shop At Mall Stores 

3.  Check Sales and Outlets

4.  Remember Some Stores Are Seasonal

5. eBay Is Your New Friend 

6.  It Helps To Know Your Size 

7.   Actually Try On Clothes At The Store 

8.  Check Out Thrift Stores and Vintage Stores 

9.  Look at Online Stores 

10. Set a Limit

With these tips you’ll be able to get some great clothes in no time!  Once  you master these, you can do bonus tip 11:  Buy Items To Stand Out.  Many people simply just assume my clothes are designer because of the patterns and fabrics when they’re still purchased from the same places you all shop at!   At H&M or Uniqlo, don’t just buy plain shirts or plain suits; buy suits with a pattern or in crazy fabrics!  It’s a great way to stand out above the rest of typical black, blue, and grey suits!  But that’s a post for next time.  Until then, have fun shopping!

Always a pleasure,

Ethan W.

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6 comments

  1. Negi · July 2, 2015

    Where do I go to shop for basic clothing??

    Like

    • Ethan W. · July 2, 2015

      Well like I wrote, I tend to buy basics (plain shirts) from H&M! You can also get plain pants (khakis, chinos), but I don’t like the quality. You can get these at Uniqlo or Banana Republic! But these all depend on your definition of basic! What exactly are you looking for?

      Like

      • Negi · July 2, 2015

        Ill try H&M and banana republic, im just looking for good looking clothes that are basic and cheap ;D. Thank you by the way

        Like

      • Ethan W. · July 3, 2015

        Anytime pal! Banana Republic Factory and even J. Crew factory have great fitting t-shirts that feel better (and fit better) than the ones you get at target! Right now it’s half off the entire store! You gotta check it out!

        Like

  2. Randy · August 5

    17.5″ 38″, me too. I tend to shop with a tape measure around my neck in thrift stores. saves time.

    Like

    • Ethan W. · August 5

      I should try doing that next time! I just try on anything that interests me!

      Like

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