By Jake Ward for Style + Tech For Men
For most men, spending a day shopping for clothes is akin to going to the orthodontist for a root canal; necessary, but extraordinarily painful. Think about it: When was the last time you actually enjoyed spending more than, say, a half hour in a department store, even when you’re looking for something you really want? Luckily, you no longer have to.
There’s never been a better time for a man to shop online. In the past, the Internet has been something of a black hole for fashion-conscious men in search of a satisfying click-and-buy experience. But a whole new generation of curated shopping sites — a concept that has been around for women since practically the dawn of the Web — is about to change all of that.
These new, just-for-men destinations not only stock the best designer gear, but also style outfits for you, fit them to your shape and even let you know when they’re going on sale. That means you’re always about five minutes away from a slick new wardrobe — without ever having to set foot in a store. How does that sound?
Here are some of the more impressive men’s-only shopping sites we’ve found:
New Handpicked Essentials
Ever flip through a men’s fashion magazine, only to find you suddenly want to buy everything on the page? Well, just-launched Park & Bond offers products plucked straight from the pages of GQ — including brands like Paul Smith, Brooks Brothers and Florsheim by Duckie Brown — along with the ability to see how each item looks, head-to-toe. It’s the first foray into full-priced shopping from the discount gurus at Gilt Groupe, who with this site turn out to be something like personal stylists: Each curated buying guide and individual product comes with tips on how to build a wardrobe around what you’re about to buy.
CLAD gets the Esquire stamp of approval, and also has an extremely useful virtual fitting tool. The Tapeless Tailor takes your measurements — all of them — and calculates what will fit you from each of the many brands (e.g., Levi’s, Jack Spade, Rag & Bone) upon checkout. And all of the complex looks are broken down and explained, so you can take advantage of the site’s free shipping, one piece at a time.
And Far Fetch tries to give its customers an independent boutique-like experience, rather than the department-store thing. It offers one of the most comprehensive and coolest selections of designer fashion anywhere on the Web, pulling together its inventory from the trendiest, hard-to-find European names and labels.
Quick On-trend Basics
Sometimes, of course, a man doesn’t need a new wardrobe — he simply needs what he needs, and what’s cool right now. A standout for its of-the-moment gear, Mr. Porter offers its cutting-edge designer items, along with enough images to help you really see the big picture when you’re buying an item. The site’s organization sets its fashionable duds apart — and it doesn’t hurt that they were first to the game, which means lots of cred with big companies like Burberry, Gucci and Ralph Lauren.
If J.Crew is your one-stop shop at the mall, consider J.Crew in Good Company — the easiest way to get your hands on pieces no one else in town could find. This section of the mega-chain’s site pulls together all of its other favorite companies, all in one place.
And then there’s always Opening Ceremony , which manages to get exclusive clothes from brand-new independent designers that no one else in this country could find. Prices can be steep, but it’s great for a statement item you’ll wear a thousand times.
Secret Gems for Less
If you like a deal as well as fashion-forward designs, consider Asos . It is to your wardrobe what Spotify was to your iTunes library: a British invasion of cheap, accessible stuff you’ll love, even if you’ve never heard of half of the designers before.
Also from across the pond is YOOX , the Italian overstock site that more than makes up for its clunky interface with plenty of Dolce and Armani clothes to go around — plus bar-ready accessories and that nice European fit. It’s somewhere between an outlet mall and a fancy duty-free shop, which means you couldn’t have gotten these duds in your backyard — and certainly not for this price.
Cheap Worth-the-wait Discoveries
If budget is a major concern — and for many it is — there’s hope. First of all, sign up for the Gilt Man newsletter; it’ll give you instant access to major sales every weekday at noon. But it’s the new “Sunday Night Steals” email to keep out of your spam filter: The already-deep Gilt discounts can crawl to 75 percent off retail prices, so be the first to click at 9 p.m. and you’ll have a new pair of trousers on its way before the opening credits for your favorite HBO show are done.
If that doesn’t work, there are always coupon codes, like the ones over at The Choosy Beggar, which are constantly updated and always reliable. Or, you know, there’s Barneys and Saks and Neiman. But you might as well go try on their stuff.
Jake Ward is a men’s lifestyle blogger who spends most of his time tweeting under a joke account and putting too many things into virtual shopping carts.