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The CW says spend on quality, but starting out?

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    The CW says spend on quality, but starting out?



    So the conventional wisdom that's spouted around is to spend on quality pieces. I agree. But when you're starting out with a wardrobe refresh, I see myself and many others making critical errors that render some/many of those early purchases to be complete failures.


    When I started dressing better, I still bought the wrong sizes. Now I'm beginning to figure it out and wish I could get that money back. What do you think? Is it better to experiment with a bunch of Target/LEC/thrift/discount purchases in an attempt to establish a new sense of fit and style before taking the plunge on a set of high end wardrobe items?


    #2


    Shoes are a pretty safe bet. The nice thing is you probably won't get sizing wrong, and if you gain or lose weight, they'll still fit.

    Shirts and pants are also pretty safe as long as you watch the shoulders in the shirts and keep the pants fairly slim.

    I'd say jackets/blazers/suits are the biggest risks because of total money involved and the ease of getting it wrong.


    You could always just buy at places that have amazing return policies ( Lands End, LEC, Nordstrom ). They let you return anything at anytime for any reason.

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      #3


      I agree. I think it's better to start small and get a feel for your sizing/style/etc. It takes some time to figure out what you actually like (just cause something looks good on a model doesn't mean you'll enjoy wearing it). So I would say it's more about breadth than depth when starting out. Try a lot of things of various qualities.

      Then once you know what works, it'll be easier to know what is actually good quality for you.

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        #4


        I'm inclined to agree, mostly because I did the exact same thing. There's that old adage about a little information being a dangerous thing - a lot of my earlier purchases were made with just enough information to make me way more confident about what I was buying than I should've been. I don't count it as money wasted, because I've learned a lot from all those articles I never even got to wear before deciding I shouldn't have bought them and getting them out of my closet.


        Like someone said, though, I'm inclined to think that that's truer of things like shirts, sweaters, pants, denim, etc. than other stuff. I think, for example, a solid winter coat or a nice, versatile pair of boots is something that's pretty easy to get right and as such is probably less likely to end up seeming like a foolish impulse buy months later.


        One thing I will say about men's wardrobes, though, is that I think they tend to require a lot more focus than women's. My girlfriend has tons of clothes that give off all sorts of different vibes; it's easy for a woman to reconcile a bunch of different kinds of clothing, I think. A lot of my more glaring mistakes early on came not just from buying stuff that wasn't as good a fit as I'd want later on, but also items that didn't really jive with the rest of my clothing a few months later. I've had to get rid of some stuff I still actually like just because there's no way I could wear it without seeming strangely inconsistent from day to day - like I was cycling through costumes or something. Believe it or not, there's still something I find sort of appealing about some of those really brightly colored 1MX shirts, but wearing one sandwiched between days where I wear relatively staid oxfords would just make it look like I had multiple personalities.

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          #5


          @nicholas - I had the exact same experience. About a 1/3 of the clothes I've purchased in the past six months are poorly sized or in poor taste, and it's quite frustrating. That said, I, like you, did not spend a ton of money on them. It would have been foolhardy for me to drop $150 on dress shirts and pants or $400 on a blazer while I was still figuring out my "personal style." Just now do I feel like I have a good hold on what my personal style is. Now that I know what I like, it's much wiser to spend a lot of money on quality (esp. shoes, for me).


          I know that a ton of other menswear blogs rave about bespoke/made to measure shirts and shoes, raw silk neckties, and bespoke suits, but at this point in my life (and at my current income) I'll take variety over quality. I'd much rather have 20 dress shirts that fit pretty well and are pretty good quality than five custom shirts that are amazing. I'd rather have 10 pairs of decent shoes with a couple great ones in the mix than two pairs of glorious shoes that I alternate.

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            #6


            There are compromises like anything else...Mods, if anything against the rules, please correct it...You can only save 10% off the bat by buying retailer gift cards from gift card selling sites...For example, on plasticjungle dot com, they have JCPenney's cards at 26% off; you'll have to spend about $150 to get much off...JCPenney's has standford FITTED dress shirts in stripes and solids in all sizes for exactly $15/shirt...If you spend enough ($50 I think) you get free shipping...So, if you buy eight dress shirts at 26% off, those Stanford $50 wingtip shoes that are always talked about here you're at $125.8 + tax net...I won't even get into cashback rebate sites like ebates and mrrbates.com...

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              #7


              I would take 5 great shirts over 20 okay shirts any day of the week. Buying MTM clothes means at least the fit should be perfect. The question is, did you pick a versatile color? Did you select customizations that make sense together? This day and age, you could assemble a zombie shirt with Ratio by pairing a collar that clashes with the cuff style selected. If you don't get the significance of that, you've got more to learn. Same with Indochino. I did things differently on my second suit because I was figuring it out. I'll have it sorted out even more when I order again.


