Look around your office, and what do you see? Cargo pants? Polo shirts? Backpacks? No, what you see are schmucks – schmucks dressing like little boys following their dads to work.
I’m not saying that men’s fashion died with the fedora, but it certainly got knocked down, beaten, and left in a back alley somewhere while modern men started dressing like the confused children of army commandos and prison inmates.
What happened to neat lines and clean pleats? Where’s the wool? Why do men only seem to know one way to tie a tie (the deplorably thin and boring four-in-hand)?
In some circles, real men’s fashion didn’t disappear, but unless you work on Wall Street or in an upscale boardroom, the odds are that your office stretched “casual Friday” into “let’s all dress like idiots EVERY day.” As a consequence, sophisticated menswear has either gone up in price or down in quality, and we as a culture don’t know what to look for anyway.
That’s why the thrift store can be a man’s best friend. Sure, you could spend a ton of money on a brand new suit, but you could also get a much better deal at your local thrift store, supposing you know what to look for.
Obviously, avoid anything stained or damaged. Touch the fabric – does it feel substantial and comfortable? Read the label too: you want wool, not cotton / poly blends or anything like that. If you’re just going to buy a cheap (not inexpensive, but cheap) suit, head down to your local department store and buy the same boring navy blue number that everyone else has for special occasions like Easter dinner, Bar Mitzvahs, and traffic court dates.
While you’re at thrift store (or even better: the thrift store’s mature cousin, the antique market), get things for your house and apartment. Giant bronze table lighter shaped like Rodin’s The Thinker? Check! Elegant cufflinks inlaid with amber, jade, or onyx? Check!
Not to be grim, but often, our seniors leave behind things that their inheritors don’t truly appreciate. Show a little respect for bygone eras: be less of a Donnie Wahlberg, and more of a Don Draper! Antiques and intelligent thrift store buys are perfect for the young man just starting out: for just a little bit of your hard-earned money, you get clothes, accessories, and décor that outshines anything your coworkers are wearing or using, and you’re showing respect to the fashions and tastes of the people who will be hiring or promoting you.
In short, it pays to go thrift – read up, buy wisely, and have fun!