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Let's parse this sentence from the article: "At a time when the economy is growing, unemployment is low, wages are rebounding and consumers are eager to buy, Americans are spending less and less on clothing."

A couple of points:
- "the economy is growing": true, but most wages are stagnant, and the vast lion's share of the growth is only going to a small minority of earners (this is called "income inequality", and it's rising very rapidly in the USA; my own town, Atlanta, has the greatest income inequality of any US city)

- "wages are rebounding": correction, *average* wages are rebounding... look at the fine structure and you see a mix of mostly stagnant wages with a handful of rapidly increasing ones, such that the overall average is on the rise. Journalist - at a very far remove from being mathematicians, have never been able to grasp the uselessness of averages without also reporting on medians.

- "consumers are eager to buy": So? again, most wages are flat. Have fun window-shopping.

- "Americans are spending...": come again? what's an American, exactly? No category which describes 330 million people is of any use as a market segment.

Here's what I'm seeing: two separate apparel universes are peeling apart and moving rapidly away from one another. One the one hand, the increasingly worthless garbage billed as "clothing" that one finds at Target, Wallmart, Macy's, etc. On the other, an increase in bespoke apparel, more luxury men's shops (at least here), more small-run, exclusive shoe makers, etc.

So I don't think clothing is imperiled per-se... I just think it's important to be on the correct side of the income divide as it expands into a less-and-less bridgeable gulf.

There *was* a time when the typical man could have clothes tailored, buy good shoes, and so on, and so naturally folks were better dressed *on average* than now; those days are long gone. Frankly, it's no longer actually possible to dress well on a budget (I'm excluding "thrifting", because the real cost of thrifting - factoring in opportunity and other costs - is never factored in, so it's impossible to compare to store-bought clothes), but that doesn't mean people aren't doing it.

DH
 

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I saw this and thought it was interesting. I’ve always worked in environments that require a trouser/sport coat at minimum. Never thought about how relaxed most places are and that means people have combined their work/home clothes.


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I feel fairly confident that entry level wages in many industries are higher than they have been. At least in my market it seems to be around 12.50 to 13.50 an hour. I do think that dumbing down clothing standards in the work place also has the advantage of limiting an employee's money spent on clothing and helps keep wage inflation down (i.e - you don't have to pay your employees more just so they can dress better). Therefore, it is to the employers' advantage to relax dress standards.

Brick and Mortar is definitely dead as well as the large mall in America. Free standing big box stores like Costco and WalMart can continue to rule but the days of a Sears/JC Penney/Macys/etc. as an anchor store is limited. The one exception is where it can be a destination mall but even those may face problems in the future.

At the high end I think there will always be a market. But hasn't that always been the case?
 

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Frankly, it's no longer actually possible to dress well on a budget (I'm excluding "thrifting", because the real cost of thrifting - factoring in opportunity and other costs - is never factored in, so it's impossible to compare to store-bought clothes), but that doesn't mean people aren't doing it.
This makes no sense at all. If "it's no longer actually possible", then how are people doing it? I know many who use their sense of style and taste to dress well on a budget - without thrifting.
 

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I think Dhaller has some good points.

Relaxed work dress codes certainly allows the vast majority of workers to dress inexpensivly. The work clothes and recreational clothes become indistinguishable, there is no longer a need for a seperate wardrobe. With cheap, low quality clothing flooding the market, lower wage worke can devote less of their income toward clothing.

The divide between the have and have nots has been inexorably increasing, leading to two divergent markets. This got me to thinking about the costs of what I consider my modestly priced wardrobe. Apart from footwear, little of what I own was bought at full value. Almost all at least 10% to over 70% off. Yet when looking at my last 4 days of WAYWT posts, the outfits I was wearing ranged from $800-$2400.

My hospital is the largest employer in our county, with many thousands of workers. Apart from a handfull of top administrators, and a few Attending physicians, no one would spend a fraction of that amount on their work clothes. Now granted most are wearing scrubs, or some sort of uniform, but many, including vendors dress in regular clothes. I can count the number of doctors in a jacket and tie on one hand, and have fingers left over.

