Value-Added Style

Already Pretty wrote recently about items that are considered “investment pieces.”  Traditionally these are high-quality pieces that will be worn frequently and/or over a very long period of time, like purses, suits, shoes, etc.  Sally suggests that things like underwear and workout clothes could qualify as investment pieces as well.  They may not get high visibility like traditional investment pieces, but they get just as much wear, if not more.

Apparently there’s some debate over the proper usage of “investment” as it applies to clothing. Clothing depreciates, so it’s not technically an investment – but the items we consider “investment pieces” have added value to them, or their value changes for us over time.  Some items accrue sentimental value; others become more valuable in other way the more they get worn.  Shoes get broken in, purses gather that cozy layer of receipts and gum wrappers.  Workout gear takes a beating and both becomes more comfortable and becomes associated with your personal fitness achievements.  Items become yours and that increases their personal worth.

I value my “investments” based on their style longevity and comfort.  Shoes, my suit, and other classic workwear items are definitely worth spending more money on because I know they’ll last a long time and remain fairly fashionable.  Investing doesn’t necessarily have to mean “spend a lot,” though.  I used to “invest” in bras, but after discovering that I can get high-quality bras at Nordstrom Rack at a serious discount, I only need to spend half as much on them as I used to.  I’m still getting investment-quality products, but without spending investment-level amounts of money.

Other items I invest in:

  • Winter coats.  I usually wear the same coat every day, so it has to be well-made and comfortable.  Preferably it should have a hood and be super-warm and waterproof.  I broke my spend-more rule a couple years ago and got a Target coat at about a quarter of what I would usually spend on coats, and while it’s held up okay, the fabric is definitely lower-quality and I can tell it’s not aging as well as some of my other coats.
  • Button-up shirts.  These are an absolute pain to shop for, so when I find one that fits, I’ll take it almost without question.  Sometimes extra tailoring is required, which increases the cost, but also improves the fit and increases its personal value.
  • Boots.  Boots are going to be pricey no matter what, so I prefer to just go the extra mile and spend the money on a brand-name pair that I know will last me a long long long time.  I have a pair of classic black leather boots that I got at Nordstrom about seven or eight years ago and they’re holding up beautifully.
  • Tights.  Fact: cheap tights fall apart faster.  Unless you’re prone to snagging or instantly sticking your finger through every pair of tights you touch, spend on a quality brand like Hue or We Love Colors.

This doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll go right to the most expensive store and pay whatever they’re asking on these items.  I do the vast majority of my shopping at the Rack, and I check in on our local consignment store fairly frequently to see what’s new.  Both places can be relied on to carry quality brands, but it takes some work to find the items that really work, especially when thrifting.

So how do you determine how much you spend on something?  Is it based on how many uses you’ll be able to squeeze out of it, or how downright beautiful it is?  How long it lasts?  The construction process and materials?  How well it flatters your figure or emphasizes a feature?

Oranges and Apples has a list of reasons why we value clothing items:

  • It was expensive. If you had to think about it for a long time and/or save up to buy it, you must have known you really liked it
  • It was cheap. There’s a pride in getting something dirt cheap and making it shine
  • You bought it at a particular time in your life and it reminds you of that time
  • It was inherited and reminds you of the previous owner
  • It goes with everything and is ‘classic’
  • It’s really out there and noticeable and represents your personality
  • It’s really good quality
  • You made it
  • It’s handmade

Some pieces I value are: (COLLAGE FOR ALL)

  • Loft maxi dress It was a giant leap for mankind my style and it took an epic months-long quest to acquire it.  It was an early experiment in color and pattern and marked a new phase in my personal style.
  • Anthro skirt.  It’s a neutral, but a fun neutral!  I can wear this through every season and with pretty much everything.
  • NewLook top, red jewelry, striped scarf.  I bought them all in England and Ireland, so even if the quality isn’t great, they still have plenty of sentimental value.
  • Thrifted Loft jeans.  I probably wear them two or three times a week.  I love their dark wash, the fit, the classic bootcut with the wide hem, the slight stretch, everything.

That list could be a lot longer, honestly.  My dresses in particular are loaded with memories of summer, date nights, photo shoots, winning prizes, and vacations.  I also have lots of jewelry pieces that could qualify as investments (though those items were mostly gifts), sentimental-value items (jewelry I’ve gotten from places I’ve visited), or both (my wedding rings).

What do you value and for what reasons?  What are you willing to spend more money on?  What’s your opinion on the invest-ability of clothing?

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