I was quite irritated by one of my favourite style blogs the other day. It’s a great blog, indeed it is one of the reasons that I decided to start my own style blog. However, on this occasion it did really get on my nerves.
The writer of the blog was making disparaging comments about the poor quality of shoes which cost around £100 or less. In his view, it appears, decent gents’ shoes only start north of £150 and the price of really good pair will begin at twice as much. At least. £300-500 might be a more typical price for a excellent pair of shoes, he would probably argue.
I was irritated for a number of reasons, I guess. First of all, the implication that shoes under £150 are all pretty much poor quality is ludicrous, in my view. Second, I bridled at the failure to acknowledge that for many of us, spending three figures on a pair of shoes is not a realistic option. Third, even among those could afford to spend £350-500 on a pair of shoes there will be many who feel that this may not be the most appropriate way to spend their money.
It reminded me why I wanted to start a blog for those who, like me, are men of modest means. I may well admire and blog about £500 shoes but the ones that I actually buy myself have tended to cost far closer to £50. There are a number of great style blogs out there which offer insight into bespoke tailoring, the work of leading designers, and making use of the finest fabrics, leathers and metals. And I appreciate their efforts. I am grateful to have the insights that blogs like those offer, precisely because it is so far removed from my life. However, I also need some reflection on men’s style which will not bring me to the brink of bankruptcy.
Moreover, it is my conviction that great style does not necessarily require great cost. Indeed, one of the primary reasons that building a gentleman’s Wardrobe is a 5-year project is to provide opportunity to spread the costs over sufficiently long a period as to make the project more affordable. In addition, that men of modest means have 5 years to build their wardrobe has the happy consequence of providing ample opportunity to look for deals and wait for sales promotions in order to make the most of limited budgets.
When my 5YP began, nearly 6 years ago I had just come through a difficult patch financially. Money was tight and there were, frankly, more important things in life which demanded my meagre resources than my wardrobe. However, I did want to begin to do something about the poor state of my wardrobe so I thought I better make a start.
I can well remember that my budget for the whole of year 1 of my 5YP was less than £300. That was what I had to play with, less than £25 per month. The situation is a little different now but I expect that I will always be a man of modest means and therefore my wardrobe will always have that element of restraint.
Clearly as I am now 6 years down the road, with a wardrobe which is far better stocked than it was when I began. Given that background, I could choose to spend on a smaller number of more expensive items so might just be in a position now to purchase some of the kinds of things that I have admired but never bought.
To be fair, there is some of that going on already, and I am taking my own advice about Improving The Quality in the latter years of the project. Looking back over the years it is clear that I now shop in more expensive places than I did in 2008. Some of that is reflected in my blogs. Nonetheless, this blog will continue to have as its primary focus men of modest means, who, whatever the size of their budget, aim to be men of tasteful style.