What items to spend more money on and what to save on


In black: what you should invest on ; in white, what you don't need to - Picture from Sezane

In black: what you should invest in ; in white, what you don’t need to – Picture from Sezanne

Here is a post to answer a very interesting question I received from Joanna: « What items to spend more money on and
what to save on. For instance, I think that accessories need a bit more money- or am I wrong? Should they be cheap and cheerful?! And what about the basics? Cashmere jumper and white shirt. ‘Save or splurge’?! »

As I already wrote it, before running to the cash desk with the dress of your dream, you need to calm down and take a little time. Here are some clues to make the right decision.

WHAT SHOULD YOU INVEST IN?

1- Natural materials as leather, wool, cashmere, linen, cotton, etc. need to be good quality materials.

Therefore, if you want to buy a pair of leather shoes (or a leather bag), a wool coat (or sweater) or a cotton shirt you can’t go for a cheap option.

That means no plastic or fake leather shoes/bags ; no acrylic coats or sweaters ; no polyester or nylons shirts… For these items, you need to invest money because quality natural materials have a price. If they are cheap, they are probably not 100 % natural and you will soon see the consequences. As shoes hurting your feet (fake leather isn’t flexible), ugly marks on a fake leather bag that’ll never disappear (vs. marks on a real leather bag that give it a nice patina), a sweater that pill or loose its shape the day after you wear it, a white polyester shirt unpleasant to wear and so transparent that everybody can guess your bra, etc.

Besides the fact they make your shoes or clothes look beautiful, natural materials are good investments: they will last for years and always aged well. So in consequence, you should invest in them for all the clothes and accessories that you’ll keep for years. As the proverb says: « I’m not rich enough to buy cheap things »!

At the opposite, I will not bet on that poor plastic simili leather one

I will not bet on longevity of this poor plastic leather bag

 

This genuine leather bag looks great and will last for years

Even used, this genuine leather one still looks great and will last for years

 

Still, what I just wrote doesn’t mean, you should never buy items made in synthetic fabrics… Synthetic fabrics are right for a number of clothes as jackets, pants, dresses, skirts, tops as well as they come in a nice quality too.

2- Nice fabrics in fact also include some synthetic fabrics. Just as for the natural materials, these good quality synthetic fabrics might be then a little more expensive.

But how do we recognize a nice synthetic fabric?

For Viscose, it has to be soft and supple (like as if you touch a soft cotton). Avoid all the shiny ones or the ones that look already crumpled or that crumple when you tight the fabric into your hands.

For Polyester, it must be mat, soft , opaque and should not crumple or crease. These are the conditions for a beautiful appearance and a perfect fall. These fabrics can easily hide small defects. They ca be a great ally when you want to hide small flaws or when you want a clean silhouette. In addition , they are ultra -resistant material. Machine wash (30 ° ), no faded laundry ( the colors are fixed). It dries super fast and it’s perm press (no iron !). Or almost.

Polyester is perfect for that jumpsuit.

Polyester is perfect for that jumpsuit.

But it doesn’t suit for these shirts

Too thin and too transparent

Too thin and too transparent

Too shiny

Too shiny!

 

3 – Good design that means a good cut or a shape that fits you perfectly or a creative design… just as for furniture, cars or architecture, good design is distinctive. On clothes/bags and accessories details, or finishing touches make a real difference. So go for the designer or young creator clothes. It’s often more expensive, but it’s worth it!

 

WHAT TO SAVE ON?

In fact, I will answer that there is not a definitive list of items that you should include in that category.

But you can make good choices.

1- About label and brands

Because of their pushing marketing, some labels try to make us believe that we always should spend a lot of money on their items. Well, when the design is awesome and the quality remarkable, they can be right.

But sometimes, the price is just too high and it doesn’t worth it.

Just taking an example with a white tee.

 

Why should a plain white t-shirt cost 270€? Will it last longer than the 12.90€ one? I doubt it!

Is the design unique? The answer here is no!

Is the quality really different? No, they all are 100% cotton or linen.

So in that case, you can easily save money buying the cheapest one (and still in a good fabric).

It’s about the same about jeans and sneakers. Don’t invest too much money on this items. As it’s good fabric and it’s fit you well, that’s perfect. It doesn’t need to claim « Versace », « Givenchy », « Saint Laurent » or whatever on it…

 

When you’ll get use to pay attention to fabrics and design, you’ll buy at the right price a lot of different items. If you follow certain rules, some of them can even be found in « low cost » stores as H&M, Zara and Co.

