The Fashionisto is in: Low-cost looks for men

Here’s a primer on finding quality menswear on a college budget.

Grant Tillery

Spending freely on clothing is a surefire route to sartorial panache — but whimsically dropping $200 on a pair of jeans is not an avenue many college students can saunter down.
 
But the pursuit for good clothing is never impossible, despite lean times and even tighter budgets.
 
Unless you’re applying student discounts, it’s a lot easier to find deals online than in-store. These five stylish secrets should keep you a sharp-dressed man even when you’re pinching pennies.
 
Grailed
 
Scouring eBay for quality threads is time-consuming, and ever since the debut of the online menswear exchange, Grailed, increasingly fruitless. Grailed, a marketplace where men can buy, sell and swap pre-worn clothes and unworn new garments collecting dust in the closet, launched last year. Grailed offers what eBay lacks: a proliferation of designer duds. Try sifting through eBay for Saint Laurent boots or an A.P.C. coat; it’s a tedious task that will leave you defeated after 15 futile minutes of searching. Not only is Grailed’s site design intuitive, but chances are you’ll find what you want at a reasonable price.
 
Put This On
 
Though Grailed is the rising star of online shopping for men, eBay is not completely devoid of fashion finds. Thanks to the folks behind menswear blog “Put This On,” each week the best eBay finds end up in one place. Every Tuesday and Friday, the bloggers compile a list of the most recent covetable items they’ve discovered and commence bidding wars among a cadre of stylish men. While Grailed tends to feature more high-fashion pieces, Put This On’s list is heavy on well-made, flattering clothes that won’t go out of style anytime soon.
 
Uniqlo
 
Fast fashion isn’t synonymous with quality, making Uniqlo’s sheer existence an aberration. Their clothes are better priced than competitors — $29.90 sales on luxurious-feeling merino sweaters are a fixture — but that doesn’t mean they skimp on quality. Based on personal experience, Uniqlo purchases can outlast mall brands thanks to their sturdy construction, clean lines and timeless simplicity.
 
J.Crew Factory
 
Many students write off J.Crew as expensive, but when frequent sales and a 15 percent student 
discount come into play, their clothes are downright affordable. For J.Crew quality when the budget is lean, check out their online-only factory website, which features sample items similar to those on their full line. Some of the items may lack the upscale fabric feel that J.Crew’s reputation is built upon, but the basic patterns and fits are on-point enough to make a $20 impulse flannel purchase worth every dollar.
 
Vintage
Combing through vintage racks at thrift stores can be a musty challenge marked by questionable fits and frequent stains. When it comes to vintage clothing, keep your eyes peeled for Brooks
 
Brothers and Ralph Lauren. Designs released by these two companies in their heydays serve as templates for a lot of modern wear, and they’re readily available online. If their clothes were good enough for Miles Davis, they’re good enough for anyone. Finding these pieces takes a bit of scouring (Grailed, eBay and Etsy tend to have good selections), but there’s no reason to buy a facsimile when you can own the original. Make sure to look out for certain eras from these clothiers; Brooks Brothers’ game was strongest in the 1950s and 1960s, while Ralph Lauren’s classics from the 1970s-1990s possess old-money cachet that remains attention-grabbing.