Broke and the City: A Guide To Affordable Wardrobe Staples

I’m a huge advocate of staples. Most of my wardrobe is dedicated to button downs, blazers and black tights, which I jazz up with semi-insane accessories (including a collection of fedoras, men’s denim biker vest with an eagle on the back, leopard fur coat). I’m of the opinion that a solid white tee and crisp, cuffed jean shorts can make the best outfit when styled right. But not all staples are created equal, and it can be difficult to navigate one’s way through a sea of solids. Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of the basics at several accessible retail giants.
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I’m a huge advocate of staples. Most of my wardrobe is dedicated to button downs, blazers and black tights, which I jazz up with semi-insane accessories (including a collection of fedoras, men’s denim biker vest with an eagle on the back, leopard fur coat). I’m of the opinion that a solid white tee and crisp, cuffed jean shorts can make the best outfit when styled right. But not all staples are created equal, and it can be difficult to navigate one’s way through a sea of solids. Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of the basics at several accessible retail giants.
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I’m a huge advocate of staples. Most of my wardrobe is dedicated to button downs, blazers and black tights, which I jazz up with semi-insane accessories (including a collection of fedoras, men’s denim biker vest with an eagle on the back, leopard fur coat). I’m of the opinion that a solid white tee and crisp, cuffed jean shorts can make the best outfit when styled right. But not all staples are created equal, and it can be difficult to navigate one’s way through a sea of solids. Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of the basics at several accessible

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The Solid Tee

This little baby comes in thousands of forms, and while we all may covet a soft and slouchy

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Jean Shorts

I grew up at the beach, so shorts were my #1 most-worn item. To this day, I’ve never found a better brand for shorts than Roxy. They last forever--really--and come in every style, color, and wash that you could hope for. A personal favorite are the

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The Button-Down

When searching for this staple, look no further than J.Crew. If you can find an outlet (or sale like the one currently going on online), you’re golden. The brand's

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A Leather Jacket

There’s a reason they’re so ubiquitous in this city: Leather is the perfect weight for lengthy fall months, chilly spring nights and the days when buildings create tornado-esque wind tunnels. Urban Outfitters usually has a great selection that they slash to ridiculously low prices in the spring. One of mine is a bomber-style version that has kept me toasty through more than one winter (and quite a few rainstorms), which I later saw reduced to $75. For those opposed to leather, try

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Hosiery

Black tights and New York go together like…well, black tights and New York. You have to have them, but you’re not about to pay for Wolford, no matter what Vogue says. I've had the best luck at Uniqlo and Macy’s--both have enormous hosiery departments. At Macy’s you can usually find some good discounts, like two Hue tights for $14 (left), which I recommend for durability and opaqueness. One winter I hit up Marshall's for discount Calvin Klein and Betsey Johnson, both of which were surprisingly terrible. Calvin Klein's stretch and sag, and Betsey Johnson's have a weird unintended sheen. Lesson learned: If hosiery is at a discount warehouse, it is likely defective. As one could imagine, the fast-fashion places sell products worthy of the low prices—they just don’t last, and you’ll end up throwing out multiple pairs and spending more than intended.