I spent $200,000 on men's clothes last year

And here's what I learned.

For many men, throwing down a few thousand dollars on new clothes is a big deal. Daunting, of course, because of the huge effect that a whole new wardrobe can have on your life, your confidence and people’s perception of you.

But what if you’re spending a few thousand dollars every day?

For those new to this site, A Good Man’s main service is personal styling. We meet clients, assess their needs and budget and help them curate a wardrobe that will help them become the man they feel like on the inside. Sounds cheesy, I know, but it’s a huge transformation and a pretty sweet job.

Let’s get straight into it. Here’s our client breakdown for 2013:

Our feet still hurt from all that walking.

That’s a lot of clients, a lot of money and a lot of guys feeling great about themselves. That $200,000 is money we don’t earn commission on; all cash that goes directly to small retail businesses.

Not many men get to say that they spent well over six-figures on clothing in a given year. Sure, maybe Kanye West does, but even the ultra-rich who have the luxury of having any and every item of clothing they could possibly desire have no experience with shopping for hundreds of different body shapes, different budgets and different styles.

(And, as we’ve learned from styling Gabriel Macht and several other high-profile celebrities, clothes are often just given to them by labels and the actual amount of money they drop is far, far lower than you would expect.)

In four years of running A Good Man, this has been our busiest year by a mile, and the more men begin to get exposure to fashion the more services like ours begin to flourish. But it would be a waste if we didn’t actually learn anything; if we just took all of these clients shopping and had no actual insights or understanding of patterns and consistent trends in that way that men shop and the way that men approach clothes.

Unfortunately, each of these insights really deserves its own article, and in time we’ll endeavour to do just that. But for now, here’s a short list of things we learned in 2013:

Fat Men Don’t have Fat Legs

With very few exceptions, every one of our clients who are overweight all seem to buy the same pair of very large “fat man pants”. Usually a size 38, usually boot-cut, usually made of cheap-feeling light blue denim. Without exception, each of these men actually has legs that are a lot slimmer than he thinks. “Slim-fitting” or “tapered” cut pants are not necessarily just for skinny guys, big guys can and should wear them too.

Every man is 4 pant sizes smaller than they think

This is related to the last point, but it’s so uncanny how many men’s wardrobes we’ve looked through and found that almost all of them are wearing pants that are far too large. Most often, when a guy thinks he’s a 34 in jeans, he’s actually a 30 (or at least a 32). Out of around 100 clients last year, only four or five actually knew their correct pant size.

Colour theory is mostly bullshit

Men want little rules about colours that they can wear to properly match their complexion. But we can tell you first-hand, after working with hundreds of men and trying on hundreds of different colours and textures in clothing, that seasonal colour theories that expect men to fit neatly into one category or another are so broad and unhelpful they leave men more confused and limited than if they had never learned about them. They’re limiting because they stop you from trying on certain clothes because you’re adamant that the colour won’t work – when it often will look just fine. Colour doesn’t fit neatly into “red” and “green”, there are millions of variations in each spectrum and the way the particular hue and tone compliments your face is too unique to fit neatly into a four-season colour theory.

Men have trouble letting go of clothes

Men are really, really sentimental about clothes, and 70% of the stuff that’s in their wardrobe is there for reasons other than because they like wearing them. “I kept this because my wife bought it for me and I love her” is a common one; “I got this t-shirt at a music festival when I was 20” is another. We don’t make our clients throw this stuff away, but we put it in a separate drawer because they add useless clutter to the wardrobe.

Everyone looks good in Filippa K Chinos

Seriously. Get them from Swensk. They have one the best basic cuts of any pants we’ve seen, and they work well on just about every single guy we tried them on, from skinny guys to body builders.

Menswear in 2014 is mostly about being comfortable

Gone are the days where a ‘modern’ man’s outfit consisted only of tight pants and slim-fitting jackets. We’re seeing more and more relaxed cuts from high-end designers and it’s slowly trickling down to the man on the street. By “relaxed” I don’t mean your standard Dockers boot cut, or ill-fitting chinos from Target. The relaxed look we’re talking about here is a tailored-relaxed look, which drapes in a purposeful way.

Most men are really, really intimidated in high-end stores

This is the fault of the store, and not the fault of the man – and it’s such a shame, because most of the high-end stores we frequent are filled with staff that are really, really lovely and are more than happy to just chat and show you the products without expecting – or pressuring – you to buy anything.

You have to give a shit before you can not give a shit.

This has always been a rule, but this past year has shown it more than ever. You have to know the rules before you can break them, otherwise you’re just wildly trying to do your own thing without being grounded in other people’s expectations and tastes. You don’t just go out and paint “The Starry Night” without understanding and appreciating other painting techniques and art styles. Clothing is exactly the same. Learn every menswear rule you can, absorb it, then for the love of god start breaking free and trying something different.

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