Looking Good For Lots Less
LOOKING GOOD FOR LOTS LESS
— Dress Like A Fortune 500 CEO On A Mailroom Budget!
When purchasing men’s clothing, several retail options are available. The most common is buying from the men’s clothing sections of major department stores such as Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Dillard’s, Von Maur, Nieman Marcus and other large chains.
Another alternative is to shop at men’s clothing chains such as Men’s Wearhouse, Joseph A. Bank and Brooks Brothers. In addition, designer labels such as Ralph Lauren, Armani, Hugo Boss, Dolce & Gabbana, Brioni, Burberry, Ermenegildo Zegna, Thomas Pink, Faconnable, Canali, Gucci, John Varvatos, Ted Baker, Yves Saint Laurent and Versace often have their own shops in upscale areas.
Bargains are also available at resellers and discounters that include Armani Wells, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, Ross Dress For Less and Burlington Coat Factory. Then there are expensive, elegant, stand-alone shops selling high-quality attire. In Southern California, such shops are Jimmy Au’s, Jack Taylor, Gary’s and Carroll & Company, among others.
All of the above stores, and their companion factory outlets, sell clothes that are well worth buying and wearing. Cost can vary from incredible bargains to very expensive. But there is one type of store to be avoided at all costs: the schlock shops. These stores specialize in shoddy, cheap, loud, low-quality clothes that are potential career-wreckers if worn to work. Their clientele are the ignorant and the clueless; those whose sole criterion is low price without regard to anything else.
However, it’s easy to spot the schlock shops, who often try to masquerade as high-quality, stand-alone emporiums. They give themselves away by certain signs and portents.
The first — and most obvious — indicator of a schlock shop is their merchandise. It’s low-quality. Pure polyester and polyester blends are ubiquitous. Polyester-rayon is particularly bad; avoid it. Check the fabric content labels. No-name designer labels are another indicator. If it’s an off-brand you’ve never ever heard of, it may be bad stuff.
Price is also a red flag. If it’s very low, you’ll get what you pay for… and nothing more. Another dead giveaway is no stated price at all; the price tags are coded so that only sales associates can decipher them. However, some legitimate stores color-code their price tags and have signs posted linking the colors to specific prices. That’s acceptable because you can still figure out the prices yourself.
Bundled pricing is another caveat. Deals that bundle a suit, shirt and tie together for a single price are a hallmark of schlock shops: “Three suits, three shirts and three ties for $300!” I’ve never seen this type of pricing anywhere but a schlock shop.
Another possible indicator of a schlock shop is the name. Many of them have an Italian-sounding name or “Italy” in their name.
Although I certainly don’t recommend buying from schlock shops, I do encourage browsing in them. Go in, check out their offerings and get a feel for such stores. It’s essential to recognize schlock shops and the dreadful attire they push. Then head elsewhere to buy quality clothing that can help advance your career and life goals.
James F. Brown is a business consultant and expert on professional attire.
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