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Men: where to find high-end style for less
Men used to have a much tougher time than women when it came to fashion, with two distinct options: cheap high street, expensive designer, and not much in between. If you wanted to splash out and invest in some high-end fashion, you simply had to spend a considerable amount.
Thankfully, retailers have clued up to the fact that some men, like women, love a bargain AND want to look good, and aided by the internet, there's now a wealth of ways for men to find high-end style without spending the full whack. Be it mid-range alternatives, savvy web shopping or ways to hunt out a bargain, we show you how to make savings with high-style men's fashion.
Flash sales e.g Vente Privee
If you're familiar with the concept of Groupon and other such 'group buying' websites, you'll be pleased to know that this money-saving method of shopping also stretches to fashion. Crowd-purchasing power applies to websites like Vente Privee, Cocosa and Brand Alley, where 'flash sales' on items bought in bulk include designer clothes, shoes and accessories, and they even have a dedicated menswear section.
Recent men's designers on Cocosa include John Smedley and Vivienne Westwood, and with a bit of digging (and patience) you can find some of the best bargains on the web. All you need to do is sign up, register for email alerts, and you'll be kept in the loop with all the latest offers.
High-end high street
While this doesn't strictly equate to 'high-end' style, a few high street retailers are producing men's fashion that, with some savvy shopping, make for comparable quality. Items that you need to buy regularly, such as informal shirts, t-shirts and casual trousers, don't necessarily warrant the designer investment.
Most people would agree that £100 on a t-shirt from a high-end label falls into the 'pointless investment' category. That's not to say you shouldn't shop wisely for these items, as there are a few high street shops which can give you good quality, trend-following everyday fashion which looks designer. We especially like Uniqlo, Zara, and ASOS for these pieces. Make sure you try the items on to check the fit, as cheap cuts will look cheap. And finally, look at the labels for 100% cotton and pieces which don't need to be dry-cleaned.
Discount codes and sample sales
Spending your time searching the internet can have its dividends, and some of the biggest savings to be had with fashion come via sample sales and discount codes, although these aren't always the easiest to find. Scouring fashion blogs and money-saving forums is one way to keep abreast of the latest offers - it's just a case of spending the time looking.
Blogs are a regular source for sample sales, although these often take place at short notice and in a central London location. The simplest way to make quick savings while shopping online is to search for discount codes when making an online purchase. Websites regularly publish unique codes offering discounts or free shipping, so it pays to search.
Search TK Maxx for great bargains on underwear, leather goods, shoes, ties and knitwear.
Often referred to as a 'high street jumble sale', TK Maxx is the shrewd bargain hunter's shop of choice. The stock can be hit or miss and vary wildly from week to week, but with dedicated rummaging you can find all manner of designer bargains and high-end labels with huge reductions. Underwear, leather goods, shoes, ties, casual wear and knits are the best items to search for - just remember to look for labels you know and check the original price first to help you find the best bargains.
Charity shops and car boot sales can be unreliable when it comes to unearthing high-end style at bargain prices, but the right kind of second-hand outlets can throw up extraordinary designer vintage items at a fraction of their original price. Online, you can explore websites like Etsy and Folksy, not to mention eBay, for vintage designer pieces like bags, suit jackets, shirts and shoes.
If you prefer to do your shopping offline, vintage shops that hand pick quality stock are more worthwhile than charity shops in the case of high-end fashion. Chain stores such as Rokit, Bang Bang and Beyond Retro are good places to start, but if you search around for independent vintage shops in your area you might uncover some hidden gems.
Every sartorial man will be aware that with certain items of clothing, you have to spend money to save money, and investments like a suit are definitely not worth trying to scrimp on. Where you can make savings is with your choice of where to buy them, and shopping around for a tailor when buying a new suit can be a huge saving in the long-term. We're not suggesting you need to go to the lengths (or costs) of a Savile Row tailor, or indeed travel abroad for some low-key exploitation in the name of fashion.
Photographer's Choice, Getty Images
A well-chosen made-to-measure suit can last a lifetime.
Local, family-run tailors still exist in this country, and a search online or in the Yellow Pages for one near you should point you in the right direction. You can expect to pay upwards of £450 for a bespoke two-piece suit, but having it made-to-measure and deciding all the final details yourself should make for a suit you won't be replacing very quickly. And that's still at least a few hundred cheaper than an off the rail designer alternative too.
Style advice e.g. Style Pilot
Spending a premium on a product doesn't guarantee it'll look good. A lot of people waste money by investing in high-end pieces which, for one reason or another, simply don't work. Either the item isn't timeless enough and won't last beyond one season, or the style doesn't flatter or suit as it should.
One way to save money in the long-run is to seek advice and guidance to help make better, more cost-effective purchases. You could pay a hefty sum to a stylist for this, or you could sign up for web-based services like Style Pilot. As well as browsing items from different retailers, the website offers tools like outfit builders for different occasions, style tips and 'how to wear' guides. The personalised recommendations service is free to sign up for and you can opt-in to receive special offers too.