Sunday, November 29, 2009

Golden rules between customers, salespeople

When I was a college student in the mid 1980s, I walked into Brooks Brothers in Boston and was met by an engaging salesman who introduced himself shortly after I walked through the door.

His name was Fred Martin. He was impeccably dressed, had decades of experience and clearly knew how a suit should fit. After about an hour of his time, I purchased my first suit from Mr. Martin, a gray pinstripe. I left the Brooks Brothers store knowing that I got not just a quality suit, but quality service.

I also knew that I was coming back to see Mr. Martin next time.

In years past, a clothing salesperson who earned the respect of customers over the years generates loyalty that is unique to that salesperson. Relationships are developed over time. In Mr. Martin's case, he took time to know my name, what my preferences were, and contacted me without being intrusive if there was something at the store that I'd be interested in. In return, I would ask for Mr. Martin by name, so that his colleagues understood that I was his client.

That understanding is not always honored nowadays. Customers are less patient and need someone to assist them as quickly as possible. Experienced salespeople who initially helped potential customers one day may see the same customer another day -- with another salesperson.

Having been on both sides of the relationship, I recognize the importance of developing loyalty, which over time becomes mutually beneficial.

As a customer, I get to know my sales associate. I only give him/her the information that's necessary for him/her to help me the most effectively. I usually am notified in advance of upcoming sales. I sometimes have items held for me a few days if I need more time to decide on something I'm interested in. The sales associate becomes my ally, not an interchangeable part.

As a salesperson, I often ask customers how I can help. If the response is, "Just looking," then I'll reply, "Let me know if you have any questions. Take your time." A smart salesperson will not crowd the customer. After the customer has a few minutes to look around or expresses interest in an item, the salesperson might ask, "Any questions so far?" Whatever the customer's reply is, the goal is that he/she feels at ease to shop.

A good customer/sales associate exchange takes place when the customer shares details about what the customer's needs are, if the customer is traveling, whether there are items on sale. The more information the customer gives, the better able the sales associate can serve the customer.

What do sales associates get out of this? In most stores, a commission for their efforts, which is their livelihood. Experienced clothing professionals will not sell just anything to anyone; they offer options specific to the customer. That takes time, and the sales associate's credibility is on the line to get it right, or else the customer moves on to someone else (s)he can trust.

There are situations where a customer waits for a specific salesperson who did the legwork on the customer's initial visit, but then the customer goes to another salesperson, saying that the person who initially helped is too busy. I actually confronted such a customer when this happened, and (politely) explained that had I known that she was in the store, I would have accommodated her shortly. She was slightly embarrassed but understood that if I can show loyalty toward customers, that I hope it can be reciprocated.

Granted, customers do what's best for them, but courtesy is a two-way street. You'd be surprised, however, at how sales associates remember customers; it's not unlike waiters who remember the patrons who do not tip.

So let the sales associate help you. There's no obligation to buy, but if (s)he can understand what you want and can deliver solid customer service, it's a win-win. Maybe you'll come back to that same person next time.

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Review of Bills Khakis M2 Cotton Twill Pants - Pleated Front (For Men)

Originally submitted at Sierra Trading Post

Closeouts. Relaxed comfort personified... that's what you'll experience in Bills Khakis' M2 pleated front pants. Softer and heavier than their standard fine khakis, these are soft as a vacation daydream, yet tough enough for several seasons. Pleated front Button waist Tab back ...

Bills Khakis work. Period.

By Style Pointer from Houston, TX on 11/9/2009


5out of 5

Waist: Feels true to size

Pros: Comfortable, Versatile, High Quality

Best Uses: Everyday, Casual Wear, Travel, Office, Going Out

Describe Yourself: Practical, Athletic, Comfort-oriented, Stylish, Classic

Bills Khakis are consistent for having more room in the thigh and for using quality fabric. I keep a spare pair so that when I need them (years later), I'll know that Bills Khakis are going to fit the way I'm used to.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Seasonal transition to cold-weather wear

Now that Daylight Savings Time has gone into effect, it's also time to take stock in what you want to wear heading into the winter season. In warmer climates such as Houston, it's a matter of common sense when selecting fabrics (combed cotton or corduroy trousers, for example, can come out now; seersucker can return to the closet) that are comfortable.

