Hey gents,

It’s been hot as balls here in SF lately, and as I pace around all sweaty in my dark denim, people are walking around dressed as if they’re in South Beach Miami.

Can’t blame them, though. It’s way too hot for heavy denim. So I hopped on down to Old Navy tonight and snagged like 5 pairs of shorts. My total was $112. Not bad, considering that before I even thought of Old Navy, I was about to drop $50-$60 on just one pair.

I don’t always shop based on price though. If you’re a long-time EG reader, you know that I advocate buying quality when it matters, and skimping a bit when it doesn’t.

I spend money on good shoes, good liquor, good electronics… things I like and want a good experience owning / using. But when it comes to, say, boxer briefs, I’m okay with whatever Target carries.

Basics: Worth the splurge or okay to skimp?

So there are two schools of thought when it comes to purchasing the basics:

A. Get high quality pieces because you’ll wear them all the time, or
B. Get more affordable versions because you’ll wear them out and eventually have to replace them

Which camp do you belong to?

With a plain white T-shirt, maybe it’s more cut and dry which camp you side with.

How about with something like a khaki blazer?

Definitely not a basic anymore, but still, they’re offered at wildly varying price points. See below.

To be fair, I know there are plenty of factors at play (fabric, construction, overall quality, country of origin, etc.) but the question isn’t necessarily about those factors. It’s simply about how important certain types of clothes are to you, and how you decide if it’s important to splurge, or okay to skimp.

Let’s get a good discussion going

I think it’s interesting, because if you think about it (and if you’re super objective like me, ha!), the argument can go either way and there are valid points to both.

Ultimately, it depends on what is most important to you, but I want to hear your reasoning behind your choices.

So leave em in the comments, wouldja?



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37 Responses

  1. Kevin Brown on

    There are only a few meaningful factors in any garment:

    – Material
    – Construction quality
    – Style
    – [for some people] Ethical aspects of production

    For something like a plain white t shirt, there are exactly zero reasons to pay hundreds of dollars. A reasonable case can be made for paying $30,40, maybe even $50, but not hundreds, ever. 

    The same rules apply to just about any garment, but the price ranges and base levels vary. Something made out of stiff, cheap feeling cotton with fused construction that was made in a chinese sweatshop is never going to be worth much. Something made to measure out of pure cashmere is going to be worth quite a bit.

  2. Flacotechs on

    When it comes to things like boxers and t-shirts, I normally go for the “higher end” stuff at Target or Wal-mart (high end being a relative term). Everything else comes down to a trade-off between quality, fit and price. For example, i don’t mind paying extra for a pair of jeans that’s well made and will last me more than a year or two. On a side note, I stopped buying anything at Old Navy a few years back because of their terrible quality. In my experience their clothing sizes were wildly different from garment to garment and the quality of construction was subpar to say the least.

    • Barron on

      Haha, yeah, Old Navy’s sizing can be interesting. Such wild variances, I don’t get it. I did pick up a bunch of shorts there this season though. Great deal, looks awesome, and I don’t expect much from them so they can’t really let me down. Don’t give up on em completely, sometimes you can find really good basics for a great price.

  3. Chris. on

    I base my decision on fit. For basics, I get white tees in a pack from Target. I have a brand I prefer over others, but they’re still sold in packs of 6 (or more at the beginning of a school year – basics bonus!) at a low cost. Boxer briefs, I spent $6/pair at Uniqlo. I could probably get them cheaper, but I like the fit and cut. Comfort is key. I would never drop $20+ for a pair. 

    Socks is one thing I spend a bit more on. I have the basics from a pack from H&M, but I do enjoy Richer/Poorer socks, and have spent $25 for two pairs of fun ones because I had a gift card to use. Not a regular purchase though. 

    Dark denim, white button downs, khakis – fit is key. If you shop around, you can get good deals. I just found chino shorts at Uniqlo for $29 each, with perfect length and a great fit. I stock up when I find good deals. (for shorts, 3 pairs was sufficient)

    Shoes, I’ll drop dough. They will last. I’ll inevitably pit stain my white tees, spill on my khakis, and rip holes in my socks, so I got for fit and the best quality I can reasonably get knowing there is a limited life span to these ones. 

  4. Greg_S on

    I spend less on the basics so I can spend more where it counts. I spend the most on shoes because they are simply better quality. Then I buy Hanes t shirts. It’s easier to fill the bulk of your wardrobe with cheaper items with a good tailor. When I need to dress professionally, I will spend more on suits and blazers. As of now, I only wear blazers when I want to, so I go for cheaper casual ones.

