Introduction

Are you happy? I mean REALLY happy?

Forgive me for beginning this article with what might usually be associated with the start of a DMC (deep meaningful conversation), but bear with me, because it is relevant.

Not to sound like a massive ‘negatron’ but I think there is always something that could make our lives that little bit more exciting; that little bit more perfect. As humans we are very good at being content, comfortable and satisfied. Pushing boundaries, for most people, just isn’t the done thing.

However, making changes, even those that seem so fantastically small so as to not make any noticeable difference at all, can have a big impact on your life.

For me that change has been to introduce a little more spontaneity into my life (or as much as I feel physically and mentally able to). So far, spontaneity has resulted in me meeting a whole new group of people, making my own bread, almost going on a last minute trip to Morocco and generally being a bit wilder than I usually allow myself to be. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone that has previously thought of themselves as a bit ‘safe’.

But not all spontaneity is good. Spontaneity can get you in a great deal of trouble, it can result in decisions you might well live to regret and in the context of men’s fashion, it can mean your bank balance is a great deal emptier than is perhaps sensible.

We all love clothes and we all love looking good, but no one loves not having any money. We all make snap decisions whilst trawling the shop rails – but are they always as successful as we first thought? How many times have you bought something and not worn it?

I covered the wardrobe spring clean a couple of weeks ago and it’s only right that I do as much as I can to prevent you from making the same mistakes. Buying clothes that you are proud of and completely sure about will make a big difference to your style and level of confidence, so it’s worth taking your time.

Here are some of my top tips when it comes to planning your fashion purchases:

1. Take Stock Of What You Need

We all have things we want to buy, but wanting is very different from needing. If you’re anything like me, there are probably certain parts of your wardrobe that you hold on to for a little bit too long – not because they don’t work but because they’re basic things that you just don’t ever think about.

Wardrobe staples are the things we wear the most so they need to be kept in good condition and, if necessary, replaced regularly. Always think about what you need over what you want. You can get by without that third pair of brogues when your Oxford shirts are looking a little tired. Get your priorities in order.

Affordable Basics

Over the years certain high street brands have become renowned for producing high quality, affordable basics. Based on feedback from previous articles and our very own forum, the likes of ASOS, Gap, American Apparel and UNIQLO seem to have the most consistently good reviews. These would be a great place to start when it comes to refreshing the foundations of your capsule wardrobe.

Tip: Look out for multi-pack or mix and match deals at retailers because they often offer even bigger savings:

  • Asos T-shirt With Crew NeckAsos T-shirt With Crew Neck
  • Asos V-neck T-shirtAsos V-neck T-shirt
  • Asos Long Sleeve T-shirt With V NeckAsos Long Sleeve T-shirt With V Neck
  • American Apparel T-shirt Variety 3-PackAmerican Apparel T-shirt Variety Pack
  • American Apparel 3-Pack Oxford Short Sleeve ShirtsAmerican Apparel 3-Pack Oxford Short Sleeve Shirts
  • American Apparel Organic Fine Jersey T-shirt 3-packAmerican Apparel Organic Fine Jersey T-shirt 3-pack
  • Uniqlo Men Dry Pique Short Sleeve Polo ShirtUniqlo Men Dry Pique Short Sleeve Polo Shirt
  • Uniqlo Men Premium Cotton Crew Neck Short Sleeve T-shirtUniqlo Men Premium Cotton Crew Neck Short Sleeve T-shirt
  • Uniqlo Men Extra Fine Cotton Broad Cloth Long Sleeve ShirtUniqlo Men Extra Fine Cotton Broad Cloth Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Slub Henley TSlub Henley T
  • Slub V-neck TSlub V-neck T
  • Solid Modern Oxford ShirtSolid Modern Oxford Shirt
Mid-Premium Basics

For those of you who have slightly more disposable income, or who like to really invest in these versatile pieces, there are many mid to premium priced brands who offer high quality, well cut and durable basics. Reiss have long been a favourite with FashionBeans readers, whilst other brands such as J Crew and Sunspel come highly recommended.

AllSaints are extremely popular for those who prefer a slightly more edgy cut or fit, and the brand have started to produce basics without their trademark ‘ramskull’ logo – a welcome change that allows a more minimal approach to dressing.