Wool is the best when it comes to seeking warmth. Comfort level increases from plain wool to Merino wool to cashmere. You can tell by feeling the fabric. Fleece is also a popular option.

When it comes to jackets, navy pea coats are convenient for winter wear. Executives may prefer a full-length cashmere by Loro Piana. Black, tan and charcoal are the colors of choice there.

If cotton is stil your favorite fabric for sweaters, consider cable-knit turtlenecks or cardigans. These remain elegant staples of menswear. Whether the venue is the ski lodge or the stadium, cotton sweaters are a versatile option.

Think comfort first; Style Points are sure to follow.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Style Pointer on KTRK Ch. 13 in Houston

You can catch my take on the various fabrics within the world of menswear on the ABC affiliate in Houston, KTRK-TV Channel 13, by clicking here.

In Patricia Lopez's "Stretch Your Dollar" segment, find out where to go for the Houston area's best deals in menswear and what to look for in quality garments.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Harold's In The Heights goes to next level

Around 2 p.m. CT on Monday afternoon, I caught up with Michael Wiesenthal, who runs the venerable Harold's In The Heights in Houston. I was looking forward to this meeting; Michael doesn't normally invite just anyone on a whim to show his latest lines in menswear.

So I heeded his e-mail missive over the weekend and prepared to be pleasantly surprised this day. What I saw exceeded expectations.

After walking through the glass doors and passing the diversified business casual lines of Robert Graham, Coppley, Canali and Bills Khakis, Michael led me to the section where the likes of Oxxford and Hickey-Freeman reside. He then had me try on a suit jacket from Oxxford's latest line, one that costs about a third less than the time-intensive, made-to-measure counterpart that starts at about $3,500.

It was a glove fit. One of the differences in this Oxxford is its standard construction in the waistband, a departure from the continuous waistband in the made-to-measure versions. It's perhaps a minor detail that likely will be lost on today's generation, but do not fret: If you want the old Oxxford, Harold's will measure you up accordingly with its state-of-the-art technology.

Another highlight at Harold's is its selection of Robert Talbott neckties. These are gorgeous pieces that provide the right accent to your sartorial presentation. Those who prefer a bow tie need not panic; a Robert Talbot catalog is available and such selections can be ordered through the store.

Michael and I made one final stop through his shop -- the shoe department, which is run by Jim Pierce. Mr. Pierce's knowledge of shoes is vast. He focuses on a few brands that are popular among Harold's customers: Gravati, Mephisto, Santoni and Toschi. To the average customer looking for a stylish and comfortable pair of shoes, there's no compromise on either criterion in Mr. Pierce's department.

As my visit wound down after about an hour at Harold's, a couple of surprises sprung forth. Anthony Surface, a popular Saks Fifth Avenue menswear specialist who is now general manager of Norton Ditto's Woodlands location, stopped by to say hi. Last year, Norton Ditto and Harold's merged but continue to maintain their respective identities in the Houston clothing scene.

The best surprise was saved for last. I got to meet Harold himself.

Harold Wiesenthal, who started his clothing store in 1950 by outfitting neighborhood kids for school, remains in upbeat spirits as son Michael greets customers and runs the day-to-day operations of the store. Harold Wiesenthal instantly surmises that I will need a long size in a jacket. I try on a 44L Coppley black-and-white houndstooth cashmere sportcoat.

Yep. Father knows best.

Monday, August 31, 2009

J. Peterman rocks!

I must admit, I've been out of touch.

Could've sworn that The J. Peterman Co. went out of business several years ago.

Apparently, I was wrong. And I'm quite happy about that.

My first J. Peterman pieces were purchased in the Los Angeles area (I believe it was Camarillo) in 2000. The store had a going-out-of-business sale, and I got some classic pieces, including the "J. Peterman shirt," a banded-collar, four-button garment with a long tail. I was stunned to find one my size at the time, because much of the merchandise was already sold.

Nine years later, I encountered a couple who are avid J. Peterman fans (seemingly before the TV show "Seinfeld" thrusted the company into the pop culture spotlight) told me about its Web site.

And there I was, enthralled by the catalog copy, which includes a very colorful story before getting down to the item's specs. Whoever's writing J. Peterman's copy is clearly gifted. Small wonder there's a fan page on Facebook.

This time around, I ordered four pieces: the Hemingway cap, a faithful replica of what the author wore; an all-cotton, tan Peaked Lapel Jacket, an all-cotton Kinsale Sark, and a pair of Ghurka Shorts.

