11
Apr

Spring-summer blazers on the ramen noodle budget

I’ve been getting a few questions about where one can get a cheap jacket for spring and summer that won’t break the bank, so I’ve found a few options that should make a good portion of you happy. For those of you on the ramen-noodle budget, this list is for you:

Lands’ End Canvas chambray blazer: $21.97 — My roommate actually owns this and it’s pretty nice. Lightweight and has the appearance of washed denim. Goes great with white denim. 

Lands’ End Canvas nailhead oxford blazer: $24.97 — Looks like a bit of an improvement over the chambray blazer with lining only in the shoulders and sleeves. 

Lands’ End Canvas vintage chino khaki blazer: $53.97 — Given it’s fully lined in polyester, it might not be the best choice for summer, but early spring and fall it could be a decent buy. 

Onassis poplin 3-button blazer: $98 — Available in navy, grey, stone and red colors. Definitely cut shorter, so might be better suited for people on the short side. 

Onassis double-breasted blazers (Adger & Sidney): $168 — Available in cotton-linen sateen or cavalry twill. 

Life After Denim Oak Lawn blazer: $128 (here and here) — A lighter 76/24 cotton-linen blend in both desert and navy. 

17
Nov

Lands’ End menswear sale — There’s a massive, one-day sale going on at Lands’ End today (as if there wasn’t enough other sales waiting to take your cash). Every single mens item is 30-50% off right now. Plus, you can get another 40% off your highest-priced item in your shopping cart and free shipping if you spend more than $50 (code SNOW with PIN 1174).

Some of the noteworthy deals at prices appealing to those on the ramen noodle budget:

If you need a basic suit or want a cheap, but really well-made knit tie, then these are some pretty spectacular deals. 

26
Oct

as far as ramen budgeting goes- the one thing that i'd likrecommend is 501s as replacement for serious jeans (quality denim is like the single most expensive piece of a non-suiting wardrobe in my experience) is tailored 501s. Besides maybe gap 1969 (which i've no first hand with), most mid ranged price denim (jcrew etc) is terribly marked up and generally not worth it. 501s tend to be of comprable quality to anything below like $200 jeans, and fifteen bucks tailoring get's you the fit you want.

- Asked by slothbearwolf

Yes, definitely. Especially if you can get their selvedge ones, which I think run around $150 or less on sale. I’m not convinced I really need to pay a lot of money for denim given how rarely I wear it and mainly just use it for when I’m home lounging around, doing chores or running to the store.

For my money, I’d rather spend $200 toward a lot of other things besides denim — like shoes, jackets and trousers.

ADDING abearemerges said:

their selvage 501 is about 100 bucks right now (pretty worth it if you can spring), but (if i dare repeat myself on a comment on your blog) if you have to do a lot of tailoring, be careful about the selvage line

Yeah, I should clarify that I didn’t get my selvedge pair tapered.

25
Oct

Basically, I'm a college student without a lot of money. I'm really looking to step my game up in fashion. Any tips on websites that sell quality stuff for not such a big price?

- Asked by Anonymous

I’d suggest Lands End Canvas for starters.

However, I’ll try to bang out a “Ramen Noodle Budget” post for posterity sometime within the next week. Should be rather comprehensive and it’s been in the back burner for a while.

25
Oct

Hey, love the blog! I'm studying in Taiwan right now, but when I return I'll be at a top grad school. I'll be a TA/TF, and I've heard that a big challenge (especially in humanities departments, vs. business or law) will be distinguishing myself from the undergrads. I need to dress like a grown-up, but at the same time I don't want to look like my 60-something year old professors. What would you recommend? I'm on the "ramen budget", and as long as the clothes will see me through school I'm OK.

- Asked by Anonymous

Here’s what I would do:

Wear nice shoes: Get a quality pair of brown wingtips, suede wingtips and brogue boots. Florsheim should be within your budget, although you can maybe find stuff on Charles Tyrwhitt when they hit the deep discounts or Allen Edmonds off of eBay. Don’t wear ratty sneakers and gym shoes.

Wear a tie: College kids hate ties — unless it’s a job fair. Lots of affordable options between The Tie Bar and The Knottery. Of course, you can hit up eBay and try to snag some really dope stuff at cut-rate prices. Since you’re in academia, I’d suggest going with textured, seasonal neckwear: wools and tweeds for the cold; madras, linen and chambray for the heat. Silk knits also look good, too.

Wear a jacket: Try to find something slimmer-fitting and youthful and make sure it’s altered by a tailor to fit properly. I’d again go with casual fabrics like chino, linen or chino-linen blends in the warmer months and tweed and flannel in the colder months. L.L.Bean signature has some nice stuff as does Lands’ End (and plenty of sales if you get on their email list). You probably only need one for each season and I’d supplement it with a navy wool blazer with half lining.

