I realized recently that I still had yet to post a piece based on my biggest passion: men’s style. I admit I’ve been sort of shying away from the topic for a couple reasons. The first is that I had a very bad experience with my material being stolen by another, more popular style blog many years ago, which has sort of tainted the whole blogosphere in my mind. The second reason is that I wanted to have my first posting in this area to be profound, so I was searching the recesses of my inner being for the perfect topic. Alas, I have arrived at this point with both more confidence in myself and less caring as to what others think, probably gained from doing several other posts prior to this one.
I will come out now and say, I love men’s fashion and style, and I hope to eventually develop a career in the industry. At different points, I’ve toyed with the idea several career paths including fashion journalist, menswear boutique owner, and personal stylist. I gained a little experience on that last one, helping a few people without receiving much compensation (I didn’t really ask for it), and I enjoyed acting as a sounding board while also educating men on clothing and things to be aware of. I believe that knowing more about the clothing that you are buying will help you form more of an emotional connection to it which will then empower you to express yourself with the garments you wear.
One of the most common complaints I get from people is how expensive good clothes are. Over the last few decades, certain brands and department stores have driven down the price of clothing in order to get people to buy more easily without second guessing themselves. Some of the qualities of garments that are sacrificed to get to that lower price point are invisible to the average consumer, things like materials and construction. The end result of falling for this type of consumerism is having a drawer stuffed full of 40 T-shirts but only ever wearing 15 of them. Because those shirts are made of inferior material, they then need to be replaced sooner, which in effect increases the cost.
It should be noted that “price” here is not the same as “cost”. While the former refers to the purchase price of the garment, the latter factors in the price plus other variables such as having to replace or repair the item. As such, many items from H&M bear a high cost even though they are priced low. Generally, higher clothing prices are justified by an increase in one or more other factors such as quality, brand popularity, style, and fit. Some (most) may balk at a T-shirt priced at $85, but you can rest assured that if that brand is not super hyped like Balenciaga and is pretty basic in style, that shirt would last you a lot longer than its dirt-cheap contemporary from Old Navy, provided you take care of it properly. In essence, that drawer 40 T-shirts at $15 a-piece may end up costing you more over 5 years, due to replacement costs, than a stack of 7 T-shirts at $85 a-piece. Plus the more expensive shirts would likely fit your body better.
I like to tell people that they should think of articles of clothing like pieces of furniture. They are similarly priced and you can only buy so many before going broke. No matter a person’s income bracket, our wardrobes are not supposed to be jam-packed with as many garments as possible. We are supposed to be curating the things that we buy, choosing the highest possible quality we can purchase while simultaneously balancing the factors of price and style. Whenever you purchase something, and this applies not only to clothing but everything else as well, it should give you pause, but it shouldn’t hurt when you go through with it. If you buy anything without thinking too much about it, that’s a problem. Throwing a tee in your cart because it’s cheap or on sale is the clothing equivalent of absentmindedly eating popcorn while you watch a movie. Eventually that popcorn will make you fat and you have to figure out how to shed the pounds.
So start now. Go forth and shed those pounds of clothes. Start treating your wardrobe like an investment that will pay dividends in style and functionality.
PS – If you are still cringing at the prices of some items, keep in mind that in this age of flourishing online menswear boutiques, you can find many designer pieces at significantly discounted prices, especially if you don’t mind waiting a season for it. I once scored a wool cricket sweater from Kent & Curwen for 50% off (probably around $270) because I was vigilant and patient.