Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mergers and Acquisitions

Shopping is much like a business deal, in which some items merge with other garments in your wardrobe, and others simply are acquired. And while shopping can be a therapeutic experience, it can also be done with deliberate cunning--something my husband does with exceptional skill. He compares prices, he mulls over the pros and cons of such an acquisition, he mentally takes note of the risks versus rewards. For big-ticket items, women should be mindful of the product's value in their wardrobes: does the acquisition increase or decrease the worth of the closet? Can the item merge with others of equal, greater, or lesser value, all with the ease of a skilled socialite?

Take, for example, my Miu Miu Spring brocade jacket. I can wear it as a dress, a jacket over jeans, or as a coat over a dress. I can wear it as a light coat in the spring or as a jacket under my shearling coat in the winter. The color complexity--it is an amalgam of black, coral, and off white--allows me the freedom to wear it with any solid color in a corresponding hue. I could wear it to a wedding or to work.

Although the jacket was expensive, I consider it a worthy acquisition that will see repeated use season after season. Before you buy anything costly, consider these questions:

1. Can you dress it up and down?
2. Can you wear it with at least three other items in your current wardrobe?
3. Does it look seasonless? (Obviously, this won't apply to a fur coat. But if you can say yes to this, it's a bonus.)
4. Is it trend-proof? Can you see yourself wearing it as you get older?
5. Will you cherish it?

If you can answer yes to at least three of the above five questions, chances are that that piece is worth purchasing. Otherwise, as I've come to learn, it will only clutter your closet and eventually be discarded as a financially-draining deal gone wrong.

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