It's called "Investment Dressing." And according to Trinny and Susanna and Stacey and Clinton...and probably every fashion stylist out there... what's most important is not how much you pay for a piece, it's the eventual cost per wear over the life of the garment.
I think that investment dressing makes sense...up to a point. But investing in a big ticket item can be a problem; it can be tricky. Especially if you invest a big chunk of change and it's all a big mistake.
So here are:
A. My five rules for shopping for investment pieces...well, actually they're my rules for shopping for anything, really. I'm not a professional, nor an expert... they're just "Sue's Rules."
B. And four investment pieces that I have purchased over the last few years...that have "earned their keep", so to speak. They still fit, still look good and still feel current. Definitely worth the investment.
Rule #1 Know your own style. What looks good on you? What doesn't? Write this down if you have to ... and don't be dissuaded by zealous sales people who try to tell you otherwise.
This is a safari jacket by Elie Tahari that I bought in 2011. I love jackets. I wear them a lot. They have been part of my style since my university days. I've updated it this year with a new tee shirt from Gap (on sale!) and a vintage necklace and earrings from the 1950's that belonged to my mum.
Rule #2 Know your wardrobe. What items do you already have? How many times have you bought something only to get home and realize that you already own that top...or one very like it? Go through your closet and make a list of what you already own that is still wearable this season... skirts, tops, pants, jeans, jackets, dresses, suits etc. Don't put items on the list that don't fit anymore or that are dated or that you hate.
This silk giraffe-print dress is also by Elie Tahari. I bought it in 2010 when I didn't really have any summer dresses. I had lots of pants, and shorts and a couple of skirts. But I really wanted a dress. It's very comfortable with soft pleats that make it easy to move around in and thus good to wear to work or out for lunch. I love the little self belt and the ruffled collar, which unfortunately you can't really see here.
Rule #3 Do your research. Find out about the current trends. Before I go shopping with a friend I always tell her to "do her homework." Read the fashion magazines, look on-line. There are tons of good websites out there that will show you what the trends are for the current season. If you've read my blog before, you'll know that I love Net-a-porter.com for this.
If you've done your research, you'll know that denim is big this year. But then, it's always big, isn't it? I bought this Burberry denim skirt three years ago. It has outside seaming... I think that's what it's called... and a slit in the back with four lovely, pewter buttons. And the skirt never loses its shape.
I bought this blue cotton sweater with the silk collar and ruffle down the front at the same time. This outfit is a summer staple for me. I can wear just about any colour of tank underneath. Or swap the sweater for a jacket or just wear the skirt with a tee shirt.
Rule #4 Make a list of what you need. Or want.
This is my list for Spring 2014. Yep...I know... it's a bit anal. But I never end up with something that's too similar to what I already own...and I always remember what I need or want. That's because it's on the list!
On my shopping list for several years was a leather jacket. I searched for just the right one and finally found it in 2008.... a soft, chocolate brown one from Akris. A bit more pricey than I wanted to pay. But I have never regretted buying this jacket. I love it.
It has cool zipper details on the sleeves and down the front. Imagine my delight the last couple of years when all the fashion magazines and blogs were oohing and aaahing over the "Moto jacket." Unhuh...yep...I had one of those!
I can wear my Moto jacket with just about anything, any season. In summer I love it with my white jeans and a brown tee shirt.
Rule #5 Get Good Advice. This might be an honest, yet stylish friend. One who knows what she is talking about. Or a salesperson with whom you have built up a rapport.
And here is my secret weapon. One that many people don't know about...or never think about...or don't understand. The Personal Shopper. I think that most people do not realize that Personal Shoppers are there to assist you at whatever level you need. They can help you find a whole new wardrobe...or for clients like me..that one special piece. They provide a service that does NOT cost extra.
My friend Liz is the Personal Shopper at Nordstrom in the Rideau Centre here in Ottawa. She is amazing. She has tons of experience and tons of fashion savvy. She's really down to earth and easy to talk to... not intimidating at all. She wouldn't be in her position if she didn't have these qualities. Her goal is to build a relationship with her clients....not just to make a sale. In fact making a sale and making the client unhappy while doing so is the opposite of what she is about.
Over the years... I always visit Liz when I am looking for an investment piece for my wardrobe. I generally call and let her know when I'm coming into the store. And I let her know what I'm looking for that season. Because ... I always have a list... well, d'uh!
Liz helped me find all the investment pieces I've talked about in this post. You can give her a call if you're in Ottawa and she'd be happy to help you find what you need.
I don't shop exclusively at high end stores. And not all of my wardrobe consists of high end "investment pieces." I supplement my higher end items with tops, jeans and tee shirts from Gap and Zara, for instance. I have a few vintage pieces as well.
I don't believe in wasting my fashion dollars; I do believe in investing my money wisely. An investment piece to me is something that is well made, classic, and which I don't mind spending a bit more to buy because I know it will last for years.
Now ... I have to go clean up the mess on the spare room bed and hang up all my "good clothes" ....
The sun is shining; I have a good book and a cup of tea waiting for my attention....and this is what I'm wearing for the rest of the day!
What strategy do you use when you're looking to invest your fashion dollars?