19 Wardrobe Hacks for the Forever Frugally Fashionable: Part 3: Men


suit-869380_1920Research from the UK suggests that men shell out more money for fashion than women do. According to a study by American Express and Nectar, men spend a whopping 43 percent more on clothes monthly than women do — about $140 compared to women’s spend of $98. Financial planners say that families should not spend more than 5 percent of their annual income so the math on that is to simply take your annual income and multiply by 0.5.

I think you can spend less than this, I know I certainly do. Plus, men’s clothing, at least work clothing tends to be more expensive that women’s though it also tends to last longer. My 19 wardrobe hacks for forever frugally fashionable men are below:

  1. Similar to women, for work and if you wear suits, stick to one or two neutral colors with shirts you can mix and match.
  2. Many companies, even more traditional ones, are embracing causal Fridays and a more casual clothing guidelines in general. Take advantage of being able to wear less expensive more casual clothing at work but only up to a point. While Silicon Valley is famous for casual work garb, ripped tee shirts and torn jeans do not scream career advancement. I once interviewed at a startup where people wandered the halls in their pajamas. Literally. They seemed to think that was cool when all I saw was slobs and a lack of discipline. They folded less than a year later. I was not surprised.
  3. Buy undergarments and socks in bulk. When you find something that works for a good price stick with it. Big box stores often carry designer brands of decently priced men’s underwear, tees and socks.
  4. Men can create a signature look too you know. Cool leather jacket, sneaks or casual boots, open collar shirt in an incredibly flattering cut, cultivate a style all your own. Steven Jobs had his trademark turtlenecks and jeans and it worked for his pared down design aesthetic. james-dean-397027_1920.jpg
  5. Similar to women, men need to know what looks good on them. That aging rocker look really only looks good on guys who weigh as much as the average 12 year old girl and has a short shelf life. If you are not six feet tall and sculpted then dress for your body type. This means having to spend time trying stuff on but you don’t have to do it all the time. Just take the time to figure out what looks good on you and stick with those styles. My partner, more fashion forward than most, likes expensive jeans and designer polos but he does wait for sales and coupons from the local discount mall.
  6. Suits are an investment and you can learn a lot from the guy who tailors your suits. Most suit stores have a tailor on site to hem pants and adjust the inseams, tailor jackets, etc. Talk to this person, a good tailor will tell you stuff about your body type that can be helpful. For instance, my partner probably does not realize that he’s a tad north of five foot eight and needs his jeans taken up more often than not. I once had a tailor (in Hong Kong) remark that I was a great hanger, meaning most clothes hung well on me. I modeled as a teen so I actually sort of knew that but it was nice to be reminded that I was able to wear a wide variety of styles if I wanted to. Talk to your tailor, he knows the score.
  7. Men need to be realistic about size they really wear. I cannot tell you how many times I have passed out company tee shirts or jackets and male colleagues have brazenly inform me they needed an XL or XXL when they were a medium at best. A wrong size bought is money down the drain.
  8. Find a color that is typically feminine or offbeat and embrace it. Pale blue doesn’t count by the way but bright raspberry, sunflower yellow, coral, sour apple green…these are all shirt colors that may be discounted precisely because they are not your traditional workaday blue. A bright or unusual color helps build a signature look and is fun.
  9. Shirts need to fit perfectly. Find a brand and a size and buy multiples at a local discount store.shirt-3740340_1920.jpg A well fitted crisp white dress shirt will take you from a suited business day to jeans on the weekends perfectly. Put time and effort into finding the perfect white dress shirt.
  10. If you wear a suit to work you need a selection of ties. You can find nice silk ties at discount stores but steer clear of standout patterns and wild designs, stick to subdued stripes and basic patterns, they are less memorable and will therefore last longer. And bow ties are for adorable little boys, weddings and Bill Nye the Science Guy.
  11. Good shoes are an investment and this is where you should spend a good portion of your clothing budget. Stick to classic styles and find a cobbler so you can replace the heels and soles on a regular basis. Keep them beautifully polished and relegate the funky slip-on sneaks for weekends. brown-shoes-1150071_1920.jpg
  12. A classic leather or bomber jacket can be expensive so stalk consignment stores for a gently loved one if that’s the signature look you are going for.
  13. Work out gear advice is pretty much the same as I give to women. Don’t spend a fortune on pricy designer workout duds. The men at my gym who are serious about working out are often clothed in very old tee shirts and baggy shorts. They are there to work out, not impress via overpriced designer labels.
  14. A briefcase like a handbag, makes a statement. I personally believe no 45-year-old man should be toting the same backpack to work as his 9 year old son takes to elementary school if he wants to be taken seriously. I see this all the time in Silicon Valley and I still feel it is tacky and juvenile. Think about the image you are projecting and the image you want to project and make sure they are the same. A sleek leather briefcase, if well cared for, lasts years and speaks volumes about your style. Something to consider.
  15. Cash in on brand loyalty. If, like many men, you frequent a few, select stores, make sure to sign up for sales newsletters, join frequent buyer discount clubs and take advantage of coupons. My boyfriend is mad for Ralph Lauren Polo but he sticks to sales at the discount mall store and when he doesn’t need anything, we consider using the substantial discount coupons on sheets and other steeply discounted household items such as towels. Normally priced, I would never think to buy Polo sheets or towels but coupons that can be used on top of already deeply discounted items can present a real bargain.
  16. Thank you for your service. Military clothing discount stores are a potential clothing gold mine for a lot of men. Shirts, cargo pants, camouflage garb of all kind, take your pick. I’ve seen Army green tee-shirts at military discount stores for $7 and the very same with a designer label for ten times that amount. Remember, real military clothing is designed to last and well made.
  17. Shop off season for big ticket items like coats.
  18. Most women are going to balk at this one but don’t be in a hurry to delegate your style to the woman in your life. I know more women who have partners as projects, something to remake and improve. Don’t let your style, however poor, be a part of some woman’s quest to remake a man. Instead, until you figure out your own style, emulate the impossible cool of the likes of Steven McQueen, Gary Cooper,elvis-presley-401920_1280 early Elvis and late Clooney, Miles Davis and David Bowie, GQ keeps tabs. Find your muse and don’t be afraid to copy him shamelessly until you have curated a style of your very own.
  19. A watch says it all. Even in these times of cell phones, a watch makes a statement. This is something you should wear for a decade or longer so consider it an investment. rolex-3511356_1920.jpg






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