How to Find Affordable Clothes That Actually Fit

How much money do you think most men spend on clothes every year? Hundreds of dollars? Thousands?

Most men, myself included, don't spend all of their hard-earned money on clothing. In fact, the average man spends just $400-1200 per year on apparel.

Depending on how expensive your taste is and where you like to shop, this budget could go very quickly.

For the record, I believe in quality over quantity. I think you should splurge for certain items, like shoes. It's better to spend $300 on a pair of high quality shoes that will be worn for 10+ years than $50/year on cheap shoes that don't look or feel as good.

But I get a ton of emails from readers who want help finding affordable clothing. And the truth is, there are plenty of options for shorter guys who want to buy clothes that fit well and look great without breaking the bank.

So I'm going to walk through four ways to save money on clothing. They're all great, but the last one is my favorite.

1. Tight budget? You can still go custom

I talk a lot about buying made-to-measure (MTM) clothing online. I've reviewed companies like Dragon Inside, Blank Label, Arden Reed and others. Many MTM companies charge a premium for their shirts and suits. After all, they are made to order, right?

But there are some affordable options. The best one I've found is Modern Tailor. Their dress shirts start at $59, and their suits start at $299, which is really good for a MTM suit.

Seriously, if you've been on the fence about going custom, there is no better time than right now to try it out. You can even get $20 off with this link, which means your first shirt will be $39. That's less than most off-the-rack button ups.

2. Buy cheap, get it tailored

You already know that fit is the most important aspect of style. That's why it's so hard for short men to dress well, because we have a hard time finding clothes that fit. Higher end, designer type clothes usually tend to fit better, but even they aren't perfect.

Affordable casual outfitSo if you're going to pay the tailor tax, might as well buy less expensive clothing. Here are some of the best affordable clothing stores for shorter guys:

Remember, it's great to save money on clothing, but don't skimp on the tailoring. Spend that extra $10-20 to make sure everything fits properly.

shirt | shorts | watch | sunglasses

If you need a primer on what can and can't be altered, and how much it will cost you, check out this page:

How to Get Your Clothes Tailored

One more thing: When you find something you like – whether it's that perfect pair of chinos or a t-shirt that fits just right – stock up. Buy two or three pairs.

That way you'll have plenty of colors to choose from, and they won't wear out as quickly (thanks to Jason in the comments section for this tip).

3. Get thrifty, buy secondhand

High quality clothes last a long time, but just like cars, they lose a lot of value after they're used even one time. Which is great news if you're willing to buy used and save a little money.

You can find some gems at your local thrift store, be it Goodwill or some trendier secondhand shop. But these stores are very hit or miss, especially for men looking for smaller sizes.

If you'd prefer not to leave your couch, check out Grailed.com. It's like eBay but curated for stylish dudes. The best part? You can sort by size and type.

Even better, you can send the seller a message asking about their size, measurements, why they're selling, etc. Many sellers even include their height and weight in their listings. How cool is that?

I just got a sweet military jacket for way less than retail price. Grailed is definitely worth checking out.

4. Only buy stuff on sale

Confession: I never pay full retail price for clothes. Okay, very rarely. There are so many sales these days, it simply doesn't make sense to pay full price. Almost all of the companies on my approved clothing list have regular sales throughout the year.

Affordable casual accessories

watch | belt (similar) | shoes

This belt was on sale at Kohl's (similar here), the watch was on sale through Amazon.com, and I got these Sperry's for cheap on eBay.

How are you supposed to know when these sales are happening? There are a few ways to stay on top of things:

First, you could join the various newsletters of the companies you like. Every clothing store has an email newsletter these days, which is kind of a double-edged sword. On one hand, you know when sales are going on. But on the other hand, your inbox is bombarded with promotional emails.

A better strategy is this: get on The Modest Man “Deal Alert” newsletter. It's separate from the main newsletter, and it's dedicated only to finding deals. So, when a Modest Man approved company has an awesome sale, I'll send you an email notification along my top picks.

This way, you won't get bombarded with annoying, flashy sales emails from a bunch of different companies. You'll just get a simple, curated list of deals once or twice a month. Sounds pretty good, huh? Get on it!