Denim: Get a dark selvedge denim pair that fits slim. Maybe get a white pair of 501s and have them tapered in the leg for summer.

Get a good briefcase: I imagine you’ll be carrying a lot of papers or at least a laptop around. Get a nice briefcase in either canvas (more casual) or leather (more professional). Don’t be the dork who wears a backpack — or worse, has a roller backpack.

Get fitted: The most important thing that will distinguish you from most college kids and most professors (heck, most men) will be that you clothing fits properly. As long as that’s good, you should be able to separate yourself from the kids and the old men.

ADDING dieworkwear replied: 

Though it depends on the school you’re going to and the program you will be in, I would urge you to reconsider wearing ties as a grad student. Quickest way to look like a douche, IMO. And I’m a grad student that writes about ties.

Dissenting opinion! I just don’t see how wearing a tie as a grad student makes you look like a douche though.

23
Oct

"gotta eat less so i can buy more clothes"

canarycoal:

not gonna lie, i have said this at least a million times

"Eat ramen, stay crispy."

(via nachodiet)

04
Oct

Long time fan my friend, I may have to drive up to Chicago for a meetup just to meet you fancy #menswear Godfathers. Anyway, I'm wondering about wingtip price points. I fully understand, embrace, and endorse the common #menswear practice of buying quality that will last long... however I must live within my means at the time being (20 year old university student). Can you recommend any wingtips around $75-125? If there are none worth the buy, I understand that too. Appreciate your time!

- Asked by bbgahman

If you ever drive up, I’m sure we’d all be more than happy to welcome you.

As for finding cheap — yet good — wingtips, I’m going to suggest you follow this link to eBay and search for a pair of Allen Edmonds in your size and snipe bids like SEAL Team 6. Just narrow the search filter by size and do a sort by “newly listed” and go back through the entirety of search results. Once a day check back on the same search string and you’ll see all the new pairs that were just listed.

You might find a few pairs to add to your watch list (or maybe that you can buy instantly). Just be sure to check that the soles aren’t too terribly worn out. I’ve bought barely worn Allen Edmonds on there for around $50 before. You just have to babysit on the final seconds of the bid and strike. Takes time and patience, but that’s where you’ll probably find your best deals.

Now, if you want to go brand new and not sit around, then that’s a bit harder. Bump your price range up to $150 and get over to Charles Tyrwhitt. Make sure when prompted you stay on the U.K. site, as the American site has higher prices. All the prices will be in GBP, but when you do the conversions to USD, the prices are actually cheaper than the same item’s counterpart on the U.S. site (yeah, I don’t know either, but they still ship to the U.S. on the U.K. site).

Right now there’s a few choices for 99 GBP ($153.03). You’ve got a merlot longwing with a Dainite sole and brown captoe brogue. There’s a few other similarly priced options, too, worth looking at.

For sizing, take your U.S. shoe size and subtract 1 (ie: US 10.5 is a UK 9.5). If you’re a wide foot, then use the “G” fitting. Please don’t pay attention to CT’s size conversion chart as they don’t tell you to subtract a full size from the U.S. size to get the U.K. equivalent — they tell you to only subtract 0.5 of a size. (This is another reason to NOT use the U.S. site, as they’ll send you the wrong-sized shoe.)

CT’s got free shipping right now, so that’ll also save you money, too. I’ve got one of their boots (review tomorrow) and like it a lot. Their shoes are Goodyear welted and made of full-grain calf. At $150, I think they’re a really good deal.

30
Sep

I'm a student (on a budget around $300) looking to play dress up for a job fair. Is Jos. A. Bank any good?

- Asked by Anonymous

I can’t recommend Jos. A. Bank to you. For that kind of cash, you should just order a suit from Lands’ End (jacket, trousers) in your size and then take the suit to a tailor to make it fit perfectly.

Plus, you can use coupon code SAVEBIG with PIN 1234 to get 30% off the highest priced item in your cart. That’ll put the price of the entire suit at $198.15 and leave you with $100 extra to do some alterations.

24
Aug

First off, great blog. I'm very pattern/color matching challenged so those past few tie posts have been more help than you know. Also, I wanted to give your readers the heads up that the Howard Yount shawl you just posted is near identical to an H&M one I picked up for $40. Obviously it is no where near the quality or craftsmanship but for someone on a budget it's a great pick up.

Thanks, I’m glad you’re finding the blog helpful.

