Being eminently fashionable and image conscious gentleman it is perhaps unsurprising that contrary to pervading stereotypes, we actually enjoy shopping. Long gone are the days of being dragged around the shops by our mothers, forced to try on clothes we didn’t care about, spending an all too brief amount of time in the toy shop and the inevitable, hateful and embarrassing walk through the ladies underwear section of M&S. Our tastes have developed and we aren’t the kind of men brought along by spouses to carry bags, (although this does still happen for we are of course chivalrous gentlemen) we go along because we want to.
The freedom of growing up means we can wear what we want, when we want and with no nagging parent to give us unhelpful advice. However, most importantly, we can shop where we want. The freedom we are privy to makes retail consumerism, the feeling of guilt after each purchase and a much lighter wallet a joyous experience – shopping has become an event that we wish to repeat as often as Top Gear is shown on Dave.
But despite the collective pleasure derived from our enjoyment of shopping we are all still individuals. Our shopping method (or lack there of) gives us different parameters and results; we look for different items, we have different budgets, different styles and different tastes. In fact you could almost guarantee that not one of us would shop in exactly the same way, and thus we arrive at the subject of this debate – just how much does the way we shop affect the way we dress?
Our image or our style is very personal, as we have said many times before that it is a representation of you as a person; your personality, your choices; individual direction shapes how you dress. The way you shop has very close links to the final product, i.e. the way you look and the factors I have previously mentioned will all inevitably have an influence.
In life, money is the key to everything and the case is no different with clothes; looking good costs money, and lots of it. The fact that our desire to look good and dress well is a purely aesthetic and visual notion does perhaps make that guilty feeling a little stronger than it might be with other essential purchases, but it is a choice that we have made in order to feel confident and look the best we possibly can – in this respect I think that we can all agree; it was a good decision. Nevertheless, our budget is hugely important.
The amount of money you have to spend – more than anything else – will either dictate or influence every aspect of your style and style choices. On the surface we have two distinct groups; the first is students, whom for the most part have little money and inhabit the likes of H&M, Zara, Topman, the bins around the back of these stores and the sales. The second group is almost everybody else, the men that have jobs and don’t sit around watching day time telly (this is actually true – I spend an awful lot of time watching day time telly), whom inhabit everywhere and anywhere they fancy.
However, the distinction is far from this clear cut. For example, you could be a hard working man with a full time job but you still can’t or have no wish to spend a vast amount of money on your clothes, despite your interest in the way you look. It is very easy to assume a standard, but the way we shop is not that simple.
Whilst monetary constraints will in most cases restrict the average shopper to cheaper end of the high street, it does not mean that everyone will follow the pattern – our individual attitude towards WHAT we buy and HOW we shop vary immensely. Personally I like to invest in my clothes, I avoid the lower end and as such purchases are few and far between, but whilst I might not think too much about spending £70 on a shirt, my housemate simply cannot fathom my reasoning, he is far more interested in getting more clothes for the same amount of money.
This does not mean that money is not an issue for me, far from it, I am still a student and cider retains its top three place on my list of priorities. However, in terms of clothes my attitude towards where my money is going is clear – I want guarantees of quality, fit, shape and material. That is MY attitude towards clothes, it is neither right nor wrong, but an expression of my choice.
You must then ask yourself whether you are an investor or the type of person that wants as many clothes as possible.
Having taken into consideration clothing parameters – price, quality, fit et al – we must then ask ourselves how far budget will dictate our style. We have identified what basis we are shopping on but that does not mean we have centred upon an image. Does your budget decide whether your style remains consistent and timeless through investment or does is force you to make the most of the more fashionable aspects stores? Do you shop in a particular shop because you cannot afford to go anywhere else?
We must also consider the online question; we can now buy clothes with the click of a button but that will not suit everyone. A lot of you will be happy to buy items untested, whilst others will prefer to try before they buy. It can also lead to more impulse purchases, as it is easier to pick things you like on a screen only to later find them very different – although this last point has been negated somewhat with the introduction of free and convenient returns services for most major online retailers.
If you are less concerned with material or quality (for whatever reason) then there is no need for you to spend a fortune. But even then, with the likes of Topman and Burton creating ranges that make a big point of using high quality, totally natural fabrics in their clothing, the question of whether anyone needs to fork out for their clothing anymore is made even more complex; arguably, it then becomes a question of brand.
What drives our choice of brand and shopping method? We have discussed how budget will influence our choice of shop but how might our style decide our purpose? Each company has its signature image, be it the youthful exuberance of Topman, the more refined and modern classicism of Zara or the monochrome, distressed and fashionable works from AllSaints; this will reflect in the clothes they produce and the looks that can be created from them. We will always find a brand that works best for us, for our look and for our needs but is this decision taken by the style we want to create? Certainly shopping a regularly at a particular brand will create a style that is a reflection of that but does it dictate our overall look?
With budget and style the issue is more of image difference; does a style, recreated with items from the high street and then again with more expensive items actually appear that much different? Whether it is necessary to spend more money than you need to is all down to personal choice, your situation and your attitude. Where you spend your money is all down to these same parameters and how you spend your money is just the same, but I think it would be hard to deny that it does have an influence.
Below are a variety of menswear essential products from the high street, and then from premium designer brands. Both blocks feature comparable items in order for you to see the difference in styling, price, fabrics and quality. It is necessary these days to spend more than high street prices?
Your image is very personal. It is created by you, maintained by you and developed by you. Your attitude towards your clothes is a hugely important part of your look and I think it is crucial to consider just how much influence how (and where) you shop has on how you look; changing your style could simply be a case of changing your shop.
But now its time for your view – Exactly how do you Shop?
As always, let me know in the comments below.
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