Ballin’ On A Budget feat. Sabir Peele

April 9th, 2012

Long time reader and fellow blogger Sabir Peele shows us how to stay fresh on a tight budget.

All of these outfits were under $300 total, including alterations (don’t skip the alts!).

    1. Casual Friday 

    “One of my favorite off-price steals is this Jey Coleman blazer I picked up from Daffy’s for $60 (down from $350).”

    On top of thrift, vintage and second-hand shops, there are plenty of off-price retailers that carry past-season goods at 50%-80% off. Daffy’s, Filene’s Basement, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Century 21, etc.

    Menswear is all about the classics anyway. The white jeans from this season are hardly any different than the white jeans from two seasons ago, especially since you’re going to have them tailored to fit properly anyway.

     Total price for this look (including alterations): $225.

    • Grey plaid cotton blazer by Jey Coleman
    • Lavender stripe spread collar shirt by H&M
    • Green pocket square (vintage)
    • Brown leather double monkstrap shoes by Mercanti Fiorentini
    • White cotton pants by H&M
    • Navy knit tie by Macy’s
    • Brown leather belt Vintage

    2. Business Casual

    “Waistcoats are a staple in my wardrobe. I will often purchase a three-piece suit for the versatility of the waistcoat which can be styled into many looks, which ultimately saves me money.

    I picked up this particular waistcoat from an online vintage shop for $15… When dealing with online vintage shops, as with EBay, be sure to confirm all the details about the item before pulling the trigger.”

    “I was searching for a pair of brown double monkstrap shoes for some time, but most of the pairs I found had price tags of $300+.

    I found this pair at DSW for $139 and I had a couple coupons at my disposal to help lower the price to $100.

    Total cost of this look is $198.”

    3. Travelin’ Man

    Looking for an affordable pair of jeans? Go with Levis. Find the cut that fit you best and spend the extra savings at the tailor to make sure they fit just right.

    When buying jeans, make sure they are snug when you first try them on because they will stretch (quite a bit in most cases). Once you have worn them 7-10 times they should be fully stretched, at which point you can bring them to the tailor.

    After having them tailored, wash them as infrequently as possible. If they get physically dirty, or stanky, have them dry cleaned to avoid any color fading or shrinking.

    “I try not to pay retail prices, but when I saw these bucks I couldn’t wait for them to go on sale.

    Shoes are the one thing that I will splurge on. But when I do, I make sure to take care of them with shoe trees and protective taps on the toes and heels. After all, taking care of your pieces is just as important as finding good deals on them.

    The total cost of this look is $294.”

    • Yellow sweatshirt by Obey
    • Jeans by Levis
    • Watch by Timex
    • Blue Chambray Shirt by JCrew
    • Blue weekend bag by Yellowstone
    • McPherson buck wingtips by Johnston & Murphy
    • Shades by H&M

    4. Business BadAss 

    Because of the skepticism of buyers, and the abundance of sellers with poorly advertised items, you can find some amazing things on eBay for ridiculously low prices. In fact, some of my favorite pieces in my wardrobe are the result of a bidding war.

    When looking for a tailored jacket on eBay make sure you know your finished measurements. If you’re not sure, find a jacket that fits you well, button it and  lay it perfectly flat across a table. Now take the following measurements and write them somewhere for your reference:

    1. Shoulder point-to-point. From the top of one shoulder straight across the back to the top of the other shoulder.

    2. Chest pit-to-pit. From the edge of the armpit (where the under-sleeve meets the body of the jacket) straight across the front to the edge of the other armpit.

    3. Body length (front). From the top of the shoulder seam where it meets the collar (it helps to lift the collar/lapels) straight down to the bottom of the jacket.

    4. Body length (back). Straight down the center back from the under collar seam to the bottom of the jacket.

    5. Sleeve length. From the top of the shoulder seam to the end of the sleeve. Keep in mind this can be shortened as much as needed, or lengthened typically up to an inch (you can ask the seller how much fabric is available to be let down). Also note that working cuffs greatly limit the amount that the sleeves can be altered since you cannot uncut the button holes.

    These are standard finished measurements that sellers should provide. If they haven’t included them in the listing you should ask for them (feel free to copy and paste the 5 measuring instructions above into your message to the seller).

    The stomach and hips of the jacket are less important since you can typically have them taken-in or let-out. You should plan on taking the jacket to the tailor (and dry cleaner) before wearing it anyway.

    “I found this vintage double-breasted linen blazer on eBay blazer for $12. It was advertised as having a ‘tailored fit’  and the measurements seemed just right.

    In addition to the measurements, be sure to check the sellers feedback rating and the condition of the item.”

    If a piece of information is missing, ask for it! On eBay it’s important to make NO ASSUMPTIONS.

    The easiest place to score on eBay is in footwear. You can assume the quality from the name brand, see the condition easily from the pictures, and you already know your size. Just be certain they are authentic and not cheap knock-offs – which plague eBay.