All four of these pieces were on sale. And they sell out pretty quickly, so it pays to pay attention to this site.

It's worth it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Putting business travel attire to the test

I have not flown on an airplane in several months, but found no better time than last weekend to determine the worthiness of some travel clothing I recently purchased from Orvis.

Now, I normally go through airports with simple sandals to take on and off easily at security checkpoints, and I usually wear jackets with zippered pockets to put my wallet, keys and loose change securely as the jacket can go through X-ray machines, and then I can arrange my belongings as efficiently as possible afterward. I wear comfortable clothing, but my appearance is hardly businesslike.

Time to fix that. I went to the Houston Hobby Airport wearing an Orvis Ultimate Windowpane Blazer, a navy with light blue check blazer that's 100 percent medium-weight wool. It has a zippered inside pocket. It has gusseted shoulders for greater mobility. It even has functional buttonholes at the sleeves.

The rest of the outfit went something like this: a navy Under Armour short-sleeve mock; Orvis tan khakis; and Merrell brown leather loafers with rubber soles. Normally, I'd wear a button-down shirt to complete the business look, but I opted for comfort (and a little attitude).

I wasn't too worried about how my outfit would hold up at the airport. My khakis are made of a durable cotton twill, the loafers are easy to get on and off. My Under Armour shirt has excellent wicking properties (it absorbs sweat and dries easily).

The blazer was my primary concern. All the sitting, standing, taking the jacket off, putting the jacket on, storing it overhead or under the seat on the plane. Would it tear? Would it wrinkle? Was it too hot for summer wear?

None of the above. In fact, the jacket's construction was well-made. It does not wrinkle easily, and it withstands a lot of jostling and tugging. The wool acts as an insulator against the air-conditioning of airports, making it comfortable to wear indoors.

Another staple in Orvis menswear, the Traveler's Hopsack Blazer, is a bit heavier than the Ultimate Travel Blazer and its polyester/wool blend has the advantage of being wrinkle-resistant and great in cooler temperatures. The drawback is it's less effective in warmer climates such as Houston, where it's also humid.

I can honestly say that the Ultimate Travel Blazer from Orvis does its part. It's made of 100 percent natural fabric, has a classic style, and is functional for travel. All due respect to my other navy blazers from Bill Blass, Versace, Burberry and Ralph Lauren, the Orvis version can withstand the test of tug. I'm not afraid to beat it up.

And I look good in the airport, too.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Remembering a joyful spirit from J. Crew outlet

I was stunned to find out about the recent passing of Noah Wapemba Jjemba on July 1.

I met Noah several months ago during one of my frequent visits to the J. Crew factory outlet store in Katy Mills Mall. He was unfailingly polite and positive person, and we would have enlightening exchanges during my visits to the store.

The last time I saw him, Noah had a few items held for me a couple of weeks ago at the store. I got word of his passing when I returned to buy them yesterday. I will always remember his kindness, his smile. I offer my deepest sympathies to his family.

Most assuredly, Noah, you will be missed.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Maximizing sportiness in jackets

Once you have established possession of a navy blazer in your closet, allow yourself to branch out when selecting sportcoats.

A sportcoat is an important element of style because it not only gives your blazer and suit coats a rest, it's an opportunity to make a sartorial statement that reflects a different side of your personality.

I have been experimenting with patterns such as glen plaid and wide stripes and fabrics including tropical weight wool, linen and cotton. My choice of jacket depends on the occasion. Click on the following from Polo and Brooks Brothers

If you're serious enough to have shelled out significant dollars in developing your wardrobe for the office, consider other environments outside of work: off-site conferences at hotels, golf and tennis clubs, fine restaurants, concerts.

The average guy figures that if he's not wearing a tie to these places, he's not likely to take the time to coordinate an outfit that includes a sport jacket. However, those who understand the power of clothes send a message of authority without trying to act important.

Try putting this concept to the test. The next time you plan on wearing a windbreaker when going out, put on a sport jacket instead. Notice the difference in how others react to you.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hats off to this classic by Orvis

The Soft Panama Boater from Orvis is an elegant throwback to the 1920s, from the Ivy League to riverboats on the Mississippi.

