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The Style Girlfriend Guide to: Clothes that are Worth the Splurge

By Megan Collins | Last Updated: Feb 25 2016

I’ve gotten a few questions from people asking what wardrobe items are actually worth spending money on, and where they can cut style corners. I don’t have all the answers, but here’s a rundown of the stuff I think you should at least consider shelling out for, and what you can leave on the shelf.

Shoes: Worth the $$$

Shoes are something you should be able to wear for a long time, so are worth the – sometimes hefty – price tag. Finishing off an outfit with a well-oiled, broken-in shoe brings your whole look together. And, like a fine cheese, the good ones get better with age. (What, you thought I was going to say wine? C’mon, I’m from Wisconsin) The boat shoes that by now I hope you own? If you show them a little leather conditioner love from time to time, they’ll last you through your first grandchild. Same goes for a really nice pair of sneakers. I’m not saying you have to keep them fresh to death – a scuff here or there is okay. But when you bust out a pair of Air Max ‘95’s from 1995 in 2010? That’s when you know you’re stylin’.

Leather accessories: Worth the $$$

What I just said about my beloved boat shoes? It applies to all leather goods. If you’re going to go leather, you might as well go all the way. My brother-in-law bought a sick leather jacket in Italy five years ago, and it looks as money as the day he bought it, every time he puts it on (Note: it helps that he bought a really timeless style of jacket – think classic guys – no bells or whistles, trendy collars or cuffs, unnecessary zippers or buttons!). While my bro-in-law doesn’t have occasion to wear a leather jacket every day, there are items that can and should be worn every day. And if you shell out for the good stuff – leather: no “synthetic material” and dear god NO pleather – you’ll be looking good for years to come. That goes for belts, wallets (unless you’re still carrying one of those old Jansport velcro kinds around, in which case, that’s a whole ‘nother column) and any kind of satchel/messenger bag you might own.

Suits: DEFINITELY worth the $$$

I’m planning a column entirely devoted to suits soon, as the topic has come up a quite a lot recently. What cut? How many buttons? Which material? The list of questions goes on. The first thing I can tell you, though, is that it absolutely pays to go bespoke. A custom-tailored suit is hands-down the best purchase you can make on the road to becoming a grown-up. Maybe you suit up every day for work; maybe you only need to dress up when a distant relative gets married (or, heaven forbid, drops dead). Either way, do you really want to show up in an off-the-rack from Men’s Wearhouse? Let me answer that with a resounding “N-O.” I mean, if you’re reading this column, you’re already a smooth dude, or at least a smooth dude-in-training, so you’re about ten steps ahead of most of the guys I see walking down the street in ill-fitting outfits. Think of it this way; you work hard on yourself – you work out (I hope), you eat right (sometimes) and you keep a couple books on your nightstand when Sports Center is talking about tennis. Why encase all that hard work in a cheap frame? You deserve better – you deserve a nice suit.

Hair Products: Not worth the $$

Please do not pay for fancy hair gunk. There are plenty of drugstore alternatives to the pomade the pretty hair stylist at your salon pushes on you. I promise you can get the same stuff for less at Walgreen’s. So many guys I know use Crew products, and they sell that stuff at Cost Cutters! So you don’t need to buy the fanciest thing your stylist (if you have one) recommends, because there’s probably something that works just as well at the grocery store. And so you don’t think I’m all talk, I want you to know that I use Tresseme products (Professional – Affordable – Tresseme!) and whatever shampoo is on sale at Duane Reade when I run out.

A note: if you want to buy the fancy stuff and expect a girl to see it, she may be 1.) impressed you’re so fastidious about your appearance, or 2.) appalled you’re so fastidious about your appearance. See how that works? Girls are tricky like that. It’s a risk that may or may not pay off, just putting it out there.

T-Shirts: SOMETIMES worth the price

I’ve never seen a guy look better than when he’s sporting a plain white Hanes t-shirt and some well-loved Levi’s. You don’t need to buy fancy tees to pull off a great look. That being said, there are some t-shirt brands I love that, while they cost more, also, well, look like they cost more than a Hanes undershirt. Among others: LRG, 10deep, Artful Dodger, Penguin… One or two of these in your wardrobe will go a long way to make you feeling a little more dressed up, even in a t-shirt and jeans.

Have other style-related questions? Just ask!