Last week in a business Facebook group, someone posted asking people to share their favorite buys that cost $100 or less.

It quickly became one of my favorite threads online, ever.

People were sharing knives they bought, grill starters, plants that won’t die, sunlight light bulbs.

I loved the idea so much that I wanted to do something similar for The Essential Man, concentrating on style, of course.

So today I’m sharing with you some of my favorite $100 or less buys, from a gadget that will make laundry day easier, to jeans for guys with big legs, to a cologne my girlfriend goes crazy for. 

stansmith

MY EVERYDAY SNEAKER

Adidas Stan Smith
$75 via Mr. Porter

Every wardrobe needs a minimal white sneaker, and when it comes to my everyday beater, Adidas Stan Smiths are my shoe of choice. Dress codes have shifted, and it’s now even more acceptable to wear sneakers with suits. Just make sure they’re clean and minimal. (A great rule to remember: The more details an item has, the more casual it is.)

jasonmarkk

TO KEEP THOSE STAN SMITHS BRIGHT WHITE

Jason Markk Premium Shoe Cleaner
$16 via Mr. Porter

I don’t usually worry too much about my clothes getting dirty or beat up, especially when it comes to my sneakers. I like my clothes “lived in” rather than “store fresh”. But if you’re planning to wear white sneakers like Stan Smiths with a more formal outfit, it’s important that they’re as clean as they can be. Nothing looks sloppier than a clean charcoal grey suit with dirty sneakers. Luckily Jason Markk has you covered with his Premium Shoe Cleaner kit. Jason Markk created a new industry with his shoe cleaning kits (he even has a brick and mortar store where you can drop off your sneakers for a deep clean). The best part – the cleaner’s free of harsh chemicals, and is safe to use on any shoe.

 

esquire

MY NEW FAVORITE OLD BUT NEW MAGAZINE

ESQUIRE
$15 for 12 issues via Amazon

I’ve always been a fan of Esquire magazine, but ever since Jay Fielden took over as Editor-in-Chief, it’s bumped up to the top of my list. The tighter branding, the large cover photos, the styling. The best part – and what Esquire has always done well – are the editorials. This month’s story on the marijuana, heroin, and El Chapo will definitely hold you over until Narcos season 2 starts.

exofficio

STILL THE GREATEST PAIR OF UNDERWEAR IN THE WORLD

Give-n-go Boxer Briefs by Ex-Officio
$19 via Amazon

If you’ve read The Essential Man for a while, you know how much I love these boxers. Designed for hikers and campers, Give-n-gos are engineered to repel odors and dry extremely quickly. That means you only need a couple of pairs whether that’s disconnecting from city life for a week or traveling the world. (I survived with 3 pairs on a month long trip to Europe). Why do I love them so much? They look really good on. No wacky stripes or colors. Everyone looks good in black underwear. But the most important part, they’re extremely light, comfortable, and breathable. If you live in place that gets humid like New York summers, your boys will thank you.

norelco

THE NO-FUSS NO-BULLSHIT TRIM

Multigroom 3100 by Norelco
$18 via Amazon

I don’t have the beardiest beard (thanks asian genes), but here’s why I love about this trimmer: It doesn’t have a bullshit charging base that takes up a ton of room in storage or when you’re charging. It has 18 different length settings so you can get the exact size you’re looking for. And most importantly, it has a nose-hair trimmer attachment. Trust me, she’ll thank you for the last one. (Oh yeah, it has 4,900 near 5-star reviews on Amazon.)

gatsby

FOR JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF HOLD

Moving Rubber by Gatsby
$9 via Amazon

I’m going to make a bold claim: Japan makes the best hair products. Gatsby is a extremely popular brand in Japan, and has been my go-to brand since discovering them 16 years ago when I visited. If you use any type of american made wax, I recommend you test Gatsby’s Moving Rubber. It’s light and easy to use, and won’t weigh your hair down. The consistency is more like a lotion, but with just enough tack and grip to hold your hairstyle together. The light apple scent is nice, but isn’t overpowering. In short, it’s the perfect hair product.

