Buying in Bulk: A Mans Way of Shopping?

I read an article in the NY Times a few months ago that stated “Women Shop, Men Stockpile” saying that when men find something they like, they buy a lot of them where as women lean more towards the “one of everything” approach (I don’t blame them!)

I remember as a young child (3 years ago) I would be surprised when my dad would rock a brand new pair of speakers. They were always very cool looking sneakers and I’m always impressed (I didn’t 100% realize how cool my father really was at the time so was always impressed by his fashionable choices).

Me: “Dad, those are cool sneakers! Where did you get them?”

Dad: “Oh, I’ve had these sitting in my closet for 6 years.”

Typical Man.

So what do you think? Are you a stock pile shopper or an equal opportunity buyer. I personally own probably 30 pairs of the same sock from H&M. As some point in my life, I decided that I was not longer going to be a white sock only type of guy, so I switched to dark grey and never looked back! Now that’s change. Take a look at the article and see what sorts of things men are stockpiling these days!!

WOMEN shop, men stockpile. That’s one theory, anyway, of how men buy clothes differently from women. If women see shopping as an opportunity, a social or even therapeutic activity, the thinking goes, then men see it as a necessary evil, a moment to restock the supply closet.

At the risk of perpetuating sex stereotypes, the archetype may have been Steve Jobs. When Mr. Jobs died in October, he left behind not only a peerless legacy, but a closet full of identical black cotton turtlenecks by Issey Miyake. “If he loved a shirt, he’d order 10 or 100 of them,” his sister, the author Mona Simpson, said in her eulogy.

It was an obsession that many men could relate to. Here, stylish New Yorkers reflect on their wardrobe hoarding.


A dozen or so years ago, I came across a Paul Smith knit shirt that just sort of hit with me. It was dark blue with long sleeves, and it had a slightly old-fashioned rolled collar. The three buttons in front were small, light blue enameled half-globes with penguins in them. I thought it might be the sort of shirt I could wear for years and went back to the shop on lower Fifth to get a few more, but they had nothing in my size. I have a passing acquaintance with Paul, so I wrote him asking if they could make up a few more like the one I bought and send me the bill. Which in time, they did. I still have the shirts. And I still wear them. And damned if I don’t wish I’d bought even more.


I take pride in the fact that I generally wear the same thing every day. I have this dream about throwing away everything in my closet, or giving it to charity, and then going and buying like 20 of the same Steven Alan shirt and 5 pairs of the same Levi’s Vintage Clothing 501z 1954 jeans, but not in a Steve Jobs way.


I hate to shop. For the last 20 years I only shopped once every two or three years. I would go to the big and tall store and buy only what I could find in 20 minutes, tops — usually a few dozen briefs, T-shirts and sweaters. If there was time left, I would try on a jacket. Nothing needed to be perfect: just fit and be black.

Now I am buying African block-print shirts and pants in a riot of colors and patterns from an African street merchant. I visit him every few weeks to see what’s new. I buy 10 or 15 at a time.


I have these Adidas Campus 80 shoes, and they’re gray and suede, and I have five pairs. One gets used and I have another one.


For the last eight years or so, I’ve had a minor obsession with Ralph Lauren oxfords, especially the Yarmouth fit. I picked up my first in high school at a small thrift store I worked in. Since then, I’ve developed an ever-growing collection that, at the moment, stands at 16 shirts. It’s the perfect casual dress shirt: a Ralph Lauren oxford can dress down a crisp, tailored suit, or dress up a pair of raggedy denim cutoff shorts.

I’m a man that loves to have options, so I think it’s a necessity to own a range of colors (from primaries to pastels) and patterns (from plaids to stripes) so that I can wear the shirts every season and every occasion. Considering I wear at least one each week, I think they’ve been well worth the investment.


Several years ago, Adidas reintroduced the 1970s-style Rod Laver tennis shoe in both black and white. They were the most low-profile sneaker to come out in a long time, and I bought one pair of each. These were practically unbranded, elegantly shaped and surprisingly lightweight.

They sold out fast, and weren’t reissued again. Eventually, the soles of both pairs were worn through. I brought them to a local shoe repair. The guy behind the counter looked at me funny, but he patched them anyway. I brought them back three times after that, carefully considering which days to wear them to preserve their delicate life span.

