Ask dapperQ: Affordable, Versatile Pieces that Fit?

Reader writes:

“This is @KitPaige on Twitter. Nice to meet you (actually been following for awhile). Problem: I’m genderqueer masculine, naturally a big bust (and short: to the tune of 38GGs that I bind and 5’2″) and have trichotillomania so I wear wigs. Plus, I’m unemployed, so I’m trying to get things that have a high value (read: more time I can use them) or get them cheap. Any ideas?”

Curve ball alert: Three major wardrobe needs in one question. You need items that fit you, that are affordable, and that are versatile enough to create many different outfits – more bang for your buck.

Tall order. Let’s start with fit. I highly recommend you read some of our previous posts and guides regarding common fit issues. While the general consensus is that tailoring is key, we have also suggested affordable troubleshooting techniques and offered advice on brands that fit a variety of bodies. Here’s a nice fit library to start:

The Style Manual: The Dress Shirt
The Style Manual: Fashion Council on Call (dress shirt edition)
Button Down Dress Shirts: OH DEAR!
Dress Shirts That Fit!
How to Buy Men’s Dress Shirts That Fit
How to Find Men’s Clothes That Fit: You Got This!
Ask dapperQ: Clothes for Curves
Finding Fit: Come to Terms with Tailoring
Boys and Menswear Sizing
Retail Stores Offering Free [Basic] Alterations

These articles should provide you with some solid information about measuring, sizing, brands, tailoring (when tailoring, fit your largest parts FIRST, get everything else taken in), and troubleshooting.

Now, the word “affordable” is relative. How much do you have on hand to invest in building your wardrobe? $20? $100? $500? $1000+? First, determine how much you have to spend and then subtract an amount for tailoring. I’m a stickler for quality when advising people on how to build a solid wardrobe. (Quantity is nice, but only if it’s quality – better to have a small about of quality then a ton of ill fitting clothes.) So, if tailoring is going to eat up most of your clothing budget, hit up that thrift store. You can score some amazing designer threads for just a few bucks, then get them tailored to fit you. Here are some thrift shopping beats to get you warmed up for the hunt…

As far as versatility is concerned, make sure you stick with staples that can transition from season to season (think layering). Don’t get too crazy with trendy pieces. (You can use affordable accessories, like inexpensive socks and pocket squares to add some trendy flare to simple, classic pieces. See our accessories post here.)

Take the classic blazer for example. I love blazers! You can dress them up (with dress trousers) or dress them down (with jeans or khakis). I have an olive colored cotton blazer that I wear year-round. Olive is a great color for a blazer because you can wear it with a white v-neck or a white button-down dress shirt. Or, you can layer it up hardcore: button-down, brown sweater, olive blazer, khaki pants, dress shoes.

Speaking of layering, it is essential to a versatile wardrobe. If you have a limited budget, make sure that each item you purchase can be layered with other items/ensembles in your wardrobe.

Summer Fall Transition 1Make sure your pieces can be layered so that they are versatile enough to transition to each season.

For example, The Style Blogger shows how to wear one three-piece-suit seven different ways here. Also, check out all the different outfit combinations that you can make out of these eight items: (2+5+6; 2+5+7; 2+6+8; 2+7+8; 1+2+5+6; 1+2+5+7; 1+2+7+8; 2+3+5+6; 2+3+5+7; 2+3+7+8; 1+2+3+5+6; 1+2+3+5+7; 1+2+3+7+8; 3+5+6; 3+5+7; 3+6+8; 3+7+8; 1+3+5+6; 1+3+5+7; 1+3+6+8; 1+3+7+8; 1+2+3+5+6; 1+2+3+5+7; 1+2+3+6+8; 1+2+3+7+8; and just add 4 whenever you need!)



Lastly, check out our post “Dapper on a Dime: Dressing for Less” here.

Readers, have any other suggestions? Leave them in the comments.

Good luck and happy hunting!

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