For My Trads on a Budget

When I went full on Trad it was a pretty affordable style. Outside of the 3/2 sack blazer, sport coat, and suit you could find the essentials with all of the desired details moderately priced everywhere from Lands End to L.L. Bean  to J.Crew and beyond. Even Brooks Brothers OCBD, the gold standard of OCBDs was $50 cheaper only 2 years ago and even cheaper than that on discount. However, with the proliferation of non-iron clothing, shrinking collars, and skin-tight fits has made finding the essentials with the correct details at a moderate price difficult if not impossible.

I wanted to offer my help to Trads on a budget by putting together a small list of more affordable essential pieces. While these offerings may have some shortcomings such as non-iron finishes and smaller collars they can still help to create the look and can serve as an gateway to higher priced items. I have started with the OCBD, chinos, and penny loafers.
The Perfect Chinos

OCBD
There is no better place to start than the OCBD. The blue OCBD is the classic piece of trad wear that is most well known for helping to create the ever desirable collar roll (read more about collar roll here). Collar roll will be the hardest thing to get in an OCBD for under $100. Even of the OCBDs that I posted below I am hesitant to suggest that you may be able to achieve a nice collar roll. I have heard others say that it is possible from the L.L. Bean and the Stafford oxford. I know from experience the current Lands End OCBD will not produce a great roll, but it does not have a no-iron finish like the other 2. However, most people don’t need to wear ties which so wearing one of the OCBDs is not a big deal and even if you do wear a tie they will work until you can save up (or find thriting) one that does.

L.L. Bean OCBD – $44.95

JCPenney Stafford OCBD – $40 (on sale for $19.99)

Lands End Hyde Park OCBD – $49.95
The Ivy Look Slim ChinosChinos
I don’t have any specific recommendations here. What I suggest that you look for are chinos that are not no-iron, are not pleated (flat-front), and either have a cuff or have enough material to be cuffed. The reason that I suggest the above is that the casual looking chino is very much apart of the Ivy League and trad look. Chinos with a no-iron finish can often look shiny or dressy which does work as well it appears too polished. Don’t worry though with a good pressing your must-iron chinos will look great with a blazer or tweed. I wear J.Crew 1040 Essential chinos, but you can find other like them at the Gap, Old Navy, and even Lands’ End (their non-iron chinos aren’t too shiny). Most important is that your chinos fit and are not puddled up at your shoe and stuck at your shin.
Penny Loafer in PrintPenny Loafer
This is the easiest category for me to make suggestions. I narrowed it down to 2. First, is the Bass Outlet. You can even access this online. Bass penny loafers have a great shape so much so that I wear them to this day. They are also very light which works well for my feet. On the downside they are not made up of the best materials. My second suggestion is to occasionally scour Allen Edmond’s Shoe Bank website. This where they sell their seconds and discontinued items. There are often great deals to be had.

Bass Outlet Penny Loafers – $79-89

Allen Edmonds Shoe Bank

This post should be read in conjunction with last week’s post on fit, proportion, and silhouette. Together these posts will help those on a budget put together a very trad looking thread without maxing out their credit cards. I thought this was an important subject to cover as one of the reasons that favored this style of dress was its availability and affordability. Some of that has changed over time, but my recommendation of the style has not. If you have any affordable items that you would like to suggest please do as I know many readers are eager to hear and learn from you all!

oxford cloth button down
is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

29 Comments on "For My Trads on a Budget"

  1. JoelVau says:

    Great post, Jared. I used to wear the LE Original Oxford almost exclusively, back in the ’90s, probably before your time. (I am 56). Then under Sears’ management, they took it non-iron before discontinuing it altogether. But I just received a LE Hyde Park (must iron) for my birthday and I feel like I have gone back in time. Get a wonderful nostalgic feeling just by wearing it. Collar is a tad smaller than BB, but not terribly so, plus the LE supima cotton is a bit easier to manage than BB. Their’s, while the quintessential OCBD, feels a bit thick for me for dress with a suit. Now if only my forehead wrinkles and waistline did not bely the nostalga I seek.

