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A guide to help the average man... look less average

Filtering by Category: Affordable

Wardrobe pieces you can save on

Mark Kwak

I know I've been harping a lot of you to really invest in certain pieces of clothing. I believe that spending the extra buck on a pair of nice shoes or a suit will likely save you a lot of headache and wasted dollars in the future. Not only will you get more wear out of these pieces, but you'll also feel better wearing them.

However, investing so much in every piece of your wardrobe can get expensive... real expensive. Truth is, I think there are some areas where you can actually save money, and still look/feel great.

Here's where I try and save money when purchasing clothing:

T-shirts: I don't think there's any reason to get fancy with T-shirts. I prefer button-up shirts in more dressier situations anyway. As long as your T-shirts are basic (no logos), and fit well to your body, you're good to go. I usually wear Calvin Klein from those 3 packs at Ross, and Banana Republic T-shirts when they go on sale for 40% off.

Sleepwear: No need to impress anyone with your sleepwear. Good news is, you can find some really comfortable and decent quality stuff out there for cheap; just head to your local Macys. Or I guess you could wear a suitjama.

Socks: No matter how nice your socks are, at some point you'll end up ripping holes through them due to natural wear and tear. Sure, some socks may feel better against your skin, but have you felt the Merona ones from Target? I think they're pretty decent, both in design and comfort. Best part? They're $2 each.

Swimwear: I usually get my swimwear from Target, JC Penney, or Old Navy. No problems so far, and I still get the occasional compliment.

Underwear: You'll be going through these as often as socks, so I think an inexpensive pair of Hanes boxer briefs from Walmart should do the trick just fine. Just make sure they fit snugly to your body and are comfortable.

Ties: Some ties are very nice, and it might make sense to spend the extra money on one or two solid staples. For everything else, I think you can get away with paying under $25 for a decent tie at your local Nordstrom Rack, Marshall's, or TJ Maxx.

Seasonal/trendy attire: There are some overtly trendy items out there that likely won't last for more than a single season. If you must take part in such trends, I say buy cheap, and think of those pieces as easily disposable.

Accessories: Apart from a nice watch, I think you should save on most accessories. Why get a fancy, bulky Prada wallet when a $10 stainless steel money clip will do? Do you really need fair-trade, rare-picked silk from the highlands of the Himalayas fabric for your pocket square? I don't think so. Want a nice tie bar? Go to and get one for $15. Anyway, hope you get the point.

Henleys and long sleeve shirts: My henleys are generally from Old Navy or the Gap, and they've held up marvelously over the past few years. When the time comes to replace them, I won't care too much considering that I paid under $12 for each of them.

Now of course if you have the money, I think it's always best to buy quality clothing, which can come at a cost.

However, for the rest of us who don't swim in money, but are looking into purchasing a whole new wardrobe, the items above might be some good places to save a bit.

Two prices, one outfit

Mark Kwak

At the end of the day, you are really the only one who knows what you're wearing. That is, unless you're going around obnoxiously shouting what brands of clothing you wear and the prices you paid. If you're doing that, please stop; no one likes a showoff. Anyhow, because of this, sometimes it might make sense to skip the designer stuff and pay a bit more reasonable prices for your clothing. Note: remember that I do always encourage quality > quantity, but hey, different strokes for different folks.

I got the idea for the picture above off of a guy named jdbee on reddit, where he posted one outfit at two different price points. The aesthetic outcome of the outfit may be comparable, but the prices are astronomically different.  Without watches considered (since the Rolex price is a numerical outlier), you could pay a total of $315 for the outfit above or a whopping $3480.

You may be wondering which side I chose from? Well, let's just say there's a bit of mix and match going on, and I'll let you guess.

Affordable designer clothing

Mark Kwak

You want to look sleek... You want to buy designer.... You have no money. My friends, I understand this sentiment all too well. I'm a frugal man myself. I instinctively look at price tags before anything else, I thrift for second-hand whenever I can, and I go to the sales rack before knowing what store I'm even in. Sure, I may be recommending Black Fleece and Paul Smith on this blog, but that doesn't mean that there aren't more affordable options out there with amazing fit & quality.

Here are some outfits I quickly put together with affordable pieces. Please excuse the awful picture quality:

Here are the pieces, and their prices -

Outfit 1 (Left): Kenneth Cole Reaction Jacket $29 :: American Rag Flannel Shirt $20 :: Calvin Klein Jeans $25 :: Simple Shoes $9

Outfit 2: Alfani Dress Shirt $18 :: Ben Sherman Tie $15 :: Perry Ellis Leather Belt $18 :: Louis Raphael Slacks $39 :: Calvin Klein Dress Shoes $49 :: Gap Double Breasted Jacket $25

Outfit 3: Marc Edwards Casual Shirt $14 :: Brooks Brothers Chinos $49 :: Converse All Stars $32

Outfit 4 (Right): Old Navy Hoodie Jacket $15 :: Calvin Klein Shirt $6 :: Levi's Sneakers $21 :: Levi's 513 Jeans $39 :: Gap Belt $12

In the land of affordable, I would recommend several go-to brands.

1. Uniqlo - If you have a Uniqlo close by (NYC, SF, NJ), I would definitely recommend heading to the store immediately. This place is amazing, as their selection and quality is better than most clothing companies at double the price. I have some of their shirts and pants, and they are stylish and durable. Good news is Uniqlo just tweeted that their online store will be opening this fall as well. Just to give you an idea of prices: dress shirts $29.90, chinos $39.90, henleys $19.90. The Japanese know their stuff.

2. Land's End - This company makes some great clothes at very reasonable prices. You will find that a lot of their clothing is a bit old-school and not contemporary enough for today's standards. It's okay though, since they make some great basics (like white shirts or grey pants) that never go out of style at wonderful prices. Stick with their tailored fit

3. Zara Man - I don't have first hand experience with this brand, but some of my more stylish friends swear by it. They make some great looking clothes, albeit a bit more "fashion-centric" than, say a Brooks Brothers. Quality will be much better than an H&M, and Zaras are fairly widespread, so you won't have trouble finding one. Here a cool jacket, gingham shirt, and casual shirt by them.

Lastly, I wanted to let you guys know about an awesome way to afford some high fashion clothing at a reasonable price. Starting this Thursday 9/27, GAP and GQ are doing a collaboration event where high end fashion designers (Ovadia & Sons, Mark McNairy, etc.) are designing pieces under the GAP brand. Just to give some context, a pair of Mark McNairy shoes cost upwards of $450, and an Ovadia & Sons shirt is over $200. This might be an opportunity to get some designer clothing at very reasonable prices. Hope this help, my fashion-forward friends.