Also, even if you get on the Deal Alert newsletter, you should check out the site Dappered.com regularly. Joe, the editor, posts his picks from all of the best sales several times a week. It's an awesome place to find affordable stylish clothes.

Wrapping Up

You don't have to spend a ton of money on clothes to look good. Dressing well is about fit, not brand or price. Buy cheap clothes and save money for alterations.

Consider buying secondhand, especially for higher end items. Experiment with affordable custom clothing. And, most importantly, only buy clothes on sale.

Do you have any strategies for finding affordable clothes that fit? Share your knowledge in the comments section!

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Comments

  1. I like #2 the best tip. At least I got a starting point. Great job on the article!

  2. I am a number 4 guy myself. I look for the sales and have been known to buy more than one of the same item if it fits well. It’s so hard to find a good fit and it is worth it to me to have a ready supply of refreshers for those times when I damage or wear out a particular item. I’ve learned the hard way that when they are out of your size you’re out of luck and because they so rarely have my size, I get them when I can. I’m signing up for your deal alert for sure.

  3. Love the affordable MTM options. I’ve been burned and have scored with equal measure taking the thrift/eBay route.

    • Yeah, secondhand is hit or miss. It’s awesome when you find a gem though. Affordable MTM is definitely a great route once you nail down your measurements.

      -B

  4. #2 is the best for me. Where I live, we don’t have second hand shops for clothes or shoes. Buying it cheap and getting it tailored is much more plausible and I think I will go with that.

  5. Will try #4 for sure! Thank you Brock for your time & effort.

  6. All great tips, Brock. I use them all. Buying from charity shops and eBay is a fantastic way to save big bucks on quality clothing items. I’m astounded by the quality of some shirts I’ve purchased in this way; some look near brand new. Makes me wonder why the person is selling or donating to charity in the first place. The trick is to know your measurements and if the advertised item does not have any, don’t be afraid to ask. It helps, too, when you do ask for measurements to attach a jpeg diagram to your query so they know how to measure the item in the proper way. Online MTM is also an avenue I’ve used and I’ve tried many: Modern Tailor, Indochino, Blank Label, Cottonwork, Solosso…all good. Be careful with Luxire though as their returns policy is not as user-friendly as the others.

    • Hey Gaz,

      What was your experience with Solosso? They reached out recently, but I haven’t tried them out yet.

      -B

      • Brock, Solosso is great. A wide selection of quality two-ply Egyptian cotton fabrics to choose from and all shirts are constructed very well and come with MoP buttons and stainless steel collar stays. Your shirt arrives beautifully packaged and on time. Every online MTM outfit I have used I give the thumbs up to except Luxire, who have a convoluted and costless remake process.

  7. Mrcivil says:

    Great post. I especially like the plug for your deals newsletter. I get so much email from retailers I’ve had to create a separate email account just for them.
    I like tip #4 Only Buy Stuff On Sale. I follow that rule and then allow myself to buy one item a month. This lets me accumulate clothes but without any guilt of binge shopping.

    • Love the one item a month rule. Takes a lot of the impulse buying and guesswork out of the equation.

      Got a bunch of signups for the deals newsletter, so stay tuned for some emails!

      -B

  8. Great post! Don’t see why any of these wouldnt work for guys here in the UK. I particularly like the idea of buying cheap and getting it tailored!

  9. Could not agree more Brock with all your pointers.
    I find that the best solution is to keep away from too high fashion items as they can date rather quickly.
    It does not mean you need to be conservative though, for example that beautiful blue suit you highlighted recently Brock can last for as many years as you would wear it.
    So buying items on sale is often the way to go. At Banana Republic for example there can be as much as 60% off often on very classy looking items. I have a branch not far from where I work and I am signed up for their newsletter so I pop in there from time to time to see what they have. As basically any item I purchase need retailoring that needs to be figured into the cost. I managed too to find a really good tailor and he even is willing to reconstruct shirts by reshaping the shoulder.
    You simply need to keep your eyes open and be creative.
    My biggest problem is with shoes because I have a small as well as broad foot probably a size 5.5 in US sizes. I have no luck in Canada except with running shoes as New Balance are very accommodating.
    Was recently in the US and had no luck there either. Heard you may do better at outlets.
    My best solution though for shoes is Europe where I happen to travel a few times a year so if any of you have small feet Europe is a solution.

