How and where can I shop for neat and tasteful men's clothing while staying within a responsible budget?
Me: male, late 20s, 5′8″, 165 lbs, short skinny torso, longish arms, big head. Most of my weight is in the lower half of my body.
I dress pretty mundanely in cold weather: long-sleeve shirts, knitted vests, sweaters and zip-ups, dark-wash jeans, peacoat and wool scarf in winter. However, I wouldn't mind being just a bit more grown-up, dressier, and more creative with my clothing choices. I also value versatility and work in a very casual environment.
I end up shopping for clothes almost exclusively at the Gap and Banana Republic stores: their sweaters (etc.) come in small and are affordably priced. The downside is that their clothes lose their shape quickly, and their woollen items are very prone to pilling. Also, I end up looking like everyone else who's wearing this year's argyle sweater.
For years, Nordstrom Rack was my secret weapon, but in the last few years they've turned into a more expensive Marshall's. I went this weekend and couldn't find any warm clothes in small, tended to "swim" in whatever clothes I tried on. Pretty much everything was in silly plaid and polka dot patterns or just general teenage fashions (printed tees, waffle thermals, and so on).
Occasional visits to stores selling second-hand clothes reveal piles of jeans and golf shirts, but not much else. I live near a big state school in a not particularly wealthy area, so the selection is naturally limited.
I've looked at discount online retailers like the Sierra Trading Post, but apart from basics like tees, everything seems very expensive. For instance, browsing for men's sweaters, the majority of items are between $175 and $300 in price. I know that MeFi users often recommend paying for quality, but if I bought everything in my wardrobe at $175 an item, I'd go broke. Also, my specific build means that shopping for clothes online has a distinct element of trial and error.
It doesn't help that men's clothing selection at most stores is very limited and does not tend to get discounted as readily or as deeply as women's clothing.
- How do I get away from the two stores where I always seem to shop? Which brick-and-mortar retailers, besides Gap brands, should I explore?
- What general tips can you offer for shopping for men's clothes with character on a relatively basic budget?
- What tips can you offer for clothes shopping in my specific area (northeast DC suburbs and areas reachable by car, including Annapolis and Baltimore)?
- Which blogs/sites should I be reading on the topic of "timeless" men's styles for budget-conscious shoppers?