In full disclosure, I am a part-timer at the Orvis store in Houston, so my take on Orvis apparel comes not without bias. That said, this particular straw hat stacks up well with Makins and Stetson.

The Orvis straw boater hat, woven in Ecuador and made in the USA, is very much an American classic. I would see this hat being worn by older alumni at Harvard when I was a student setting up tables at tents for class reunions. The flat crown and red-and-blue band are distinctive features. Wearing the hat reveals a man's posture and magnifies his confidence. There's no shame in tipping or removing the hat, of course, when a woman is present.

The simplicity of the straw boater is its most striking quality. The brim is firm and does not droop. A cotton band lines the inside and absorbs sweat. Wearing the hat with a navy blazer and khakis, or with seersucker, yields best results.

Watch the steps of these spectator shoes

During a recent trip to London, I made the rounds on Jermyn Street and did some window shopping. After a quick stroll past the likes of Bates Hats, T.M. Lewin, Daks, Hackett and New & Lingwood, I stopped in at Charles Tyrwhitt, which is known for shirts but has an impressive display of shoes.

The most eye-catching display at Tyrwhitt's was the St. Andrews Correspondent, a two-color shoe that is brown at the heel and toe and tan in between. The use of tan as the contrasting color (as opposed to white) makes the shoe unique. Combined with khaki slacks, the resulting look is all the more impressive.

I withstood the temptation to purchase these spectators that day, opting for the Adler Buckshot Brogue that I purchased from Gieves & Hawkes on Savile Row, located a few blocks west of Jermyn Street. See my April 21 post.) I budgeted for one pair of shoes in London, so I stuck to that. I came away from the Charles Tyrwhitt store knowing what size would fit me best.

When I returned home from London, I ordered the St. Andrew's Correspondent online, taking advantage of a 10% discount. Two weeks later, the shoes arrived at my door.

After putting taps on and giving them a cream shine, the shoes did not disappoint. Compliments flowed. I wasn't walking anymore -- I strutted.

Of course, one wants to wear this type of shoe sparingly, so as not to wear out its welcome. I plan on making my spectators part of the weekly rotation, especially on Sundays!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Paraboot is the shoe du jour

If you're looking for a shoe with a rubber sole that wears like iron, I'd normally advise that you consider shoes from the UK. Doc Martens, Crockett & Jones and Tricker's, are a few of the highly durable options from England.

However, for those who find English lasts too wide for their feet, try Paraboot of France. This shoemaker combines classic English designs with a tough rubber sole. Some models, like the Azay, have side stitching for additional flair.

Like their English counterparts, Paraboots are priced at a pretty penny (about $350 and up) but are worth every last one if you value comfort. I bought a pair on a recent trip to Paris and put them to the test for a week walking the city's streets and visiting museums. These are indeed the most comfortable pair I've ever worn.

Where can you find Paraboot in the U.S.? There are at least two establishments in the Boston area that I know of off the bat. Drinkwater's Cambridge and Mr. Sid of Newton Centre, Mass., definitely have them. I'm sure there are other U.S. retailers who carry Paraboot, so do a Google search or go to, where its online community supplies a wealth of answers.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Buckshot brogue hits the mark

The pursuit of the perfect look is not unlike what musicians do in playing the perfect composition -- an elusive and sometimes frustrating endeavor, and gratifying only for a moment when the goal is achieved.

That's how I feel when shopping for clothes. How much am I willing to pay? How well do they fit? Do the colors coordinate?

On a recent day trip to London, I sought the Adler Buckshot Brogue from Gieves & Hawkes at No. 1 Savile Row, which I had my eye on for the past year. (Click here for the image.) The message of the shoe was quite clear: This is what shooting yourself in the foot might look like.

The concept for the shoe came from a former employee, Joseph David, and the shoe was released in August 2006, according to John Blanco, Gieves & Hawkes' general manager. Mr. Blanco, an impeccably dressed 34-year veteran of the company, the last 15 as GM, was the one who had me try on the pair that I would purchase.

At 245 British pounds (about $400 give or take the exchange rate), it's a sound investment.

This shoe is equal parts comfortable and versatile. You can wear them with denim, khakis or, if you have sufficient confidence, suits.

I don't sing very well, but the praise is evident. The buckshot brogue is definitely a significant piece in the pursuit of the perfect look.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Style Points for youngsters

Over the course of generations among Christians around the world, Easter Sunday is a momentous occasion on the calendar. Part of the celebration, at least for many churchgoers here in the U.S., is to put on the Sunday best of outfits they can muster.

