The economy has everyone in a frenzied tailspin. Fearful to spend, most of us have a firmer grip on our money than we would if we were dangling for dear life from a rope ladder on a moving helicopter. Fear breeds stagnation, and right now nobody can afford to have any stagnant energy around their finances. Invariably, it is during times like these when we wonder where it is wise to spend on fashion and where we are better off keeping our wallets closed tight.
Below are my five areas where it actually makes more financial sense to spend money on these items instead of scrimping, along with the five areas where being a cheapskate isn’t such a bad idea.
Where to Spend Money on Fashion
A good, classic trench coat
A good classic trench coat never goes out of style, and if you invest well, you may never have to buy another one again in your lifetime. The classic trench is a great opportunity for me to explain the cost per wear equation if you haven’t heard it before: Let’s say you the classic Burberry trench for $975 which, I know, sounds like a lot of money to spend up front. However, this coat being classic in style, and made remarkably well, if you wear it an average of 35 times a year, for the next ten years, this this coat only winds up costing you $2.79 per wear. Because of the quality, and classic look of the trench, not only will the coat look stylish all this time, but the quality should hold up for the next decade and beyond.
One good, versatile handbag
If you are like most women, you dislike the idea of changing your bag every day and prefer to have one that you can use with everything you wear. This makes practical sense. However, what doesn’t make any practical sense is using a cheap bag for everyday use.
Think about it: Your bag gets lifted, stuffed, zipped, unzipped, plopped, slung, and dropped an innumerable amount of times during the span of one day alone. Go the cheap route and you will be spending more in bag maintenance, or handbag replacement, than the darn thing is worth. Do yourself a favor: Have one good investment bag. You’ll save money doing this.
Remember, I also recommend that this bag be versatile. My recommendation is not meant to be the excuse you will use on your husband after you purchase a trendy handbag that goes with absolutely nothing in your wardrobe. This handbag should work with 95% of your wardrobe, so it should be simple in look and classic in color. The most versatile handbag color is a mid-brown as you can wear it with any color, including black and brown.
One Good Dress
It’s not a bad idea to have at least one dress in your closet that is simple enough in look that it can be easily dressed up for an after five look, and could also be dressed down. While this one dress may only be worn a handful of times per year, the reason I recommend investing a good amount of money in it is if you expect it to last and carry you from event to event, it’s not a bad idea to have at least one in your closet you can count on.
As far as the style of dress that I recommend, it’s really up to you , but I do recommend that the suit itself is simple in look to enhance its versatility. No funky buttons, complicated seaming or necklines, just a good dress that cant change in look with an accessory and/or shoe chnage, with a great cut, made in good fabric. If you own more than one, then it is fine to dabble in intricate closures, fun fabrications or necklines.
Being more ample in the bust department, I know that a good bra is worth its weight in gold. To me, it’s like insurance– support the girls now with a good bra, or pay the price later with saggy boobs that look like deflated balloons. In addition, even if you are less endowed in the booby department (and are snickering with glee because you can skip this investment), think again, even “Flatty Pattys” look better with their Ta-Ta’s fully supported.
Keep in mind that just because you drop serious cash on a brassiere guaranteed to “support the girls” does not mean that you are supporting them– 60-80% of women wear the wrong bra size. In addition, you may be one size in one bra brand, and another size entirely in another brand. Therefore, even if it is just once, head into a bra shop, or department store with qualified bra fitters and invest in your chest.
As I get older, I am constantly reminded that I just can’t get away wearing cheap, uncomfortable shoes any longer, and I wonder if my feet are punishing me now for the damage I did to them when I wore unsupportive, inexpensive shoes in my foolish younger days. My mother always told me to always spend on two areas: Hair and shoes. Clearly I didn’t always listen to her, though I would like to state for the record that I have awesome hair.
