How To Thrift Shop & Copy the Look of Expensive Menswear

A strategy for capturing the look and style of high-quality men's suits and sportcoats for much less money. I call it thrift & copy!

How To Thrift & Copy the Look of Expensive Menswear

Have you ever seen a luxury brand suit or sportscoat in a menswear advertisement that is perfectly presented and seems to have your name on it? You know that it would be a great addition to your wardrobe. However, the price of it all puts it way out of reach. If so, take heart! This post will show you how to thrift shop & copy the look of expensive menswear. You can make that seemingly unaffordable look your own!

How to Get the Look of High-End Menswear at Thrift Shop Prices!

The truth is that the style of clothing I like to wear is not cheap. The combination of quality construction and good design that I seek often carries a premium price tag. For example, I saw the stylish cashmere double-breasted blazer shown below on the website for The Armoury, a high-end menswear retailer in NYC (their clothing is superbly tasteful, check out their website). It looks great and pairs well with a dark turtleneck and grey flannel trousers. However, the price, at $2,350.00 (for the jacket alone) is out of reach for me. I would need to ‘drink muddy water and sleep in a hollow log’ to afford it. However, I do like the look of that outfit? What do I do?

Cashmere Blazer, The Armoury
The Armoury Cashmere Model 6 Blazer Price: $2,350.00

Thrift Shop & Copy That Look!

Shown below is a combination of items already in my wardrobe that creates a very similar look. The jacket is a dark blue double-breasted wool blazer made by Hart Schaffner & Marx (it is at least twenty years old) that I purchased second-hand on eBay for only $13.00. But wait, there’s more! I pulled out a grey wool turtleneck that was purchased 3 years ago at a local thrift shop (Savers) for the princely sum of $6.00. Finally, I add a pair of Kirkland Signature dark gray wool trousers purchased at a local Goodwill thrift shop for $7.00.

What do you think? Have I captured the dashing style of the high-priced cashmere blazer outfit seen on the Armoury website? I am very happy with the results. I am even happier with the price; A total of $27.00 worth of thrift shop finds that were already in my wardrobe!

Sportscoat - Thrift & Copy
My thrift shop version of a $2,350.00  outfit!

Here’s another variation (below) on that high-end designer look. In this outfit (same turtleneck sweater & slacks) I added a twenty-year-old black wool Corneliani double-breasted blazer I purchased on eBay for only $21.00. That brings the total cost of this outfit to $34.00. Yet, it captures the luxurious look of a high-end designer menswear outfit.

Corneliani Double-Breasted Sportscoat - Thrift Shop
My $21.00 Corneliani Thrift Shop Sportscoat!

Can you thrift shop & copy the look of expensive menswear as well?

Yes, you can! The very nature of classic quality menswear makes it quite easy to do so. First of all, quality menswear does not change in style much from year to year. What is selling in better menswear stores today is not radically different from what was selling ten or even twenty years ago. Fads may change like the wind, but quality menswear is timeless. This stability in the design of high-quality menswear makes it quite easy to find second-hand men’s suits and sportcoats by thrift shopping that may be a decade old or more and still look up to date.

Secondly, the color palette of high-quality menswear has changed very little over time. A navy blue, charcoal grey, or dark brown suit has been the standard choices for as long as we’ve worn suits.  What’s old can look new simply by making subtle changes to the overall outfit to update the look.

Thrift Shop Suits
This stylish Jos. A. Bank suit was purchased second-hand for $24.00!

Here are are a few tips that will make it easier for the frugal man to thrift shop & copy the look of expensive menswear. First, look for classic clothing styles from quality brands when thrift shopping. Second, stick to tried and true colors and patterns such as blue, gray, tan, tweed, pinstripes, etc. Pay attention to fit. Good fit is timeless. Avoid extremes in tailoring such as the too-tight, too-short look popular in men’s suits today.

Finally, educate yourself on the virtues of quality menswear. The more you know, the better you will be at discovering high-quality garments when thrift-shopping. Know the brands to look out for and what they offer.

I enjoy browsing websites and catalogs from high-end menswear brands that I cannot afford. I’m glad there are those who can afford these beautiful garments. I happily purchase their cast-off well-made clothing at my local thrift-shop when they grow bored with it. With a bit of well-curated effort, I can capture the look of high-end menswear for much, much less when I thrift & copy! -Don P. SplurgeFrugal