  • Reiss Dayton Short Sleeve Basic V-neck TshirtReiss Dayton Short Sleeve Basic V-neck Tshirt
  • Reiss 1971 Westin Pique Polo Shirt With LogoReiss 1971 Westin Pique Polo Shirt With Logo
  • Reiss 1971 Vince Striped VestReiss 1971 Vince Striped Vest
  • Allsaints Ranger V-neck T-shirtAllsaints Ranger V-neck T-shirt
  • Allsaints Ranger Crew T-shirtAllsaints Ranger Crew T-shirt
  • Allsaints Ursen Long Sleeved Crew T-shirtAllsaints Ursen Long Sleeved Crew T-shirt
  • J.crew Slim-fit Linen ShirtJ.crew Slim-fit Linen Shirt
  • J.crew Cotton-jersey T-shirtJ.crew Cotton-jersey T-shirt
  • J.crew Slim-fit Slub Jersey Henley TopJ.crew Slim-fit Slub Jersey Henley Top
  • Acne Standard Cotton-jersey T-shirtAcne Standard Cotton-jersey T-shirt
  • Sunspel 0350 Blue Shadow Polo ShirtSunspel 0350 Blue Shadow Polo Shirt
  • Levis Vintage 50’s Dark Grey Sports TeeLevis Vintage 50’s Dark Grey Sports Tee
2. Have A Want List

Just because I’ve said wardrobe staples should take priority over the special items that we want rather than need, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t treat ourselves occasionally.

Having a want list gets the creative juices flowing and gives you something to work for. Being able to buy something you’ve wanted for ages because you finally saved up the money makes the purchase all the more sweet.

A want list will also help you with another stage: making sure you buy the right things.

3. Make Sure It All Fits In

Whether you’re looking at basics or those one off pieces that you really want, there is little point in buying something that you can only wear with one or two other items you already own.

Making sure everything works with everything else (or provides as much versatility as possible) will be hard work – especially if you’re trying to incorporate something a bit different – but it’s worth the effort.

Being able to throw open your wardrobe and pull together multiple combinations effortlessly is what we should all be aiming for.

With this in mind, don’t be afraid to make small compromises to your want list in order to make things work. You might have always wanted a pair of bright yellow trousers but I see little point in spending money on them only for you to wear them once.

Developing Your Wardrobe Palette

Colour is one of the most important considerations when it comes to purchasing new clothing. Often it is colour that will determine whether the new piece you are looking to add will get a lot of use, or simply be forgotten about two weeks down the line.

Make sure you learn and understand your colour wheel because it will help you pick out garments which complement your existing pieces. If your wardrobe is full of green, then you could integrate tones of yellow (similar colour), red (complementary colour) or orange (contrast colour) effortlessly into your looks:

The Basic Colour Wheel

Read Matt Allinson’s introduction to colour article for a quick refresher course.

Having an overall colour palette in mind whilst shopping will also help you make smart choices. I have already broken down how to integrate winter colours into your existing wardrobe this year, and take note of how all the colours below are of a similar tone, making them easy to mix and match when getting dressed in the morning:

An Example Winter Colour Palette

4. Don’t Rush Into Things

They say that if you want a tattoo, have it drawn up and stick it somewhere that you will see it all day, every day. If you still want it after a year then go for it; if there are any doubts, maybe it needs a rethink.

This principle applies in much the same way to clothes. Sure, those basic t-shirts don’t need much thought but when it comes to the more expensive things – leathers, shoes, coats and even jeans – you need to be absolutely sure you have picked the right style, the right fit, the right colour and the right shape. It will make you walk much taller.

Find styles that you like, narrow them down and then leave it for a while. The more money you are set to spend, the longer you leave it. Come back to them occasionally and see if the spark is still there. Try them on – over and over again – just make totally sure they are right for YOU.

5. Keep An Eye Out For Bargains

Once you’ve made your decision, make the effort to save yourself some money. Look for voucher codes, saving money on delivery or getting an extra 10 per cent off could mean another pint in the pub. Watch out for flash sales; most brands like to have one-off sales at some point during the season, so it might be worth holding out for another couple of weeks.

Trawl through eBay, not just for vintage bargains but also new stock or dead stock that can be snapped up for a fraction of the original price. It’s worth spending the time sifting through the rubbish to find that one stand out piece that fulfils your spec (just don’t go wild and buy things because they happen to be cheap).

Sales are obviously great, but be careful. Reduced prices tend to make people a bit loose with their purse strings and it’s all too easy to think you’re buying something fantastic when you wouldn’t normally have even considered it.

6. Do You Really Want It?

Finally, the ultimate question you must ask yourself is: do I really want it? If it works with your wardrobe, the fit is perfect, the colour is just so and you’ve still got the urge, go for it.

Final Word

As fashion conscious men our wardrobes are extremely important to us. Getting every element just right is our ultimate goal, so whether it’s maintaining our wardrobe, spring cleaning it or making sure that every new item we add to it is perfect, thinking above and beyond what our hearts tell us to do can only be a good thing.

Planning your purchases will make a huge difference to the relationship you have with your wallet, it will change the way you look at your clothes and it will drastically affect the way you wear them. If each piece is carefully planned, the product of hard work and in complete harmony with everything else, you’ve got a winning combination.

As ever, I want to know what you guys think and whether you have any personal tips when it comes to planning your clothing purchases, so let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Will