Where to shop for Men's clothes?
June 2, 2010 4:01 PM   Subscribe

Where do people shop for cool MEN'S clothes? I'm not 21 and don't want to wear skinny jeans with plaid Vans. But I'm not 40 and do not want to dress in the JCPenney uniform of khakis and golf shirt. I've tried JCrew and Banana Republic -- ok, but a bit stuffy or fratty. H&M is just strange. I'm looking for clothes I can wear on a Fri or Sat night. Date w girlfriend. Out with friends at a cool bar. Any ideas on where to shop?
posted by antipode12 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (43 answers total) 83 users marked this as a favorite
It would help if we knew where you lived.
posted by dobbs at 4:04 PM on June 2, 2010

Where do you live and how much do you have to spend?
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:05 PM on June 2, 2010

I'm 30 and I get most of my clothes at Old Navy. They have their share of "fratty" clothes but they have a good selection of clothes for people in the not-too-young-not-too-old age group.
posted by Beardsley Klamm at 4:10 PM on June 2, 2010

Check out: APC, Nomme de Guerre, Wings + Horns, Rag and Bone. They all make nice stuff. In Toronto you could shop at Nomad. If you don't live in Toronto or want to spend a bunch of moneys you should probably make this question less vague.
posted by chunking express at 4:12 PM on June 2, 2010 [5 favorites]

I usually hit up Express. The clothes there actually fit so they look hipper than say a jcpenny outfit but they might be a little dressier than you are looking for.
posted by cirrostratus at 4:13 PM on June 2, 2010 [6 favorites]

If you are in the US, Eurooe or Japan, you could go to Uniqlo. That place is awesome.
posted by chunking express at 4:14 PM on June 2, 2010

Buy some dark blue jeans. You can go to Uniqlo for those. Find a few well fitting shirts, not too busy looking. You can go to TJ Maxx or Daffys for those but you'll have to sort through the loads of crap before you find some decent ones. Now finish it off with a pair of shoes that fit your style. You're all set. Want to dress it up a bit? Put on a jacket. I saw some nice ones at Banana Republic today that would look great with dark jeans and a not too busy looking shirt.
posted by gfrobe at 4:19 PM on June 2, 2010

Uniqlo, Topman, or Zara can cover your basics relatively frugally, but for your style pieces you'll likely need to go thrifting, vintage shopping, or venture into a boutique or ten. What do you like to wear? Who are your big style icons? What shoes do you own?

too "help us help you"?
posted by a halcyon day at 4:21 PM on June 2, 2010

I recommend that you read Jesse Thorn’s newest project: Put this On.

As an older-than-21 and not-yet-30 year old male (I’m a teacher and a vegetarian too, btw), I generally wear an old pair of Diesel Jeans I bought in 2005 (and rarely wash) with some sort of 100% AmApp shirt and my Keen (nerd alert) sandals.

In the winter, I generally wear a grey-ish pair of slacks from BR or JCrew with some sort of mildy-ironed shirt tucked in, or a warmer pair of jeans (Cleveland has horrible weather) with some thicker-soled (gasp!) Keen shoes. I also have a pair of barely-comfortable black shoes from Aldo that match everything for weekends. I like buying shoes at Nordstrom Rack because they are inexpensive and tend to have my size.

If you’re in the Cleveland or Columbus area, check out Brigade.

So to summarize: American Apparel, Banana Republic (sales only), Nordstrom Rack, J. Crew (sales only), and Brigade (in Cleveland or Columbus).

I invest(ed) in my work wardrobe quite a bit more with well-fitting clothing from Brooks Bros. or components from Dillards or Kaufmanns when they are on sale.
posted by vkxmai at 4:35 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I meant 100% cotton AmApp shirt.
posted by vkxmai at 4:36 PM on June 2, 2010

(I think antipode is in Brooklyn)

(oh, wait, I see from the uniqlo mentions we've figured that out I guess)

posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 4:38 PM on June 2, 2010

I know you ruled out J Crew, but I would strongly disagree that they are either fratty or stuffy when worn like in their catalogs. Go to the website and look through how they arrange men's clothes. It's much more humanities grad student than frat boy. And for what it's worth, Banana Republic I am with you on. The other brand that gets talked about a lot in terms of reasonably priced, but well designed menswear is Rugby. I sometimes find them a bit gaudy and fratty, but many of the items are quite solid nonetheless. Uniqlo would be great if you were in NYC, but I suspect that isn't the case because you're asking this question.

