Part III: Budget
Now that you know what to wear, how will you pay for your new wardrobe?
Let’s revisit Rule #10
“10) NEVER BUY FULL PRICE. Be frugal. Clothes can be cheap if you know where and how to look.”
It’s true that WASPs are wealthy by definition, but the real Old Money types understood the value of a dollar. Back in the day, rich parents would have their first born fitted in the finest bespoke clothing and then have it passed down to his younger brothers when he outgrew it. They would buy expensive but high quality clothes and keep it for decades. Thriftiness carried into the mid century when college kids would wear their penny loafers into the ground and duck taped the soles to them (it became a popular trend).
Glenn O’Brien, the Style Guy from GQ magazine, once said that during his college days at Georgetown, you could always spot who was from Old Money, as they were the ones who always wore lumpy tweed jackets, drove beat up Volkswagons, and never “had any cash”. The rich European students drove around in their exotic cars and expensive suits. However, it was the Old Money types that garnered the most respect. The more worn-in your clothes appeared, the more value they earned.
Fred Astaire was known to throw a new jacket at the wall several times to get the crispiness out. It’s been said that the elite would ask their butlers to wear their new suits for a year first. Nantucket red pants would initially come in bright red, but the more it baked in the New England sea salt and sun, the better it aged. Its why true Nantucket red is known as an almost pink shade. The more lived in and frayed clothes are, the better. And this trend has carried to the present, which is why you see predistressed khakis at J Crew or pay $200 for holes in your jeans.
The main takeaway is that the aristocratic rich embraced saving money and actually flaunted their frugal habits, and you should too.
Quality = / = $$$ if you are smart. You can still look good and only pay a fraction of the price.
In the 5 or so years I’ve been serious about clothing, I can’t remember a time I have ever paid full price for anything. I have always shopped during sales or at outlets. I buy gift cards on Craigslist, shop on eBay, use discount and free shipping codes, and shop on “Buying and Selling” internet forums. There are countless deals out there so be creative with your money-saving techniques.
Once you become more educated about clothes, it becomes easier to ignore the ugly or fake stuff and pick out the gold. My eye is trained enough that I can go to Goodwill or other thrift stores and finds a quality item for less than $10. Yes the clothes are used, but quality items last for years and you can easily wash it or dry clean it.
Below are my summer outfits with info on where and how much I paid for each apparel item.
Casual, wore this on July 4th and received many compliments.
-BB OCBD bought at Garland, NC factory store, $12
-Lands End shorts, LandsEnd.com, $20
-State embroidered belt, VolunteerTraditions.com, $29
-Cole Haan penny loafers, eBay, $50
The “dressiest” attire I’d wear to class. Business casual.
-Sears Roebuck vintage University Blue Stripe OCBD, made in USA, thrifted for $2
-Ducks Head chinos (popular in the south during 1980s-90s), thrifted for $8
-Lands End surcingle belt, LandsEnd.com, $25
-Sperry Boat shoes, Shoebuy.com, $44
-Ray Ban aviators, found free on the beach lolz
This is what I wore to a baptism and country club Easter lunch.
-Anderson-Little Blue Blazer, made in USA, thrifted for $5
-RL OCBD circa early 1980s, inherited from my father and naturally frayed
-Nordstroms vintage plaid tie, bought online via selling forum for $5
-RL chinos, RL outlet, $20
-J Crew Engine-Turned Plaque belt, made in England, gift
-Bucherer Swiss Watch with NATO strap, inherited from my father