Our last post on William F. Buckley included an eyewitness account of a JC Penney label spied inside one of WFB’s suits.

Then yesterday, as I was exiting at Herald Square, one of the MTA’s more labyrinthine subway stations, I found myself taking an exit that led straight to a Penney’s escalator. Remembering the Buckley post, I decided to continue inside.

And it was good that I did, since among today’s junk mail was a sophisticated (by the department store’s standards) men’s catalog, produced under the stewardship of new menswear director Nick Wooster. It features a new collection called Stafford Prep, which I’d noticed whiled walking through the store. JC Penney’s American Living experiment is over, but undaunted the store has decided to continue offering prep-inspired basics at rock-bottom prices.

I think Stafford Prep will be a great option for young guys on a budget (who email me all the time asking for shopping advice), especially in the spring and summer when you want fun, inexpensive clothes to play around in. I wouldn’t expect much in the way of tweed, flannel and Shetland come next fall.

Just how cheap is Stafford Prep? How about navy cotton blazers for 50 bucks:

Or polos in nearly every color of the preppy rainbow (complete with ferocious unicorn logo), that are just $18:

Red, yellow and sky blue chinos are a mere $30:

Equally bright shorts run just $22:

Oxford-cloth shirts are priced at $28:

Madras-looking shorts are also $28:

What’s more, the regular Stafford collection also includes things that might appeal to the frugal trad, such as the bar-striped tie in the top image ($18), and pocket squares for $15:

You might even be tempted by this plaid jacket, which goes on sale Monday for $71.

All in all a young man could certainly build a whole wardrobe here on the ultra-cheap.

And paying cash for cheap goods, rather than going into debt for pricier ones, is certainly an approach Buckley would endorse. — CC