But like everyone else said, you gave us nothing to work with. If you want what's typically considered good contemporary menswear, I suggest having a look at Blackbird, a store in Seattle. Even if you can't get to their physical location, their web store has a lot of the brands that are considered the face of contemporary men's clothing. Just as a place to find your taste, it's a well-curated selection. Also, go read through Valet, a mens clothing blog. Their tastes tend toward the preppy and traditional, but there's enough diversity to give you some ideas of brands and stores as well.
posted by Schismatic at 4:38 PM on June 2, 2010

posted by dmbfan93 at 4:55 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you tried the Gap? I definitely prefer them to old navy, though they're slightly more expensive (but generally more stylish and of higher quality).
posted by kylej at 5:01 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I second Topman and Zara, and check out Esprit.
posted by funfetti at 5:16 PM on June 2, 2010

Club Monaco tends to skew less fratty. Their stuff is pretty basic and classic, so you should be able to mix-and-match pretty easily.
posted by awegz at 5:37 PM on June 2, 2010

As with most things, you're going to need to trade on either time or money. Which do you have more of?

If money, then the answer is relatively easy. You pay people or boutiques to do the homework for you in the form of editing/curating the currently available fashion choices. Do a quick yelp search on the city you're in for the brands chunking express mentioned and go to town. It'll cost you, though.

If time, then you need to do your own homework. Men's clothing is fantastically boring. The only real differences are materials (better costs more) and cut (more panels, better tailoring cost more). Anything from the Gap corp (including Old Navy/Banana/etc.) is really no different than the khakis/polo shirt level of quality, just a different demographic. The problem with the spending time approach is fashionable choices for men are hard to find at affordable prices because value doesn't place emphasis on good tailoring or fit. You'll probably want to look at places like sierratradingpost.com or the Nordstrom's Rack or Saks Off 5th or thrift stores if this is the way you're going to go.

The no money approach would be to look for options that sell on value (ie. quality at price - places like costco or Land's End) and find a good tailor. The no time approach goes to the boutiques, and still hits the good tailor, though less often. Even if you take the no time option, there's plenty of well made men's clothing that simply won't be cut right for your body, so if this matters to you, be prepared to try things on or return lots of purchases if buying online.

I like Esquire magazine for basic style guidance. Practically every issue covers decent tips that hit your age range exactly.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 5:42 PM on June 2, 2010

If I lived in New York, I would shop at Odin.
posted by josh at 5:48 PM on June 2, 2010

The majority of the stuff at J. Crew is pretentious.

The majority of the stuff at H&M is downright weird.

The majority of Zara's stock caters to Brüno wannabes.

The majority of Banana Republic's clothes are overpriced.

That doesn't necessarily mean that 100% of the merchandise in these stores is crap. Although it'd be nice to find a store that caters exclusively to my "style," I can make do by hitting up a handful of stores, and picking out anything that catches my eye, and is within my budget.

I was in a Jos.A.Bank last weekend, and almost everything in the store was half-off. Although their stuff is normally way out of my price range, they had a few casual-yet-conservative shirts that caught my eye, and weren't outlandishly expensive thanks to the sale. Might be worth checking out...
posted by schmod at 5:56 PM on June 2, 2010

I would disagree about Banana Republic. I get lots of my Friday casual clothes there and I work in a very formal environment. Maybe the store you've been too doesn't sell their dressier stuff.

Aside from that, I'll vote for Uniqlo if you have access to one.
posted by fso at 5:57 PM on June 2, 2010

Some of my coworkers and friends frequent Ask Metafilter, they're gonna laugh if they recognize me giving anything resembling fashion advice. So there's your grain of salt.

