I thought I would start out today talking about wardrobe “investment pieces.” Many of you have heard the term before but don’t really know what it means or how to apply it to your closets. I’ve also had a lot of friends ask me, “How do I know what to spend on and what not to? And what if things go out of style?” Well, I’m here to (try to) clarify all of that for you!
First of all, no one should blow the bank on every item in their closet (at least not if they want to still have a house…. or a husband!) Investment pieces are the foundation of a versatile wardrobe. They are the items you will take out time and again. You buy them much less often but will probably use them many more times than most of the trendier or seasonal items. For the most part, investment pieces should be jeans, blazers/jackets, classic cashmere, suits, sweaters, silk blouses, and sometimes, shoes. Notice I did not add bags… shocking! A lot of women spend a ton of money on bags but I don’t think it’s necessary. If you carry a bag every day (or even every week) for a whole season, let’s face it, you will not be breaking it out again next year! Not only will you be completely sick of seeing it, but it will most likely be worn out and tired looking. Whereas, if you bought a beautiful, quality black blazer and wore THAT every week for a whole season, you would definitely be able to break it out the next winter. Because it’s basic, you would not be sick of it. Because it’s classic (always go for traditional fits), it will not go out of style. And because it is quality, it will last a long while. Of course, you can also spend less money on some items if you find something you like, or something trendier. Just reserve the true classics for the investment pieces. The following are some things I think you might want to consider paying more for. These are your “investment pieces”:
1. Classic Black Blazer: A very good jacket can do a lot for your overall look. You could wear just a T-shirt and jeans, but an expensive, fabulous jacket upgrades your outfit. It can be used in casual settings or for dress or work situations as well.
2. Jeans: Here is one many people are puzzled about. There are so many cheap jeans out there now that they think, “why should I spend $200 when I can get a perfectly cute pair for $50?” The answer is: fit. The fit is truly better when you spend more on a quality pair. Also, jeans are worn literally hundreds of times, probably more than anything else in your closet, so spending more makes sense. You want them to last through many washes and wears. Splurge on one or two pairs of premium denim in a dark wash. If you can, it’s also great to hem one for flats and one for heels.
3. Little Black Dress: Every woman needs a beautiful, well fitting black dress that can take you from meetings to dinners, and everything in between. Choose a beautiful, classic style that won’t go out of style in one or two seasons and if you need to, have it tailored to fit you perfectly. And don’t go too short, that can kill it’s longevity. Right above or at the knee is best. This should be something that can go to a dressy event, a funeral, holiday parties, etc. Think versatility when choosing.
4. Coat: It must really fit, and the fabric must be of a caliber that will withstand heavy wear and won’t wrinkle. Go for a classic style here as well, either single or double breasted in a wool, or wool blend. The more wool, the more expensive. However, wool blend coats with too much polyester tend to look cheap. A more expensive coat will simply hang better.
5. Suit: If you are a person that needs suits for work and the like, then spend here as well. It’s a definite wardrobe “building block” and should be of high quality. Light weight season-less wool, usually in black or a dark color is best. And depending on your needs, it can be either a pants or skirt suit. However, if possible, I would go with a pant suit as I think it gives you more options to use the pieces separately more often. If you don’t work in a field that calls for a suit, you should be fine with just the blazer above. Or, buy a second blazer rather than a full suit.
6. Slacks: A classic, lightweight wool slack is also essential to every woman’s wardrobe and the more expensive (fully lined) are usually going to fit better and be more flattering. Again, I would go with black or another dark color such as navy or charcoal, simply because they are so much more versatile. If you can afford more than one, then one black, one navy, and one lighter tan and/or khaki is a nice selection and would give you the most options.
7. Shoes: Now here is one that gets tricky! I believe you should spend on some shoes, but not all. You are in your shoes on a daily basis, and as such they should be quality-made and comfortable. A classic black pump that goes with everything, a beautiful leather boot that will last for years, flats you will wear all the time; those kinds of shoes should definitely be the ones on which to splurge. However, any of the more trendy items (wedge sneakers, anyone?) should be something you save on. The trend will not be around long and you will be glad you didn’t break the bank when you are putting them in that Salvation Army pile! Another one I think you needn’t spend a lot on is dressier high heels. We often fall in love with them (I mean, they are beautiful after all!) and if it’s a special occasion we think it’s “worth the splurge.” However, you are better off buying a cheaper high heel that you won’t wear more than a few times, and putting your money into a flat or boot that you will get much more use out of.
8. Cashmere sweaters and silk blouses: (If you want to)…. this one is not written in stone. I think a beautiful cashmere sweater, in either a turtleneck or v-neck, is something that looks beautiful and is timeless. However, I would say only spend on these if you can afford it, and you really want to. There are many less expensive sweaters now, or you can try to get something at an end of season sale. It’s not that these go out of style, but I find mine get pilled (yes, even the expensive ones!) or eaten by moths before I would have actually stopped wearing them. As for blouses, I do think it’s nice to have a at least one or two that are real silk as the polyester never looks as good or as classy. The drape of silk is gorgeous, and there’s just nothing quite like it.
Now I’m sure you are saying, “Well, where can I save?” To that I say, anything trendy (those wedge sneakers again! and overalls!) or that you think is so “in” that it will definitely be “out” sooner rather than later. Also, some shoes (as noted above). These could be trendier ones or shoes you just wear out or in the evenings. And while we’re on the subject of evenings, all evening wear can also be a place to save. With the exception of the LBD mentioned above, you will never wear it the amount that justifies spending more. And, as I said before, handbags. I personally don’t like super cheap, plastic handbags so I don’t think I’d go that far! However, you don’t need a $500 bag either. A nice, quality leather handbag bought twice a year will do you in good stead and will leave you with money for other splurges. Two other places I think you can go cheap is tee shirts and gym clothes. No one needs $100 yoga pants! There are pretty high quality gym clothes that are relatively inexpensive (you are just sweating in it after all). And tee shirts, don’t get me started on the $100 tee shirt! GAP, Old Navy, J Crew all have good quality 100% cotton shirts for under $50, and often much less than that if you find them on sale.
I hope this post has helped you understand which items should be your investment pieces, as well as some places where you can save. There are so many clothing options now, it’s almost endless, and I know it can be overwhelming. But I think if you keep these general guidelines in mind, you will look stylish, as well as save money in the long run. And who doesn’t want to do that?!
Now go shopping!!