Do I need to stress why avoiding cheap shoes is important, especially if you spend decent amount of time on your feet, or live in a city where you walk a lot? Before I go on stressing this point, I should point out that, when I suggest spending on shoes, I’m not implying that your closet be filled only with Manolo’s and Jimmy Choos. There are a lot of good choices between unsupportive, cheap shoes and a shoe with a $525 price tag. If spending good money on shoes makes you all sorts of twitchy, you can also follow more advice from my mom– the bargain hunter: Buy expensive shoes at a discount.
Where You Can Scrimp on Fashion
White button-down shirts
A white button-down shirt that you paid $60 for that has a coffee stain and yellowing armpit stains– irritating. A white button-down shirt that you paid $260 for that has a coffee stain and yellowing armpit stains– devastating!
When money feels tight, the first place to curb your spending are on things that I consider to be precious, and are worn close to your skin (the exception being bras, of course). Even during those times where I have money burning a hole in my wallet, I seriously have a hard time dropping a ton of cash on an expensive white button down shirt. Not only do these shirts sit right on my skin ensuring that, unlike my good pants and jackets that need infrequent dry cleaning, I need to launder my button-downs usually after one wear, and, invariably, they seem to seek out stains. Save your money as there are plenty of good basic white button downs out there with a palatable price tag.
In recent years, expensive jeans have become as expected as rain in April and many people think nothing of spending over $100, or even $200, for a pair. However, during a financial crunch, is it really that necessary? Like really, really? Sure, we all want to look cool with an impressive label affixed to our backsides (like those bumper stickers that say your child is an honor student) but wants and needs are two different things entirely. You may want expensive jeans, but you really don’t need them, and can often find an inexpensive, stylish pair at Target or Levi’s.
If it bums you out to do this, consider these jeans temporary place holders until your denim budget increases and, once you do replace these substitute jeans for more expensive ones, you can relegate the “cheapies” to be worn during your weekend chores.
I dream of the day where I open my lingerie drawer and, staring back at me, is perfectly folded LaPerla underwear that looks too good to wear. Yet, for now, I rummage through my underwear drawer to find the pair with the most elastic spring still left in the waistband. Look, I’m all for treating myself well, surrounding myself with decedent, pretty things, nice undies, blah blah blah, but sometimes we don’t all have this luxury, and a perfect place to temporarily put a halt on expensive spending is with your skivvies. Being a thong person myself, I have a hard time justifying spending more than a few bucks on a few inches of cotton, anyway. And, don’t worry, cheap underwear doesn’t just mean granny-panties where the elastic sits an inch below your rib cage, you can get some sexy pairs pretty cheap.
Casual summer clothes
The average women will tell you that, once the mercury begins to rise, their clothing budgets drop. Aside from the fact that most women naturally assume that clothing made from fabrics like wool and cashmere cost more than fabrics made from cotton and linen (myth), most women don’t like spending lots of clothing that they think they will sweat in, or soil more easily. While this argument hardly holds up for work clothes (have you experienced the meat-locker-like temperatures in the average office environment?), for casual clothes, I couldn’t agree more.
Bottom line is, summer clothes are disposable, not only because the average person is more active (and sweaty) in the summer, but also because most people push more trend in their style during the summer months, and feel less guilty just tossing them when the season is over. If you have a limited amount to spend, look for fun cheap casual summer trends that are ketchup and grass stain friendly.
It may just be me, but it seems that every time I buy an expensive pair of sunglasses, I break or lose them. Seriously, this is Murphy’s Law at its finest. I have sworn off expensive sunglasses until the day comes where I wouldn’t bat an eyelash for losing a pair of sunglasses that I spent several hundred dollars on.
I recommend scrimping on sunglasses because you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get the UVA and UVB protection necessary from your sunglasses. Look for those that protect you from 99 percent to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB light. This includes those labeled as “UV 400,” which blocks all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers. (This covers all of UVA and UVB rays.)
One thing to keep in mind about cheap sunglasses is that the UVA and UVB protection found in these sunglasses can be a very thin layer over the lens, therefore it has the potential to wear off more quickly over time. Cheap sunglasses are fine when they have protection, but keep in mind you may need to change them a bit more frequently to get that UVA and UVB protection.