For any avid thrift shopper, knowing when to stop buying is as important as knowing what to buy. If you’re a frequent visitor to this website, you’ll notice that I haven’t featured any new classic menswear thrift finds in some time. My fully-thrifted menswear wardrobe is complete, and has been so for over a year. That’s a good feeling.
I enjoy a well-curated second-hand suit or sport coat that was purchased one, two or three years ago just as much as when it was first acquired. That’s a virtue of quality classic menswear. Unlike the brief lifespans of fad and fashion, it serves you well year after year, always looking the part.
For me, there is a deep sense of satisfaction with having a well-curated, well-cared-for classic wardrobe built on frugal second-hand purchases. It’s like owning a nice car. Anyone with enough money can buy a new car or truck that looks great. All it takes is money. However, consider the man that patiently searches for a high-quality used car at the lowest price. He negotiates for the best price, and then carefully repairs and maintains that car for years after purchase. His car is not new, but it looks great , runs well, and reflects the care and frugal wisdom of its owner.
Why Used Classic Menswear Gets Better With Time
The true value of quality second-hand menswear accrues with time. If, for example, you paid $40.00 for a gently-used Hickey Freeman or Coppley wool suit (typically selling new for over $600.00), you get to enjoy it year after year at no additional cost. If, at minimum you get five years of wear from that suit, the equivalent of the cost of a single trip to McDonald’s for lunch every year would cover the amortized cost of that purchase. Now that’s an extreme bargain!
Here’s how to get even more value from your thrifted menswear. Treat that second-hand suit the same way custom-tailored bespoke suits are treated by their owners. Brush your suit before and after each wear. Dry clean the suit as little as possible (it shortens the life of your suit). Use a clothes steamer to freshen your suit periodically. Use a proper suit hanger and hang your suit promptly after each wearing. Buy a collection of suits (made affordable by thrift shopping) and wear them in rotation. Learn how to press and iron well at home. You will minimize wear and save money by caring well for your second-hand clothing.
Oh, One More Thing . . .
I can only boast of one significant purchase this year. The dark brown fur felt trilby that I’m wearing in the photo at the top of this page is a recent second-hand acquisition. This hat would easily cost over $200.00 if purchased new. I paid a mere $10.00 for it on poshmark.com. Everything else worn in this photo, the classic cotton trench, wool windowpane sport coat (Stafford), Brooks Brothers silk regimental tie and cotton blue oxford dress shirt (also Brooks Brothers) are entering their second season of wear for me. All are second-hand purchases ( I paid less than $35.00 total for everything worn here). With good care, they should continue to serve me well for a few years more.
Aaaaah, the joys of last year’s clothes . . .