    “These trousers are part of a khaki suit that I picked off a clearance rack at Macy’s in Long Island. It was $65 at the end of the summer season.

    In terms of alterations, I only had the pant leg tapered ($22).

    Total cost for this outfit is $135.”

    • Khaki cotton suit trousers by Sons of Intrigue
    • Brown vintage calf skin loafers by Johnston & Murphy
    • White pocket square by Target
    • Orange spread collar gingham shirt by H&M
    • Navy knit tie by California Knit
    • Blue linen double breasted blazer by Andrew Velasco

    5. Weekend Chill

    “Mixing dressy elements with casual ones is quintessential when I think about my overall style.”

    “This entire look was $233 dollars and most of the pieces are versatile enough to be worn for multiple occasions.”

    “The only thing that was tailored in this outfit was the pant hem, which I did myself – saving $12 in alteration costs.”

    • Blue striped cotton henley by H&M
    • Navy cotton trousers by H&M
    • Burgundy straw hat by H&M
    • Brown plastic shades by H&M
    • Brown leather drivers by Johnston & Murphy
    • Burgundy leather belt by Ralph Lauren
    • Watch by Timex
    • Blue watch strap by JCrew

    Thanks for reading – and special thanks to Sabir for participating!

    Yours in style,

    Dan Trepanier


    Photography by Alex Crawford.

    • Anonymous


    • Taylor

      Great Info!

      I am always wary of buying things on Ebay, or online in general.

      I am an odd size. 5’4 but with a 42″ chest and a 16″ neck. Makes it impossible to find things on my size. I will spend hours in a store trying everything on. Buying something I haven’t tried on, even from a brand I know (Banana Republic sizing seems to vary greatly from one item/month to the next), usually ends in disaster.


    • TTG

      I really enjoyed this and learnt a lot (mostly about the deals on eBay). I also enjoy reading Sabir’s blog. You guys give me good style inspiration for my blog. Keep up the great work and please do more collaboration’s with Sabir.

    • 9Sharp

      Really well put together. Some writers and menswear sites make it seem like the only way to look sharp is to spend $300/pc – $300/LOOK is much smarter.

    • joey dee

      recommended reading for sure. thank you for this post. getting dressed doesn’t have to cost a fortune nor does one have to skimp on quality!

    • siteofawesome

      These are all amazing man. I don’t even know how you do it. I especially like the part about buying some cheap stuff on e-bay.

    • cardion411

      This is what I am talking about!!! AMAZING!!!!!

    • Ray T

      Any recommendations on NYC tailors? Thank you for sharing these great looks and shopping tips. Very much appreciated!

      • SB

        I highly recommend The Tailoring Room, 42 Clinton Street.

        They do all my personal alterations. You can tell Franklin I sent you :)

        Thanks for reading,

    • Justin K

      From one fellow eBayer/thriftier to another, job well done, Sabir. Your measurement tips were extremely helpful. Thanks so much!

    • DL

      Sorry, a little confused with this statement.

      ‘Once you have worn them 7-10 times they should be fully stretched, at which point you can bring them to the tailor.’

      Take them to the tailor to have the waist/seat taken in? Can that be done with jeans? Apologies in advance if these are ridiculous questions, just thought jeans could only be awkwardly tailored at best.


    • Anon

      Wow, just wow! Thanks SB and Sabir for this post for those of us on the frugal side. All the looks are great and the prices are mindblowing! Sabir, you’ve got great steelo.

      • Mr. Sabir P.


        Thanks for the kind words!

        – Sabir

    • John

      What model is the Timex watch?

      • Mr. Sabir P.

        Hey John,

        It’s a Timex easy reader.

        – Sabir

    • I.D. Patterson

      Fantastic post.

      When shopping on eBay, is one better off looking for specific pieces or are there certain users or stores that regularly have a reliable selection?

      All the best.

      • Mr. Sabir P.

        Personally, I look for specific items when searching Ebay. As you start to search around you will find that some Ebay stores just have better stuff and will become your “go-to” spots to shop!

        – Sabir

    • Salomon

      Informative, creative, and relative. Great job, Dan & Sabir. Much respect

    • Supergluedsmile

      This is great! I’d love to see more budget friendly post like this. Please, keep them coming.


    • Adyna

      Good job Sabir, nice outfits! If you know how to shop can make $30 items look $100

    • Aleksi

      Class! The fourth and sixth looks are my favorites. I’d go with some slimmer trousers though.

    • ClassyChris

      Great post!
      I have a quick question for the SB crew. The watch strap featured in outfits 3 & 5, would it be navy and beige or navy and white?
      I have been searching for a navy and beige strap for what seems like forever! The JCrew site picture seems to be off-white (and that would match with the bisque name), but featured here the strap looks darker.

      • Mr. Sabir P.


        I originally picked this watchstrap up from J.Crew about 3 years ago. The center is almost a gold color.

