Money Can’t Buy Style
April 10th, 2013
You don’t need a lot of money to have style.
To prove this point, last week we organized a $200 outfit challenge. Each member of the team was given $200 cash and a week to put together a complete Spring outfit (including all accessories, alteration costs, taxes, etc).
Here’s what we came up with, along with some budget shopping tips. Don’t forget to vote for the winner of the challenge in the poll at the end of the post!
Here’s an important message I try to get across with Articles of Style: if you train your eye and develop styling skills, you can shop anywhere.
Looking stylish is not about high-end brands or fashion labels. It’s about choosing simple designs that fit properly and putting them together to create a flattering & cohesive look within your personal style.
We don’t usually shop at big box department stores like KMart, Walmart, Kohls, etc. but that doesn’t mean you can’t put together good outfits from their selections. Make sure to try it on, though, since you might want to size down (here the sweater and jacket are both size Small).
Street Vendors/China Town
Don’t sleep on the cheap accessories you can pick up from street vendors and booths in areas like ChinaTown (shades, scarves, hats, bracelets, etc).
For example, the design of their $5 street sunglasses has come a long way (they’re basically knocking off designer styles since there are no patents in the fashion industry).
Sure, they’re made of cheap plastic and the lenses are low quality, but they look awesome and they keep the sun out of my eyes. And when I inevitably lose or squash them, I won’t be upset.
Shades from NYC sreet vendor: $7
Denim jacket by Wrangler @ KMart: $35.99
Plaid shirt by JCPenney: $25
Sweatshirt by Everlast @ KMart: $4.99
Woven belt @ Kmart: 2 for $10
Khaki chinos by Uniqlo: $39.99
Boat shoes by Thom McAn @ KMart: $20
- Shades from NYC Street Vendor
- Blue Denim jacket by Wrangler (Kmart)
- White sweatshirt by Everlast (Kmart)
- Green Plaid shirt by JCPenney
- Belt from Kmart
- Beige Chinos by Uniqlo
- Dark Brown Boat shoes from Kmart
H&M can be a great spot to find a cheap slim-fit suit. Interestingly, it’s less expensive to buy a blazer and matching trousers as separates, if you’re lucky enough to find your size in both pieces.
Which brings me to my next point, if you find something you love at a high-turnover fast-fashion house like H&M, buy it! If you pass it up, chances are it won’t be there when you come back.
TTB is an amazing resource for affordable accessories. Think tie bars for $15, cufflinks for $20, cotton & silk ties for $15, pocket squares for $8, etc.
They have a vast selection and most of their designs are simple and wearable.
If you’re a budget conscious style enthusiast, eBay should be at the top of your favorites. Whether you’re looking for broken-in vintage or new deadstock product, if you look hard enough you can come across pieces you wouldn’t find anywhere else.
In fact, Dan got his start in the “fashion business” as an eBay hustler and some of his most sought-after pieces come from winning auctions (or negotiating side-deals).
So dive in and start digging: get to know your measurements, save your favorite searches for email updates, develop relationships with your favorite sellers, etc.
Suit Jacket by H&M: $70
Suit Pants by H&M: $40
Shirt by H&M: $30
Tie by TheTieBar: $15
Pocket Square by TheTieBar: $8
Loafers by Bass (eBay): $30
My go-to for “budget” basics.
I refuse to pay more than $10 for a t-shirt – you’ll never see me in designer basics. So I hit Old Navy and stock-up on tees, henleys, Hawaiian shirts, and sometimes choice pieces like this lightweight cotton golf jacket.
These jeans are cheap Urban Outfitters sh-t that I found on the clearance rack, but I plan on ruining them with saltwater and sand by the end of the summer anyway.
Vans are my go-to sneakers for the warmer months. I’ve been rocking them since 6th grade – the checkered, the flames, the palm trees, I’ve had em’ all. Now that I’m more “mature” I tend to gravitate toward the classic off-white or blue.
And I ALWAYS change the laces. It’s the little things that make a big difference.
Hat by Ebbets Field: $40
Jacket by Old Navy: $30
Henley by Old Navy: $9
Watch by Timex for Target: $35
Watch strap by Target: $7
Jeans by Urban Outfitters: $20
Sneakers by Vans: $60
Gift Card: -$25 (cheater)
Uniqlo is one of the best places for inexpensive slim-fit basics.
Here at Articles of Style we’re huge fans of linen and this unlined blazer is a perfect example of why Uniqlo is a go-to. They also have a great selection of chinos in various colors…if Dan had given me an extra $40 best believe I would’ve scooped another pair.
It doesn’t get much cheaper than the local Goodwill. You’ll have to dig, but you can score some good pieces, like this brand new Armani shirt for $7.99.
Remember, it’s all about fit, so save at the store and splurge at the tailor. This shirt was a little big through the body and sleeves, but with Franklin’s help at The Tailoring Room now it fits like it was made for me.
Tweak it Yourself
Doing your own alterations is a great way to save money. Unlike Dan, I’ve never learned how to sew, but that doesn’t stop me from altering pieces to make them my own.
For example, band collar shirts are a personal favorite of mine, so to add my personal touch I cut the collar off this one.
Jacket by Uniqlo: $69.90
Shirt by Armani (Goodwill): $7.99
Alterations to shirt: $20
Watch by Casio: $21
Pocket Square is scrap fabric
Belt is an old thrifted tie: $1
Chinos by Uniqlo: $39.90
Sneakers by Converse: $40
Thanks, as always, for reading.
Yours in style,
Photography by Alex Crawford.