A King On A Budget.

To see a man beaten not by a better opponent but by himself is a tragedy.
Cus D'Amato
As I mentioned in a previous article, not everyone starts well off and not everyone stays well off. Anyone can fall into financial hardship because of any amount of reasons, all of them perfectly valid. What’s not valid is letting that beat you down. And the first tell sign that you are beaten is looking beaten. Truth is that when you stop caring how you see yourself, it’s usually because you stop caring about yourself.

So one of the first things you must consider when picking yourself up is being able to dress yourself up. Yet too often, article after article minimize this effort with the simple advice of “go and buy a proper suit at a proper store.” It’s easy (and pretty arrogant if you ask me) to assume that the only way to look like a million bucks is to spend a million bucks. But way too many men take this advice to heart when they don’t have the means to do so, falling harder into debt, as they will max out their credit cards on clothing they should even try to afford just yet.

Does that mean you should dress ‘poor’ because you are ‘poor’? Not at all, especially when you consider the importance of putting you best foot forward when you are getting up from a downfall. But how do you do this with limited resources? Here are a few tips to look your best without having to break the bank.

Thrift shops are your secret weapon.
This is the first secret I share with anyone who is down on their luck. Thrift shops will have slightly worn, and even new, suits and shoes. Suits are not something that will be worn out, so you are likely to find clothing in excellent conditions for a minimal fraction of the price. Understand that going this path is a treasure hunt. You might end up with nothing worthwhile or you might hit jackpot. 

Fit is critical and a tailor is your friend.
The easiest way to make men’s clothing look better is if it fits better. Buy clothing in your proper size. Learn to hem a pants’ length appropriately or take them to a tailor. As for suits, simply take them to a tailor. Yes, this might seem like a waste of money, to have a suit your size resized for you. A tailor fitted off the rack suit will always look better than an ill fitted expensive suit. Nothing makes a suit look perfect like a perfect fit. 

A suit doesn't have to be a suit.
Unless you are a banker or a high rank executive, you can get away with mixing different pants and jackets. Don’t assume that you have to be suited up to look suited up. When buying clothing, look for things that work well when mixing and matching. Work with solid colors. This will let you repeat the same item in a different combination without looking like you are repeating the same outfit. Buy clothing considering the combinations and options you can get out of them. 

Prioritize the effect, rock the sports coat.
A dress shirt and a tie alone can actually look less classy than a casual shirt and a coat. A coat can turn a t-shirt and jeans into a classy affair. Rock the Coat. 

Minimize the casual effect.
Just as a coat will bring any outfit up, certain things can bring anything back down. Backpacks are for school kids, ski jackets are for skiing, and gym shoes are for the gym. Ironically for the same price of the backpack, the ski jacket, or the gym shoes, you can get a dressier counterpart, so the issue here is not price. 

Clothing are the tools of your trade, treat them accordingly.
If you have to give a presentable image as part of your job, or the job you are trying to get, your clothing is an important tool of your trade. That means you must treat them with care to make them last. When you get home, change into something else. Take off the suit and place it in a proper rack. That includes the pants and dress shirt too! Why risk ruining your clothing with an accidental stain? 

Stop being afraid of the ironing board and the shoe polish.
Nothing makes clothing look cheaper than wrinkles and nothing make clothing look expensive as being ironed. The same can be said with shined shoes. Take the time to iron out your shirts and pants (unless they have to be dry cleaned), and make them look their best. You don’t want to be a slave to the ironing board, consider the comment above and change out of your clothing when you get home.

Work with the seasons, specially the end of the season.
As each season comes to an end, almost everything is placed on clearance. Sure, you might not be able to use it during this season and will have to put it away till next year, but the savings are worth it. These sales actually start during mid season as they need to open up space for the new merchandise.

Just because you are not doing well, do you have to treat yourself badly? Dress up and get out there. Make it happen. When heading out into the world, always dress ready to run into your next business opportunity, the love of your life, or the person who wants to keep you down. Remember that the first step to being respected is looking respectable.