Turning Water into Wine


First off, I know I am not Jesus. Need to get that out of the way. I can see some of you who don’t really know me asking who this guy thinks he is. Heck, probably some of the people who do know me. Anyways, due to popular demand, this week I am going to let you all in on the secrets of how I shop, with the focus on finding bargains and making them look like a million bucks. Similarly, I’m gonna slip in a few nuggets about encountering tough situations and keeping a positive attitude. See what I’m doing…water into wine.

I’ve written in a previous post about some of my clothes being expensive and some being rather inexpensive, and today I’m gonna give you the method to my madness with the focus on the inexpensive stuff. I buy about a third of my wardrobe on my travels, and these are typically the rather expensive pieces from high-end stores in other cities. Tom Ford. Gucci. Hermes. I get another third online, and these are typically staples like jeans, sweats, dress shirts, etc. I keep Ralph Lauren, Uniqlo, J. Crew, Charles Tyrwhitt, and others saved in my favorites, and update those pieces 2-3 times per year. The final third I get here in Charlotte at two specific locations. And guys (and girls), I don’t like to shop any more than you do, so I will pick a random day a few times a year and hit the Marshall’s at Blakeney and the Outlets off of I-485 in Southwest Charlotte. At the outlets, I spend most of my time at Saks Off 5th and Nike. But they also have a pretty strong Cole Haan store, Coach Men is on fire right now, along with some others. At Off 5th and Marshall’s, I will dig, and there are always hidden gems if you know where to look. In the past I have picked up Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci. Suits are often buy 1 get 1 free. I will even go to these two, find something I love, wait a few months for no one to buy it, and come back for it to be even more heavily discounted. I have been doing this with huge success my entire adult life. Some examples in the pictures this week: 2 ties from John Varvatos USA and 1 from Hugo Boss. $10 each. A blue woven belt from Italian powerhouse Canali for $35. White Nike trainers for $20. A fuchsia tee from American Apparel. $4. A Levi’s Western shirt for $29 and blue cardigan from Marc Jacobs for $40. A charcoal fall blazer from Calvin Klein Collection for $50. I could go on and on. The outfit of the week this week is $30 for the Diesel shirt, $20 for the Saks pants, $30 for the Vans shoes, and $35 for the Canali belt. You just have to be willing to take a little time at these two places and dig. They might be last season, they might be off season, or they might simply be an overrun from a designer. But I have filled my closet with these pieces for years, received compliments, and then said to myself “Welp, that only cost 15 bucks”.

I also like custom pieces. Like literally things that no one else in Charlotte and possibly the world has. Most of the time I associate the word custom with expensive, but here recently I’ve been getting creative for almost no money at all. Ya’ll have probably seen the USA denim jacket. Got that at Marshall’s for $30 because the right shoulder was ripped. Actually made it more awesome in my opinion. I’m starting to sew patches from my travels onto the back, making a truly unique piece that will be a work in process for years. I just made a custom teal and pink baseball cap. The actual cap was given to me. The patch cost $5. Boom. The only one in the world. I covered one of my nicer hats with lapel pins from LA and Miami, and I made a bracelet out of a strip of denim used to wrap a gift I bought in Nashville. Trash to treasure. Water to wine. Get creative. Be unique.


Finding quality, inexpensive clothes and wearing them with confidence is something that indeed matches my personality. Similarly, I am also very keen on finding the positive in any situation. Unless it is truly life or death, I honestly live by the phrase “It’s gonna be okay”. And the reason I live this way is because of two things that were told to me in my teenage years, and they are basically the same thing. I was a kicker for my high school football team, and in one particular game I missed 2 relatively short field goals. I thought I was going to die, if one of my teammates didn’t kill me first. My coach was none too pleased with me, but offered these words after the game. “Benj, the situation is never as good as you think it is, but it is also never as bad.” He could have told me to just quit missing easy field goals, but instead I got something that is now a guiding principle for my life. My brilliant older brother told me a similar thing numerous times. “You are never as good as you think you are, but you are also never as bad.” These words serve double duty as they keep you humble when you are high but pick you up when you are low. Good times come and go. Bad times come and go. Make some more good times. It’s gonna be okay.

You now know some of my shopping secrets, so take a look. There is nice, reasonably priced, designer level stuff at these places. Sometimes I wonder to myself why I look at some of the clothes I see every day that are mediocre at best, and know that they cost more than this stuff I am telling you about. Take a few hours and get you some stuff, and as always, please make sure it fits. We are getting close to fall, so this is a perfect time to get some new pieces for the closet. Consider taking my advice above. It’s worked very well for me for 20 years. Also consider taking a more positive outlook on life. It’s good for the soul, and people like being around you much more.

Have a great week.-Benj

2 thoughts on “Turning Water into Wine

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