Then Adidas released something similar to the Rod Lavers, but tainted with brazen red and blue stripes and a harder sole. It was like an insult. I bought a pair and happily cut the offending stripes right off. A season later they finally brought back the Rod Laver originals but even simpler — in all leather without metal eyelets — the Tournament Edition. I bought several pairs.


The store Epaulet — there’s one on Orchard and one on Smith Street in Brooklyn — has these pants with a perfect silhouette and fit. They are cut slim, but not skinny. A few years ago I tried on a pair of mohair ones that fit so well that I bought three pairs — in navy, camel and olive — and a pair of gray cords in the same cut.


I hate shopping and tend to go to two or three stores only. Over the years they have been Paul Stuart, Bergdorf Goodman Men’s (though not always reliable for my taste), Brooks Brothers (which is much better these days, thank God) and J. Crew.

I should have bought multiple J. M. Weston loafers. You can’t get them in New York anymore, but they’re the best shoes I’ve ever had. When I see someone wearing them, I recognize them instantly and feel very jealous.


I will never, in my life, decide to stop wearing gray sweatshirts, so having a perfect simulacrum set allows me to focus my anxiety on my work or whether or not I am dying. Adam Kimmel makes — or made two years ago — these ultimate gray sweatshirts. Heavy but not stuffy, enough to beat a chill but also not trapping, so you could run away without breaking a sweat, perfect for writing with the window open.

I bought one and liked it so much — and feared their disappearance — I bought two more. All three are currently in rotation in my life, all identical, except one has a very slight soup stain half the way down.


I’ve been a stockpiler for years. Several items like vintage 517 Levi’s, I will buy three to four at a time. I have three pairs of our Roper boots in various stages of wear. I have a half-dozen of our white button-down oxfords and two of our navy blazers. My reasons usually have to do with availability, especially if I know it won’t be produced further, or a situation, like with wingtips, where the newer might be right with suits and the older one with jeans.


Generally, I don’t stockpile clothing other than multiple footwear pieces by Common Projects. But recently I purchased washed chinos in different colors from J. Crew, mostly because whenever I find something that fits me properly, sure enough a designer will do away with that style the following season.


For a time, A.P.C. was making great cotton underwear, but then the weight went up, to probably twice as thick. Armor Lux, another French brand, makes these blue-and-white striped boxer briefs. Every time I go to Paris, I go to about four different stores that I know carry them and buy every single pair that they have. Sometimes 20 or 30 pairs.


Black socks. Plain old dumb Gold Toe from Target. The rest of my wardrobe is all over the place, but my sock drawer could belong to Batman. It’s probably 20 to 30 pairs of the same black socks, all in rows.

My mother told me a story about the first time my father came to the house to take her out on a date. My mom’s older brother answered the door. He looked my dad up and down, and noticed that he was wearing white socks. He sent him away, saying that she was too classy a girl to be taken out by a man wearing white socks. If he wanted to go on a date with my mom, he had to show some respect and come back wearing black socks. I was probably 11 when she told me that story, and I’ve been wearing black socks ever since.


My friend Mckenzie Liautaud makes these really sick ties with all sorts of accents: pins, glitter, all sorts of different stuff. You almost have to discover his ties by stumbling on them in a small shop. I buy four each time I see him, and they’re perfect for special events or the holidays.


Given my frequent travels, stepping off the plane each day in a new city is a tough challenge for appearing unwrinkled. One of my greatest treasures has been the Brooks Brothers non-iron shirts, which never fail to give a fresh appearance. I have several in each color. My other favorite purchase is Kenneth Cole’s suede sneakers. I bought four pair. Kenneth Cole discontinued the model so I am happy to have bought more than one.

Interviews have been edited and condensed.

(A version of this article appeared in print on December 29, 2011, on page E6 of the New York edition with the headline: For Guys, a Great Find Is Often Multiplied.)


2 thoughts on “Buying in Bulk: A Mans Way of Shopping?

  1. Pingback: Out with the Old, in with the Same! « Style of Mind

  2. Pingback: Out with the Old, in with the Same! « Style of Mind

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s