Work wear no longer drives the Men’s clothing market. Leisure wear and street wear are changing the way people dress in their free time. If it wasn’t for the exhorbatant prices charged by designers for dreck, the only people spending significant money on clothing would be AAAC types. And as we’ve unfortunately seen, we aren’t populous enough to drive the industry.

So as the haves get richer, those few buy more and more overpriced designer clothes, while the increasingly larger cohort of have nots can buy less of cheaper and cheaper imported clothing at the big box stores. The result is a decreased total of money being spent on clothing.

Stock up while you can, before quality, well made RTW classical clothing disappears from the face of the earth.
 

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This makes no sense at all. If "it's no longer actually possible", then how are people doing it? I know many who use their sense of style and taste to dress well on a budget - without thrifting.
People aren't doing it - have you not gone outside and looked around? Of course it makes sense.

Certainly, there are always going to be outliers who use a sense of style to dress well on a budget (mainly by thrifting, which I've already removed from my model), but you can't conflate that with "people dress well on a budget".

DH
 

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Let's parse this sentence from the article: "At a time when the economy is growing, unemployment is low, wages are rebounding and consumers are eager to buy, Americans are spending less and less on clothing."

A couple of points:
- "the economy is growing": true, but most wages are stagnant, and the vast lion's share of the growth is only going to a small minority of earners (this is called "income inequality", and it's rising very rapidly in the USA; my own town, Atlanta, has the greatest income inequality of any US city)

- "wages are rebounding": correction, *average* wages are rebounding... look at the fine structure and you see a mix of mostly stagnant wages with a handful of rapidly increasing ones, such that the overall average is on the rise. Journalist - at a very far remove from being mathematicians, have never been able to grasp the uselessness of averages without also reporting on medians.

- "consumers are eager to buy": So? again, most wages are flat. Have fun window-shopping.

- "Americans are spending...": come again? what's an American, exactly? No category which describes 330 million people is of any use as a market segment.

Here's what I'm seeing: two separate apparel universes are peeling apart and moving rapidly away from one another. One the one hand, the increasingly worthless garbage billed as "clothing" that one finds at Target, Wallmart, Macy's, etc. On the other, an increase in bespoke apparel, more luxury men's shops (at least here), more small-run, exclusive shoe makers, etc.

So I don't think clothing is imperiled per-se... I just think it's important to be on the correct side of the income divide as it expands into a less-and-less bridgeable gulf.

There *was* a time when the typical man could have clothes tailored, buy good shoes, and so on, and so naturally folks were better dressed *on average* than now; those days are long gone. Frankly, it's no longer actually possible to dress well on a budget (I'm excluding "thrifting", because the real cost of thrifting - factoring in opportunity and other costs - is never factored in, so it's impossible to compare to store-bought clothes), but that doesn't mean people aren't doing it.

DH
I think this is brilliant! Thank you!



I'd only add that in the "peeling apart" you so aptly describe has created inverted standards where cheap, ugly, ill-fitting clothing along with concomitant grooming and behavior is thought fashionable and attractive among the masses.
 

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Younger people don't even look at each other, anyway. They are to busy on their phones. This way clothes have no value.
Trying to sell fine dishes and so much other stuff (my parents died) the antique guy is not interested. Just a few years ago they were selling for hundreds of dollars. Now he won't even look at them. Sitting around big dinning room tables making deals is gone. Younger people want to sit in a chair somewhere and look at their phones. Nobody wants the big dining room table. Silver ware sets are worthless. The world has changed. Read the generation that is getting married now have no interest in what was prized in the past by previous generations. Clothes are in that worthless category.
 