  2. Robert says:

    My apologies if you have addressed this elsewhere on your blog: Why the preference for shirts without the no-iron finish? You touched upon this for the chinos but not for the shirts.

  3. Jesse Beamish says:

    What are your thoughts on the LL Bean penny loafer? Some say it’s better made than the Bass?

  4. oxford cloth button down says:

    Robert – The biggest reason for me is breathability and feel. Non-iron treatment makes shirts a lot less breathable. There is also something about it that adds a plastic/slick feel. The texture of oxford cloth and how soft it gets over time is what makes it so special in my opinion.

  5. Tweeds says:

    Jerrod , your blog for Trads on a budget is great , being as I am retired seventy year old trad. I have been wearing L.E. Hyde Park shirts for awhile now, and they hold up quite well. I have even requested them for other colors as well as some university stripes. I have bought their chinos aa well, but can’t get rid of the no-iron remedy. Maybe if I wash them 50 or 60 times it will diminish. I’ve asked several dry cleaners of any procedures to get rid of it but no results. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  6. oxford cloth button down says:

    Tweeds – Not sure about a non-iron remedy. I have heard that it takes about 100 washed for non-iron to need ironed. Might be something to that.

  7. Josh B. says:

    I was unfamiliar with the Allen Edmonds Shoe Bank website before today–many thanks for a very helpful suggestion!

  8. Fred Johnson says:

    Ox,
    Within your parameters, don’t forget PRL. The shirts are must iron, well made and have a decent roll even with the smallish collar. I know the logo is upsetting but acceptable for many. They are a all over the thrifts for about $10 and mate very well with PRL ties.

  9. Gary says:

    Solid advice, Ox. Just to hone in on your point about chinos, it’s true that non-iron are the best for both casual and dressier wear. However, I have to put in a plug for certain no-iron, creased chinos, specifically, in my case, the ones I buy from Lands’ End. The stone-white version works extremely well as a casual chino, as the pre-made crease is virtually invisible. In addition, these trousers are a great option for pairing with almost any kind of blazer or sport coat, especially if you’re wearing a tie. When I wear a sport coat or blazer, they are, in fact, one of my go-to trousers. There is definitely a place of these.

    Another point, as I think you allude to… buy quality instead of quantity. If you can only afford to spend $150 a year on trousers, make that purchase a really nice pair of trousers from O’Connell’s and the like. You’ll find much more pleasure in the occasional expensive purchase than in many inexpensive ones.

    Ultimately, no “trad’ needs to have everything all at once. You’ve got time.

    • Gary says:

      CORRECTION: I meant “must-iron” in my second sentence. “…it’s true that must-iron are best for causal and dressier wear.” Apologies.

  10. For me, Spier & Mackay offer the best value OCBD.

    Mine came out to about $68CAD, which comes out to $50 for the Americans.

    It has a 3.5 inch collar, has a roll, and is must-iron. The roll does look closer to Kamakura than the ‘traditional’ OCBDs though. MOP buttons as well, if that matters to anyone.

    In terms of fit, they have a slim-fit, and a “contemporary fit”, which is more forgiving around the chest and waist.

    I did try a BB OCBD as well, and I’d say the S&M OCBDs are thicker in comparison. For me, that is a bad thing, as I’ve found they wear fairly warm.

  11. *minor correction, the S&M OCBDs have shell buttons, not MOP

  12. Roger Russell says:

    I recently read an article in GQ magazine with a title something like Why Would You Ever Wear Non- Iron Shirts? The article gave several reasons why not to wear them. The reason given by the author that I will never forget was that the chemical solution used on the fabric is carcinogenic. I personally do not like them because they break down really fast.