hermes

THIS SCENT WILL DRIVE HER CRAZY

Terre D’Hermes by Hermes
$85 via Sephora

Megan over at StyleGF says that every guy should have a signature scent and drink. For me, that’s Bois D’argent by Dior Homme and a classic Old Fashioned (rye, no muddled fruit). But lately I’ve been wearing a lot more of Terre D’Hermes because my girlfriend just can’t get enough of it. Sure, you could write this off as one girl’s opinion, but just read all the reviews on Sephora. Women love this scent. I’m going to be honest, I’ve never understood or liked how magazines describe colognes. (How the hell does top note of cedarwood help me figure out what I’m going to smell like?!!) So I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible: It has an orange citrus smell. Crisp. As one girl in the reviews put it, “It’s woodsy”. Just imagine doing manly stuff in the woods then peeling your girl an orange.

jcrewoxford

AS CLASSIC AS IT GETS

Oxford Shirt by J.Crew
$85 via Mr. Porter

Working with a lot of entrepreneurs, I’ve seen and recommended tons of work shirts. And while I’ve explored oxfords at all ranges of quality and price, I always go back to the J.Crew Oxford. They tend to fit the best on most guys. The quality of the fabric is extremely good for what you pay for. But my main reason is accessibility. J.Crew stores are in almost every major city. They’re also stocked on Mr. Porter, which has the best service of any online store. If you’re doing a Fall work closet refresh, this one is a no-brainer.

levis541

FOR GUYS THAT DON’T SKIP LEG DAY

541 Athletic Fit Jeans by Levis
$79 via Amazon

Every week I get e-mails from guys who hate buying pants because their legs are too big. I feel you, as I’ve always had larger thighs which have only gotten worse (or better, depending on how you look at it) since I started squatting at the gym. Luckily, brands have realized not everyone is 6′ and rail thin. Levi’s 541 line is cut to give you more room in the seat (your butt) and thigh, with a straight or slight taper towards the calf. Translation: No more looking like you’re wearing raver pants. Most pants also include a tiny bit of stretch, which make them EXTREMELY comfortable. If you don’t skip leg day, they’ll quickly become your new favorite pair of jeans.

photive

TO MAKE THE GYM LESS ANNOYING

Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds by Photive
$27 via Amazon

After one session with these wireless earbuds from Photive, I wondered what took me so long to finally go wireless. I’m the asshole with the big giant iPhone 6+. Stashing that in my gym short pocket while battling my headphones as I try to lift heavy weights was always a nightmare. I decided to finally get some wireless earbuds after nearly smashing my phone with a huge kettlebell. With nearly 1,900 4-star ratings, and coming in at $27, I figured this would be a good “stepping stone” to a nicer model. Fast forward 6-months later and it doesn’t look like I’ll be replacing these anytime soon. For $27, you’re going to have to give up a few things. The sound quality is good, but can be light on the bass. The ear hooks are adjustable, but can take some playing around with to give you the best fit for the best sound. The headphones are usb charged, and I found the battery last about 3-4 1 1/2 hour gym sessions before I need to plug them in. At the cost of a lot of wired headphones, this is a great, minimalist good looking pair of wireless headphones you should add to your collection.

zojirushimug

YES, JAPAN STILL MAKES EVERYTHING COOLER

20-oz Stainless Steel Mug by Zojirushi
$30 via Amazon

I’m not a big fan of reusable waterbottles, mostly because they remind me of sweaty runners I stand behind every morning at Starbucks. I just hate colored plastic and rubber mouth pieces you need to bite down. This stainless steel mug by Zojirushi is the cure for all of that. It’s simple, sleek, and has a beautiful flip top lid mechanism that makes it easy to operate with one hand. (Trust me, when you get this you’ll be opening it and closing it for 10 minutes) There’s also a lock, so you don’t have to be afraid of the thing opening in your bag. It works for both cold and hot liquids, so it’s perfect for a gym session or stashing away a hot toddy come winter at work.

