Shopping on a Budget: An Updated Men’s Style Starter Kit, Part 4

Last week was a departure from regularly-scheduled programming on Siblings With Style, as I shared with you a profile on a fast-moving start-up company, Linjer Leather Goods (who has now raised a whopping $71,240 of its initial $50,000 goal). But this week, we’ll get back to the basics — and back to the bottomline — with the final part in an ongoing series on rebuilding (or adding to) your wardrobe on a budget. While previous entries have tackled dressier items, casual knits and basic footwear, this week will wrap things up with the details that can sometimes be most important — your accessories. Read on and prep your shopping cart for a budget-friendly revamp.

The Versatile Jacket: Old Navy

A classic silhouette at an affordable price.
A classic silhouette at an affordable price.

For one of the more essential accessories a guy can have in his wardrobe, we turn once again to Old Navy, a store with a history of providing polished basics at affordable prices. They’re a great place to go to for easy-wearing knits, and the same proves true of their classic bomber jacket. It’s a piece that’s absolutely on-trend at the moment, while also being utterly classic. The ribbed cuffs and trim silhouette aren’t overly flashy — just straightforward and reliable. While it would also be useful to diversify your offerings with, say, a more rugged denim jacket or a dressier belted trench coat, starting out with a classic piece in an easy-to-match color makes a lot of sense. This particular silhouette is a lot like the classic Harrington coat, but this option is a lot more affordable.

TOTAL: $40

The Overcoat: Uniqlo 

Dressy? You bet. Casual? Works there, too.
Dressy? You bet. Casual? Works there, too.

While a lightweight jacket like the above option can get through at least two (or three) seasons of the year when taking the right approach to layering, there are times where something more polished-looking (and slightly warmer) is required. Uniqlo’s topcoat has been popular across the blogosphere for a while now, and it’s a solid option for a piece that can work over a variety of outfits. It’s long enough (and dressy enough) to cover blazers and suits, yet it can (and should) be worn casually, too (see No. 1 on this list for more on that). Although it’s not the warmest of coats (at least according to some reviews), it should be fine when layered properly (think dress shirt, sweater, blazer, topcoat, if it does indeed get extra cold). Again, this isn’t necessary the only coat you should have in your fall or winter wardrobe, either (a workwear-inspired coat might also be nice to have), but it’s one heck of a versatile jumping-off point.

TOTAL: $150

The Belts: Old Navy

Assuming that from this wardrobe rebuilding (or revamping), you’ll be incorporating both black and brown shoes into your wardrobe, belts that match both those shades are a definite must. And if you’re already an old pro at creating fail-proof outfits, it never hurts to find out a low-budget alternative to cheaper belts, right? Old Navy again and again offers surprises in the #menswear department, especially these belts. Available in black and a middle-of-the-road brown (with an eye-catching gold buckle), either would work well for business casual wear or even more dressed-down outfits, particularly at 1 1/8″ wide.  Scoop up two now for a total of about $20 and you’ll be set for dozens of outfits.

TOTAL: $20

The Sunglasses: American Optical Aviators 

A timeless frame with military history.
A timeless frame with military history.

It’s tough to argue with something as classic as an aviator silhouette, especially the choice above. They were James Bond’s sunglass of choice in his most recent outing, and they’ve gained notoriety plenty of other places, as well. They look good on a variety of face types, they’re wearable with casual and business casual outfits, and they’re a style that won’t be going away any time soon. If these aviators don’t strike your fancy, J. Crew Factory offers a rose-gold aviator option, as well as other sunglass styles for even less than the pair pictured here. Although the price tag might be a little misleading (cheaper generally equals lower-quality), this company’s the real deal — a military supplier with pedigree, and more affordable than Warby Parker or Ray-Ban.

TOTAL: $60

The Watch: Invicta

Rolex Submariner styling for thousands less.
Rolex Submariner styling for thousands less.

It’s true that not every man needs a watch, or wears a watch, for that matter. But it’s an accessory that can set one apart for those same reasons. In an age of so much digital technology, there’s something comforting about a solid, sturdy wristwatch. Since loading up with several watches is something of an aspirational, long-term goal, the focus here is on one timepiece that, like the rest of these offerings, works for both casual and dress situations. A silver dive watch fits the bill perfectly — it doesn’t need to be matched with black or brown leathers, and that in-the-middle color also means it can be worn with brown dress shoes and a brown belt. Mimicking the classic Rolex Submariner, the Invicta Pro Diver is affordable, versatile and durable. In my own personal collection, the diver has worked wonderfully with everything from T-shirts and jeans, blazers and chinos and a light grey suit.

TOTAL: $87

The Socks: Express

Lots of color and pattern for not a lot of dough.
Lots of color and pattern for not a lot of dough.

While some would rule out Express when building a well-curated wardrobe, it’s an often-overlooked starting point for crisp, well-fitting dress shirts and even other pieces (as long as that pesky logo stays out of the way). Namely, socks hit the sweet spot at Express — while a bit much at $10.90 per an individual pair, bundling through their frequent sales can net as many as four pairs for $25. That’s a pretty good deal when you look for pairs in versatile (yet fun) colors that can complement pieces already in your wardrobe. They offer a couple different options, too — some marled dress socks, a zany plaid pair or a more traditional Argyle pattern all definitely work here.

TOTAL: $25

The Rest: H&M, J. Crew Factory 

Both wallet-friendly options that will fight the cold.
Both wallet-friendly options that will fight the cold.

The truth is, not everyone needs cold-weather gear (and if you’re one of those lucky people, good for you!). For the rest of us who need to bundle up against a vicious polar vortex at least once a winter, staying warm is essential. There are definitely ways to splurge on fine gloves and scarves (look no further than MR. PORTER’S website, for example). However, there are definitely ways to save money, too. H&M’s leather gloves, while perhaps on the slightly-thin side, are one way to keep some money around for a potential upgrade later on. Up top, you could add in an extremely affordable beanie cap as a finishing touch. And as far as scarves go, one reliable option that would be a step up over H&M is J. Crew Factory. Featured earlier in this budget series, you can get a neutral-colored knit scarf for under $25 when on-sale, a far cry from other, significantly less affordable options.

TOTAL: $53

When factoring in all the necessary accessories you might need to build a basic (and functional) wardrobe, that brings today’s total to $435.  Across the entire four-part series, that brings the overall total to $1,285 (so the $1,300 Budget Challenge is in effect for next year!). As with the other parts in this series, the total here is substantially more than last year’s overall recap. However, this year’s series is much more inclusive, more category-driven, and more focused on season-specific pieces, like gloves, a scarf and an overcoat for the fall and winter months. It’s also worth noting that all of these pieces don’t have to be bought at once — in fact, your wardrobe should be replenished gradually over time. Additionally, these pieces are exceptionally versatile and should last for multiple seasons — granted, they won’t last as long as long as major investment pieces might, but sometimes, buying a piece at a lower price gives you more time and motivation to save up for a larger splurge down the road. We can’t all dress on James Bond’s budget, but you can steal similar looks for lots less.

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