Ballin’ On A Budget feat. Sabir Peele

April 9th, 2012

Long time reader and fellow blogger Sabir Peele shows us how to stay fresh on a tight budget.

All of these outfits were under $300 total, including alterations (don’t skip the alts!).

1. Casual Friday 

“One of my favorite off-price steals is this Jey Coleman blazer I picked up from Daffy’s for $60 (down from $350).”

On top of thrift, vintage and second-hand shops, there are plenty of off-price retailers that carry past-season goods at 50%-80% off. Daffy’s, Filene’s Basement, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Century 21, etc.

Menswear is all about the classics anyway. The white jeans from this season are hardly any different than the white jeans from two seasons ago, especially since you’re going to have them tailored to fit properly anyway.

 Total price for this look (including alterations): $225.

  • Grey plaid cotton blazer by Jey Coleman ·
  • Lavender stripe spread collar shirt by H&M ·
  • Green pocket square (vintage) ·
  • Brown leather double monkstrap shoes by Mercanti Fiorentini ·
  • White cotton pants by H&M ·
  • Navy knit tie by Macy’s ·
  • Brown leather belt Vintage

2. Business Casual

“Waistcoats are a staple in my wardrobe. I will often purchase a three-piece suit for the versatility of the waistcoat which can be styled into many looks, which ultimately saves me money.

I picked up this particular waistcoat from an online vintage shop for $15… When dealing with online vintage shops, as with EBay, be sure to confirm all the details about the item before pulling the trigger.”

“I was searching for a pair of brown double monkstrap shoes for some time, but most of the pairs I found had price tags of $300+.

I found this pair at DSW for $139 and I had a couple coupons at my disposal to help lower the price to $100.

Total cost of this look is $198.”


Donegal Tweed Vest in Monochrome

3. Travelin’ Man

Looking for an affordable pair of jeans? Go with Levis. Find the cut that fit you best and spend the extra savings at the tailor to make sure they fit just right.

When buying jeans, make sure they are snug when you first try them on because they will stretch (quite a bit in most cases). Once you have worn them 7-10 times they should be fully stretched, at which point you can bring them to the tailor.

After having them tailored, wash them as infrequently as possible. If they get physically dirty, or stanky, have them dry cleaned to avoid any color fading or shrinking.

“I try not to pay retail prices, but when I saw these bucks I couldn’t wait for them to go on sale.

Shoes are the one thing that I will splurge on. But when I do, I make sure to take care of them with shoe trees and protective taps on the toes and heels. After all, taking care of your pieces is just as important as finding good deals on them.

The total cost of this look is $294.”

  • Yellow sweatshirt by Obey ·
  • Jeans by Levis ·
  • Watch by Timex ·
  • Blue Chambray Shirt by JCrew ·
  • Blue weekend bag by Yellowstone ·
  • McPherson buck wingtips by Johnston & Murphy ·
  • Shades by H&M

4. Business BadAss 

Because of the skepticism of buyers, and the abundance of sellers with poorly advertised items, you can find some amazing things on eBay for ridiculously low prices. In fact, some of my favorite pieces in my wardrobe are the result of a bidding war.

When looking for a tailored jacket on eBay make sure you know your finished measurements. If you’re not sure, find a jacket that fits you well, button it and  lay it perfectly flat across a table. Now take the following measurements and write them somewhere for your reference:

1. Shoulder point-to-point. From the top of one shoulder straight across the back to the top of the other shoulder.

2. Chest pit-to-pit. From the edge of the armpit (where the under-sleeve meets the body of the jacket) straight across the front to the edge of the other armpit.

3. Body length (front). From the top of the shoulder seam where it meets the collar (it helps to lift the collar/lapels) straight down to the bottom of the jacket.

4. Body length (back). Straight down the center back from the under collar seam to the bottom of the jacket.

5. Sleeve length. From the top of the shoulder seam to the end of the sleeve. Keep in mind this can be shortened as much as needed, or lengthened typically up to an inch (you can ask the seller how much fabric is available to be let down). Also note that working cuffs greatly limit the amount that the sleeves can be altered since you cannot uncut the button holes.

These are standard finished measurements that sellers should provide. If they haven’t included them in the listing you should ask for them (feel free to copy and paste the 5 measuring instructions above into your message to the seller).

The stomach and hips of the jacket are less important since you can typically have them taken-in or let-out. You should plan on taking the jacket to the tailor (and dry cleaner) before wearing it anyway.

“I found this vintage double-breasted linen blazer on eBay blazer for $12. It was advertised as having a ‘tailored fit’  and the measurements seemed just right.

In addition to the measurements, be sure to check the sellers feedback rating and the condition of the item.”

If a piece of information is missing, ask for it! On eBay it’s important to make NO ASSUMPTIONS.

The easiest place to score on eBay is in footwear. You can assume the quality from the name brand, see the condition easily from the pictures, and you already know your size. Just be certain they are authentic and not cheap knock-offs – which plague eBay.

“These trousers are part of a khaki suit that I picked off a clearance rack at Macy’s in Long Island. It was $65 at the end of the summer season.

In terms of alterations, I only had the pant leg tapered ($22).

Total cost for this outfit is $135.”


Khaki Cotton Trouser

  • Brown vintage calf skin loafers by Johnston & Murphy ·
  • White pocket square by Target ·
  • Orange spread collar gingham shirt by H&M ·
  • Navy knit tie by California Knit ·
  • Blue linen double breasted blazer by Andrew Velasco
  • · Khaki cotton suit trousers by Sons of Intrigue

5. Weekend Chill

“Mixing dressy elements with casual ones is quintessential when I think about my overall style.”

“This entire look was $233 dollars and most of the pieces are versatile enough to be worn for multiple occasions.”

“The only thing that was tailored in this outfit was the pant hem, which I did myself – saving $12 in alteration costs.”


Royal Cotton Trouser

  • Blue striped cotton henley by H&M ·
  • Burgundy straw hat by H&M ·
  • Brown plastic shades by H&M ·
  • Brown leather drivers by Johnston & Murphy ·
  • Burgundy leather belt by Ralph Lauren ·
  • Watch by Timex ·
  • Blue watch strap by JCrew
  • · Navy cotton trousers by H&M

Thanks for reading – and special thanks to Sabir for participating!

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier


Photography by Alex Crawford.