What I Learned in 2012: Buy Good Things

We’re taking Monday and Tuesday off for the Christmas holiday next week, and are kicking off our year-end series about things we learned about ourselves and money in 2012, mistakes we made, advice given and received, our favorite things we bought (or regretted), and more. These pieces will be running until the New Year. Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and supporting our site in our first year. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate it. — Mike & Logan.

Here’s Stefan.

If you buy good things and use them for a long time, it can help you save money for more nice things in the future.

It’s a lesson that one learns again and again in life, but this year I really noticed it with clothes. I got married, and so I went shopping for a suit, a pair of shoes, and a couple of other things. At some point during that process, I realized, terrifyingly, that none of my current dress clothes fit, and that I’d bought most of my clothes on sale, so many of them were a little weird or gimmicky, and not particularly flattering. So I started looking around and doing a little research.

Now when I say “buy good things,” please don’t think I mean “buy expensive things.” I still want, like most people, to get a good deal. For jeans, I’m still not convinced you can really find better value than a pair of Levi 501s for $40. But I was surprised to find that there are wonderful, high quality oxford cloth button down shirts made in Philadelphia, where I live. Regular price is $88, but they go on sale constantly, and I’ve paid $40-60 for mine. I can tell already that they’ll hold up for years and soften pleasantly with age. I was also surprised to learn that you can get beautiful, classically made men’s dress shoes for around $150. Nice stitching, leather soles and all. They’re from India and China, but the quality is pretty good. They cost more than the rubber-soled equivalents at the mall, but they’ll not only last a long time, they’ll actually get better with age.

I used to only shop for clothes in the clearance sections of stores. It’s still worth keeping an eye out for great deals, but a lot of the stuff that’s on sale is marked down for a reason: it’s trendy, ill-fitting or otherwise just not very good. Saving up for clothes that cost a little more, but will look and feel great for years—that’s something I learned this year.


Stefan Zajic lives in Philadelphia and thinks about science all day. Photo: Hello Turkey Toe


13 Comments / Post A Comment

Slutface (#53)

I know this is true, but unfortunately, unless I want to use my credit cards, I’m Target > J Crew.

themegnapkin (#444)

@Slutface I actually think J. Crew has deteriorated in quality over the past few years, and isn’t worth its exorbitant prices. So, even if I do want to use my credit cards, it’s still Target > J. Crew.

chic noir (#713)

@themegnapkin j.crew has wonderful sales. Troll their website and even the retail locations for the goods.

probs (#296)

I was surprised to see those shoes are Goodyear welted; that is a good price for Goodyear welted shoes.

szajic (#1,811)

@probs Right? I was surprised, too. Plus, Florsheim is one of those sites that almost always has 10-20% off coupon codes, if you look around.

megra (#2,906)

also: learn to take care of good things! leather is a good place to start

novembertea (#2,203)

I learned sooooo many things this year… money-wise I learned that I need to go shopping less, and that material things will only give me fleeting emotions.

Also, that a picture is not a substitute for an experience.

BonnyLass (#2,514)

my gran always said “buy nice,buy once” and i’ve really found that to hold true

chic noir (#713)

Agree, quality clothes are well worth the price and hard to come by. Wool, silk and cotton are the best fabrics. Beware of overpriced shirts made from Polyester and sweaters made from acrylic.

I thought Johnston & Murphy made all or most of their shoes in the US?

Also: I learned that pricey, good quality men’s shoes with leather soles will develop HOLES in said soles rather quickly if you, say, walk a mile and back to work each day. Which kind of defeats the point if you ask me.

sea ermine (#122)

@stuffisthings If you’re wearing them as everyday work shoes (rather than as dress shoes for going to fancy parties 3 times a year) you should take them to a cobbler and have them add rubber soles over the leather. You’re not actually supposed to do regular walking (especially outside) straight onto the leather sole. It’s just that the shoes made with leather soles tend to be higher quality over all, so it’s worth it to buy them and then pay $20 to get a rubber sole attached so you can wear them often.

@stuffisthings Huh! I didn’t know that was a thing, but I will look into it! Sounds much better than wearing sneakers and changing at work. (I won’t go into WHY they make shoes that you’re not supposed to walk around in… like, I imagine dudes of prior generations did a lot of walking in classic leather-soled shoes? Did they just get them replaced constantly?)

sea ermine (#122)

@stuffisthings I’m not sure but I imagine either they were super wealthy and got them replaced or they didn’t do a lot of outside walking. Like maybe they hopped into a carriage which then took them to the fancy place where they sat or walked around indoors. I’m honestly not really sure but it’s worth it to get the high quality leather soled shoes and then get a rubber sole attached. Also, when the rubber sole wears down you can get it replaced for way easier and cheaper than you would get a leather sole replaced so if you want you could make the shoes last for 10-15 years, with regular wear, if they were really nice one’s (like Allen Edmonds level of quality).

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