Shopping: When to spend and when to save

We’re constantly being told that “quality over quantity” is the best way to build a wardrobe, but while few people would disagree with the idea that high quality clothes make a better investment than cheaper ones, it’s not always realistic to invest a lot of money on EVERY item in your wardrobe.

Of course, in an ideal world, every item would be exquisitely made, and the best quality money can buy. Some of us, however (in fact, probably MOST of us, I’m guessing), just don’t have that kind of money, which means we’re forced to pick and choose, deciding which clothes to spend on, and which we can afford to save some money on. Exactly which items you choose to invest in will obviously differ from person to person, but here’s how it breaks down for me:

shopping: When to spend and when to save



OK, so I no longer need a separate set of clothing to wear to work, but when I did, that’s where most of my clothes budget went. Not only do you spend most of your time at work (assuming you work a typical Mon-Fri job), it’s also the place where you most need to make a good impression: and that means investing in quality fabrics which won’t pill, look shiny, or crease easily, plus teh accessories to match. They say you should dress for the job you WISH you had, rather than the one you actually have, and that means investing in a professional work wardrobe.


I’m thinking here about things like lingerie and workout clothes – the things you wear every day without fail, but don’t necessarily spend a lot of time thinking about. These items, however, are worth investing in, because the better the quality, the longer it’ll last: when you’re wearing and washing something every day, it doesn’t take long before you’ll have to replace it, so saving money on these wardrobe basics can end up costing you more in the long-run.


There are some fabrics which can look expensive, even if they’re not. Leather, however, isn’t one of them, and cheap leather – whether it be on handbags, shoes, or outerwear – can end up cheapening your whole outfit. That doesn’t mean you always have to go for real leather instead, however: there are some great quality faux-leathers out there, but you DO generally have to pay a little more for them. Trust me, though, it’s worth it…



This might sound a bit back-to-front: the very word “special” implies an occasion you’ll want to make a big effort for, and, indeed, many people spend a large amount of money on outfits for weddings and other, similarly formal events. Having done this more than once, however, I actually think that, unless you have money to burn, or a lifestyle that includes a lot of those types of events, it can be quite depressing to spend so much money on a single outfit – especially if you only ever wear it once, which is often the case with things like wedding guest outfits, say. It IS possible to find awesome dresses and other occasionwear on a budget, so you can still dress the part for your event, and have money left over for the clothes you’ll wear again and again.


Vacations are another time when it’s tempting to blow your budget on something amazing to wear while you’re away. What I’ve found, however (and this might just be me!) is that the clothes I take on holiday tend to have a higher likelihood of getting ruined: sunscreen stains, saltwater, fake tan – they all take their toll, and being crushed into a suitcase for hours doesn’t help, either. I also worry about what would happen if my suitcase got lost, with all of my favourite clothes inside, so while I do still find it hard to resist the urge to pack some of those favourites, I no longer buy clothes especially for holidays, and the basics I take (t-shirts, shorts, etc) tend to be things that won’t cost too much to replace.


There’s nothing wrong with following fashion, but that “must have” item of the moment probably WON’T be something you’ll want to wear forever, so if it’s the kind of thing that’s likely to be a one-season wonder, there’s not much point in investing in it, is there? I personally try not to buy clothes unless I know I’ll be wearing them on repeat, but if I do find myself seduced by something very trendy, or that I’m not sure I’ll wear, I’ll tend to look for a budget option, rather than spending money I’ll only regret.


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