    • Brian Alcorn on

      I agree on this.  Spend less on the basics, which no one but our significant other will typically see, and free up more coin for the items that will really pop your wardrobe.

  5. Chuck Williams on

    I always buy my boxer briefs at WalMart.  Never been a quality issue there.  Of course, I recently started running, and WalMart has a Starter brand boxer brief that is dri-weave… the material and fit are great, plus the obvious benefits of the dri-weave on a jogging fat man.  But the stitching is terrible.  A couple weeks in and they’re falling apart at the seams.  Any suggestions for affordable dri-weave boxer briefs that last?

    • Barron on

      For performance stuff, I wouldn’t skimp. Or, if you do skimp, you’ll just end up replacing.

      For all my workout stuff I usually go Nike; never had a problem with it. 

    • Barron on

      Oh actually now that I think about it, Old Navy has some interesting workout gear. Again, it’s probably not premium quality, but wouldn’t hurt giving it a try.

  6. Michael Kidd on

    I agree a lot with every one that says “I pay lots for shoes” or “shoes are important” and all that. It’s true, I’m most willing to spend good money on quality shoes. I used to work at J. Crew and with their generous employee discount tried buying as much from them as I could… socks, boxers, and undershirts as well as shoes, shirts, and pants. What did I learn? If I’m wearing pants that fit me well I don’t care about my boxers… and most ladies won’t either 😉 So I now wear hanes boxer briefs. I like to have quality dress socks still, so I shop around for good quality there, but my cotton socks are still black hanes again. And my undershirts? I’ve started using funky color undershirts when I’m going for the no tie unbuttoned laid back look, and hanes gray v-necks when I’m putting my tie back on. I’m not buying walmart brand things, but I’m not going back to J. Crew for my boxers. I’ll buy some nice summer weight pants from them for the hot sun, but no need for their undershirts.

    • Barron on

      I have a few of J.Crew’s tees and they get holes really easily. I got a discount as well, so I wasn’t worried about it, but it’s surprising considering the price they charge to normal customers. Anyway, I’m fine with my Gap and Merona tees. I’d still get some of J.Crew’s tees but I’d have to buy them on that employee discount.

  7. J Gil on

    Multipack Hanes boxer briefs are relatively cheap, comfortable and maintain their shape long enough to get more than your money’s worth.  I feel like anything over $20 for an undershirt is unnecessary when there are some great options out there in that range. I’ve moved away from crew necks but Hanes’ crews and V’s have always felt like a decent option for the money.  It’s tough (impossible?) to find anything but white in the multipack, though.  Hanes’ website offers a deep charcoal heather but @ $16.50 each I’d much rather catch a Banana sale and snag a pima tee for the same price and twice the comfort.  As a matter of fact, they’re $5 off right now on their site making them $14.50.

    • Barron on

      Have you ever tried Urban Outfitters’ BDG v-necks? I have a few of those and they’re super soft, kept their shape, etc. Really love em. I have a few from Gap as well and those are decent, though they’ve gotten misshapen over the past several years. I guess it’s just time to replace. I can’t imagine the BR ones being any different (considering they’re from the same company) but maybe I’ll give them a try next time since the price point is good.

  8. judeobscure on

    Underwear is usually purchased from TJ Maxx/Marshall’s as I usually can find all the name brands and some store brands under the same roof at discounted prices.
    Business attire is almost always from the outlet mall from Saks or Barneys. I have also found some excellent fitting clothing at Goodwill, Salvation Army and thrift shops. Raiding my father’s cedar closet has been the most cost efficient, though.
    Macy’s is horrible for mens clothing altogether.
    I usually spend more money on shoes as I have found out much the hard way that cheaper shoes will end up costing me more in the long run.

    • Shane Peden on

      I bought a cheap pair of black dress shoes in a pinch. Hurt my feet so bad that I ended up having to ditch them and spend money on a decent pair. So being cheap cost me more in the end anyway, and a few weeks of pain before I gave in to the crap dress shoes.

    • Barron on

      Saks Off Fifth and Nordstrom Rack are great places for deals on quality stuff, especially if you’re brave enough to dig, which you sometimes have to do. To me, it’s worth it though. But normally you have to go there not really looking for anything super specific, because it’s hit or miss if you’re going to find it. If you’re open to several possibilities you have an easier time.

      Agree w/ the point on shoes.

