Labels mean nothing to me, because I trust my eyes. You will see me shopping everywhere from Target (love) to Neiman Marcus (depends) and scoping out sunglasses on the Florida Turnpike where I’ve found some seriously great gear. I am not saying to buy cheap. Never. I am saying to trust your eyes and buy smart.
I decided to show you what I’m wearing to play golf with my league each week, because I think this business of golf style needs some demystification. The point, my point, is to wear what you like and feel comfortable in – just pay attention to the details. Never, EVER skimp on the accessories (nothing less than excellent golf shoes and golf gloves), and wear socks that match your shoes for heaven sake. It’s not that hard.
Something you should know is that those so-called ‘outlet stores’ aren’t really outlets at all. They’re just alternate distribution channels for the brands you know and love – at slightly lower prices. You can find the same skinny polo at Ralph Lauren outlets that you do in their flagship stores – only you’ll pay half the price. Basic black and white are in stock all year long so there’s no excuse to pay through the nose for these seasonal essentials. They’re exactly the same style and material as the full-price versions and we all know that black shirts fade by the end of the season because of all the washing, so replace yours when the new season starts – no exceptions.
The Gap and Banana Republic offer treasure troves of basic capris and shorts, so that’s usually my first port-of-call to search out summer basics. (We’re not buying a wedding dress here, so let’s stay focused on the end-use and save Vera for the big day.) And do not rule out Target for caps and visors. I found a superb visor there just last week that I haven’t seen anyplace else. It’s made of two-toned woven straw and has a fantastically flattering shape. Love it. My new favorite thing.
RULE OF THUMB: DESIGN, QUALITY, FUNCTION
When I buy I have three non-negotiable requirements:
- Great design
- Great quality
- Great function
You’d be surprised how many ‘designer’ labels I’ve put back on the rack precisely because the stitching was lousy or the design made no sense. The Big Brand folks figure they can bamboozle us into believing we’re buying quality and style simply because the label is well-known. But here’s the deal: if the stitching’s not good (I don’t care if they’re Mother Theresa’s cousin), the product’s not good. Period. Don’t pay for the label. Pay for the quality.
FUNCTION IS KEY
Then there are those designers out there who’ve never swung a club, but are conjuring up clothing for golfers simply because Addidas or Reebok or somebody else asked them to. One of my favorites from a few years back was a ‘golf’ jacket with rolled up sleeves (wads of fabric), beaucoup de buttons and ties and every manner of hardware imaginable – plus a cinched in waist with bow-tied belt. Correction: floppy bow-tied belt. I kid you not. They obviously thought that the designer-label alone would be enough to make you part with your hard-earned cash (OK, her dad was a former Beatle). Regardless, the only thing that was obvious to me was that the R & D folks over at Addidas were asleep at the switch. No one, I mean NO ONE, could have test-driven that jacket on a golf course and come away thinking they had a winner. The jacket looked great, but no-way-no-how could you swing a club swathed in all that fabric. Function was M.I.A.
QUALITY IS OUR MANTRA AT EQUIPT FOR PLAY
My manufacturers know that I am a picky-puss when it comes to finishing details and function. I have been known to get down and count the stitches per inch in my shoes and tote bags to make sure they’re meeting my standards. (Totes, yes, coming this Fall). I wear my shoes to make sure they deliver all that we promise in performance and comfort and I price our products to fairly reflect the quality and content in what we offer you.
So get picky. Do what I do. Whether you’re buying clothing, shoes or tote bags, forget about the price. It is not the almighty indicator of design, quality or function. Open your eyes, really look, and make sure that what you are buying is well-designed, well-made and undeniably functional – no matter where you find it. You have a million excellent choices out there, so tune your eyes and buy smart.