For any man, building a wardrobe is a daunting and expensive task. Everyone wants quality pieces on the dime, unfortunately those don’t really exist. There are areas where you can, however, skimp and cut back. We’ll get to that momentarily.
Building a wardrobe as a man doesn’t have to be that daunting, though, unlike, say, relationships or being “emotionally available.” Look at it like it’s a challenge that can easily be thwarted with a little mettle and quite a few more dollars. Not that many dollars, but you gotta throw some cash out there. There are limits to these sorts of things.
To us, starting a wardrobe is all about having a few foundational pieces that can be mixed and matched with almost everything else you own. These are the sorts of things that anchor most of your best looks and allow you to add less expensive parts around them.
At some point in life, you’re either going to have or want to spend extra money on items that look better and make you feel better. The foundational pieces are the best ones to spend those extra hard earned sheckles on, because they’re the ones you’re going to want to last multiple seasons and fashion cycles.
I realize that the word “cheaply” is in the title and I’m waxing on about quality pieces, but that certainly will factor into this as we’ll show you how to round out your wardrobe with inexpensive additions. As I said, you’re going to have to spend some money at some point but that doesn’t mean you need to be wearing $175 plain white t-shirts. There are great ways to shop and buy that can save you money and keep you stylish. With that in mind, here are we have determined to be the five ways to build a wardrobe on the cheap.
How to Wear It: Black and Navy Suit with Dress Shoes
A dark suit, whether it be in navy, grey, or black, is something every guy should have. Even if you don’t wear a suit that often, you want something reliable that will work with every shirt and tie you own. What makes a simple suit so great is that you have the option to break up the pants and jacket. A simple jacket can work well with jeans or chinos, and a simple pair of pants may go with other jackets you own if there is sufficient contrast.
Suits are delicate garments, so you always want to spend a little extra if you can to get something that was built properly. You don’t need a dainty fabric either; get something solidly built and ideally is canvassed instead of fused (your suit guy will know what you mean). A quality suit will last years if cared for properly and it’s always easy to find cheaper shirts and ties go with it. The Tie Bar is a great source for cheap ties and shirts can always be found on sale if you’re not too picky about brands.
How to Wear It: Casual Boots and Formal Combat Boots
A well-made pair of boots will carry you through any situation. What we love so much about boots is their versatility. The right pair will allow you to wear them with a suit, jeans, and everything else in between. The right pair will also allow you to kick the shit out of them and keep on ticking. Like a well-made suit, a properly crafted pair of boots should be able to last years if given only a cursory effort to care.
A stronger care effort should keep them in working order for as long as you want them. There are labels out there, like Allen Edmonds, who make a fantastic product that will last for a reasonable sum. Should you want to spend, get a pair of Aldens; they’ll cost an arm and a leg but they’ll last a life time and never go out of style. Once the expensive pair of boots is out of the way, round out your shoe selection with cheaper sneakers like Vans. We love them, they look great, and they won’t break the bank.
How to Wear It: Slim Fit Button-Down Oxford with Loafers and Jeans
Here’s another shirt we reference a lot. The button-down oxford (henceforth known as the “BDO”) is a staple because it’s so versatile. You can wear them with suits, with jeans, tucked or untucked, and every way in between. The right BDO- slim but not air tight, medium length so that it can be tucked in or not, and with a medium sized collar- can be worn any day of the week on any occasion.
The rub here is that you don’t necessarily have to break the bank. The right BDO, whether it be from Cucinelli or the Gap, is the right fit for your body. Find the right brand and go with that until they stop making it or you find something better. Simple stripes and patterns are the best way to go here.
How to Wear It: Dark Jeans with Suspenders or Blazer
Denim is obviously something we talk about a lot. We can deep dive, as we’ve done before, but what needs to be said is that every man needs a dark, slim pair of jeans. As you probably know by now, a dark pair of jeans will work with everything you own and shouldn’t be overlooked. Should you need a list of labels we endorse, you can find that here. Keep them simple- no wild washes or jewels or stupid stitching. This is an easy thing to get right, and something you should always have in your wardrobe.
the best way to round out your wardrobe- t-shirts, chinos, dress shirts, sweaters, etc. can be done on the cheap. Finding cheap shirts and chinos is easy, and if you do prefer something a little higher-grade, there are always great sales on things like this. Many fast fashion places, or old staples like the Gap, do these things every season and they are doing them quite well.
With the going popularity in personal style, a lot of labels have been forced to up their game, and that’s to our benefit. Peruse the Gap or J. Crew for sales and strong basics to assist the pieces where you’ve spent some extra money. Simple, cheap, and effective.