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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
- 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.