  9. Rogin on

    In the past I’ve stuck with Hanes undershirts shirts and underwear, and blue dress socks from wherever I can find them cheapest. I think cheap undershirts are fine since no ones sees them, and the pits will eventually yellow from antiperspirant. I would never wear them by themselves though. I would go with J. Crew or similar for a t-shirt like that.

    As for underwear, I intend to stick with Hanes, unless Flint and Tinder (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jakehimself/flint-and-tinder-premium-mens-underwear) puts out a better product. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do.

    I’ve learned that quality makes a big difference when it comes to socks. My feet can sweat a lot, and crappy materials fade pretty fast. They are unpleasant to wear and do not last long. So I’m beginning to invest in better quality socks. Right now Gold Toe in merino wool is all I can afford, but it’s still vastly better than what you would get at, say, Target.

    I’m willing to spend more on denim, shirts, and shoes. I don’t spend much more, since I’m a student, but still make sure that fit is a priority. I spend the most on shoes.

  10. AGuest on

    I haven’t seen many people say it, but I’ll actually put feel and fit above price. If something is inexpensive, but feels great to wear and fits very well, I’ll get it. But I’ll spend a bit more on an undershirt or boxer briefs or even socks if I feel I’ll either get lots of life out of them (quality), or really enjoy the perfect fit and the comfort I get (which translates into confidence). Getting a nice premium tee against my upper body that fits perfect even after 6 months (no one likes how baggy cheap clothes get!) adds to swagger. But no, I would not drop $100+ on an under-tee… but as you do get higher priced, you do get nice fit, good quality, and you can find the thickness and colors you’d like. I love a good fit, thin tee that isn’t see-thru, for instance.

    I should say also that when you spend a bit more on something you know will wear out, you also sometimes only wear them when you specifically want to, which does help draw it their life a bit.

    • Barron on

      I agree, feel and fit do play a big role. Sometimes you have to try a few things before you find that good marriage of cost and quality. I’ve tried on some shitty undershirts, but have also found similar ones that feel amazing and age well, and they’re both the same price. It all depends, and it’s important to try different things until you’re satisfied.

      In general though, you do get what you pay for.

  11. Cannedhaggis on

    I have a bunch of Merona(Target) white undershirts that are just terrible. The collar has “baconed” to coin a Hanes commercial where they have bunched up. They are also cut generously, making a tucked shirt more baggy, which is not what I need. So I decided to go for the Polo Ralph Lauren undershirts, mainly becuase that’s what my dad wears, and I was able to feel them. Basically they feel like a really comfortable T-Shirt, while the Meronas just feel cheap to me. And the fit is much more trim, which is what I need. Basically, I buy more for quality, even if it is more expensive, because I am more comfortable in it, and at the end of the day, I am more happy in it as well.

    • Barron on

      Weird, I just mentioned the Merona white T-shirts above in another comment. I actually swear by them; they’re one of the best ones I’ve found. Maybe they switched factories? I love the shirts I have.

      I’ve tried the Ralph Lauren undershirts as well, they really are great. Pricier though, of course, but sometimes it’s worth the spend if it’s that close to your body for a majority of your day.

  12. Shane Peden on

    I go for the in-between. For example, Hanes sells their premium brands and you can get Gold Toe underwear pretty reasonably priced. Going too cheap is definitely a mistake, but I’m definitely not dropping any more than $20 on a single undershirt that’s primary job is to soak up sweat.

  13. Brian Snider on

    I think it’s bang for the buck and driven by fit / comfort / quality… for example, I had to replace my khaki’s and literally tried nearly every local brand / store and found that the ones that I felt fit the best and were the best material were the Merona ones from target, they fit my body better than dockers or Eddie Bauer. I got lucky and caught them on clearance for $13 a pair. They certainly aren’t perfect but they’re right enough and at the right price point to put up with some headaches. I also won’t buy boxers unless they’re Hanes boxer briefs with the comfortsoft band. Doesn’t matter what’s on sale or what material, I’ve been with that style for years now and don’t know that I could improve it. Shoes are growing to be my money pit, not in the sense that I want a closet full but more that I’m trying to express my personal value of buying things that can be repaired instead of disposed. Ideally I’m looking at something like the doc martens for life shoes or maybe a pair of Filson highlander oxfords but it’s not easy to justify $130 to $220 for a pair of shoes when Skechers or Timberlands can be had for about $70

    • Barron on

      Agreed, and I find stuff that fits crazy well in places I wouldn’t expect either. I’ve never tried the Merona chinos but I’m not surprised. They have a bunch of cool stuff in stores as well, with those concept “store in store” collaborations from shops like The Webster in Miami (lots of great summer stuff). I also swear by the Merona white T-shirts; they’re great.