        – Sabir

        • ClassyChris

          Thanks Sabir!
          Once again, great post.

    • Jon

      Anyone have the web address of the “Lux Glam Vintage Shop” mentioned in the post a few times? Can’t find them on eBay or the net in general


    • Alan

      One of my favorite posts. Excellent work.

    • Joe

      Also, big ups to the SB for the guest entries. I appreciate that this blog hasn’t become a huge ego trip for you and that you use the opportunity to feature other innovative gentlemen. Again – Great Post!

    • Mario

      What about the duffel bag, looks great on the yellow sweater. Brand, prize?

      • Mr. Sabir P.

        Hi Mario,

        I picked up the duffel bag and yellow sweater both on Ebay. The bag was by a company named Yellow Stone and the Sweater is by Obey (size small). I bought a small because the dimension seemed a little big when I was purchasing. Typically, I wear a medium.

        – Sabir

    • AAJR

      I’m so glad you posted this here! I’m married and father of two, I shop for everyone in the house. Putting outfits together for the whole family and I have to do that on a budget. Always looking for sales and deals. Coupons and discounts. People don’t believe how little I pay for clothes. I’m glad he featured a lot of items from H&M, which with a good eye, you can find great pieces and well constructed too.

      Great post indeed, I’d say more of this type of post.

    • Harry

      Just… one word… AMAZING!
      This is so informative and helpful,
      And he looks super fly in an effortless manner.

    • MOZART5000

      This post is the story of my life, I’m always on the hunt for a good bargain. I recently picked up a black $200 Banana Republic top coat for less than $30 after markdowns and additional discounts. If you find something you like at Gap or Banana Republic that doesn’t fit don’t be afraid to ask an associate to search your size at a nearby location. The best deals come from the Sale racks.

    • Blake

      Every single one of these looks is exquisite! Great post. Love the striped suit in look 4 and the monk straps in 1 and 2. Thanks for sharing!

    • Joe

      Very Impressive Post!!! And I thought Ebay was my little secret. I get almost all my shoes and boots from Ebay for some incredible deals. And you nailed the secret – be very patient and check all measurements.

      • K

        I will usually give away my clothes to friends, my brother-in-law or interns; but shoes are another story. A friend’s sister started selling stuff on ebay and tells me to send her my shoe castoffs. Over the last 3 years she has sold over 50 pairs of shoes for me and it amazes me the prices she gets. It doesn’t hurt that I have all the original boxes, dust bags, branded shoehorns and wear 10.5 & 11’s.

        • Joe

          I confess that I’ve bought a few badly listed or poorly photographed Ebay items (as well as thrift finds) only to resell them (mostly shoes and boots) after applying some leather conditioner, letting it sit with a cedar shoe tree in it for a while and then giving it a good polish for orders of magnitude more than what I bought them for. If you list it right and shoot it well, you can get good prices as a seller. As a buyer you can get goot deals if you know what to look for (this post really nailed it on the head).

    • Mrjbeee

      Wonderful post. I need to take notes. My shoes are the most expensive part in my wardrobe. Thanks!

      • Keith

        Me too!

    • Eric

      Wow this guy could probably pop a load off in the morning when he’s looking at himself in the mirror, after getting dressed.

    • Dave

      Oh man. More of these posts please.

    • Chris

      As a college student who frequently shops at outlets, this is by far one of my favorite articles on this blog. What an amazing and informative post!

    • Shawn

      Absolutely love all the looks! But I gotta say #3 and 5 are the absolute best!

      Thank you for the good article!

    • Andy

      I read the title of the article and my first thought was “$300 is a budget outfit?!”

      I had assumed the $300 wouldn’t include shoes, easily the priciest part of most outfits.

      Well done SB team, well done, the most expensive outfit not including shoes is $125!

    • TO

      Great job Sabir! I feel like we have similar approaches, but you’ve reminded me to get a little more unconventional (I’ve never actually “ebayed”) to find dressier items when bargain shopping:)

      All the suits are great, especially the sport coat in #5. #6 is up there in the “perfect casual looks” category.

      Keep it up man… great feature, Dan!

      • Mr. Sabir P.

        Hey TO,

        It was great to work with the SB crew again. You definitely got get your Ebay own for dressier menswear pieces. You can find some steals if you are patient.



    • Ian

      Really nice clothes. Just goes to show price ain’t everything. A good eye for putting the outfits together just as important!

    • Anonymous


    • Oli

      Some of the best looks you’ve featured, which makes it doubly impressive that they were so cheap

    • Kiel

      What a cool dude. Great tips!

      Can you do a post that focuses specifically on tailoring? I have never been to a tailor, and my one pre-wedding run in with a seamstress was not favorable.

      How does one choose a tailor? What should one look for? How much should one spend? What can one expect from a given piece of clothing (as far as how it can be altered)?

    • cam
    • Jordan D.

      Best article in a while – love the budget considerations. For under $300 an outfit – Sabir looks like a million bucks!