7 January 2015

How to spend wisely and get value for your money

Most people have a limited amount of money available, and when the bills and the food have been paid for, there may not be that much left to invest in improving the sartorial aspects of your presence. How much money one has to spend on clothes, shoes and accessories will vary greatly from one person to the other, but just about all have limits to work within. What most people have in common is that they want to get their money to stretch as far as possible and to get maximum value out of them. I am definitely also in the same situation, so I always have to give it some good thought before I buy something or start a new bespoke project. Because of this, I have learnt a lot about how to get the most out of the money I've got and that's what I would like to share with you in this article.

Buy out of season
This can be a big money saver. If you're not concerned with always having the latest fashion items, buying for the season that just passed is an excellent way of getting good value for your money. Giving up fashion is not a problem at all and should rather be seen as an advantage. Fashion does little good for your personal style, so it's best avoided.
By the end of summer or early autumn, there are so many things that won't be in season for at least six months and companies are desperate to get rid off it to make room for the coming season's new arrivals.
Come spring, linen and seersucker suits are not likely to be on sale, but if you manage to think ahead there will very good offers available come end of the summer and early autumn. Buy your summer clothes in the autumn and your winter clothes in spring, and you may be able to get your hands on items you otherwise couldn't afford. The last thing I bought this way was a summer suit which I bought in the beginning of October. I had long wanted a seersucker suit but I had never found the money to actually buy one. So, when I found a Tommy Hilfiger one at a very reduced price I couldn't resist. Now, I just hope for some decent weather in the summer so I'll actually get an opportunity to wear it.
Bought out of season you can get summer clothes
at very reasonable prices. Like this seersucker suit
I bought in the beginning of October.
Photo: AGL
Buy second hand
Buying second hand can be quite time consuming as you will probably have look at a lot of things before you actually find something that you actually like and, at the same time, is available in your size. On the rare occasion, I may find a second hand jacket or a coat which I think might be worth buying, but generally I find it quite difficult to buy second hand clothes. Accessories, on the other hand, are perfect for second hand shopping. Ties, cravats, scarves, cufflinks, tie pins etc. are all excellent items to look for in second hand stores or on eBay (or other sites selling used items). I especially like to buy ties on eBay. You will need some time as you will probably need to look through hundreds of ties before you find anything really nice, but the gems are in there and I've bought several items on eBay that I'm very pleased with, at very affordable prices.

These are the ties during my last raid on eBay.
Photo: AGL
Pure wool jacket bought in a second hand shop for
40 Euros. For me that's excellent value for money.
Photo: AGL
Be opportunistic
Strike when you come across bargains that are too good to miss. Sometimes, quite unexpectedly, you come across items that are put down so much that they suddenly have dropped into your price range. One example of such luck is from two years ago in a little town in northern Italy called San Candido. I had been to this town some years earlier and I hadn't been terribly impressed with the selection of menswear available. When I visited again two years ago, I had no hopes of finding anything of interest, except for, perhaps, coffee and cakes. I still went into a few shops and in one of them were a couple of clothes racks with a big 70% off sign. Normally I never find anything that's nice or fits me on these racks with marked down clothes. This time, however, was very different. As it happened I found a cashmere jacket and a raincoat with only one left of each, and both in my size. Both items were Armani, a brand I had never bought anything from before (or after for that matter) because it's too expensive. With the 70% discount the items were still quite pricey but they had dropped into my price range and I couldn't let this opportunity pass me by. So, with a massive discount, I ended up with a cashmere jacket, soft as a kitten, worth €1030 and a very nice raincoat worth €500. This is nothing that happens very often, so when you come across bargains like these, you have to act.

The Armani cashmere jacket which with a 70% discount
became affordable.
Photo: AGL
Don't save on everything
Following the above advice will get you some really good stuff for your hard earned money, but sometimes one should treat oneself to something special. Something you'll have to save up for. There is nothing quite like having a garment made especially for you. So, if you manage to save some money and want to give yourself a real treat, visit a tailor. At least that's what I would do.
Also, don't try to save money on shoes. With regard to shoes, it is very difficult to do really good deals. Really good shoes are rarely significantly discounted, so here you will probably have to spend a bit. There are plenty of cheap shoes available, but cheap shoes don't last and are not worth the little money they cost. Invest in some good quality shoes and they will last for a long time, and significantly improve the way you look. 

Some good advice
Now, I've talked about how to get good things for a price you can afford, but just as important is what not to do. Don't buy things just because it's cheap or highly reduced in price. The most important thing is that you actually like what you're buying. If you don't really like, it doesn't matter if it was cheap. I have a rule I try to follow to avoid buying things of poor quality or things I only like a bit. If I don't think I will wear it after two years, I don't buy it. Try that next time you're going shopping and maybe you will shop more wisely.

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