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Top 10 Brands You Should Hunt For When Building Your Wardrobe

March 23rd, 2011

guy hunting for stylish clothes

When building a men’s wardrobe, we’d like to have it all, right? I mean, to buy the cheapest clothes, of the highest quality possible and by the best brands.

In reality, getting the right clothes is more of a balancing act. You have to take several trips to the store, wait for discounts, try on different garments, make the right choice, take them to the tailor…

Dang it, that’s a lot of time money and energy, isn’t it? In this case, you might as well get the best bang for your buck, right? That’s where I come in.

See…

Even though the clothing market is very competitive, some brands continue to deliver good quality while others are still overpromising and underdelivering. They think they can get away with low-quality items and, sometimes, they do! That’s because most men are unaware where to do their shopping, so they end up paying a premium for something that is just NOT worth wearing.

So I made you a list. The top 10 brands you should hunt when buying men’s clothing.

While I didn’t care too much about price, I tried to stay away from the most expensive ones.

Here’s the thing: a while back, I would go from store to store, wasting precious hours trying to find the right clothes for myself. But after a while I found myself buying from the same places over and over again. Then I realized some stores always had the same quality clothes I was looking for.

In order, here’s what I’m looking for when buying clothes (and you can rest assured all my top 10 list brands are in alignment with this:

1. Quality.
2. Price.
3. How fashionable it is.

You may want to switch #2 and #3 depending on your budget but you always want to buy quality clothes. This doesn’t mean you should spend all your money on expensive clothes, but rather pick the brands that deliver the best quality for the best price.

Without further ado, here’s my top 10.

#1 – Ralph Lauren

ralph lauren store

Yes, I know: Ralph Lauren is far from cheap. Shirts can cost up to $150 (or more). But here’s the thing, you can hunt for sales periods and get some pretty good deals.

Plus, Ralph Lauren clothing is definitely a long-term investment.Their shirts and sweaters are very good quality and will last for years. This goes for the color as well. You won’t see it fade anytime soon.

So if you know when sale periods occur (and you should!), keep an eye out for Ralph Lauren, you might just get a pretty good deal.

Recommended clothing articles:

- dress shirts
- polo shirts
- rugby shirts
- chinos
- vests

#2 – Brooks brothers

brooks brothers store

If you’re more the conservative type, that looks to looks sharp, you’ve found your match. Brooks brothers has good quality clothes at good prices, so you won’t be disappointed.

You’ll find everything you want, but be prepared to pay a little extra than you would at any other store.

You’ll find that some of their clothing items, particularly their button down shirts are of the highest quality.

#3 – Zara

zara store

Zara needs no introduction because of its really stylish lines of clothing. While some people are dissatisfied with this brand, it has some really good items.

Some people have reported minor quality problems with Zara, particularly in Eastern Europe and U.S. stores. This may be true but don’t assume all of their clothes are like that.

As always before you buy, analyze each item of clothing in detail, particularly the stitches.

One of the advantages Zara has over other brands, is the fact that it controls most of its clothing life cycle. This simply means it does its own clothing design, production and distribution. This end-to-end solution has had a tremendous impact on their brand image.

Truth be told, I always buy stuff from Zara (except the wool tops which are surprisingly fragile), but they I can assemble really cool-looking outfits for when I go out in night clubs.

The nice thing about Zara clothes is that they can make you look very stylish even if you’re not too knowledgeable about it. You don’t have to know about color coordination or layering to look awesome in their clothes.

Bottom line: go for Zara but pay attention to the quality of what you intend to buy.

Clothing items to hunt for:

- sports jackets
- ties
- sweaters
- chinos

#4 – Guess

guess store

If you’re looking for some flashy clothes – Guess is the place to get them from. Not that it’s such a bad thing but it’s way better to be able to take 5 clothing items and learn to mix-and-match them than to put on some flashy t-shirt and jeans.

You get the idea, right?

Nevertheless, Guess has some really cool clothes that can make you stand out from the crowd. They can get really creative with colors and patterns so you don’t have to.

What you should buy from Guess:

men style ebook

- t-shirts
- jackets
- watches
- jeans

Guess clothes are more on the casual side, perfect if you’re a creative person who just likes to chill and, possibly, to meet a lot of women. Upgrading your style with the Guess brand is a really good idea, although I’d wait for the discount periods before I made any bulk purchases.

