A few weeks ago, I shared a post about a client and some of the pieces she bought. I mentioned a shearling coat and called it a lifetime purchase for her. One of my Facebook Page subscribers picked up on this and asked me how to tell if something will be something you can wear forever. I thought this was an excellent question, especially considering the fact that the average woman wears an item of clothing seven times before ditching it or relegating it to the back of the closet. Many women love the idea of putting money towards their wardrobes but often hesitate because they aren’t sure if what they are considering will be worth the money.
If you are looking to invest in your clothing, and find yourself wondering if your money will be well spent, take a look at my tips on making lifetime purchases for your own wardrobe.
Lifetime Purchases: How to Determine if Clothing Will Last Forever
#1- Lifetime purchases are ageless
It might be hard to imagine yourself as a woman 20+ years older than you are right now, but it will happen, like it or not. If you plan on making a one time purchase that you expect to wear for decades to come then it is important look beyond just the now.
Certainly, there are so many variables that, unless you have a crystal ball, you can’t expect yourself to know as you stand there wondering if you should plunk down the money. However, you can still give thought to whether this piece will age as you do and remain appropriate to wear. Lifetime purchases stand the test of time and will look good on women of all ages.
#2- Lifetime purchases are timeless
When I chose my wedding gown ten years ago, I consciously chose a timeless style that wouldn’t make me cringe when I looked at photos of myself 30 years later. Lifetime purchases typically have this same quality to them. They’re classic in nature and free of fleeting trends. While they may not be show stoppers, lifetime purchases are typically the silent workhorses that anchor the rest of your wardrobe as it changes over the years.
#3- Lifetime purchases are investment-worthy
You have to invest in lifetime purchases if you expect them to last. However, investing doesn’t simply mean that you spend a lot on your clothes. It’s about getting a return on what you pay for. Pieces like this typically have an up-front cost but, when considering the cost-per-wear equation, you got more than your money’s worth in the end.
#4- Lifetime purchases are versatile
If you are expecting a return on your investment, then you better make sure they are versatile. The more versatile they are, the more you will be able to do with them. “Of the moment” are not words you should be thinking when looking to invest in lifetime purchases, and, typically, these pieces are void of any details that would quickly date the piece. Simple is the best word to describe lifetime purchases that will not only transcend trend but can be worn a variety of ways with a lot of different things.
#5- Lifetime purchases will look good after many wears
In a time of fast fashion, we have gotten too used to clothing falling apart after a few washes and wears. It has become painfully normal for us not to expect our clothing to fade, pull or come apart at the seams. Lifetime purchases, however, won’t suffer from the same problem that comes with normal wear and tear and are designed to be durable.
#6- Lifetime purchases are worth repairing
We think little of what happens to our clothing when we mindlessly toss it on the donate pile and bid it farewell. While we think we’re doing right by giving our clothing to those in need, most cheap clothes are worth so little that they usually just end up in a landfill somewhere. Not only will lifetime purchases last but they are also worth repairing, not replacing, when something goes wrong. Owners of lifetime purchases will actually bring pieces to fabric re-weavers to be fixed, will get their shoes resoled and will have hardware repaired on their good handbags, and more. Part of what makes a lifetime purchase last so long is it worth repairing, not tossing out.
#7- Lifetime purchases have quality finishes
Everything gets factored into a garment when trying to sell it at a good price, from the fabric, the trim (like buttons and zippers), lining and the internal guts of a garment like interfacing, shoulder pads, and more. Cost cutting measures don’t just include cheaper fabrics, but often means cheaper finishes and labor. Lifetime purchases have quality finishes that give the pieces the ability to last forever and look high quality.
#8- Lifetime purchases increase selectiveness
The average woman buys 64 new clothing items and more than seven pairs of shoes a year. Not only is this double from 20 years ago, in these price-conscious times, the average woman is looking to get more for less and the fast fashion industry has been more than happy to indulge this.
The downside to this, aside from the environmental and unethical practices, is that women have basically fallen asleep at the wheel when it comes to being selective about what they buy. It’s just way too easy to be a gluttonous shopper when it has never been cheaper to do so.
Lifetime purchases wake people up to being more selective with their purchases, to really think through the necessity of what they are buying and what they will spend their money on.
#9- Lifetime purchases add value to your life instead of a momentary high
If you are going to give your clothing real estate in your closet then you might as well get something back for doing so. Sadly, most women have closets packed with passionless purchases that give them nothing in return but the feel of a momentary high and little else. Lifetime purchases, on the other hand, provide value by their wearability, longevity and worth. You will actually be enthusiastic to have a lifetime purchase in your closet.
#10- Lifetime purchases are incredibly personal
It would be wrong to generally say what exact pieces makes up lifetime purchases because everyone’s needs vary so much. because this is where it gets incredibly personal. Yet wherever your needs lie, what we can all use a little more of is discernment and the willingness to wear more and buy less while reserving our funds for things that bring us passion and use. By just changing your mindset slightly by focusing on buying what you need, purchasing the best you can afford and following some of the tips above, you will be able to find greater harmony and value in your wardrobe.
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Very good, Bridgette!
The tricky part is finding worthwhile products. Old favorites of mine, Brahmin and Lauren have changed so much over the years they are no longer on my forever list.
Fans look to you for current shining stars. Thanks for all your suggestions..
A faithful fan,
One New Year’s resolution was to only buy from small independent boutiques. This has cut down on impluse shopping and made me much more mindful of purchases.
That’s not to say I don’t pick up basics from time to time at a department store or mall chain store… but it has forced me to be more intentional.
Absolutely! It’s all about moderation and shopping for things you need and will wear.
Black cashmere turtleneck sweaters.
There was a time where black turtleneck sweaters were my everything.
Looking back: I have made mistakes with investment pieces … A Burberry trench coat, Ferragamo pumps that I wore twice each. It turns out that I don’t like trench coats and pumps! They are beautiful pieces, but don’t suit my lifestyle. I learned to invest in things that I am likely to use often (or daily), and spend less on special occasion pieces or things that have a short season. Things I have worn for 10-20 years include jackets by Patagonia or North Face, a good quality black cashmere sweater, a good watch, a few important pieces of jewelry.
It sounds like your intentions were good but you got caught up in investing in things that you may have heard a woman should buy but weren’t necessarily right for you. It’s totally common. We get bombarded so often with these “must buy” purchases and later find they’re just not right.
Wonderful thoughts Bridgett! I was actually pondering this earlier this week, and thinking through what gives an item of clothing or an accessory staying power. This was precipitated by an event that happened over the weekend……
Many years ago I bought a beautiful grey turtleneck sweater for (as I recollect) about $100. That was a lot for me to spend at the time. I have a photo of me wearing it at my daughter’s 4th birthday. I loved that sweater and wore it many times over the years. This past weekend,my daughter wore that sweater to her 23rd birthday party! It looks wonderful and chic…no one would guess it is 20 years old.
She has also nabbed my navy pea coat, my vintage coach purses, and a chunky wool ski sweater. All investments for me at the time, all classics in their own way.
Every one of your criteria is on point!
Hi Cheryl! Thanks so much for sharing that story that illustrates the point of this post perfectly. Time often moves so quickly and sometimes I am shocked by how long something has been in my closet. My mother-in-law actually has pieces that she plans on willing to her family. It’s pretty incredible.