There's plenty of fuss to go around: Women gear up to look their best; so do men. Not least, parents want their children to be shining examples without breaking the bank.

Dressing children can be tricky. Some kids may resist having to wear clothes that are more formal than what they're used to. Others embrace looking stylish in following the example set by adults.

Motivation aside, where can parents go to give their children a next-level look?

After attending service in downtown Houston on Sunday afternoon, I ran into fellow Harvard grad Shannon Buggs, business columnist for the Houston Chronicle. She and her husband have a young son and daughter. All of them were impeccably dressed, and the family was preparing to eat dinner promptly afterward.

So I asked her where she got the cool vines for the family.

True to her beat, Shannon means business when it comes to finding clothes for her kids. "Marshall's and TJ Maxx," she said. They are excellent places for getting children quality clothes at reasonable prices, especially when they inevitably grow and will need different sizes for a number of years to come. For adults, one can find designer items at low prices as well.

I have heard some parents fret about their children refusing to wear clothes from discount retailers, that they run the risk of being teased for wearing cheap stuff. There should be no reason to not shop these places, especially during a recession. Any smart shopper knows that bargains are your friend, not something to be ashamed of.

That said, I have seen firsthand, as a part-time salesperson at the Brooks Brothers outlet store outside Houston, the last-minute weekend wave of shopping before Easter. Parents have no problem spending money on quality kids' stuff that sells for less than the ticketed retail price they might see on the clothier's Web site or the Brooks store in the Galleria Mall.

Bottom line: Dress clothes for children can be done in a cost-effective manner and for maximum Style Points.

To be sure, church is not a fashion show. But a multitude of well-dressed congregants in a house of worship is hardly something to ignore. Even I must admit that I do my part in joining the collective in the art of sartorial show-out. I never know who might be watching me, including the young turks.

But where possible, get it on sale. Sound familiar? Click here for a refresher.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Finding function in menswear

I learn a lot from customers who seek items specifically suited for their destinations. For instance, one gentleman last week was trying on navy blazers that were a wool/polyester blend, which resists wrinkling. He also wanted a raincoat that would protect him in the mountains of Peru, and found one that suited his needs. It was a matter of fit and confidence in the product that would determine his decision to purchase both.

The first blazer he tried on was clearly too big. I suggested he go one size down, and that one fit him like a glove.

Now back to the coat. The man wanted an assurance that it's waterproof. I suggested a Barbour coat, but he already had that particular brand and we agreed it would be too heavy to hike in.

Realistically, no garment can keep out water forever, but the information on the coat was fairly thorough. If it was not up to his satisfaction, I said, bring it back with the receipt for a refund.

He bought both items and walked out with what he wanted.

This is one of many stories I hear from customers who are focused on purchasing clothes for travel around the world. So I looked at my wardrobe and wondered what I can weed out because it lacks a functional purpose.

These days, I don't wear leather-soled shoes as often because I'm on my feet on the selling floor, and leather soles are less and less comfortable over time. I have in the past donated shoes to charity for that reason. Similarly, I've purged T shirts that pile up because I wear dress shirts more often. (I would not give up my denim, though, despite not being allowed at my workplace to wear jeans while selling clothes.)

In a recessionary economy, it's important to think about what kind of use you expect to get out of your clothes. It's less about just looking nice and more about bang for buck. Maximize Style Points, yes -- and put your clothes to work for you as well.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

In recession, 'business casual' a serious look

The economic downturn has generated a bit of musical chairs over what to wear these days.

Job seekers dress to the nines to make the best first impression possible, as they should when in interview mode. Suit yourself, as it were.

When you get hired, however, what should your wardrobe mix look like?

Well, it's usually best to "do as the Romans do," navigate your work environment and dress accordingly. Dressing comfortably is the goal. If you go into work wearing a tie, you might be able to loosen it over the course of the day and still look presentable, or just remove it altogether.

If there's an upper limit, it would be no shorts, and khakis are a more flexible option than denim.

Dressing like the common man ain't so bad, but that should not be synonymous with unkempt. Dress codes may have relaxed over the last several years, but they're not flabby. There's still a standard of looking crisp, even in casual wear.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Reel deals at Orvis warehouse sale

One year after my first blog entry on Style Points, the Orvis warehouse sale is back in town at Reliant Park, where plenty of fishing gear, luggage, clothing, dog pillows, you name it ... go on sale at deep discounts.