As for H&M’s sweaters, I generally don’t link to or endorse products like theirs or their direct retail competitors for a few reasons. The main reason though is that they tend to be blended fabrics, often with nylon or polyester. This is what makes them cheaper (along with cheap manufacturing costs).

While cheaper is beneficial for a lot of people in terms of immediate cost, I don’t personally believe it’s a financially good decision. I’ve often found that cheaply-made clothing doesn’t last as long, stretches oddly and just plain doesn’t hold up to well-made counterparts.

If your ramen-noodle budget necessitates spending less, then I’d suggest hitting up thrift/vintage stores, eBay, Etsy, etc., instead to find a deal there — or buy off-season and on sale. Or save up for one quality item.

At least, that’s what I do.

30
Jul

I’m sort of in the process of re-doing my style. Now, it's not on your level of holding it down, as my office dress code would make it almost ridiculous for me to wear a jacket pretty much ever. Budget is thin so it’s a slow process, but it’s moving in the right direction. Something in your post about Chicago style (and the criticizing of suburban style) caught my eye. “(Dress shirts) worn with a visible white crew-neck T-shirt underneath and without a tie.” I pretty much always wear a dress shirt, and as I said, jackets aren’t really a necessity for me, ties as well (though I will wear one from time to time). So I’m left with dress shirts, though definitely not blousy, with a white undershirt underneath. It’s better in the winter when I can rock a sweater over a shirt a lot, but I’ve lately been debating with myself if this is a straight up terrible look. But I’m not at all a fan of the dress shirt without at least something under it in terms of actually being comfortable. What to do, what to do?

Great work on the blog, by the way.

- Asked by Anonymous

Thanks, I’m glad you’re liking the blog.

In regards to having an T-shirt under your dress shirt, I think the mistake a lot of people make is going with a crewneck instead of a v-neck. A v-neck will manage to hide better when you’ve undone the top button of your dress shirt. That’s what I wear and I usually buy something cheap from J.C.Penney on sale (if you sign up for their email list you’ll get tons of free shipping or sale notices and then you can just buy a bunch in bulk). Some people prefer to go with some more expensive undershirts that wick sweat away, but I’d say unless you live in a really humid climate (or are rich) then just stick with T-shirts that you can get cheap. I use the Stafford Essentials line because they offer their shirts in a “tall” sizing, so that means it’ll stay tucked in, as these shirts tend to shrink with multiple washings (plus, I’m kinda tall).

Still, the reason why I say that people should wear a tie and jacket is that it’ll really help improve your appearance. If you wear a jacket, it’ll slim your figure (provided it fits properly). If you wear a tie, it’ll keep your collar upright under a jacket. I find that unless I’m wearing a really stiff collared shirt or one with a button-down collar, then it risks “slouching” under the jacket when I wear it.

I get that some people have apprehensions about wearing a jacket and being “too dressed up” at their job. But I’d say you don’t have to wear a worsted wool blazer or something as “sharp” looking. An easy solution would be to turn toward cotton chino jackets with some distressing or washed fabric. This is inherently more casual and layers nicely across the seasons. Lands’ End, J.Crew, Rugby, L.L.Bean Signature and even Brooks Brothers offer such coats (and obviously, you can buy more expensive options). A linen jacket in the summer can look appropriately casual and rumpled — get a jacket with functioning buttons and roll the sleeves up. And in the winter you can go with a thornproof tweed jacket, just add some leather patches on the elbows for a more casual look.

If people ask why you’re wearing a jacket, just use an excuse. Tell them your wife/girlfriend really likes how you look in it and that you do as well. Or say that you like having all the pockets to carry your phone, wallet, pen, knife, chapstick, moleskine notebook and handgun (j/k). Do this for a week or two and people never bring it up again.

If you’re still not sure about the jacket, then consider sweater vests, cardigans or waistcoats. All of these will hide blousing on our shirts and suppress your midsection a bit while adding a layered look. Just get a handful of ones in different weights for each season and you’re set.

If you’re budget’s thin, hit up thrift stores, eBay, Etsy and sign up for email lists so you can get discounts at places like Lands’ End (and L.E. Canvas), which has a ton of discounts on the basics. Keep your eyes peeled at Styleforum Buy & Sell’s classifieds for steals on otherwise expensive stuff. Never pay full price and wait for after season sales to pick up stuff at a discount (usually at around 50-70% off retail).

I will note that at my office, I’m the only one who consistently wears a tie and jacket everyday. I don’t have to do it and I didn’t always do it. I got some crap for it and still get teased about dressing like I’m “Mr. GQ”, but I don’t mind, because I’m dressing for myself. I want to carry myself, purposefully, in this way. It’s something that I enjoy and it gives me a sense of pride everyday knowing I’m carrying myself the best I can.

