Last June I wrote a post on five areas of your style in which you can save money. So, I figured this June I would touch on the five times where I recommend splurging. I don’t think that price necessarily equates to quality. However, I do believe that in these five areas, when you bump your budget a bit, the return value justifies the purchase price.
If I could afford it, my shoe rack would be overloaded with as many pairs of John Lobb shoes as I could get my hands on. I’ve tried these shoes on a few times (just for fun), and they are absolutely amazing! They take wearing shoes to a whole new level. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I swear it’s true. Unfortunately, they’re not in my budget. Not even close. What I’ve learned about shoes though is that a well-made pair can last decades. With a little maintenance, some shining, and new soles every once in awhile, quality shoes are a lifetime investment. I recommend taking a look at brands like Magnanni, To Boot New York, and Allen Edmonds. These brands usually carry a price tag I can stomach when spread out over twenty years, while, at the same time, have the quality to ensure the shoes will last that long.
One of the things I love about traditional wet shaving is the savings. I’ve shown before how much money one can save over the course of two years compared to shaving with a cartridge razor. However, fragrance is a different animal. There are plenty of colognes which are “dupes” of more famous or higher quality colognes (whether they admit it or not). In my experience, I have found these “dupes” contain a chemical quality which results in an inferior fragrance. They also tend to lack longevity and sillage. What good is a cheaper cologne if you have to apply it four times as often? Some of my favorite houses on which I can always rely are Floris, Penhaligon’s, Creed, Guerlain, and Acqua di Parma.
One more word of warning. I have changed my purchase habits. I now avoid buying any cologne unless it is direct from the perfume house website or from a trusted retail store (e.g. Nordstrom, Smallflower, Maggard Razors, Italian Barber). Too many online retailers and discount stores offer fraudulent copies, previously opened packages, and products that are too old for retail sale. If I’m going to spend the money, I want to be sure I’m getting the real thing.
Few expenditures can improve the looks of one’s clothing like some quality tailoring. An expert tailor can take a simple off-the-rack, navy suit and transform it into a convincing custom-looking suit. When shopping for a suit, be sure to include the cost of tailoring in your budget. It’s much better to buy a less expensive suit and spend what’s necessary on tailoring, elevating the look dramatically, than to spend as much as you are able and pass on the alterations. A well-tailored, cheaper suit will always outshine the more expensive, untailored one. When looking for a tailor, avoid dry cleaners that offer in-house alterations. Your best bet is to find an independent tailor that you trust. These tailors are usually willing to take the extra steps and make the minor alterations that can truly improve a suit. If this proves difficult, I have found that the tailors at Nordstrom, Brooks Brothers, and Jos. A. Bank are capable too.
One of my favorite current writers is Ryan Holiday. He reads a lot. In his article “How to Read More - A Lot More” he wrote, “I promised myself a long time ago that if I saw a book that interested me I’d never let time or money or anything else prevent me from having it.” I’ve tried to incorporate this idea into my own philosophy on books. Sure, I have a stack of books waiting for me, but I use that as motivation to finish the one I’m currently reading. I think the money spent on a book is never a waste. Every book you pick up is a learning experience, and that is always worth the money.
I don’t write about alcohol a lot on this blog, but having served a wine steward for years I don’t mind commenting every once in awhile. To reiterate what I wrote at the beginning of this article, I don’t believe that price equals quality. This is certainly true with wine. There are many undiscovered gems sitting on the racks of your local wine shop. The trouble is buying and drinking enough bad wine to find those gems. If you don’t have the time, energy, or patience to drink that much, try spending a little more. A $20 bottle will generally beat out a $10 bottle. And for just a few bucks more, people will remember that gift you brought or rave about the bottle you opened when they came over. A good bottle of wine can elevate an evening from sitting around just drinking any old swill to a night to remember. The food tastes better with good wine. The conversations are deeper. The romance is peaked. Loosening up those purse strings in the liquor store pays dividends down the road.
I’d love to know what you think. On what purchases are you willing to spend a little more? Get the conversation started.