That said:

Be comfortable. You don't like Banana Republic-preppiness, JC Penney-stuffiness or American Apparel's-commercial-hipsterness? That's cool.

Me? I wear Levi's - found anywhere from a Levi's "anchor store" to JC Penney, in fact - and some other nondescript jeans I've acquired at a thrift shop. I've got a noticeable smattering of overpriced but very comfortable and durable (and often organic) clothes from Patagonia - sometimes it's even practical stuff. I used to do a lot of backpacking and weeks-long camping. Now I just do day-hikes and the rare all-day cycling trip on the odd weekend. I am still most comfortable in clothes that'd I'd feel comfortable doing that in on a moment's notice. Probably 20% of my regularly worn wardrobe is various brands all found at REI. But that is just me.

If I'm joining friends and they choose somewhere more preppy, I will swap in a nicer polo shirt (I've got a couple from Banana Republic). I poke around Filene's basement for odds'n'ends I'm actually comfortable in (not the trendy looking stuff they carry, probably 6 months behind the curve or whatever) but also for slacks, dress shirts and blazers (as needed for work or more preppy but allegedly casual circumstances).

Otherwise, I find, being completely comfortable in your own skin on a night out matters. That means wearing what you want and going someplace that isn't going to make you paranoid about the dress code - and having friends who keep it real.
posted by mjb at 5:59 PM on June 2, 2010

Ask your gay male friends of similar age to take you shopping for clothes and fashion advice. Buy them something nice in return.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 6:14 PM on June 2, 2010

H&M is a bit strange, but you can find some nice stuff there that would fit what you're looking for.

With a lot of stores, I think it's important not to stereotype them too much. Sometimes if you take some of the individual items out of that stores atmosphere and pair it with something else, the item will give a completely different impression. So try not to get distracted by the atmosphere and types of outfits the store is pushing and just look at some of the items of clothing on their own.
posted by Diplodocus at 6:20 PM on June 2, 2010

G-Star Raw, Brooklyn Industries, Bloomingdale's.
posted by infinityjinx at 6:29 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

A nice pair of dark jeans is what you need. Actually, several of those would be good. And buy whatever shirts you like, as long as they fit. If your clothing fits you will look better than most people. Shoes with basic simple designs are good. Converse shoes and Sambas will go with almost anything casual that you might wear.

Avoid cargo pants, cargo shorts, and anything else with cargo. And don't wear bulbous multi-colored running shoes unless you are actually running.

If you dress the way I described, you can shop pretty much anywhere. Even Target!
posted by twblalock at 6:48 PM on June 2, 2010

I'd suggest checking out Martin & Osa. They're the more grown-up version of American Eagle, owned by the same company. Some of their stuff can be a bit trendy (e.g., nautical style this summer), but their casual menswear seems to be tailored well and is reasonably priced.
posted by supramarginal at 6:57 PM on June 2, 2010

You want to wear these:

Ralph Lauren Black Label, Paul Smith, Etro, Adriano Goldschmied, Loro Piana.

My everyday stuff is mostly JCrew and Ralph Lauren. The brands mentioned above kick it up a notch for when you are going out-- without you looking like you are trying too hard or looking like your shop-a-holic girlfriend buys your clothes.
posted by L'OM at 6:57 PM on June 2, 2010

I don't know what sort of fashion you prefer, but I'm in your cohort, not twenty, not forty, and I've just thrown in the towel. Part of it was reading No Logo at an impressionable age, which sort of confirmed my 'why am I paying money to advertise a brand' lean. For the most part, my wardrobe is solid color t-shirts, solid color long sleeve shirts (t-shirts, henleys, thermal waffle), and button down short sleeves and long sleeves. I get my casual clothes from Old Navy ($5 t-shirts), Gap (same parent as Old Navy, slightly nicer materials, slightly more expensive, wait until a sale), and Eddie Bauer (nicest fit/materials, more expensive, online sales are frequent). I've moved on from cargo pants (usually Gap) to khakis and jeans. You say you don't want to go the khaki route, but Dockers (I know) makes essentially khaki jeans. The material is khaki, but the pattern is jeans, down to the rivets and five pocket construction. I think the name of the style is D3, and they are freakishly comfortable. I used to go with Eddie Bauer jeans, but they changed the style, and I don't really care for the 'new' style of jeans (much coarser material, different coloring) where every company tries to mimic the $300 a pair companies.

