I’m a huge proponent of budget men’s clothing brands because they provide a way for us to experiment with personal style without breaking the bank. But it’s true: you get what you pay for. You might find gems every once in a while, but most of the time, you’re sacrificing something to get that piece of clothing at such an affordable price.
Once you’re established in your sense of personal style and know for sure what you want, or if you want to experiment further and try designs and materials that aren’t available in budget clothing brands, you’ll want to start exploring mid-range men’s clothing brands. These options are more costly, of course, but they aren’t so expensive that your wallet will hate you.
1. Land’s End
Land’s End used to be part of Sears, and you’ll see that reflected in the safe and conservative designs across most of its catalog. Land’s End broke off from Sears in 2014 and is now primarily an online store, with much of the same aesthetic direction. Stick to “Slim Fit” items for the most stylish options. The quality is pretty good and it’s one of the cheapest mid-range clothing brands.
I’ve often thought of Zara as “H&M Upgraded.” It’s fast and trendy European fashion, much like H&M, but a bit more daring in its designs and pricing. Everything here is tailored towards a slim-fit look—maybe even a bit too slim—so keep that in mind. Note that you’re paying for the aesthetic, not quality. Zara clothes will wear out quickly if you don’t take care of them.
Banana Republic is the older brother of Old Navy and Gap. In other words, it’s basically Gap with a sleeker design aesthetic at a higher price point. If you can afford it, Banana Republic has some really beautiful items in its catalog, especially chinos, sweaters, and outerwear. Stick to the “Slim Fit” items and you can’t go wrong.
J.Crew used to be my go-to mid-range clothing brand for men, but the store has fumbled a bit over the last few years. While the items still carry mid-range price tags, the quality of items has dwindled year after year. Can you still find worthwhile items at J.Crew? Of course. You’ll just have to look a bit harder and make sure you try the items on in person because J.Crew is now known for inconsistency.
Topman is a lot like J.Crew in that it used to be a dependable mid-range clothing brand for men that started cutting corners and eventually developed a reputation for inconsistent quality. I wouldn’t avoid it altogether, but you just have to be mindful when shopping. It has a solid range of items and styles, ranging from a street-style look up to a more mature yet modern appearance.
You probably think of American Eagle as a brand for high school and college students, and that wouldn’t be too far off the mark. However, American Eagle does have relatively good quality for the price, and some of the items are even pretty stylish—you just have to look hard for them. The worst thing about American Eagle is the logo that’s plastered everywhere. If you’re going to shop here, opt for items where the logo is subtle or non-existent.
A lot of the stuff from Express can feel a bit too much like clubwear, so you have to be picky when shopping here. The price tags are a bit high as well, but Express holds regular sales throughout the year so you can save a good bit of money if you’re patient and time your purchases. When I pop into Express, I’m mainly looking at the casual shirts, sweaters, and outerwear.
8. Club Monaco
Club Monaco is like the next evolution after H&M and Zara. It’s very European in its styling and much higher in quality of materials and designs, but that comes with a hefty price bump. Club Monaco sits at the high end of the mid-range clothing brands spectrum, and it can be pricey even when items are on sale. I only buy an item from here when I absolutely love it.