I mentioned my new “investment piece” on Instagram and it occurred to me that the concept might be alien to people who don’t follow fashion bloggers/vloggers.
What it means, more or less: a classic item that you can see yourself wearing not just for a season but for years.
Often, investment pieces are good basics. I decided that, like my black pumps from Aldo, I wanted a proper, practical nude shoe with a little je-ne-sais-quoi about it. I wasn’t sure about my price range, so I went browsing at the mall to see what various tiers of retailers had to offer. Wherever I found a good nude pump — they were shockingly rare — cost went up with both actual and perceived quality. I knew I didn’t want to go over $100, but I was prepared to ask for this for Christmas, order it, and have it stuck under the tree. (I am considering my needs this year over all else; I’m in the middle of a wardrobe revamp so it’s only practical.) Since I found mine for $70, I decided I could pay for them myself and wear them immediately. You know, before snow and salt season here in Western New York.
Investment pieces are not impulse buys, unless you are taken utterly by surprise in a really nice shop. Mum and I went trawling for sweaters yesterday at Eastview, where incidentally there are very few sweaters on offer in neutrals and in sensible cuts without ruffles or cold shoulders. What? So when we walked into Madewell and saw a decided dearth of ruffles, I hoped. I truly hoped. And there was one gorgeous slightly-off-white chunky knit I really liked! But! I was concerned as to whether I’d be able to care properly for the sweater. Nicely as it fit in the dressing room, would it survive a wash? Five washes? For $100 you buy something that you won’t wreck.
Needless to say, I’ll be scouting thrift shops and Forever 21 next.
Investment pieces shouldn’t take undue effort. I’m not going to buy something I know I’ll have to repair or alter to bits. Say I’m shopping for a standard black trouser. I will commit to a good fit on one end and tailoring on the other, and I’ll be honest, usually the end I’m willing to have tailored is the bottom. I’d rather know how pants fit me in the seat, thighs, and waist. So if it’s long, yes, I can have a few inches chopped from the bottom and neatly re-hemmed. I can probably even hire one of my super-talented seamstress friends to do that. What I’m not going to do is take it in at the waist, the ankle, have the cut adjusted while I’m at it… This is probably why I’m glad blazers are on the way out in terms of business wear. I’d need to take the darn things apart and remake them. If I am already spending some serious money on the item, why am I paying to have it remade?
Investment pieces might cost me some. But they don’t have to break the bank.
Time might tell what, in your wardrobe, turns out to serve you best. I recommend waiting until you know your style and your personal basics to attempt this shopping strategy. Think about what you reach for; think about what you can’t find in your collection that you wish you had. I keep a spreadsheet of basics. Yes. I do. I browse to see what various influencers think of as basics, I tally which ones are most common, and I compare them to my needs. For instance, I’m not going to buy a clutch simply because someone else says I should like them. I don’t. I prefer the tiny black crossbody that used to belong to my mother because it frees up my hands. But I absolutely wanted those Flax nudes because I felt that hole in my shoe wardrobe. And I still haven’t plumbed the depths of what I’ve got! I found a great leather jacket yesterday that I bought over five years ago and needed time to grow into! I have this bomb necklace that I got last Christmas, possibly even the Christmas before! And I owe my aunt for my vast scarf collection.
As I’m clearing out the not-so-classics, I’m seeing opportunities to grab clothing that will last me just as long as the last batch did. I wear my clothes to death. Some of what’s going in this thrift shop donation haul is oooooold. Some of what I cleared out isn’t even worth going to the thrift shop anymore, it’s that… loved. We’ll go with loved. My friends. I still have and still wear this awesome colorful jacket that I got when I was eight. The zipper’s busted and the sleeves are now cropped. I can still style it. If it fits well, if I can still wear it regularly, I will wear it. As I reduce my options, I have to get more creative: benefit, not cost.
So if I spend a little more money on something I anticipate wanting for-e-ver, it just means it might last me and look better longer. Who cares where it’s from? As long as I think it’s quality, I win.