    • Gary says:

      I’ve heard the carcinogenic thing. Urban myth, methinks. I haven’t had any of mine “break down” yet although I have had a few near breakdowns myself in them. Har har. Nah, seriously, I think they’re good for what they are. I own several by Brooks Brothers and LL Bean. They’re all-cotton and they feel fine, just as breathable and comfortable as any other cotton shirt (aside from my beloved BB oxford clothes).

  13. CLE Trad says:

    Am curious to hear what people think of Eddie Bauer chinos. They come in several styles, more casual to dressy. Though non-iron, they are not shiny. While I do not like the annoying Eddie Bauer label above the back pocket, I like that the inseams can be specified to 1/4″. They can also be ordered with or without cuffs. Reasonably priced, but trad enough?

  14. Roger Russell says:

    I believe formaldehyde was the carcinogenic element that the GQ author mentioned.

    • Gary says:

      It’s still like we’re dousing ourselves with formaldehyde. I would suspect the amount is so small that it doesn’t make much difference.

  15. Federico says:

    Jerrod
    what do you think about the pinpoint oxford? I realize it’s slightly more formal than regular oxford, but do you think it’s a good fabric for a button down shirt?

  16. oxford cloth button down says:

    Jesse Beamish – I have never tried them, but I have read mixed reviews. Most people complain about the plastic like leather of the cordo colored pair. If you are okay with that I am sure they will work out fine.

    Federico – I think that pinpoint is a good fabric especially in the summer months. The only time that I don’t care for it as much is under sweaters or tweed. It just doesn’t have the fabric heft and texture for these areas in my opinion.

  17. fxh says:

    Jerrod.
    I have around 50 OCBDs. All brands. Old, new and vintage.

    I have 3 LE Non -Iron from around 6 – 7 years ago and they are great. Slightly more suited to tie but way above other Non Irons. I was/am surprised as I usually have a polite disdain for non iron.

  18. MRS says:

    For casual wear, LE’s sail rigger oxfords are great – about as heavy as most PRL oxfords.

  19. Paper Clip says:

    I like the LE pattered sail riggers for casual. When pressed, they look great, and are not super heavy-weight. I bought my boy sail riggers in white and blue for his school uniform.

    I like the BB OCBD for dress in the fall and winter. I get them passed with no starch. I use BB non-iron pinpoints in late spring-summer.

    The BB collar length is key for me, and their 1st level slim fit fits me perfectly – a little room, but not too slim.
    .

  20. Paper Clip says:

    Also, for trads on a budget, nothing is better than thrifted ties. Dirt cheap and a million BB and other good, classic makers to choose from. WAY better than current ties – BB ones are now too thin. Their patterns are great, but too flimsy.

  21. IrvingS says:

    Great article. Great blog. I have an odd question concerning your recommendation of JCrew chinos. I was trying to find some additional info but not much was on their site and thought why not ask an owner? I take it the “athletic fit” is what they used to call classic/traditional fit or is that not a cartagory in jcrew chinos? Also, how would you describe the rise? Low or mid?

  22. oxford cloth button down says:

    IrvingS – Thanks for the kind words and the question. I will temper my J.Crew recommendation by adding that I have not tried them since they changed the fit name. I have been told they are exactly the same, but I cannot yet confirm.

    When I purchased them they were called the Essential Chino in Classic fit. They are now the Essential Chino in 1040 fit. For me they a fall in-between slim and baggy with a medium rise. Not the best, but better than most.

  23. Kel says:

    Thanks for this entry, Jerrod. Very useful information, thanks.

  24. californian says:

    I am surprised you didn’t include Uniqlo OCBDs

  25. oxford cloth button down says:

    Californian – I only included shirts that have sizes for neck and sleeve, but maybe I should do a follow up that includes alpha-sized shirts.

  26. Fred says:

    I think it’s a mistake to get button down shirts from places like lands end.

    The collars are too short. It’s a pale imitation to the real deal.

    Brooks Brothers has the quintessential trad look – the shirts, pants, socks, jackets, shoes etc.

    I’d start my trad collection with Brooks Brothers.

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