 

2- About accessories

Accessories are important and you should not really save on them. Just as for bags and shoes, never NEVER buy accessories in « low cost » stores. As they signed your outfit, accessories hardly bear poor materials as plastics, imitation gold or silver metals. Besides these metals don’t age gracefully: they’ll usually blacken and could leave undesirable traces on your skin… Even if you wear a nice dress, cheap accessories on it will instantly make it look tacky, fake or really cheap… As I already wrote it, at the opposite nice accessories can upgrade any of your jeans, inexpensive tops or dresses.

Still it’s getting complicated because accessories as jewelry for instance can be really nice with fantasy beads or wood pearls… in that case, they won’t be necessary very expensive. So the question to ask yourself before buying is: does it look natural? Does it look genuine? If it does, that’s fine, if not, pass your way!

Say no to that fake silver, metalic beads necklace

Say no! to that fake silver, metalic beads necklace

But this fantasy beads one is ok!

But this fantasy beads one is ok!

 

That’s why you can cheat a little… I just wrote that a leather bag has to be in genuine leather. And that’s true. But if you can’t afford it, why not buying a nice fabric or nylon one? Or even a straw one? If the quality and the design are good, that will look perfect!

longchamp_large_tote_bag_le_pliage_1899089C54_0

Longchamp large tote bag le Pliage

Nylon Upla besace

Nylon Upla besace

Vanessa Bruno fabric bag

Vanessa Bruno fabric bag

They will always look much better than a poor quality leather one!

 

Another solution is looking in second-hand stores. It’s particularly wise for a leather high brand bag for instance. I often browse on Vestiaire Collective website. Their catalogue is comprised of the most inspiring items coming from the wardrobes of hundreds of thousands of users throughout the World. This selection meets the specific expectations of buyers from across the entire World. Each week, more that 20,000 new items selected by a team of stylists are put on-line and add to strengthening a permanent catalogue of 400,000 products. The site stands out on the basis of its unique quality control. 100% of the products are physically checked by a team of experts. Here is the link to Shop at Vestiaire Collective

Few examples below of what you can find at real good prices:

Gucci Cloth pochette 80€ –   Chloé bag -180 €


Vuitton clutch bag 220€ – Saint Laurent clutch bag 344€

 

So, to sum up: take your time before buying, read the tags, try the clothes on you, don’t think that it’s always worth it if it’s expensive or if it comes from a high brand, always touch the fabrics and think about how long you want to keep your buying.

What about your list for save or splurge?

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6 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this post Cecile, I suspected that €200 t shirts might not be as worthwhile as a €150 Harris Tweed beautifully cut jacket! And the jewellery guide was great. I suppose that while a leather bag may develop a patina, it’s worth buying a style you really love because something that lasts for years might get boring! I think everyone likes a change. Thank you again for your post. I personally find buying less but getting it as near to perfect as you can and the very best quality is good. I suspect I got that advice from another of your posts…!

    • You’re right Jo, when you’re buying something that will last for years, you’d better choose it because you love it and not just because it’s the « it bag » or the fashionable brand of the season… ;)

  2. Wise words, as always, Cecile!

    One thing I am prepared to spend money on is a good seamstress who knows exactly which alterations will make a garment fit perfectly. I’m not a perfect shape but having clothes that fit well improves things! I learned this from a French seamstress many years ago. She worked in a large store where I bought a dress – and she knew exactly how to make a ‘nice’ dress look fabulous!

    • Thank you, Anna! And it’s a very good point: having the possibility to rely on the skills of a good tailor (or seamstress- I didn’t know that word until now…) is priceless. A good seamstress is such a precious ally for any woman! Unfortunatly, the profession tends to disappear…

  3. Hi Cecile! I love your blog, very helpful and full of solid, realistic advice, thank you! I have a question: what would you wear with a black velvet blazer?

    • Thank you for your comments! To answer your question: black color allows a lot of combination. So your choice is large. According to the circumstances, it could be a pair of jeans, a printed skirt, an off-white dress, a dark blue or dark green pants… The only restriction here: as it’s a velvet jacket, don’t wear a velvet bottom. I will also avoid a black bottom if its fabric is too thin (the contrast between the 2 would be too loud).

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