For dressier stuff, I've discovered I have a weakness for Brooks Brothers' shirts. They fit very well, though they are a bit pricey. I still have a random printed t-shirt or two, but I don't wear them very much. I usually try to avoid paying more than $20 for anything shirt like, or $40 for pants, with dress shirts and slacks being the exception.

Maybe this helps?
posted by Ghidorah at 6:58 PM on June 2, 2010

I have bought attractive ribbed T-shirts and nice loose button-up shirts (usually cotton or silk blend, some with a subtle raised design) for my husband at Kohl's. They're not quite 40ish guy but not hipster trendy either. I don't know as much about pants--I'm a straightforward jeans or khakis kind of gal.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:05 PM on June 2, 2010

If you are in the US, Eurooe or Japan, you could go to Uniqlo. That place is awesome.

Note there is exactly one in the US though, in NYC. And it's madness. And the ones in Europe are all in the UK.
posted by smackfu at 7:39 PM on June 2, 2010

If there's a Nordstrom Rack near you, see what they have.
Sometimes you can find some really good deals on very nice clothing.
Nordstrom and Banana Republic are about the only places I can find clothes anymore....
posted by nickthetourist at 8:13 PM on June 2, 2010

I've found, strangely enough, that Target (if you have those around where you are) can be pretty good for this sort of stuff. (Also, I am cheap). I know their suits are fairly well thought of on the internets (with some tailoring), and I've gotten a sport coat or two, some polo shirts, a few button down shirts here and there (for work and not-work), etc. You just have to be kind of picky and look for the right stuff.

I'd also recommend Banana Republic, as several others have, especially for sweaters. I have a number of lightweight wool and cashmere v-neck sweaters that I picked up on sale that I wear almost constantly.

Overall, I think it's much more about being really selective than finding the perfect store. I also find myself picking things up at the Gap, but I go in knowing what I'm looking for. Especially when it comes to jeans, I like them a lot; my favorite pair of dark jeans were bought on sale at Gap for something like $20 and I wore them out far too soon because I wore them so much.

And if you're looking for crazy fashion ideas, check out The Sartorialist's blog. Sometimes really non-"fashion-y" things come up that I think are super neat ideas.

Best of luck!
posted by scdjpowell at 8:50 PM on June 2, 2010

It's pricey, but I really like Buckle. I also pick up shirts and other things at Old Navy (and even Target) on occasion.
posted by digitaldraco at 8:53 PM on June 2, 2010

Really, good clothes are everywhere: I buy my husband's clothes at Land's End. You just have to figure out what you're looking for. APC, Uniqlo and maybe Steven Alan are good places to get inspiration, but I think they're a little pricey for what they are. Do check out Valetmag.com.
posted by Jane Austen at 8:56 PM on June 2, 2010

I've had good luck finding some clothes at Tristan and America (the one in the eaton centre in Toronto). A lot of their stuff is overpriced and douchey, but you can find a few hidden gems.
posted by sarastro at 9:35 PM on June 2, 2010

Banana Republic can be really hit or miss. I find I actually like the stuff in their outlet stores better than their main stores so you might want to try there.

Depending on what style you want, I would second the suggestion of Express. They have nicer trendy stuff however in the last couple of years the design team changed and their printed tshirts went to crap. They're now a bunch of glittery euro-trash garbage with crappy designs and cuts. But their collared shirts are pretty decent.