shirtfolder

BECAUSE PILES OF CLOTHES AREN’T A GOOD LOOK

T-Shirt Folder by Pyrus
$19 via Amazon

Are you weird like me and wish your closet and drawers were all perfectly folded and organized like a store? This simple yet amazing little gadget will help you with that. (In fact, many of these are built in to carts workers use to restock inventory at stores.) You just lay your clothes down, fold the flaps in a specific order and, like magic, your clothes are perfectly folded. This will cut your folding time in half and make everything look extremely neat. It’s also pretty fun to use. My only recommendation is to use it at a standing table, your back can get tired pretty quickly bending down to use it on, say, a bed.

thesell

$15 MILLION DOLLAR APARTMENTS DON’T SELL THEMSELVES

The Sell by Fredrik Eklund
$15 (Hardcover) via Amazon

Closing this list is one of my favorite books, The Sell by Fredrik Eklund. Now you might be wondering, what the hell is a book doing on this list? Especially one written by a “reality t.v.” guy. In case you don’t know, Fredrik is one the stars of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing”, a reality show about luxury real estate agents in New York City. Some might see this show as luxury porn, I see it as a fascinating look at the psychology of selling, business and branding. This is why I love the book. Fredrik talks about the importance of your style, your fitness, your mentality, the words you use, how you frame your story, how you treat your clients. Whether you’re an entrepreneur pitching to VCs, or guy on a first date, you’re ultimately selling yourself. That’s the genius of this book. It’s a self-improvement book disguised as a business book. If you want to learn the secrets of selling your most important product (you), I highly recommend you pick this one up and read it this weekend.

Your turn! In the comments below, share something style related that you picked up recently that you love. Just remember the rule, make sure it’s $100 or less. 

Author

Hi, I'm Peter. I spent 11 years as a menswear designer here in NYC. Now, I help some of the most successful men look really good as a Private Personal Stylist and writer of The Essential Man. You can learn more about what I do by clicking here

  • Nathan Scripps

    I have the Zojirushi and can confirm it is the best thermos out there. Ice down your coffee or tea before sealing it up… otherwise you can fill it at breakfast and still burn yourself at dinner.

    I strongly support the Stan Smith call here as well… my current white kicks are a pair of Butteros, but the prime knit Stan Smiths may take their place, especially if the new Adidas factory in Georgia is putting them out.

    Ursa Major face wipes. Keep one on you at all times, two if it’s a daytime wedding. Seriously, these things are amazing.

    I carry a small pocket knife, so I’d add that to the list – either the Swiss Army Knife Tinker model (good enough for MacGyver) or the Cutco 1885 (discontinued, so hit eBay and don’t forget they have free sharpening for life).

    Like my knives, any every day accessory – watch, money clip, stick pin in your lapel – whatever it is will be better with a personal story. Who gave it to you, where did you find it, why is it special to you.

    • Peter Nguyen

      Prime Knit SS are awesome. I haven’t tried Buttero (I’m pretty loyal to Common Projects, but it’s pretty obvious they can’t make this list!) How do you like the Butteros?

      I’ve always wanted to try the Ursa Major face wipes, especially for post-plane rides. I’ll def pick them up.

      I generally carry a money clip too, but I still can’t bring myself to carry around a pocket knife!

      Thanks for sharing.

      • Nathan Scripps

        Butteros are great… but a bit over that $100 limit! They have a perforated leather that reminds me a lot of Stan Smiths, mine are white canvas with white floral patterns that you barely notice and natural leather on the toe cap. They do run a touch large… I wear 43’s in them where other Italian shoes run 43.5.

  • Dan McKeown

    The Levi’s are awesome. I picked up two pairs when they were on sale for $45. They are ABSOLUTELY my new favorite jean. If only they had a selvedge pair in this cut…