5 Tips For Staying Stylish on a Budget

1. Learn to Sew

Unless you are really, really, ridiculously lucky, most of the clothing that you buy off-the-rack will need alterations; or maybe you will need to replace a button now and then. Sure, you could take it to a tailor or your mother, but think about how much more impressive it is to be self-sufficient, and how the cost of these things adds up; as a general guide, here is how much some alterations usually cost:

Taper jacket waist – $20
Shorten jacket sleeves – $15
Shorten jacket length – $35
Take in pant waist – $20
Hem pant legs – $15
Take in shirt – $20

Since virtually every new suit will need, at the very least, the sleeves and trouser hem altered, knowing how to do it yourself will save $35 each time; not to mention all the other alterations you might need. Because remember, the most important thing is that your clothes fit.

The difference between good and bad fit

The difference between good and bad fit

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Get the best quality you can afford

Quality products last longer; it’s a simple fact. This means that even though you may spent a little more up-front, you will save a great deal in the long run.

3. Thrift Stores and eBay

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Thrift stores are an incredible resource for the gentleman on a budget; I can’t count the number of second-hand shirts that I have bought over the years, all still in excellent condition, at a fraction of the retail price. If you know how to sew, altering your thrift store finds yourself just means that you get even better value for money.

eBay is another excellent resource for second-hand goods, but it also allows you a far wider range of new products to choose from, allowing you to get the best price. I buy all my cufflinks on eBay; and I don’t usually pay more than $5 per pair, at the same quality that I could buy in most stores near me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Don’t Be Trendy

Trend’s come and go; there’s no point buying new clothes every six months in an effort to look fashionable. Instead, buy clothing that suits you personally; trends be damned. Master the basics; a well fitted navy or charcoal suit and a white shirt will always be stylish, as will a good pair of straight cut jeans. Eventually everyone else will realize that skinny jeans look ridiculous, but yours will still look good. Fashions come and go, style is forever.

5. Have a Battle Plan

The best way to shop on a budget is to have a plan; work out exactly what you have, and what you need. Once you have your list, you can do a bit of research, and find the best price; remember, the internet is your friend. Some stores will price match certain products, and even give further discounts, so keep an eye out for that as well. It might also be a good idea to subscribe to receive email notifications from some of your prefered stores, to keep an eye out for sales.

 

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A Short Guide to Braces (Suspenders)

Once upon a time (before the 20’s), belts were mostly for decoration or military use; the average gentlemen would hold his trousers up with braces. As men started to wear their trousers lower, the braces were gradually exchanged for belts; but braces have a several advantages over belts which have ensured that they are far from obsolete.

Y-Style Braces with leather tabs

Y-Style Braces with leather tabs

To start with, they are more comfortable; because the braces hang the trousers from your shoulders, they (the trousers) are typically a little wider than trousers cut for a belt, meaning that, not only do they always hand in the right place, they are far more comfortable when sitting. Also, there is no uncomfortable belt, clamped around your stomach.

Not only that, but you never have to worry about your pants falling down. Even with a well-fitting belt, the constant motion of walking, sitting and standing can cause your trousers to slip down; this is never an issue with braces.

Finally (and for some, most importantly), braces make your look better. Let me explain; first, particularly with trousers that don’t fit perfectly, when you wear a belt, you are pinching fabric around your waist, which looks bad. Braces eliminate this problem, and allow your trousers to hang perfectly straight in the process. Secondly, if you have a bit of extra girth in the stomach, there is no belt to draw attention to that area, which should help make the weight less noticeable (in theory). Finally, because you are not wearing a belt, there will be less of a distinction between your legs and your torso (depending on the contrast between your shirt and trousers), which can help you appear taller. This is why in general braces are highly recommended for short, stocky men.

Suspender-Attachment-Set

Suspender Attachments, image from Real Men Real Style/A Tailored Suit

Now, on to actually wearing the braces.

The most common type of attachment mechanism is the clip, but the proper one to use is either the leather button tab, or the fabric button tab (for black and white tie).

The clip type is the easiest to use, simple clip them on to your trousers. The button tabs require your trousers having buttons sewn into your waistband; something that you are unlikely to find in off-the-rack trousers, but are easy enough to add yourself. Some companies will even provide buttons with their braces, like The Tie Bar.

 

 

Clip-On Braces

Clip-On Braces

Button-On Braces

Button-On Braces

While button on braces are preferable, the only absolute rule is that you don’t wear braces with a belt, like a rube (I say rube now).

a rube

Pictured: A Rube

 If you are ready to make the switch from a belt to braces, it’s a simple procedure to remove the belt loops from your trousers and add buttons; this is the very first thing that I do to a new pair of trousers. If you don’t want to do it, then take them to a tailor and have them do it; better yet, have the tailor make you a pair of trousers.

 

 

New Pomade Review

I love my Pete & Pedro Pomade, but the falling Aussie dollar has made it far too expensive ($67 for two tubs, including postage), so I have had to find an alternative. A quick google search lead me to The Pomade Shop. A fairly new business, The Pomade Shop helps to fill the massive void in the mens grooming product industry, and (more importantly), allowed me to finally try some products that previously cost too much to be worth it.

Murray’s Superior Pomade

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Price: $17

Shine: Medium

Hold: Strong

Murray’s is a thick, petroleum-based pomade that smells mildly of vanilla and vaseline, and has been around for more than 75 years, so they must be doing something right. On the upside, Murray’s gives incredible hold, decent shine, and a little goes a very long way. On the other hand, it takes about a week to wash it out (unless you are willing to use degreaser on your hair), and even getting it off of my hands was a challenge. Styling my hair the day after was as simple as heating it with the hairdryer to soften it, but I’m not sure that it was worth it. Also, being oil based, it’s probably not the best for those prone to outbreaks.

I can see why some people use it, but it’s just not for me; on the plus side, my brother seems to like it, so it probably won’t go to waste.

 

Bona Fide Superior Hold Pomade

ThePomadeShop-44

Price: $18

Shine: Medium-High

Hold: Strong

Bona Fide reminds me strongly of American Crew Pomade; it has a similar list of ingredients, a similar texture, and a similar citrus scent (although this smells more strongly of orange), and at this price, is much better value for money. The best, and worst, part is that it is water soluble, so I have no problem washing it out, but is also sweats out on a hot day. In all, until I find something that is better value, Bona Fide if going to become my new go-to product.

Comparison

At $18 for a 4oz tub, the Bona Fide pomade is the clear winner in terms of value for money, and although Murray’s pomade has the best hold, it is far too difficult to remove and work with. In terms of hold and shine, Pete & Pedro is probably the better product, but the cost and smaller size are severe drawbacks. Bona Fide, with its larger size, lower price, better smell, and better overall usability, is the clear winner.