              So custom is great for beginners, provided they get some heavy-handed guidance to sort out the options. A friend of mine got his first bespoke suit, and he looks like a lollipop. Sorry, dude. He just went nuts with all the options. It fits him perfectly, at least

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                #8


                You have a particularly tough body type to fit though, NC. So I agree that makes more sense for you. I will hopefully have many that fit perfect someday, but for now a decent fit works. I think there is more wiggle room for those of us with easier body types to fit.

                "You don't need money to dress better than you do" - Salvatore Romano

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                  #9


                  I made a lot of large mistakes when starting out. Buying things that were ugly, things that didnt' go together, and mostly things that did not fit as well as I thought they did.


                  In defense of MTM, i've rarely bought anything that didnt need SOME form of tailoring to be perfect (I apparently have really short arms, or almost all clothing is made with atrociously huge arm lengths, or some combo of both). So considering that...MTM is made pretty affordable when factoring in time, gas, and alteration costs. Especially when I haven't locked into a good tailor around here yet. Which happens when you live in a fashion black hole.

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                    #10


                    @OP - I'm with you regarding the initial learning curve and really understanding what makes a good fit (and wanting money back from poor decisions). It's not particularly intuitive if you've spent your whole life in over-sized clothes. My personal desire for more fitted clothes were a result of more time spent in the gym. The "Eureka!" moment that occurs for all of us is sometimes an expensive one. I have a hard time admitting how many pair of bootcut jeans I bought as soon as 12 months ago that I'll probably never wear again. For a long time, I had the mind set that any slimmer fitting pair of pants were automatically "nut-huggers" instantly associating "slim" fit with the skin-tight jeans you see on grimy hipsters crawling around "Billysburg" Brooklyn in NY. Part of the upgrade in style is an upgrade in awareness in what looks good. It probably makes sense to start off with some of the staples at stores like target, etc. but once you have your feet under you, I would recommend saving for more quality pieces. Another rookie mistake I made was wanting 10 of everything I thought looked good.. (i.e. 1MX shirts, yes, the dreaded bootcut jeans, etc). I recommend trying to be more selective whenever possible. Developing a sense of style takes time, and this board is a great resource. It always helps to ask questions..

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                      #11


                      For whatever reason, it seems like there's a bit of a curve. You want to start dressing better, you make well-intentioned mistakes like buying a closet full of too-big Going Out Shirts. You realize there's more to life and get some neutral colors, still too-big. You learn about collar gap and the joy of slim fit, etc. etc.


                      A lot of those early purchases should be disposable. When I first found Dappered, I was a lot like pitseleh described - I thought I knew the secret and had cracked the code. I spent with confidence on some really stupid stuff. Yeah, I switched to 501s, but I bought them with full-break cuz that's what I was used to.


                      I end up suggesting to a lot of new people on this site that they buy an H&M suit before flipping for a BB suit for all these reasons. Yeah, get a stellar Zegna fabric too, but screw up with an $80 suit first!

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                        #12


                        I'd like to add one more thing I know I've said here before.


                        If you're under 25 -- arbitrary, I know -- I'd stay away from expensive, fitted, tailored clothes (like suits). Unless you're an extreme ectomorph, you're very likely to gain fat and/or muscle as you age, depending on your lifestyle, and it's very likely your expensive suit will no longer fit. People that don't grow larger with age are the exception, not the rule.


                        Also, one empty platitude that many people like to repeat is that "a suit is an investment". It's not. It's an expense for an asset that you should using and depreciating. Don't buy an expensive suit at 23 and expect to wear it once a year for the next 20 years. Very likely, one of two things will happen. Either the suit will no longer fit you, or it will simply be out of style within a few short years.

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                          #13


                          frost - We must've posted at the same time, but I agree with what you're saying. I still tend to buy striped shirts because they're on sale instead of solid white shirts that I really should focus on.


                          Chareth - I'm an extreme ectomorph. I can't gain weight for the life of me, even as I turn 30 this summer. But I chucked the suits that I bought years ago anyways! One was boxy and the other was a synthetic. Your second point is solid too. I bristle when I hear folks say they need this and that. Ultimately these are wants. You won't some day have a full wardrobe that suits you for life. It's a lifestyle, a journey, a diversion. It's fun.

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                            #14


                            Another angle I thought of in regards to this discussion is...don't you ever feel WAY behind. Like you've got some correct shirts, pants, etc but your belt and shoes still suck. It seems hard to put together 100% complete outfits without all the correct pieces, which becomes frustrating and leads to the panic that im woefully behind in having staple items.

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                              #15


                              I hate that feeling, Jordan. Especially since most of us use this website because we are somewhat budget-conscious. I always have holes to fill, and I want to buy quality, but that usually limits me to an item or 2 per month. Makes the building up slow.

                              "You don't need money to dress better than you do" - Salvatore Romano

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