It doesn’t matter how good a pair of shoes you buy or which world-renowned tailor makes your coats, you just can’t wear them every day. If you do, you won’t be wearing them at all after long. But there is a whole kit of stuff you do get to use every day that often gets overlooked.
This list of daily essentials will obviously be different for each person, but there are a couple of safe bets that I’ll give my two cents on: wallet, (sun)glasses, and a watch.
I’ll start with the easy stuff. A wallet. You need one pretty much any time you’re out of the house, no excuses. The two main camps on the issue are those who favor the typical bi- or tri-fold wallet and those who favor the card-holder/money-clip combo. I sit squarely in the later, but it’s really a matter of preference and how you carry the thing(s).
Where both agree is that you need a decent wallet. The black leather numbers you find for $15 at almost every department store on the planet are not what you want to be carrying around every day. They’re kind of ugly, the don’t hold up, and they wear out, not in.
Chester Mox has a few nice options for card-holders, as does Makr, though the prices are a little higher. But for whatever reason there just aren’t that many other brands making good leather goods at decent prices. For good leather and money clips, I recommend shopping sales, hunting second-hand, or using ebay if you’ve got the patience. My trusty card-holder was an end of season sale-bin find and I couldn’t be happier with it five years down the road.
If you wear glasses, invest in something you love. I promise it’s worth it. You put them on your face for crying out loud. You see the world though them and everyone sees you through them. Don’t cheap out if you can avoid it. Sunglasses present a less dire situation, but not by much. Figure out what looks good on your face (this great article at Put This On should help), and then buy for longevity.
Fashion brands are mostly made by the same factory, designed by the same team, and marked up to match their brand’s general price-point. Bad value. In general you want to stick to companies that specialize in eyewear, rather than buying them from the same brand that makes your favorite sweater.
In addition to pricer specialty brands, as a more value-driven alternative, you can check out one of the myriad new online eyewear providers, like Warby Parker or Classic Specs. The later has more sun wear, since any of their frames can be done as either optical or sun, but I can more properly speak to Warby Parker’s quality. Honestly, it’s shockingly good for $100 and the people there are really earnest about wanting to do something good for their customers and the charities they support.
Finally, the almost infinitely variable world of watches. There are good options here from the $25 Timex to the hundred thousand dollar Lange. It’s really all about what you want to spend. My Mondaine has served me well, gone through a battery or two and a few straps, but is still ticking along just fine. Not extravagant, but still quality.
This is another place where since you really want to maximize the value for money of this purchase, since after all it’s not something you buy everyday but it is something you’ll wear everyday. Eventually lots of guys move up to a modest collection of watches, but you’ve got to make each purchase count here.
Second-hand is your friend here. Ebay is a little dangerous if you’re spending more than a hundred dollars or so, but there are plenty of good dealers out there. For my money I’ll let other guys swarm over the Daytonas and Royal Oaks, and save my coin for Tanks and 60s Seamasters.