  10. Agree with #4 never pay full retail when you get it down the track cheaper

  11. Love the article. As far as dress shirts are concerned, a deal breaker for me is whether the shirt is non-iron or not. It absolutely HAS to be non-iron. I don’t see that option available in the MTM market. So what I do is purchase non-iron shirts (On sale, of course!) and just take the waste in myself; which is very easy to do once you’ve done one or two of them.

    By the way, I practiced taking in shirts with some I bought for 2-3 dollars at a thrift store. It really pays off since the fit is, like you say: everything.

    Guy

  12. The other thing to take note of with thrifting for men’s clothes is the different types of thrift shops and where they are located. I have found that thrift shops located at or near retirement communities carry high quality stuff and not trendy garbage that someone is just getting rid of. You find all kinds of stuff in thrift stores but I have had the best luck in a thrift store located inside of a retirement community.

  13. Thanks for the informative article; for those in the UK, I can share a couple of places I like to go (for info I’m 5’4″, 34″ chest, 27″ waist – so short and slim, pretty much nothing will ever fit me properly off the rack)

    I get my my suits tailored from asuitthatfits – I was one of their first customers where they were a start up and over the years they’ve really grown and offer great service. You can pick up a good one for about £250, or top end mohair fabric for about £600.

    Charles Tyrwhitt shirts – Their extra slim shirts (slightly baggy in the stomach area) are good, also if you go into their stores, they have size testing shirts which they call roll up and take some measurements, you can then either buy in store or online. Shirts are 4 for £100 plus £8 per shirt if need at alteration.

    Casual wear, Gap, Unqlo and H&M are good – they do extra small sizes, but trousers usually need to be tapered, any dry cleaner will do this for you for about £6 per pair

    Also I’ve bought large children’s clothes before which was a big MISTAKE, they are quite a bit cheaper because in the UK, clothes classed as Children/Youth don’t pay full VAT; however unless you are quite a round body shape, the fit is usually appalling. The exception I would make is sports kit because the design and fabric means it can’t be tailored (e.g. it would lose the wind breaker effect, and therefore might as well buy something else)

    Shoes I’ve got more choice because I’m a UK size 9, Duggers of London sell great quality leather shoes and I often get complimented on my brogue ones, they are about £130 a pair and should last a year before needing to be re-soled (a decent cobbler would charge about £20)

    This is quite London centric, in the regional areas you could probably get the tailoring and re-soling a little bit cheaper and it would be even more worth it.

    Hope that helps

  14. Alexander Cruz says:

    Great tips, I used to do a lot of buying only on-sale items, but just recently started trying tip #2. It’s been great so far, I’ll let you know how out turns out. Thanks for the hand!

  15. Great post as always Brock, personally I have an excellent experience with the thrift stores, because I live in a medium size city that have some population, but as some previous mail mention, the trick consist on patience when search for clothes and accessories. With all the money you save on those stores, easily you can pay a tailor to fix the fit on your clothes. Thank you again for your great post, keep this great work!

  16. Good ideas, Brock. I have a question regarding fit though: how long should a thicker mens cardigan be? Should it hit around the beltline like a regular sweater should, or is it ok if it goes about halfway down your fly? I’ve always thought a somewhat longer cardigan looks ok, but every picture I see on models online is of cardigans hitting right around the belt area, so I’m concerned all my chunkier cardigans are too long on me (I’m 5’5″).

    • Most of mine hit about mid-fly, which I think is fine. I know we’re used to seeing all the 6’2″ models in their size medium cardigans that hit at the waist, but that’s not very practical. Seems like it would ride up every time you lifted your arms!

  17. Only $10-20 on tailoring?

    1. Buy something that actually fits your shoulders. It is impossible to find something that fits your shoulders and everything else

    2. Hemming it? That’s $15 at the cheapest in town. Assuming it isn’t scalloped, which they charge you more for even if you don’t want to keep it.

    3. Taking the sides in? $15 at the cheapest in town.

    4. Shortening the sleeves? That’s $25.

    So we’re already at $55+, excluding the price of the shirt itself. And when people consider $60 to be affordable (I see people above talking about $600 “bargains”!), you’re SOL as a student.

  18. Where did you get the shorts in the picture?

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