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^^
Alas, there is so much truth in what you say. Young folks today care only about living for the moment and to hell with those rainy days that may never come. They seem to have an unending need for the latest and greatest personal electronics, which consume their attention to the point that 'real relationships' are neglected. Today's big clothing purchases include the next pair of designer sneakers and/or blue jeans that are priced well into the three figure range, to be paired with printed T's bought at the last concert attended. Dream vacations seem to be scheduled on almost an annual basis, to build memories and frequently financed with credit cards. Live for today because tomorrow may never get here! Egad, just what hell is this? :( ;)
 

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As someone who grew up in the '60s/'70s, the biggest change has been - as touched on in the article - that you don't need (or need as many) office-specific and "event" clothes. And it's not just not needing "business / office" clothes - although, that is a part of it.

Growing up and into the '80s (and even the '90s), you needed nice "dress up" clothes for social events like weddings, dinners out at nice restaurants, funerals, etc. While not as nice as in its heyday, people did dress nicer on airplanes or even going over to someone's house for dinner. While some of that still exists - it is a meaningfully smaller universe today.

And even though your business clothes could "double" for these events, you usually kept a few "nice" things aside for those "special" events. Also, you might want your go-to wedding-guest suit to be a bit less "businessy" than your office suits. Maybe, you'd also get a more "interesting" tie or two or a pair of "different" dress shoes.

And there were all levels and grades along the way. You'd need a tux (and all that entails if your life had those type of events, which was much more common for regular people - like me), the aforementioned suits, etc., for work and weddings, but also, sport coats, dress slacks, a range of sweaters, etc., that were a touch "down" from suits, but well above jeans and other truly casual attire.

While many people still have a suit and a few ties today, the number of items needed are down dramatically. The same with shoes where I have friends that "keep" one pair of dress shoes when needed versus when men truly needed several pairs of dress shoes.

So, today, a few items cover the few times you need to really "dress up" and everything else is casual / business casual. Maintaining a casual work wardrobe of khakis and/or jeans, polos and/or Ts, sneakers, etc., (that also do double duty away from work) requires fewer total items and, overall, less-expensive items.

While (I'm guessing) I still have more than the average number of "dress up" clothes, my wardrobe is down from the '80s as there's, for example, no need to have a range of summer sport coats that never get worn as, even in NYC (which is still a bit dressy), in the summer, almost no-one wears a sport coat. And most business meetings I go to don't call for a suit, so my total number of suits (and all that goes along with that) is down.

To be sure, I still have a lot of clothes 'cause I like them, but my needs are meaningfully down from the '80s as, I expect, are most people's. Hence, as noted in the article, if the average person now spends ~3% vs ~6% (in the '70s) of their budget on clothes, I'd say that almost feels high as the suit / "dress up" / fine clothes part of one's wardrobe was the most expensive. I can buy a lot - a whole lot - of chinos, khakis and OCBD and still not spend what I would to have a working rotation of suits, dress shirts and ties for regular weekday wear. So, maybe I need more causal clothes than before, but that just means I'm replacing expensive clothes with much-less-expensive clothes.

Yes, there is a valid discussion around income distribution, economic trends, etc., (although, the economy was in the trash can for most of the '70s), but, all other things equal, our culture simply requires not only less variety in clothes (hence, fewer total clothes), but fewer of what were the most expensive ones.
 

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This subject has come up from time to time on the forum and many of the opinions by the many astute members, when combined, I find for the most part valid as to what got us here. Having witnessed the evolution of men's clothing for the past 70 plus years, I care not a whit what some pimply faced so called journalists think. Most of us won't be swayed from our position regarding dressing well. I do on the other hand am more interested in what members think the future of men's clothing will look like.
 

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This subject has come up from time to time on the forum and many of the opinions by the many astute members, when combined, I find for the most part valid as to what got us here. Having witnessed the evolution of men's clothing for the past 70 plus years, I care not a whit what some pimply faced so called journalists think. Most of us won't be swayed from our position regarding dressing well. I do on the other hand am more interested in what members think the future of men's clothing will look like.
 