Also check out Club Monaco, Barneys, Beau Brummel and Calvin Klein.
posted by Elminster24 at 10:15 PM on June 2, 2010

When I did live in NYC, ~6 years working in the fashion industry in my mid twenties, I'm not sure I can say I ever actually bought anything from an actual store, other than 1 shirt from the Ralph Lauren store on UES (because a friend worked there who gave me her discount) and a few things (including a Zegna suit) from the H store in SoHo (again, friend who worked there hooked me up with the discount). Other than those two stores, while I was very familiar with the clothing market in the city and the wide variety of stores to choose from, there really wasn't any point. There are so many employee-outlets and sample sales every week in NYC that there is no reason to ever pay retail, anywhere. For the former, my favorite was the Theory "Employee" store near the corner of 42nd and 5th ave (NW, that's all I'll give you to go on). Its not actually an employees-only shop, its just that typically only employees and their friends / family know about it, and all the prices are half of stated retail. There are lots of other versions of these around.

Better still though are the endless sample sales. Hugo Boss does a couple of these a year over at an open-space in the west 30's near Madison Square Garden - good for suits, some casual wear, and shoes. For denim you have a whole slew of designers, last time I was there I picked up a few pairs and shirts at Earnest Sewn's sample sale, really good stuff (but you can also get it at TJ Maxx for similar or lower prices). There's a small fashion-tech design outfit called DDC, they would have sample sales where you could get some really cool shirts on the cheap. Chelsea Market hosts a lot of pop-up sample sales in their open-space area there too. They are all over - you just need to get on the email lists (Thrillist, Manhattan Users Guide, etc.) so you get a heads-up of when and where the next one will be.

You can still get some good stuff when you find a discount sale going on in a Zara, BR, Paul Smith, Club Monaco, et. al. - but for heavens sake there's no reason to ever pay retail price, not if you're living anywhere near the city.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:19 PM on June 2, 2010 [5 favorites]

My boyfriend wears many things from Nau and looks wicked hot doing it. He always looks really well put together in their clothes. I think it's the cut and the meticulous detailing; the clothes always look like the designer really paid attention. They're youthful but elegant.
posted by jesourie at 2:13 AM on June 3, 2010

Check out these brands:

Wings and Horns
Rag and Bone
(some) Paul Smith
John Varvatos
Gant Rugger

and these stores (all of which have an online presence)

South Willard
Barneys Co-Op (which is about to have its spring/summer sale)

Don't ditch a place just because you see a few weird or fratty items. J.Crew sells some ugly cargo shorts, but they still sell nice white oxfords and sun-washed chinos that can dress up or down.

Remember: it's not the label on the piece, but how you wear it.
posted by achompas at 1:06 PM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Based on your earlier questions, you're about 37 years old and you either live in or are moving to Brooklyn. The good news is your NYC shopping options are as good as they get in North America. The bad news is you have to start stocking up on khakis and golf shirts, stat, in preparation for your 40th birthday.

In the meantime, you need to consider what your style is and what you want it to be. As posed, your question is kind of like asking what restaurant you should eat at, without telling us what kind of food you want (except that you don't like anything too spicy or too bland). If you had any idea of what you want to wear, you'd already know where to get it. Spend some time looking at Nerd Boyfriend, The Impossible Cool, Ivy Style, Selectism, and, as mentioned above, Valet. Several of these sites provide links to purchase the featured clothing.

And remember, it's all about fit. A cheap, well-fitting garment is better than an expensive one that doens't fit well.
posted by Mendl at 6:17 PM on June 3, 2010

Sorry if this is off-topic, but what about H&M do you guys find weird or strange exactly? Here in the Netherlands, and I imagine in other parts of Europe as well, H&M is considered about as middle-of-the-road as it gets for the 16-30 demographic.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:30 AM on June 4, 2010

H&M sells mostly european-styled clothing, which is slightly different than what Americans are looking for.
posted by talldean at 4:02 AM on June 8, 2010

Seriously hit the thrift stores...If you are of average size...you will have a variety of styles and eras! For cheap. If you are creative you will look sexier than Dr. Who
posted by gypseefire at 12:38 AM on January 1, 2011

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