Half the fun is the feeling of accomplishment when you find that one friggin' awesome deal, or as a hat trick: combining cheapness, rarity, and the hard labor and time searching for the item . I've recently celebrated these accomplished goals in two recent purchases.
First up are my new Allen Edmonds Winthrop loafers. I've been in the market for driving loafers for months because I do a lot of driving and my other shoes are starting to hurt at the heel after repetitive pedal action. Driving loafers offer a comfortable solution with soling specific to gripping the pedal, and rounded padding for ergonomics. Unfortunately, the sole usually wears down fast if you use the shoe for anything other than taking the car out for a spin, i.e. every other occasion. After a few days of research on various internet forums, I found that the AE Winthops last longer as the sole is durable enough for walking, as opposed to the popular Cole Haan Garrison loafers which use rubber nubs that tend to erode easily.
While doing the research, I found that Allen Edmonds at one time made the loafer in a Chili Brown, which gives the shoe leather a luxurious suppleness. Me being anal about color, and the fact most of my shoes are already dark brown, I did not want the boring grain brown or navy models that are currently offered, nor the tan color that is too light for my tastes, a la Italian shipping heir brat. So my eyes were set on the chili color, and when I get transfixed on a clothing goal, I never settle for less. My first intuition was to call the Allen Edmonds Shoe Bank in Washington, WI which is the clearance center for all discontinued models. The nice people there confirmed that there were no new Winthrops in chili in the whole company.
It took a few weeks scouring various internet markets before ecstatically finding a New Old Stock (NOS) pair in chili brown on eBay for $130. This turned out to be a big mistake. I did not take into account that Allen Edmonds tend to run small for this model of shoes, as I soon found out when the eBay loafers arrived. They looked good but just too snug for my feet. And of course the seller had a no return policy, adamant even when I contacted him. Fair enough, but now I had a sunk cost that I needed to get rid of while continuing to search for a larger pair and hopefully not losing anymore money at the same time.
All was lost? That's how I felt, except for the style gods took pity on me and sent another pair of NOS Winthrops in my size, listed on eBay a week later, priced at a cheaper $100. Within the same day, received an offer for my previously bought Winthrops that I had listed on Style Forum's Buy/Sell section for the original $130. At the end of both transactions, I got rid of the old shoes, traded for extremely rare shoes that happen to be in my size, and actually saved some money in the process.
Look at 'em. They look better in person.
Next story is about my hunt for a new blazer. My favorite Anderson-Little blue blazer is starting to get tight (downside reward of gaining weight at the gym) and I promised myself that my next one would be from J. Press. This is because the brand is synonymous to trad academia and I've always seen the "blue blazer with gold buttons" through a schoolboy's Buddy Holly glasses. Also, a J Press navy blazer is coveted and highly respected in trad world.
Even at sale price, J Press is way too expensive for my ever-shrinking budget, and so I resort to other sources like usual. If you scour eBay, you'd find J Press is rare and highly prized, and so it was to my chagrin to find after a few months of patient waiting, a 3/2 roll, natural shoulder, sack blazer going for under a $100. It was late at night when I won the auction, which probably had something to do with my luck (protip: always have your auction end on an afternoon between 5-9pm, when people are at home and awake).
J Press was the last empty hole in my closet, and now I finally have something to fill it from the high tier trad brand. Next up: a Shaggy Dog sweater...and so the hunt begins again.