10 Products You Shouldn’t Cheap Out On (And 5 You Should)

Buy it nice or buy it twice

Besides the obvious products and services you should really just shell out for—dental work comes to mind, or tattoos—there are certain items that exist at a variety of price points. Do you cheap out on undies at Lot-Less or shell out for some pre-distressed moth-eaten-lookin’ gonch for a $60 three-pack from Baja East? I really hope the answer here is apparent.

Sometimes, however, it’s hard to know what you should save up for and what you should splurge on without thinking—especially when it comes to fashion. A lot of these are everyday items and are open to debate. Buying dress shoes, for example, can be an easy pitfall. You can find cheap black shoes at Zara or Topman, but they’ll likely disintegrate after one wedding or job interview and fall off of your foot like the deflated turkey falls off the bone in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Furthermore, if you cheap out and get a budget version of a certain item, you’ll have to replace it more frequently. This is dumb because you’ll end up spending more to replace it a few times instead of just buying the quality version from the get-go. Buy it nice or buy it twice.

So we took the time to assess some essential everyday items, weighing out how much value they bring in comparison to their price point using state of the art equations and technology (not really). Here are the results.

Things you shouldn’t cheap out on:

Dress Shoes

Dress shoes are an important staple in any man’s wardrobe and the easiest way to make any outfit look immediately more expensive.

$393 / Soloviere Edouard

Solovière Edouard

Solovière is a French brand that started in 2014. All of their shoes are made in Italy. What makes them so *chef’s kiss* is that the upper is one solid piece of leather, gorgeously folded as if it were rolled-out dough to create the shoe’s tongue. They are slightly on the pricier end of footwear, but their minimalist silhouette means they will work with any outfit.

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$190 / Cole Haan

ZERØGRAND Wingtip Oxford

These Wingtip Oxfords are cool because they are a splendid marriage of heritage and design. The original purpose of the perforations was to drain water after a walk through the bogs in Scotland and Ireland. However, it’s eerily on trend with the bulkier dad shoes of now. Also, the reviews make it out to be one of the comfier dress shoes available. They’re also available in wide widths.

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Winter Boots

need supply tenzingbootinblack
$190 / Need Supply

STB Copenhagen Tenzing Boot

Cheap out on a pair of winter boots and you’ll find yourself arriving to work with wet socks. And nobody likes a wet sock, or a SOREL. Thankfully, STB Copenhagen makes a solid hiking boot for winter that is lined with luxurious faux shearling to cradle your hooves. The pebbled leather gives it a more robust look upscaled by the posh suede ankle panel. This is what Bond would have worn in the remake of Die Another Day at that ice hotel.

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I have a lot to say about fragrance, but the general rule is that if it’s available in an airport duty free, don’t spend your hard-earned dollars on it. Secondly, fragrance—though it’s meant to be smelled by others like any good pheromone—is personal. Really, it’s you that’s going to have to endure its evaporative whiff all day. Don’t offend others with something cheap and nasty (read: Davidoff Cool Water, anything Axe), but more importantly, don’t give yourself a headache.

$126 for 34oz / Maison Margiela

Maison Martin Margiela “Jazz Club”

Maison Martin Margiela’s “Jazz Club” is a woody, oriental fragrance that is more on the butch end of the men’s scent scale. It’s the Jeff Goldblum of fragrances—a heady bouquet of masculine flavors. It includes rum notes, a balmy base scent, vetiver and an overall aroma of leather and liquor. So light up your cigar, pour your Rob Roy and spritz a bit of Jazz Club in your wood-panelled den.

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$52 / Malin and Goetz

Malin + Goetz Cannabis Perfume Oil

Applying this Malin + Goetz roll-on cannabis oil won’t give you a contact high, but it will induce feelings of euphoria with its spicy, herbaceous aroma. Weed is legal in Canada now and everyone is scrambling to cash in, but the duo behind Malin + Goetz are attacking the trend from an opulent angle. While skeptical at first, after a few tries of this one, the sandalwood and cedarwood base jumped out. And as the product description states, there are “no lingering side effects.”