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I play golf every Friday in the summer with the same group of guys. We will switch from week to week at each other's club. 5 to 10 years ago, you wouldn't even dare to come into the men's grill room after golf with a pair of jeans. You would be politely asked to go change or leave. Guests had to be warned to leave their phone in the car and bring a sportcoat to wear if you were going to the dining room for post golf dinner. An air of formality was palpable when you pulled onto the property. Now--guys will be on their phones while playing golf and unbelievably, have a blutooth speaker in their golf carts for music. Many will put on a pair of jeans for a beer or 4 after golf. This all in the past few years at a club that was known for its snob factor. I think the fact is we all enjoy dressing well, but there may be a time and place. The millennials may be on to something.
 

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I play golf every Friday in the summer with the same group of guys. We will switch from week to week at each other's club. 5 to 10 years ago, you wouldn't even dare to come into the men's grill room after golf with a pair of jeans. You would be politely asked to go change or leave. Guests had to be warned to leave their phone in the car and bring a sportcoat to wear if you were going to the dining room for post golf dinner. An air of formality was palpable when you pulled onto the property. Now--guys will be on their phones while playing golf and unbelievably, have a blutooth speaker in their golf carts for music. Many will put on a pair of jeans for a beer or 4 after golf. This all in the past few years at a club that was known for its snob factor. I think the fact is we all enjoy dressing well, but there may be a time and place. The millennials may be on to something.
Can recall a similar scenario some years ago before I retired. Invited to a club by a member for lunch along with a colleague . The club having a dress code would at times allow non members to dine. As we sat, two gentlemen walked in to dine very casually dressed, jacket less, tee shirts and casual trousers. Our host immediately called over the Maitre De and directed him to refuse seating the pair. It wasn't so long ago that at many fine restaurants had a dress code, alas such may not be the case any longer.
I know of only one within driving distance from home and I book early.
No snob am I, very far from it but I will not succumb to what some millennials wish to dictate to pass for decent dress.
 

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Can recall a similar scenario some years ago before I retired. Invited to a club by a member for lunch along with a colleague . The club having a dress code would at times allow non members to dine. As we sat, two gentlemen walked in to dine very casually dressed, jacket less, tee shirts and casual trousers. Our host immediately called over the Maitre De and directed him to refuse seating the pair. It wasn't so long ago that at many fine restaurants had a dress code, alas such may not be the case any longer.
I know of only one within driving distance from home and I book early.
No snob am I, very far from it but I will not succumb to what some millennials wish to dictate to pass for decent dress.
The issue of dress codes and appropriate attire aside, that move by your host would have turned me off in a big way. Did he think that show of power would impress his two guests, or was he that bothered by the offending parties' dress that he couldn't help but ask the attendant to intervene, despite the impression the move might create with his guests?
 

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The issue of dress codes and appropriate attire aside, that move by your host would have turned me off in a big way. Did he think that show of power would impress his two guests, or was he that bothered by the offending parties' dress that he couldn't help but ask the attendant to intervene, despite the impression the move might create with his guests?
There you go again. Now you are turned off by someone trying to maintain the requirements of a private club that as a very high membership fee and certain requirements to maintain membership. Appropriate dress requirement clearly stated for everyone to see at entrance to dining room which by the way was occupied by other properly dressed members. Show of power, no, you weren't there. I myself couldn't care a whit about being member of such clubs, gun clubs more my thing. Nor would I care about what offends you. PC not my shtick.

So, you wouldn't be offended if someone driving a jalopy blows through a stop sign /red light traffic control because he didn't think the rules apply to him and he T-bones your Bentley. The officer who arrives at the scene tells you that you shouldn't be driving around in such an expensive car and doesn't cite the other driver, you shake it off as not to offend the driver of the jalopy. Yea, I don't know if you own a Bentley.
 

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So, you wouldn't be offended if someone driving a jalopy blows through a stop sign /red light traffic control because he didn't think the rules apply to him and he T-bones your Bentley.
Mmmmm....If I were teaching a course in Persuasive Argumentation, I'd say you might want to come up with a different analogy. I can see problems with this one right off the bat.
 
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