#5 – H&M

h&m store

I have to say this right from the start: H&M is probably the most popular store from this top 10. This is especially true in Europe where people from most countries are regular buyers.

This Swedish retail clothing company has great clothing and great prices.

Hunt for:
- t-shirts
- casual shirts
- blazers
- cardigans

Don’t buy:
- accessories (they don’t have that many options)

#6 – Calvin Klein

calvin klein store

I know what you’re thinking: you can get better quality clothing for less money than Kelvin Klein. But CK is a well established brand with a history behind it.

While they’re a little pricey, you’ll find that the clothing quality is great – you get what you pay for.

Keep an eye out for:

- jeans
- underwear
- perfume

#7 – J. Crew

j crew store

If you’re looking for a reliable brand with great quality, look no further than J. Crew. In their stores you’ll find the usual array of clothes, from t-shirts and dress shirts to pants and coats.

Don’t expect to find the cheapest prices here but you will get great quality clothes, which is what I’ve always recommended to all my stylish readers.

#8 – Topman

topman store

The first thing I should mention about Topman is that they’re really concerned about colors. It doesn’t matter what shade of blue jeans you want, you’ll probably find it in a Topman store. This makes it really enjoyable to mix and match clothes of different colors and hues.

Topman has very good prices but, as some people have put it, they have a habit of turning people into clones. This is only because their popularity and men’s inability to mix and match clothes.

If you know how to match clothes and how to mix colors, you don’t have to worry you’ll look like the next guy.

While their clothes don’t look as good as Guess or Ralph Lauren for instance, Topman is great if you’re going for the cool, casual look. Their wide variety of streetwear clothes makes them the number one choice if you’re looking for the best price per quality ratio.

Another point to remember if you’re relatively small and you have trouble finding clothes: Topman has one of the widest selections of S and XS (small and extra-small) clothes available. I know that it’s hard to find clothes that fit you sometimes, so be sure to give Topman a try.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out their blazers, they are of good quality for the price you have to pay.

#9 – Gucci

gucci store

Yes, I know some refer to it as the best brand in the world. But this top 10 is mostly about price per quality so Gucci barely makes it here.

Needless to say, their great quality is compensated by a steep price. However, you should buy Gucci only once in a while. Keep your money for less expensive clothes.

One thing that I always say to my stylish students is that the outfit is more important than each individual item of clothing. This means you can buy cheaper clothes and look way better than someone wearing Gucci from top to bottom.

Nevertheless, quality is quality and Gucci is all about that.

#10 – Kenneth Cole

kenneth cole

If you’re looking for decent accessories and shoes at a reasonable price, look no further than Kenneth Cole. Of course, if you can afford $300 shoes, by all means, get them. But if you can’t, Kenneth Cole is your friend.

It’s also worth taking a look at their shirts. You may find a certain color or pattern that you’ve been looking for in a long time, that completes a great outfit.

Again, the quality is not the best but if you’re a student or on a budget, it’s well worth buying.

Hunt for:

- (dress) shoes
- belts
- men’s bags

If you have any other suggestions / reviews for any brands you may or may not like, let us hear about them. Just add a comment below and tell us which brands you like/don’t like and why.

Style advice ,



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  1. Kerry
    July 19th, 2011 at 14:29 | #1

    Good list and I agree with most. I say most because some of these stores are not located in the Southern US, so I’m not familiar with them. If I could add to the list, Express Men. Although somewhat pricey, they have amazing colors and they are one of very few stores that have fitted shirts and pants. They do have coupons every so often and when they have a sale, I stock up. They’re clothes are also very durable. Just my 2 cents!
    Love your blog.
    Ciao

  2. July 19th, 2011 at 18:53 | #2

    Thanks for contributing to the list, Kerry!

  3. SamL
    July 30th, 2011 at 08:47 | #3

    I also agree with most of these. I personally would add L.L. Bean and Fossil. Both are favorites of mine, though they can be a little spendy as well. A good one that doesn’t hurt the wallet as bad might be Eddie Bauer. While not quite as classy, they do provide some high quality clothing.