At the end of the day, my attitude is best summed up by Kanye West: “Can’t tell me nothing”.

22
Jul

Mission Impossible: Suit, shirt, tie & shoes on $500 budget … in less than a day

A friend of mine came to me with a predicament: He needed a suit for a meeting and presentation he had to give. He didn’t have a pair of dress shoes. He didn’t have a tie or shirt. He didn’t even have socks. And the meeting was the next day.

Oh, and his budget was around $500.

In fairness, he’s living out of state for the summer to work on his startup and had moved all of his wardrobe to California, meaning he brought none of it with him when he came to visit Chicago. A company he’s working with found out he was going to be in town and wanted to meet with him, putting him in a bit of lurch.

I tend to agree with Put This On that you can’t really do “cheap/good/fast”, because you end up sacrificing so much along the way. However, I brainstormed what I think ended up being a decent outfit given the constraints. Here’s what I came up with for him over the lunch hour:

The Suit: Tommy Hilfiger “slim fit” solid-navy, worsted-wool suit, $220 at Macy’s

The suit I’ve linked to might be different than the one in the store (the link says “sharkskin” but that’s not what I’d call it in store, could be different but looks the same). My friend’s got a more athletic torso, so I figured the “slim fit” line might actually look decent on him without the need to taper the sides. I was pretty close in my estimations. The suit fit pretty well for an off-the-rack, no-time-to-get-altered option. The cuffs needed to be shortened, but he had to forgo that option because of time constraints.

The only alterations that needed to be done were the trousers to hem them to a slight break. The sales associate (evil!) tried to convince him to go with a full break, but after I cuffed the hem under a bit and said to look at the straight line the crease makes to your feet, he was convinced to hem them shorter.

I’ll give Macy’s credit though: they knocked out his alteration on the trousers the same day by 5 p.m. If you need a suit fast, be sure to go somewhere where you can pay for a “rush” alteration service — and make sure they do alterations, too.

The suit came to around $200 on sale and with tax and alterations. Not bad for something 100% wool and slimmer fitting. I suggested he get the cuffs shortened later, but it would look OK overall given the situation.

The Shirt & Tie: Tommy Hilfiger club-stripe tie and white “tailored fit” dress shirt, $50 at Nordstrom Rack

If you need a cheap shirt off the rack and a wide (and somewhat random) variety of brands and sizes, Nordstrom Rack is a pretty good option. I just randomly guessed my friend’s neck and sleeve size and happened to find a white dress shirt that nailed his fit on the first try. For $30, it certainly fell within budget and fit him great.

As for a tie, Nordstrom Rack has a pretty wide selection of stuff, but I went with a Tommy Hilfiger club tie because I knew the knotted fairly well (I have one) and certainly were cheap enough. For around $20, it would work.

Shoes: Allen Edmonds black calf Park Avenues, $200 at Nordstrom

Doesn’t need much of an introduction and my friend lucked out they were on sale. I wouldn’t say this falls under “cheap”, but it’s certainly a solid purchase that’ll actually contribute to a larger wardrobe over time.

So, that’s how I’d spend $500 to get a complete outfit — in a single day with zero other alternatives. Obviously, this isn’t ideal at all, but I don’t think at the end of it any one of those purchases were bad. And certainly, it’s better than shuffling into the Men’s Warehouse in a panic mode and buying whatever they throw on you.

Is there a better (cheaper, perhaps) way to spend $500 to get fully suited up? Sure. But within limits, I’d doubt it.

My friend said the meeting went really well and he got several compliments on his suit asking where he’d gotten it. So, that’s a plus.

Takeaway:

  • It can be done — if you have prior knowledge of what various places carry, who does alterations, how the types of clothes fit and where current sales or discounts can be had. Otherwise, this would be a much more expensive exercise.
  • Everything will be a compromise, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad compromise where you lose more than what you gain.
  • Maybe traveling in a suit when you go on a plane is a really good idea, as Gay Talese likes to point out.
16
Jul

I'm interning at a senators office this fall three days a week. Any advice on some wardrobe basics I should look into? Right now, the only piece of formal clothing in my closet is an ill-fitting brass buttoned navy blazer that I've owned since I was 15. Also, any advice in general for a college student hoping to make the best of this experience? Thanks!

- Asked by Anonymous

Congrats on your internship! I answered a somewhat similar question to this before. You can read that here, so I won’t rehash everything there.

