The Style Column: Your Spring Shopping List

Our style columnist Jeremy Langmead looks at how to buy on a budget (sort of) this season

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I’m bored of being hard-up; this is the time of year when frugality and reluctant self-control really begin to take their toll. You accept that January will be endlessly cash-poor (though a month of abstinence does have its appeal after New Year’s Eve) and February is famously depressing for everyone (credit cards maxed-out; having to say a little prayer when you use the cashpoint), and then March arrives and – what? – no better.

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Enough already. I’m bored of pretending I’m content with the clothes in my wardrobe and that I’ve gone off the menu at The Wolseley; I’m tired of slouching around in sweaters with bobbly bits on them; and I’m frustrated by the sight of all those colourful spring clothes in the stores that I cannot afford and, even if I could, it’s still too cold and bleak to wear them.

What I cannot comprehend is how come, even though I have a good job and am in my forties, I still run out of money. My parents didn’t run out of money each March; I don’t remember them scrummaging around in old drawers looking for store cards with a paltry bit of credit left on them, or emptying out coats for loose change.

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I’m also puzzled by the Instagram pictures posted by friends wearing sarongs in St Barth’s or knocking back margaritas in Mustique. Those trips must cost a pretty fortune. How come their money didn’t disappear after Christmas? Meanwhile, I’m sitting at home in the cold trying to get a loan from wonga.com to pay for a £189 easyJet flight to Marrakech to attend a friend’s 40th birthday. (How I suffer.)

It seems to me I have three options: one, I bump off Trinny Woodall and start dating Charles Saatchi. Two, more plausible perhaps (and legal), I work for Charles Saatchi and thus get hold of one of his Conarco Partnership credit cards (his former assistants certainly had higher credit limits than I do). Three, I stop moaning like a spoilt brat and live within my means. Oh. Awkward. You all suggested option three.

Fine. Then here is what, in the spirit of involuntary tight-fistedness, I shall try limiting myself to this spring. And before you point out that if I really wanted to be thrifty I could buy nothing at all (get real) or shop solely on the high street (I’m too old), here’s my wallet- friendly (ish) shopping list for spring.

1 | The suit. There’s a dashing slim-fit, glen-checked wool suit by Gant Rugger (£550), which will look great dressed up with a pale blue or white shirt and knitted tie, or dressed down with an open-neck chambray shirt. This will cover the gamut from office wear to weddings.

2 | Nothing heralds the approach of spring better than a fresh formal shirt. On my list is a perky white cotton-poplin Mayfair shirt by Hackett (£95).

3 | And to complement this, a soup stain-free, knitted-silk tie in seafoam green by Richard James (£75).

4 | To wear with the above, one reasonable option is a pair of deep tan Stanley leather wingtip brogues by Grenson (£200).

5 | For off-duty, I’m going to keep it simple. First up, the obligatory pair of chinos. This spring, a pair of Lived-in slim-fit gale green khakis from Gap (£40).

6 | To team with these, I will live in sweatshirts this spring; in particular a navy loop-back cotton jersey one by J Crew in one size smaller than I normally wear for a better fit (£70).

7 | To finish off the above, a pair of Nike x Undercover Lunarglide +5 trainers in blue/red (£95). The colour will stop the outfit from looking too preppy and these actually work well for running as well as off-duty shenanigans (ie, multi-function = bargain).

8 | Finally – can you believe how succinct and undemanding my list is? – I shall find the funds to purchase a single-breasted navy raincoat from Uniqlo. These are super-stylish, have a detachable lining, and are a snip at £90.

OK, so that comes to a modest total of, err, £1,215.

Hmmm, that’s not an inconsiderable amount, I admit. But it could have been a lot, lot worse — for instance, I could have opted for:

1 | A lovely light grey Ann Demeulemeester suit (£735).

2 | A slim-fit white cotton shirt from Emma Willis (£200).

3 | A slim knitted tie in jade from Charvet (£126).

4 | A pair of Excalibur taupe suede tasselled loafers by O’Keeffe (£375).

5 | And, for off-duty, Slowear khaki chinos (£190).

6 | A Maison Martin Margiela elbow-patch loop-back cotton jersey sweatshirt in light grey (£270).

7 | And a pair of white leather Achilles sneakers by Common Projects (£270).

8 | Finally, I’d get the Dunoon hooded raincoat in dark brown by Mackintosh (£750).

That lot would tot up to a much less digestible £2,916.

In which case – hoorah! I calculate that by buying the eight new items from the first list and none from the second, I will save myself £1,701. This frugal thing is easy. In fact, since I’ve saved so much, I might go and celebrate with a spot of lunch at The Wolseley. Chin chin.

Taken from Esquire's April issue, on newsstands now.

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