The Problem With “Quality Over Quantity” and “Buy Better, Buy Less” From a Young Man’s Perspective:
If you’ve been reading any menswear blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard or been told that buying something that is of higher quality is worth the price tag. Someone has said that bespoke GJ Cleverly’s are worth the couple grand because they last a long time with the right care. Someone has said that the Cucinelli cashmere blazer is worth the couple grand because the fabric is soft, and the construction is unparalleled, and the lapel stitching is fucking gnarly, and Cucinelli is a generally great guy, and bullshit, and no one really knows. After reading the musings of menswear bloggers and magazines for a few years, I subscribed to this belief. I used it to justify some expensive purchases and spread “wisdom” to anonymous question askers. I’m just going to get right to it and say that I was, for the most part, wrong.
This belief system might not be wrong for everyone, but it sure as hell is wrong for me. In fact, I’d be willing to say that this belief system is wrong for about 93% of the people that read this blog. Most of my audience is comprised of undergrads and recently graduated young professionals. There are also those younger and older, but the majority are people +/- five years from twenty-one. As a college student, the “Buy better, buy less” and “Quality over quantity” methods of purchase just aren’t practical. They don’t make sense for someone who has to pay for school, or books, or rent, or at least a twelve of Yuengling once or twice a week.
I’ve been looking at my wardrobe lately, at the things that I have bought, and tried to find the best purchases that I’ve ever made. I contemplated every variable, and I came up with five non-thrifted items. They are not the goodyear welted or the fully canvassed. They are not the single-needle constructed or the hand-rolled. They are the things that made sense for a college student to buy. The list includes a Timex Classic ($25 plus $10 NATO strap), a black watch L.L. Bean Lambswool Scarf ($35), a light brown pair of J.Crew Slim-Fit Chinos ($69), Clarks Suede Desert Boots ($90), and a Lands’ End Canvas Navy Chino Blazer ($35). I wear my Timex almost every single day; with a navy strap, it matches everything. I wore those chinos for two years, before the crotch blew out. They’re retired on the top shelf of my closet right now (I’ll have them repaired when I get the cash). That scarf has been worn on almost every cold night for the past two and a half years, and the Clarks have probably been worm more than any item in my entire wardrobe (two years later, they look like shit, so I just wear them to parties and when I’m late to class).
The greatest purchase I have ever made is that navy chino blazer from Lands’ End Canvas. It was on sale for $35 dollars at the beginning of last school year, before LEC prices went up, and I snagged one of the last ones. The style is perfect, compliments on the patch pockets included. The fit is slim and youthful, and it was 35 dollars. It was 35 fucking dollars. Are there nicer blazers? Hell yes there are. There are way nicer blazers. However, in the history of my wardrobe has there ever been a more appropriate blazer for me? Never. I can wear that with literally every pair of pants I own, and I’ve worn it at least a hundred times. It’s not the greatest blazer, but it’s the right blazer.
These are the purchases that college students should be making. These are the purchases that make sense. If you’re a successful businessman or you own your own menswear outfitter, go ahead and wear the bespoke. Wear the Rolex or the Omega. I’ll be admiring them from afar while I realize I should have been in class ten minutes ago courtesy of my Timex. You know what the difference is between my Tie Bar pocket square and a Drake’s tiger print pocket square? Two handles of Gordon’s, two thirties of Keystone, a six pack of Victory Golden Monkey, two cheeseburgers from Five Guys, and a bunch of extremely solid nights. You know what the difference in construction is? There isn’t one. It’s a fucking pocket square. Save that stuff for when you’re making six figures.
It’s about your position in life, and it’s about your budget. There are times when I’m broke as shit, and I literally cannot “buy better”. I don’t. There are also times when I can. Neither cheap nor expensive is the answer. Now, regardless of the situation, I buy what I can afford. Don’t think that “Quality over quantity” and “Buy better, buy less” are always the ways to go; they aren’t. The saying and the advice should not be “Buy better, buy less”, it should be “Buy appropriately”.
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