Saturday, January 12, 2008

When to Save, and When to Spend

In an uncertain economy, women wonder whether the designer price is worth it. Should you spend $200 on a pair of jeans? Over a thousand for a handbag? $300 for a top?

Potential dangers aside (the sale splurge, the designer name, the pushy saleswoman, etc.), consider a) quality; b) fit; c) uniqueness; d) frequency.

1. Quality. By quality, I mean craftsmanship: is the item well-made? Do the pants have silk lining? Are the beads/sequins/buttons sewn on tightly? Is there evidence of an attention to detail that conveys quiet luxury? Items that are lacking in this department should be only bought cheap.

2. Fit. While clothes can be altered, consider it as an extra expense that adds to the original cost of the item. Oddly enough, I tend to alter expensive items that are worth the additional cost; if a basic item needs costly altering, I'll pass on it.

3. Uniqueness. I spend for a stunning design, not for an ordinary piece. Cashmere sweaters can be bought at JCrew or Uniqlo for a reasonable price. I just bought Levis for under $100. A piece that has a unique pattern, texture, shape, etc. is worth its weight in gold.

4. Frequency. Consider how many times you may wear the item. A handbag, for example, is necessary for everyday use and can therefore warrant a higher price tag. However, a special item that transcends trends and that can be worn year after year is worth a higher price.

Overall, I splurge on dresses (a one-piece takes out the guesswork in dressing), accessories (handbags, jewelry), shoes (your entire body's support system), coats, and skirts. I save on sweaters (simple and functional), tops, and pants (Banana Republic has excellent pants in various cuts, colors, and fabrics; they also hem your pants for free if you are a Lux Card Member). Ultimately, a wise shopper will make every penny count.

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