At last year's 3-day sale in Houston, I passed on a Barbour jacket the first day but returned on the final day and picked up a computer bag, a comforter and some bartending tools that I rarely use.

I have since been hired to work part time at the Orvis retail store in Houston a couple of months ago, so I'm a little biased about the quality of Orvis apparel these days. (No, I did not get an additional employee discount at the warehouse sale.) That said, you'll still find solid deals on quality merchandise.

This time, I got stuff I could really use: Merrell leather loafers ($100 retail), a linen safari jacket ($169, perfect for Houston weather), an organic cotton T shirt ($49), all at 60 percent off the retail prices, plus Barbour Classic Sylkoil Overtrousers (approximately $100 retail) for just $29. About $420 worth of goods for $160.

Click here for the next Orvis warehouse sale, which is held in major cities across the U.S.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Super Bowl chic

Each year, as Americans congregate at households or sports bars or wherever there's a large screen, the Super Bowl is a big deal. Here's a smattering of what's at stake: Rooting interests of entire metropolitan areas; Creative ads that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to air; and who's going to Disney World as the game's MVP.

If you're lucky enough to be going to Tampa for the game, you're obviously not going to the stadium dressed the same as the average Joe (the fill-in-the-blank) who's watching on TV.

So let's break down the sartorial options. First, the common goals:
  • Dress comfortably. It's going to be warmer in Tampa than, say, Pittsburgh, so a cotton windbreaker in Tampa Stadium should get the same result as a wool sweater in the Steel City. For the latter, just remove the sweater should it get too warm indoors.
  • Go casual all the way. It's jeans, T shirts, Under Armour gear, whatever does it for you.
  • Colors are important. You can ward off the potentially annoying question of whom you're rooting for by wearing red and white if you're pulling for the Cardinals or black and gold for the Steelers.

And now, things to avoid:

  • Put non-contending team gear away. If you don't have as much of a rooting interest in this year's Super Bowl, do not wear the colors of your favorite team. The reason is quite simple: The season is over for teams that are not the Cardinals or Steelers. Wait until after the game to resume wearing your favorite team's gear and/or colors in anticipation of next season. If you go neutral, wear khakis or jeans and a solid shirt (white or gray).
  • Take off ties after church. Come game time (6:18pm EST on NBC) on Sunday, no ties. It'll be your fault for exposing your tie to beer that may get spilled on you by accident.
  • It's not a fashion show. No need to buy new clothes for the Super Bowl. Really. People won't go out of their way to notice what your wearing, just whether you're interested in football, if you're hungry, and what you'd like to drink.

But, if you must have stuff to get in the gridiron spirit, I recommend the following "old school" items:

Enjoy the game.

Shopped 'til you drop? Now see this movie

Check out my take on "Confessions of a Shopaholic" on, where even men can learn a thing or two about when the desire to look good goes to the extreme.

Maybe we're too cool for that -- on the outside -- but for those guys who take their look seriously, take a little time out and check out this (not just for chick) flick.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Presidential look is in

Take a look at my entry in on Barack Obama's power attire that sets the visual stage for his historic speech in Washington on Tuesday.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bargain hunter update

The economic downturn has posed a challenge for retailers to be successful and for consumers to manage their finances more efficiently.

In other words, prices are coming down to encourage spending. But how low can they go before buyers bite?

The fundamentals still apply. Know what you have in your closet and assess what you'd like to have in advance. When you see something that's on your radar at a reasonable price, that's the time to strike.

I wish I could say this happens to me all the time, but I have neither infinite good luck nor resources. I can, however, relate this:

On New Year's Day at the factory outlets in San Marcos, Texas, I came across a Polo Ralph Lauren cashmere/wool blend sportcoat that retailed at $1,895. After discounts and sales tax, I wound up paying $140. I was stunned to realize that the jacket was there for me to purchase at that price point.

This isn't the first (see previous blog entries) and probably not the last item I'll encounter on sale for that good a deal. But choose wisely. Check out the garment thoroughly, and then decide whether it fits into your budget. You can certainly look good for less, but only if you have the confidence to afford it without guilt.

Good luck.