The Savvy Gentleman’s Guide to Shopping
So in Part 2 of our Guide to Shopping, we’ll show you how you can translate your portfolio of visual inspiration into an efficient and actionable shopping approach we call the “Top-Down” shopping method.
How Most of Us Shop: Bottom-Up (Thinking in Pieces)
Many of us start off as “bottom-up” shoppers – meaning, we shop for individual pieces without thinking about how we would wear that individual piece as stylish component in a multitude of outfits. Bottom-up shoppers think like this: “Oh, I need some new button down shirts and pants. So let me just hit up the mall real quick, see what catches my eye and drop that sh*t on my AMEX.” At face value, it may sound harmless but this is often what happens:
- You waste money on something that you don’t really like all that much.
- You waste money on something that doesn’t quite “work” with what’s already in your closet, so you don’t wear it often, if at all.
- You waste time not really finding anything.
And in the end, you don’t build a congruent wardrobe that will help improve your personal style. So to the gentlemen who have a stockpile of “WTF-is-this!” clothing collecting dust in your closets, wondering why the gods of style haven’t helped them…listen up!
How We Should Shop: Top-Down (Thinking in Outfits)Photography by Eric Ray Davidson
The purpose of your portfolio of visual inspiration you started creating last week is to think (and feel) in terms of an aesthetic that resonates most with how you want to look. It’s important to recognize that saturating your mind with stylish looks will eventually influence your tastes and ultimately color your instinctual shopping decisions, but the best way to turn visual inspiration into your own style is to define the specific pieces that comprise the looks you are drawn to.
Top-Down shopping means that even if you do actually purchase in pieces, you should start thinking about these pieces in the context of outfits. This is important because by always having a variety of outfits in mind, you can now figure out the pieces you need to achieve the “look” you’re going for. And of course, it helps to make a list. But if you feel like putting your management-consultant skills to work, a flow chart like this also helps:
Elements of [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE]’s Sartorial Inspirations:
(click on image to enlarge)
See how every item on this flow chart / shopping list works together seamlessly to create an array of outfits that are appropriate for a variety of occasions? The Top-Down approach forces you to re-orient your purchasing decisions in a way that facilitates the creation of a dynamic wardrobe. And since a shopping list like the above is derived from the very looks that inspired you, it’ll help you achieve that new and improved style in a balanced and intelligent manner.
So get started on your own list…but don’t just go out and start buying just yet! It’s important that you take your time here. Keep using visual inspiration to further refine and think about which items you really want (or need) so you can make smart purchasing decisions. It can hurt to be indecisive, but it never hurts to be sure.
Once you’ve decided on a list of items that you know you’ll love, it’s time to drop some loot. So stay tuned for Part 3, where we’ll give you tips on acquiring your new items in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner.
Got some tips on the “Top-Down” shopping method? Leave your comments below!
Like What You See? There's More.
We'll send you style advice and intel for the modern man.