Not sure what your budget is, but I’d say get at least one suit and one blazer, a few dress shirts, a few ties, some grey trousers and maybe a v-neck sweater or sweater vest (cashmere or wool, depending on your budget) for when you want to dress down a bit or layer up, two good pairs of shoes with matching belts.

I’m not sure if you’re working in a district office or on the Hill, but if it’s in a district office you might be able to just get away with one well-fitting navy blazer instead of the suit. Although, I’d argue that having a suit on hand is never a bad thing and an essential for every guy’s wardrobe.

If you’re on the ramen-noodle budget and looking for specific brands to buy new at retail, then I’d recommend the following:

  • Suit: Lands’ End tailored fit suit separates (sign up for their email list, wait for 30% off entire purchase coupon code, happens every few weeks)
  • Blazer: Lands’ End Canvas or LLBean Signature have a lot of options. If you want something more classic though, I suggest hitting up a thrift store or eBay. Both have an infinite supply of navy blazers. Just find one that’ll fit in the shoulders and length and have it tailored to your arms and chest. That’s what I did.
  • Shirts: I’d recommend Brooks Brothers Extra Slim Fit shirts. A bit more pricey for off-the-rack, but the fit is good and they go to exact neck/sleeve sizes. I haven’t really found others that match the fit/price.
  • Shoes: Allen Edmonds right now is down to $200 at Nordstrom, but you could probably find a few used options for much less on eBay.
  • Ties: The Tie Bar at the lowest end has a good selection for the price. Quality’s on par with any other “made in China” neckwear. If there’s a Nordstrom Rack near you, hit them up. Lots of their neckwear is pretty meh, but if you can find their Nordstrom 1901 line, they usually sell for $10 and are made in the USA. For silk knits, I’d suggest Lands’ End.

The good news is that you’ve got a few months to plan ahead and start scouring for deals on eBay and StyleForum’s Buy & Sell classifieds. If you don’t know your measurements yet, get that done (plenty of resources online to help you out). You could potentially score some better quality stuff at lower prices. Time’s somewhat on your side.

As far as general advice, I would recommend just working hard, don’t blog/Facebook/Twitter about work and give and ask for as many business cards as you can (and always have yours with you — I store a few in every jacket I own so I always have one).

Oh, and while the job is inherently political and perhaps partisan, just keep an open mind to those on the other side of things. I work for Republicans, but I maintain friendships with people on both sides of the divide. I try to find open-minded people, because they’re much more interesting to be around and you’ll learn more.

08
Jul

Tips/suggestions for looking dapper in college?

- Asked by Anonymous

I’m guessing you’re on a ramen-noodle budget?

I’ll probably expand this into a full-blown series (I’ve been meaning to write it, but have been putting it off), but here’s a brief set of bullet points:

  • Don’t spend your money on clothing, spend it on alterations.
  • Know your measurements and only buy clothing that fits (or can be altered easily to fit). Spending money on clothes that don’t fit your body (and that you can’t return) is a quick way to blow money. There are a lot of online guides to help you measure yourself and learn your real sizes. Don’t trust sales associates in department stores to measure you correctly.
  • Sign up for mailing lists for online retailers. Lots of them will have discount codes and sale notices. Major brick & mortar retailers will have sale schedules around the same time every year.
  • Never pay full price for any article of clothing if you can help it. Get stuff on sale.
  • Never cut corners at the tailor or shop around for “cheap” alterationists. You get what you pay for. If they do good work, then they’re worth the money they demand.
  • Go to sample sales and thrift stores. Go on eBay. Go on Etsy. Go on StyleForum’s Buy & Sell threads.
  • Avoid having to buy clothes in a rush. You will most certainly pay more and get lesser quality.
  • Get one good charcoal/navy/dark grey suit, one white dress shirt, one solid (navy or burgundy) necktie and one pair of quality plain, closed-toe, leather-soled captoe dress shoes (probably black) with matching belt. On a practical level, you need to be able to have one go-to dressed up outfit that fits perfectly and can be worn at a moment’s notice. You never know when you’ll need one and at the very least you’ll use it for interviews. Have this ready and on hand. You don’t want to be the guy the day before he’s got an interview scrambling to borrow a clean shirt and tie from someone down the halls in the dorm. Be prepared.
  • Don’t be afraid to wear your school colors on gameday on a T-shirt or sweater. It’s college and you’ve gotta have pride in your institution!

(Can I get an I-L-L…?)

About The Silentist

A menswear blog on finding your personal style, written by Kiyoshi Martinez.

I work at Khaki's of Carmel and live in the Monterey Bay area. Formerly from Chicago.

E-mail me, I'm fairly nice: thesilentist@gmail.com

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