Man of Fashion

07 January 2009 · 6 comments

Writing for Get Rich Slowly provides me with some interesting opportunities. I get a lot of interview requests. Some are better suited for me than others. Here’s one I received yesterday:

I’m a writer and editor at DETAILS and I’m looking for some financial advice

for our Style section. Basically, we’d love to hear your advice on how much

guys should spend on their wardrobe (x% of their salary) based on their

income (under $100K per year, $100K-$200K per year, $300K,  etc.). Our

reader is probably used to splurging on a designer item here and there and

we’d like to hear your advice on budgeting for his closet for 2009.

And here is my reply:

I’m flattered that you would come to me for advice on this. Unfortunately, I am probably the last person in the world qualified to speak on this subject — not because I don’t know how to budget, but because my wardrobe consists of “Costco and thrift stores”. While I’d be pleased to have conversation with you about budgeting, and even about shopping for clothes, my approach is probably not anything like that of your readers. I am not a man of fashion.

My approach to budgeting for clothes? If I find a shirt I like at Costco, I buy it in all five color variations. Once a year, I rummage through the thrift stores for sweaters and pants.

If I’m really feeling daring, I buy something from Filson.

Aren’t I dashing?

1 Jeff January 7, 2009 at 08:34

On Friday we went to Goodwill… they had a nice selection of almost brand new striped polo shirts… I think I bought about 5 of them. :-)

If they are hanging on a rack at Goodwill, does that mean they are already out of style, or does it mean they just got the wrong size for Christmas? Hmmm…

I think I’ll go back soon to look at their selection of pleated (and cuffed) trousers… ;-)

2 Jarvitron January 7, 2009 at 09:24

The concept of buying enough clothing per year to constitute a percentage of your income is horrifying. This reminds me of the time I read an article in Esquire about the best bargains in mens fashion and it suggested a $200 pair of blue jeans, a $3000 sport coat, and $240 dress shirts, as a great addition to their “basic wardrobe” which they estimated at $20,000.

3 Lauren January 7, 2009 at 13:28

I think you have an opportunity to discuss this with stylish readers. While I agree with the last responder that “a percentage of income” should be spent on clothes, I have discovered that better clothes (better stitching, better fit, more style) come from higher level stores and ‘designers’. These clothes last longer as well – they do not fall apart in washing or cleaning.

That being said, I myself cannot fathom a $200 pair of jeans or a $100 cotton t-shirt, which many designers sell. However, you (as a financial explorer) can honestly advocate shopping carefully for staple clothing pieces like jackets, casual pants, business or dress pants, and layered wear like vests. This is not an unusual idea – the women’s magazines have been discussing this for years (ad infinitum).

Please do not turn down media discussions like this. Instead, “mold” the conversation starting from your own experience (ie: Costco) but being silent that your every clothing comes from there. You need media attention to upkeep your blog, your future speaking engagements, and your plans for a book. You will need to be your own PR person until you hire one… since this is the case, you need to “say yes” to every media request which is not against your morals or ethics. You just will need to speak carefully to help their readership.

Just a thought…

4 Jeff January 7, 2009 at 14:02

The day my brother, JD Roth, does an interview about fashion, just to get media attention, is the day I declare that he has sold out.

I see your point, Lauren; but I don’t see JD sacrificing his integrity (pretending to be something he is not) just for media attention… unless the lure of fame, fortune, and book deals has really changed him from the JD of old.

5 Kris B. January 7, 2009 at 19:02

Isn’t Filson great? Jeff wears a jacket or two that his grandfather wore decades ago, and they still look fantastic.

6 Lauren January 8, 2009 at 09:34

I looked back at this blog entry to see what was responded. @Jeff, I definitely understand what you are saying — and I wasn’t suggesting that JD “sell out” whatsoever. I was merely suggesting that JD use the interviews to help people find a new viewpoint. The readers of DETAILS are not the type who shop in thrift stores. But JD CAN translate quality buying methods to any reader. He can, for example, translate his idea of buying clothes (“when I find a good buy, I purchase in every color”) which is something that DETAILS readers may not consider.

That being said, JD also has a good point: why purchase new clothes when old clothes in the closet are still in fine shape? All the more reason to have quality clothes in the first place: they last. (I am a “buy cheap” person also – also buying from thrift stores. Yet I have recently discovered that if I shop carefully, and in the more quality stores for new, I can get a better buy overall than cheapie clothing. I recently found out that real polar fleece clothing works better than faked polar fleece… go figure.)

It’s not about sacrificing integrity. It’s about being able to use the “get rich slowly” mentality across every income dimension.

My humble opinion, of course.

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