I’m really enjoying seeing this discussion unfold. I think evolvingstyle is absolutely correct when he writes that the moment your clothes—and by extension the haunting vision of the money you’ve invested in those clothes somehow going up in flames before your very eyes (like getting a speeding or parking ticket)—begin to impinge on your ability to relax and focus on the more important things in life like a delicious meal, a nice bottle of wine, playing with your children/pets, etc., something has gone incredibly wrong, and it’s probably time to reassess the situation and reformulate one’s priorities. And the root of that problem for many is, in part, I think, the aspirational nature of #menswear, which, rather than mitigate, in fact reinforces these lopsided priorities.
The moment the world around you becomes a minefield littered with hazards that could ruin a pair of shoes or a jacket you just spent a quarter of your paycheck on is the same moment in which you’ve slipped into the abyss of sartorial dysmorphia. Sure, there appear to be people in #menswear who, if they gouged their EG bals, would just buy a new pair. But that is, I’m sure, not the fiduciary sitch’ most of us find ourselves in. If we idolize those few people, or even attach mythologies of spending power that may or may not be true to them, then we’re really just being delusional. Most of us are not them, and very few of us know what ‘them’ are really like anyways—they’ve manufactured an internet identity just as much as we have/do.
I remember seeing the original post under discussion not long after it went up, and my first thought was ‘“that is not really a ‘budget’ outfit…” and especially so if we take what AFoS writes to heart (and I think most of us should) that money, despite the somewhat spurious metrics of cost/wear that we sometimes call on to justify purchases that are likely (because we’re applying the metric in the first place) financially unwise, is still money. $200+ jeans are monetarily equivalent to $200+ that could be spent on books, groceries, medicine, whatever…I, too, like AFoS, think it a bit disingenuous for Valet to use T&S’s post as some kind of instructional model for how its readership ought to allocate financial resources when putting together an outfit, but I also know better than to read a market-driven publication of any kind offering ‘advice’ with anything less than a generous handful of salt.
Ultimately though, I think that as long as one has considered their priorities, and are happy with their choices after adjudicating those considerations thoroughly, then it’s no one else’s business, and certainly not mine. I’m in no position to judge another rational actor’s financial decisions as long as they don’t affect me. Most of these people are adults, and if they’ve thoughtfully decided that they want to spend $200 on clothes rather than something else, I am certainly no one to question that decision.
But, I think questioning the value of the image and dreams peddled on #menswear is an intellectually interesting and culturally relevant discussion. But the brass tacks of it is that we participate in this ‘thing’ of our own volition, and as long as we’re cognizant of the fact that the #menswear environment on tumblr doesn’t (for the most part) pretend to be a place where one should turn to learn to make financially sound decisions about how to build a wardrobe, and that its role and appeal is largely an escapist one, then we should just give or take to and from it what we want.
I’d love to see more folks weigh in on this…
Love it. Great discussion. Great points all around.
I think this is a central issue with many of the #menswear folks I follow on Tumblr. I don’t get the sense that most of us are independently wealthy or even well-to-do. As such, the money concern casts a shadow over every #menswear post, whether a thirfter’s wiwt or a reblog of the hottest Cucinelli.
I’ll add one comment to the ‘investment piece’ argument. I get it and it has factored into a couple of my purchases. But, there are many things that can befall any piece of clothing. You can accidentally kick a ragged piece of metal you didn’t see on the base of the table leg in your favourite restaurant and tear an unrepairable gouge into the toe of the beautiful Edward Green bals you just ‘invested’ in. You can be out on a date and have him or her accidentally knock a glass of red wine onto the navy Ralph Lauren Purple label suit you wore for the occasion. Your child can give you a hug, wrapping her chocolate-covered hands around your leg, leaving hand prints on your bespoke grey trousers. There are many lifestyle issues at play here. I don’t want to own anything that I couldn’t handle losing at any given moment to an unforeseen accident. I don’t want to lose my mind and ream out my daughters because they’ve gotten my clothes dirty. I don’t want to spend an entire evening out worried that my $600 shoes are going to get damaged.
