How To Spend It: Style Investments

How To Spend It: Style Investments

It may seem strange to talk about investing in clothes and accessories considering I’m currently doing my best not to buy anything. It isn’t. Nothing makes you think of buying stuff like not being able to buy stuff. Sometimes these thoughts turn rather philosophical: if I could buy things, what would I buy? Why? Do humans actually NEED clothes? Do I prefer gold or silver sequins? … Anyway.

I am generally in favour of buying less, but spending more on individual items (at least theoretically speaking), for many reasons – better for environment, fewer stupid decisions, a cleaner closet. Investment means different things to different people; for the purposes of this post I broadly mean intentionally spending more on something than you usually do/have done in the past, because you get something extra: quality, durability, better design, style points, etc. We all know more expensive often doesn’t mean better, but if you feel you want to upgrade your wardrobe, these are areas I’d consider:

1. The Usual Suspects. All the style bloggers would tell you to invest in coats and bags and possibly blazers and you know what, they are right. Especially if you live in a cold climate (hah!), outerwear is something you use a lot and fabrics and quality do matter. The coat trends are slower to change than many others (or at least there are several pretty steady mega trends like camel coats), which makes it easier to purchase something with longevity. Also, with both coats and bags, most people don’t feel the need to change them every day and getting something really nice that you use most of the time makes perfect sense. Personally, I do not do well in this department: my wardrobe is so varied that I need multiple coats and bags, but that’s my problem. And even I’m considering a big bag purchase later this year.

2. The So-You Pieces. When you open your wardrobe, what are the pieces that you have multiples of? What have you constantly been buying and wearing for the last couple or more years? In my case, it’s sheath dresses, pencil skirts (actually also pleated midi skirts these days), silk shirts and simple cashmere sweaters. If you’ve loved something for five years, it’s likely you’ll continue loving it at least in the near future. Also, if you keep repeat-buying something because the quality is not great (or if the stuff you buy never looks quite as good as that more expensive thing you actually wanted), upgrading will probably save you money in the long run. Spend some time on searching the perfect Thing – as you already have something similar, you’re not in a hurry – and chances are you’ll want to wear it all the time.

3. The Embarrassing Recommendation. The rationale behind investment pieces is usually that they are better quality and will last longer/make more economic sense than buying cheaper things. But not always. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone recommend a designer t-shirt as an investment buy, but this is what I’m going to do. Well, maybe not exactly recommend, but I’ll explain my thinking.* The other reason – beyond the purely pragmatic – to buy something expensive is that it elevates your look. This is why designer bags are so popular: add a Chanel Boy to jeans and a sweater and you’ll automatically look five times more polished. That’s just how our cultural codes work. The designer t-shirt does a similar thing. It is a bit embarrassing to admit, but I wore my Gucci t-shirt all the time (until I left it in that hotel room in Bonn), with jeans, with skirts, with shorts. Especially if you like casual looks, a designer t-shirt makes it less basic. In this case, you of course need a shirt with a logo or something else recognisable: do not fool yourself, you’re not buying it for the quality or durability, you are buying it for the luxury touch. Bonus tip: always go for brands you sincerely like.

4. The New Shoe. Like coats and bags, footwear is often among the recommended investment buys and absolutely – I could rave about my beloved Gucci loafers or classic office pumps. But I’m actually not going to say buy shoes, I’m going to say buy sneakers. Hear me out! Obviously not everyone likes sneakers and that’s completely fine. However, I often feel that if one is not a millennial, it simply does not occur to people to wear sneakers, let alone to prioritise buying a pair. But sneakers are here to stay and often a much better way to style your outfit than any super expensive designer shoes (a statement shoe doesn’t have to be a pair of pink Blahniks). So check out the options beyond your default Converse or Stan Smiths, the selection is truly impressive these days. Balenciaga Triple S or Speed may not be in your budget or style range, but something else might.

5. The Exquisites. And finally, I think it’s always worth to invest in things that simply are uniquely beautiful. A fine cashmere scarf, a pair of red velvet shoes, a perfectly tailored tuxedo, a long sequined skirt. I own evening dresses that are more than 10 years old and I still wear them: they were never really in fashion, so they don’t really age much either. They just suit me and they are beautiful. Of course, there are so many amazing clothes in the world and you cannot buy them all. But you might be buy some and the ones you truly buy for their beauty usually don’t disappoint.

What are your best purchases ever? What would you like to invest in?

*I completely understand that many people would still classify spending 390 euros on a t-shirt at best as silly, at worst as criminally insane. This is a valid view. I’m also aware that some people have less money than that to feed their family for a month.


Add yours
  1. 1

    Does jewellery count? The Cartier bracelet (yes I know so cliche) is something I’d like to invest in but I feel too guilty to buy 🙈

    Yes €390 is a lot for a t-shirt and it’s such a shame you left it behind but guess what!? it’s your money and you shouldn’t have to apologise for spending it how you wish. Besides, you probably do some charitable stuff that balances it out 😊

    • 2

      I’m not a big jewellery person and also, I lose everything. But of course it counts and if you are a type of person who can wear the same bracelet woth almost everything, the cost per wear will climb down pretty fast.

      And regarding spending: I yes and yes. But I guess I want to signal somehow that I’m aware of things around me, because it’s rather scary to read/whach people who no longer seem to have that awareness.

  2. 5

    I paid a fortune (considering what it is) for a singlet made of midnight blue sequins. It’s a ridiculous garment, completely impractical, and I love it. I wear it with jeans and a man-style shirt tied over it; I wear it the ballet with a little velvet bolero, I wear it to lunch with a girl friend with a dark denim jacket. It has paid me back what I spent. Same goes for my favourite coat, a very fine wool garberdine in French navy. I spent $650 on it 30 years ago, and at that time, it was a huge investment, especially given my salary at that time. I’ve had it taken in twice and shortened once to sharpen up its silhouette, and it always works. Again, true love.

    I’ve just made it sound as though my wardrobe contains a well-curated handful of adored Quality and Exquisites, but that’s not the case. Like you, I have many clothes in many moods, so I have lots —LOTS—of other coats and jackets and other Exquisites too. Generally speaking, I aim for quality , but every so often, I choose something cheap and cheerful and good fun. Your final question was most interesting: what would you like to invest in? Given what I’ve just written, I don’t think my clothes purchases are so much a matter of investing in garments as investing in my moods, and that is a revelation I really need to ponder.

    Great post. Thought provoking for me!

    • 6

      (Frances your thoughts on style are so interesting, and I would love to see your wardrobe! I have been mulling over your frivol money scheme for the past few weeks and it’s beginning to have a very good effect on me, so thank you for sharing it.)

    • 7

      This was so enjoyable to read, thank you. And I think this is the main reason why I cannot get into capsule wardrobe or cannot manage to downside after a certain point: I need to dress if not all, then many of my selves (moods, personalities, potato, potato).

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