The “WTLTROML” Method
I’ve seen many articles over the years offering advice on how to wisely purchase certain staples of a man’s wardrobe. Often, this advice takes the form of which items you should splurge on and which items you should scrimp on. Suspiciously, these articles are usually packed with affiliate links and the number of “splurge” items far outweighs the number of “scrimp” items. Oh well. We all need to make a buck.
While well-meaning, I find that these articles lack a consistent method for determining which items should garner a higher spend. They’ll offer examples of the “splurge” version of, say, jeans right alongside the “scrimp” version but they won’t give much advice as to why you should go with one or the other. It will simply say the “splurge” item is more “luxurious”.
This can be confusing for anyone. As dads, we need to feel confident we are spending our money wisely. No one wants to be frivolous. But should you spend $200 on jeans?
Today, I will attempt to help you categorize your wardrobe in such a way so that you are sure you are allocating your funds to the proper areas.
In order to determine whether to splurge or scrimp, I employ the “WTLTROML” method. This stands for “Will This Last The Rest Of My Life?”.
Will a pair of jeans last the rest of my life? No. I’m going to be rough on them. Get them dirty. Get them stained. So the pair on sale for $30 will be just fine, thank you very much. Scrimp.
Will a leather jacket last the rest of my life? Yes. Even if I am super tough on it, it’s still going to outlive me, most likely. I don’t want a cheap piece of junk so I am going to need to shell out at least a few hundred bucks. Splurge.
See the difference?
Broadly, the “scrimp” items are your “basics”: t-shirts, underwear, socks, jeans. Even chinos, oxford shirts, polos, and flannels should be scrimp items because none of these things will last you more than a few years on average. Sure a flannel or a good pair of chinos could last 30 years, but in general, these are the more “disposable” items of your wardrobe. I know some people like to “elevate the ordinary”, but that feels a lot like needless spending (I will go into this concept in more detail next week).
The “splurge” items are somewhat more ancillary, but these are the things you could presumably pass down to your kids: coats, jackets, hats, watches, sweaters, sport coats. I would even put things like neckties, belts, and jewelry (cufflinks, wedding ring) in this category.
You don’t have to splurge on your underwear to be a well-dressed man. But you definitely should splurge on your sport coat or overcoat. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t still take care in choosing those basic items. You still want to make sure they fit well and are flattering to your body.
Shoes occupy a strange middle ground between the two categories. A high-quality pair of shoes certainly can last your whole life with periodic maintenance, but I hesitate to say you should splurge on them more often than not. The reason is because shoes have a more direct link to overall bodily health than any other item mentioned. So in the case of shoes, buy what is comfortable whether it’s $50 or $500.
Haven’t we all been the situation where we make a purchase and then think “should I have really spent $XXX on this? Was it worth it?” If you use the “WTLTROML” method, you’ll have that feeling a lot less often.