Also, I’ll ditto AFOS’s kudos on the civility of the discussion. The stakes are ultimately very low, so no need to pretend you’re fuckin’ gangsta when you’re not and this isn’t life or death shit.
My point at the start (and now, even after other good points have been raised) is that $654 is a lot of money. Period.
I’m not saying that investment in clothes isn’t worthwhile, or that there aren’t certain things that are overpriced and others that are worth the money. But when you conflate cost/wear with total cost you lose sight of the fact that money is still money.
If you spend $250 (or $500 or $1000) on a sport coat, that’s a lot of money.
$400 shoes? A lot of money.
Maybe it’s worth it, maybe not, maybe you’ll have it for 30 years and it’ll cost you only pennies per wear, but it still costs $250 up front, you don’t get to put that shit on a payment plan.
So buy investment pieces. Buy nice things, maybe even expensive things (if you can afford them). But don’t forget that whether you’re “wasting” your money or “investing” your money, you’re still spending it.
As Stylepoints said, clothing is an expensive hobby. I get that, I understand where the money goes if you buy some crazy high end Italian cashmere jacket with 60 hours of handwork. It just bums out many of us to read that “dressing well doesn’t have to cost a lot of money” and then see fits that… well… cost a lot of money.
(Also, Kudos to #menswear for addressing this so calmly and rationally. A welcome respite from the #shotsfired mentality that so often co-opts these discussions.)
A nice reminder that you don’t have to spend a lot to look good. It just takes some savvy shopping and ingenuity.
This post details an outfit that costs $654.
This is a lot of money. So if I spent that on an outfit, I would be “spending a lot” (presumably to “look good”).
If the majority of the $654 spent on this outfit went toward sport coat or shoes, I’d be inclined to say that he did not, in fact “spend a lot”. I understand that objectively, to most people $654 is a lot of money to spend on a single fit, but quality jackets and shoes do not come cheap. When cared for properly, both shoes and jackets can last for years, making them good so-called investment pieces.
The problem with calling this a budget fit is that he spent $150 on the shirt and $232 on the jeans. The shirt, while dope as fuck, is a trend piece. If you don’t think a cutaway collared oxford cloth popover is a wardrobe staple, then more power to you. In all likelihood it’ll look pretty played three seasons from now. The jeans are a good value proposition, if you’re into denim…I mean really INTO denim. I do believe that you’d have to search long and hard to find someone who thinks $200+ isn’t a lot to pay for jeans. Even people who wear $200+ denim know that they’re paying a lot, they just thing it’s worth the expense.
Clothing is an expensive hobby, and make no mistake, if you’re reading this, your wardrobe is one of your hobbies. There are those among us who have the disposable income to buy whatever they want. There are even more who are skipping meals to save enough money to “kop some jawnz”. The majority of us are somewhere in the middle. I’d like to hope that all of us understand our financial realities.
Those who make their living selling clothes or delivering eyes to those do have a vested interest in making the expensive seem affordable. They get a pass. It’s their job. There are those, on the other hand who do it for fun. You’ve seen the blogs. These people are at best insensitive, and at worse assholes. If you have a tumblog, take a second and think about what you’re saying. Think about the message you’re putting out into the worls.
This is good writing. Loving these points.
I think less in what an outfit costs, and think more of the items individually. Many of my shirts are 4-6 year pieces. Jackets are like 10 year purchase, at least. Shoes, when bought well, are 20-30 year numbers. Shoot, the orange tie I wore on Monday was a gift from 1998. Take care of your stuff and it will last. That is a major reason why I don’t like “this is what this outfit costs” as the sole metric of intelligence of purchases.
AFOS lives/works in a thrifting goldmine, so his reluctance to spend heavy is wise on his part. For the rest of us whose thrift stores are filled with rubber soled pull up leather kmart dress shoes, a big spend on high quality shoes is wiser than going cheap on junk.
Kiyoshi answered a question thoughtfully this AM that deals with this as well, definitely worth a read.
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- girouxmcisaak said: Listen, if you’re not willing to spend your rent money on a single outfit, then you clearly don’t know #menswear.
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