      Even with shoes, you can get normally pricey stuff at discounts if you go somewhere like Nordstrom Rack. You’ll have to dig, but if you have the patience, you can find some nice stuff there.

  14. Brian Alcorn on

    Before I get too far ahead of myself, I must disclose that I am new (as in six months new) to redefining my personal style.  What I have picked up so far, and what I have actually seen work for me, is to start at high quality for what sites on the outside.  With that as my baseline, I then target proper/comfortable fit.  As I move inward to under garments like t-shirts, socks, and underwear, comfort is my primary concern.  If I can find comfort AND quality for a reasonable price, I’ll spend a little extra.  If, however, there is no discernible benefit to spending more, then I’m not interested.  The name on the tag doesn’t make a wedgie any less bearable, or a “bacon collar” more attractive.

    • Barron on

      Yeah, that’s a good rule of thumb. Or it could also be, you spend the most money on pieces you wear the most. Like denim, a good coat, etc. Not necessarily underwear, unless you’re so inclined. Though to be honest I’m happy with Hanes from Target. The comfort fit bands w/ minimal branding just works for me. Don’t see a reason to spend too much on these things, especially since these look good for the price.

  15. Jesuslizard on

    For white tees I think it’s good to drop around twenty/thirty bucks for a stylish cut like the one from alternative apparel. Shorter sleeves and a slim but not tight cut. Kinda ghetto wearing a fruit of the loom or Hanes shirt out in public… I’m guilty of doing that from time to time as most of you have, though. Also… Isn’t bacon neck a good thing? It’s like the look stylists do when they yank on a t-shirt collar to make it look more casual? Non-bacon neck strikes me as too clean and dad-like.

    • Barron on

      $20-$30 for one tee is too rich for my blood. I personally don’t do that, but I can see the pros for someone who has the cash to drop.

      And yeah, the stylists do stretch out the neck a little. It looks more natural, less “straight out of the package”, like you said. I think they’re referring to severely stretched collars, like, you might as well use that shirt as a rag it’s so damn stretched. haha.

  16. JT on

    Just got some great shorts at Target. And for underwear, for me it’s Uniqlo. Cheap and super-comfortable. I doubt I’ll ever by a Hanes/FOTL undershirt again.

    • Barron on

      Haven’t tried the Uniqlo stuff yet but hopefully soon. They’re supposedly opening one in SF, which I’m excited about.

  17. Andrew on

    I feel like, for often used pieces of clothing like jeans, it is definitely better to splurge a little since they often last longer, are made of better materials and in this case most likely fit a lot better than a cheap pair. Conversely Target always has awesome colored Tee’s, Basically J. Crew Tee’s but for 9 bucks! So though a T shirt might be often used, there is really no need to buy a super expensive T shirt, when in reality the cheap Tee’s are pretty nice also. But to conclude, to every man their own…..if you find something that you really do like and would have no problem wearing, but is a little pricey, think twice about not snatching it up. If you really do like it that much then why not buy it, you’ll definitely get your moneys worth!

    • Barron on

      totally agree w/ you here and it’s exactly what I do. I grab Target’s tees all the time. Gap and J.Crew (on sale) are good choices as well.

  18. Barron on

    Good point, and depending on body chemistry, it may be worth it to purchase higher-quality things since they last longer. Re: spending more on certain items, it’s often easy to grab quality stuff on sale / clearance. I always do that; I rarely, if ever, pay full price for anything. It just takes a little bit of patience and the willingness to hunt sometimes.

  19. Dave Hahn on

    I tend to hit the middle ground – not the cheapest and definitely not the most expensive. More than $30 for a t-shirt is completely unacceptable under any circumstances. My closet is cluttered with them and I don’t care how cool it looks, it’s just a t-shirt. That being said, I will go UP to $30 for a nice white t-shirt. Alternative Apparel makes the best t-shirts in my opinion. Comfy fabric and sleeves that aren’t too long (that’s the hardest part to find) with a ever-so-slightly baggy but trim fit. American Apparel shirts are too tight. I wear white T’s in the summer so much, it’s worth it to me to have the perfect one. Laughable that APC is selling $120 white tees!

  20. jklooster on

    I do splurge on my socks. I’m a big fan of smart wool. Otherwise, it’s basic Tees usually on sale.