  4. Ian
    August 2nd, 2011 at 03:18 | #4

    I dunno. This seems a little too “pat” an article. You might as well have “The Gap” in there. With the proliferation of flash sale sites like Gilt Man, HauteLook, Beyond The Rack, Dealuxe, Ideeli, JackThreads, MyHabit and RueLaLa, there are plenty of much better quality brands at really reasonable prices (i.e. on the same level as these stores you’ve listed). I’d put brands like Varvatos (especially their USA collection), Ted Baker, Theory, Ben Sherman, J Lindberg, Earnest Sewn, and the various selvedge denim manufacturers in this category.

    If “quality” is truly your first criteria, putting Zara and H&M in this list and ignoring better brands that are available online for reasonable prices seems like a missed opportunity. This reads more like a “so you’re about to go to college and need a cheap wardrobe that is better than you’d buy at JC Penney” article. Not trying to be harsh here, there’s definitely an audience for this, but I think the content belies the intent.

  5. Temuka
    September 16th, 2011 at 18:15 | #5

    Hello , first of all I would like to thank you for these great advises that you’re giving to us I’m actually new on this blog but still got some useful info , but I have a question which is kinda complicated for me: From which part I should start building an outfit? you know most people say it’s shoes , but I have like planty of things in my wardrobe and they’re like not fitable because I couldn’t buy the things I wanted I live in Georgia (country not state :P) and quality clothing is really expensive here but now I have job so I can happily spend some money on good clothes so can you advice me from which part should I start.

    Thanks in advance
    Temuka

  6. Bhasit Saxena
    June 11th, 2012 at 12:31 | #6

    I have a slim body nd indian skin complex. What should i normaly wear when i go out ?
    Can you suggest some brands that make good formal suits, you know like Ed Westwick type.

  7. mike neal
    June 18th, 2012 at 01:30 | #7

    WHAT ABOUT THE JOS.A.BANK LINE OF CLOTHING ? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS BRAND ? I BUY THE GOLD SIGNATURE LINE AND ALWAYS GET HIGH PRAISE FOR HOW I DRESS. I AM VERY INTERESTED IN HEARING YOUR OPINION ABOUT THIS CLOTHING LINE ? THANKS , MIKE NEAL (757)-227-1888

  8. Mitch Eusebio
    November 15th, 2012 at 00:45 | #8

    On the article regarding the (10) brands, you left out Banana Republic. They definitley have been included! Why did you not include them?

    meusebio@belangerinc.com

  9. Spencer
    December 15th, 2012 at 02:36 | #9

    This is the best list I have seen because it isn’t all Louis Vuitton and brands like that. Sure there a few high high end brands in here, which I still think they are good choices. But most high high end brands make you look ridiculous. So brands like guess and J crew are excellent brands and make you look great, even if their still pricey.

  10. James
    January 26th, 2013 at 21:36 | #10

    I just got this email to this article today. Great article and great comments. Understand that the top 10 is not about the stores. It’s about 1,2,3. 1. Quality 2. Price and 3. How fashionable it is. Heck you can go to a thrift store and find all three is you are on a budget. And if you don’t make a lot of money then you save up and then purchase what you need. The lesson is 1, 2, and 3. It took me 4 months to save up and buy my first suit. My next move is working on a promotion. Slow and steady will this race.

  11. adam
    March 24th, 2013 at 05:09 | #11

    Joseph A Bank is alot more expensive than any of these brands, but they have good sales, and is by far better quality than ralph lauren and any other of these brands.

  12. Craig
    May 29th, 2013 at 18:01 | #12

    I like this list a lot. But I would definitely replace a few of your choices. H&M and Zara are fast fashion labels. They take things straight off the runway, mass-produce them, and put them in the stores. This is why prices and quality are low. That doesn’t mean they’re bad necessarily, but if you’re looking for clothes that will last longer than a year you won’t find that at either store. I don’t think Gucci, although somewhat affordable for the quality and style, really belongs in most men’s closets. I have yet to buy anything Gucci myself. And Guess…has kinda worn thin for me. Same with Kenneth Cole. Replacments for these could be Banana Republic, Express, Armani (Exchange), Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, Gant. Hell, I could go on and on. Maybe you could make a “Top 50″ list?