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$14.99 for one pair / Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein Boxer Briefs

Don’t buy cheap underwear. Seriously, if you are planning to be in any situation in which your underwear could be publicly visible—honestly, even in your own mirror—invest in some Calvins. Don’t get your kit off at any strangers’ house with holes in your undies. That is a surefire way to signal to a potential lover that you probably don’t clean your butthole. Waistbands should be tight enough for you to do a Texas belt buckle and should be attached to the fabric all the way around your waist. You'd think this would be obvious, but the horror stories I've heard from friends on bad Tinder dates… Yeesh. Calvins are ubiquitous for a reason: Snug fit, a subtle flex with the logo and they ensure you’ll be in the right place.

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$145 / AIAIAI

AIAIAI TMA-2 All Round Preset

Skip the Beats. These are very comfortable, noise-cancelling and look like a million bucks. They are infinitely customizable—users can select the headband, the speaker and the earpads, with the ability to swap them all out ad infinitum. Also, the earpads on an old pair of mine came unstitched and I just emailed the customer service people. Within a week I had a brand new pair shipped to my house. (They come with a three-year warranty.) Plus, listening to Robyn’s Honey on these bad boys has transported me directly to a Berghain backroom Eurotrash dancefloor.

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$595 / Hook & Albert

Hook & Albert Project 11 Weekender Bag

You’re paying at least $25 each way to check the dang thing, so it only makes sense that you fork out for a gorgeous bag to house all of your most precious travel items. Hook & Albert, the name to beat in high-quality travel bags and accessories, has a weekender that can do the most while looking inconspicuously handsome. The entire thing unzips to unveil a garment section that can fit two suits (up to a size 46R), and the sides house two shoe pockets that hold up to a size 14 shoe.

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Cheap sunglasses can be spotted a mile away, but it can be tricky to find the right pair that both fits your face and doesn’t cost a small fortune. Fortunately, the guys over at /r/malefashionadvice have a very thorough guide for finding the perfect lenses for any budget. Almost every pair of luxury sunnies is produced by Luxottica—which isn’t bad, but it's always nice to find an alternative to a giant monopoly and there are so many decent independent brands.

$355 / Krewe

Krewe Orleans Windsor

Krewe, started by Stirling Barrett in 2013 and inspired by the spirit of New Orleans, is still a growing brand but has already been seen wrapped around the famous heads of David Byrne, Lil Wayne and Gregg Sulkin. Beyoncé is also a fan. The Orleans Windsor (here in Tobacco) comes with UVA/UVB protection, a lifetime warranty, 24k gold-plated titanium frames and a glorious round silhouette. They work in every season. If you buy one pair, make it these.

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need supply brown belt
$80 / Need Supply

Filson Bridle Leather Belt

There is not much to say about a belt other than it should fit you and not be cheap. Cheap ones crease the minute you wear them and, if not made from real leather, the coating can end up flaking off or peeling—not a good look! Filson was founded in 1897, which is to say they’ve had a lot of time to perfect their belt.

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Things you should:


OK I know what I said above. That said, sunglasses can easily fall off of your head and get stomped on by a clumsy passerby, fly off your hat into the ocean or be sat on by a chubby coworker. They are like Airpods for eyes. So why spend so much on something you're destined to lose at a music festival or intensely scratch when they inevitably fall into sand at the beach? Quit while you're ahead.

$75 / Menlo House

Menlo House Lisbon

Capitalize on the round frames trend with these fairly inexpensive Lisbon-inspired frames from Menlo House.

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$32 / EyeBuyDirect

EyeBuyDirect Jolt

Gunmetal is classic and these frames are super lightweight. They fit rather wide but are very minimalist and can work with any outfit. Plus, at $32 a pop, you can afford to just try them out.

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uniqlo sock
$3.90 for a 3-pack / Uniqlo

Uniqlo Color Block Socks

No one cares if your socks are Prada and you’ll lose one anyway. Uniqlo is a safe bet for a variety of different colors and after wearing them out you won’t feel bad about having to get new ones.

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$12 / Amazon

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

Most skincare is a sham—expensive eye creams and vitamin C serums are mostly just fancy ingredients designed to make your skin feel like something is actively making you look better. Using an expensive wand vibrator gadget that is something your own two hands or a face cloth can tackle? Puh-lease. All you need is a simple facial cleanser—CeraVe or Cetaphil, for example—and a sunscreen. Daily sunscreen will prevent wrinkles (anti-aging) and block general skin damage that occurs from going outdoors.

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$39 / Menlo House

Menlo House Bundy Short

Getting high-tech fancy gear to literally spend an hour in every few days is silly. These short-over-shorts are beautiful and have zip pockets to store the essentials while you work out.

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