  13. Anthony
    October 26th, 2013 at 04:10 | #13

    Well guys, I’m changing jobs that requires me to dress a bit nicer than I’m use to.
    I haven’t really worn a suit or dressy attire since I left the military.
    I’m an hvac tradesman that is now rolling over to sales . This article is helpful for a person line me .
    I don’t have any dressy type clothes at this time . I am now in the market to start buying but I don’t want trash .
    I don’t want to be choked to death in my clothing and I do not want discomfort.
    With that said I have started to look at kohls and have seen some mid ranged price items that look ok.
    I want comfort and style . I want a great variety of color. I don’t like the typical shirt or slacks. I want to be sharp .
    I most likely will not wear a blazer much so this part I’m not sure what I will like best , but to be honest here I really like a vest style look but I’m not sure exactly how far I will dress up .im not sure how to explain the shirts I like but I like a slick shirt not the rough material type. Hope you guys get what I’m talking about here.

  14. March 20th, 2014 at 12:42 | #14

    Mitch Eusebio :

    On the article regarding the (10) brands, you left out Banana Republic. They definitley have been included! Why did you not include them?

    meusebio@belangerinc.com

    Thanks, Mitch… well, this is just my top 10, I’m sure there are others who could fit. If that’s where you like to shop and you’re happy the price/quality, that’s fantastic!

  15. March 20th, 2014 at 12:47 | #15

    Craig :

    I like this list a lot. But I would definitely replace a few of your choices. H&M and Zara are fast fashion labels. They take things straight off the runway, mass-produce them, and put them in the stores. This is why prices and quality are low. That doesn’t mean they’re bad necessarily, but if you’re looking for clothes that will last longer than a year you won’t find that at either store. I don’t think Gucci, although somewhat affordable for the quality and style, really belongs in most men’s closets. I have yet to buy anything Gucci myself. And Guess…has kinda worn thin for me. Same with Kenneth Cole. Replacments for these could be Banana Republic, Express, Armani (Exchange), Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, Gant. Hell, I could go on and on. Maybe you could make a “Top 50″ list?

    Yea, a top 50 would be nice but then I’d have to buy at least 2-3 fashion items from each – that would probably cost me a lot.

    About Zara and H&M, I’ve had good and bad experiences with both of them. I’ve had some garments deteriorate after only a few months while others I still wear to this day. Looking back, it’s all about knowing how to pick them.

    H&M and Zara can give you good deals if you know how to weed out the bad ones.

  16. March 20th, 2014 at 12:48 | #16

    Temuka :

    Hello , first of all I would like to thank you for these great advises that you’re giving to us I’m actually new on this blog but still got some useful info , but I have a question which is kinda complicated for me: From which part I should start building an outfit? you know most people say it’s shoes , but I have like planty of things in my wardrobe and they’re like not fitable because I couldn’t buy the things I wanted I live in Georgia (country not state :P) and quality clothing is really expensive here but now I have job so I can happily spend some money on good clothes so can you advice me from which part should I start.

    Thanks in advance
    Temuka

    Hey man,

    That’s an excellent question. I would start with dress shirts and pants.

  17. MR.Z
    April 18th, 2014 at 20:39 | #17

    GREETINGS,
    I agree with most brands of your top 10, but besides zara and H&M there’s C&A,similar to H&M it’s popular in europe and there are some good classy intiems for men and Women, i personally enjoy buying jeans, they are from a really good quality, and the price varies between 15-25€ i bought a pair of jeans and i’ve been using very often for about 3 years and it stills in amazing quality, the colour didn’t fade and the stitching is new,for the price that i pay for a pair of C&A pants,ibelieve it’s a better alternative to a levi’s pair. Also there is “Springfield”, a sapnnish origin brand, it’s popular in europe and just like Zara it sells amazing quality clothes for nice price, cotton oxford shirts and wool cardigans are what i like most, some wool jumpers and jackets might be a little pricey, but they worth it.

  18. Carl
    July 3rd, 2014 at 00:07 | #18

    Interesting list – I do Like Brooks Brothers, And (personally) rate Tommy Hilfiger over a few of the choices, also not familiar with some of the brands mentioned (The South doesn’t have all of them).

    Would like to see a list of brands by socio/economic’s (i.e. folks in this socio-economic range tend towards these brands – or perhaps what my brand selection tells about me).

    New GF trying to clean out my closet…

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