21 In Style

To Splurge or not to Splurge


Miu Miu Mary Janes, GlitterMiu Miu Mary Janes currently keeping me awake at night (image via Miu Miu instagram)

This is the question that I am asked most frequently, and one that I myself spend a lot of time thinking about where style is concerned: “Should I buy this? Is THIS item worth splurging on?”  There are plenty of fashion trends that are not worth spending the money on, because they look dated and ‘over’ the following year (Dior jewelled sneakers, anyone?).  Then, there are also trends which live much longer than anyone ever expects them to (skinny jeans, slogan tee shirts, and culottes).  So how do you know when it is a good splurge, and when it is a regrettable splurge?

I recently read an interview with Sarah Harris, one of my favourite editors at British Vogue.  She said ‘When I shop I won’t buy something unless it’s perfect. It has to be the best of whatever that thing is, whether it’s a tailored jacket or a T-shirt. I’m pretty fussy.’  I get that.  I don’t always have the time and energy to search online and in stores trying to find the perfect blazer or T-shirt, but when I see things that are perfect for me (like the Malene Birger silver sequin skirt, or the Marks and Spencer robin’s egg blue coat from last year) I will move heaven and earth to get them, even if they are sold out like both the skirt and the blue coat were!  So when is it worth splashing the cash, and when do you just buy the cheap and cheerful knockoff at Zara?

1. Sleep on it for several days.  If you’re still obsessing about it after giving yourself a major cooling off period, it may be meant for you and worth the splurge.  I did this recently with a Miu Miu faux-crocodile car coat that you’ll see on the blog soon.  When I saw it, I honestly could not imagine my life without it.  I knew I would wear the shit out of it, and the style just screamed my name.  I gave it a couple of days, and looked at alternatives… but I had no choice, really.  It was a splurge (a birthday one, actually) but I don’t feel a shred of regret.  In fact, I’m gloating and purring.

2.  Buy the cheaper version first, and upgrade to the perfect one if you really get a lot of use out of it.  I did this with a black motorcycle jacket a few years ago.  I didn’t really know if I was a motorcycle jacket kind of gal, but I bought one from Zara, and wore it with everything from jeans to dresses for over a year.  It became so much a part of my personal style that I eventually upgraded and splurged on a wear-forever Balenciaga one.

3. Ensure that it fits in well with your style.  There is no point in buying an expensive pink cashmere sweater in the sales if you are someone who mostly wears black and neutrals (raises hand).  Don’t take up valuable real estate in your closet with regrettable purchases just because it is different from what you own or just because it is on sale.  Because I wear a lot of different styles, this is the one rule I’m most likely to break on impulse.

4. If it is just a little bit out of budget, can you give up something in order to make up for the splurge?  This is easy for me; if I want something badly enough, I will (and have!) practically given up eating in order to afford a pair of shoes.  If you can give up your coffee-bar habit for a couple of months, or eat at home instead of at a restaurant for a while to fund your purchase, then you REALLY must need it.

5. Only buy it if you already have most of the rest of the outfit to go with it.  For me, this means I don’t buy navy.  ALL of my staples are in black; I really don’t feel like complicating my life with navy.  If I bought a navy dress, I’d probably need navy shoes or tights or a bag to make it work.  I just can’t be bothered.  I’ll stick to my red, black, greys, cream, camel etc which all work and play nicely with each other and I don’t have to go buy another half an outfit to wear with my purchase.  I made this mistake once with a pair of Rupert Sanderson red suede shoes (on sale, of course).  I love them, but I really had nothing to wear with them, and reds are hard to mix and match. They sat in my closet for a few years before I finally found a red lace dress to go with them.  Lesson learned.

6. My final self-imposed rule is this: only splurge if you can think of at least 10 times in the course of the next year that you’d wear it.  Now, here is where everyone is so different.  I would personally wear a pair of silver glitter cowboy boots or silver glitter Mary Jane shoes on repeat, but not everyone would.   If you really suit the colours and mood of 1970s styling, then perhaps a fringe bag would be a ‘staple’ for you, whereas for me, I’d wear it twice and then regret buying it.  Also, I wouldn’t spend the money on a Hermes scarf, because I look like Buffy von AirlineHostess in one, but they suit so many people so beautifully.  Know your style, and stick to it on big purchases. Experiment all you like with fashion… that is the whole point of it of course, but not with big splurges.

If I stick to these six rules, I stay in savvy buying territory.  What about you, do you have any big regrets?  Do you have any rules to keep your buying clever?

 

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21 Comments

  • Reply
    Thia
    September 28, 2015 at 2:53 PM

    My only regrets were a couple of pieces that I loved, but were so off in terms of fit, no tailor would touch them. I had to find them nice homes with more reasonably sized people.

    • Reply
      Lisa
      September 28, 2015 at 2:56 PM

      Yep, I’ve had a few of those too! xx

  • Reply
    bisbee
    September 28, 2015 at 3:07 PM

    Well? Are you going to splurge on the silver glitter Mui Mui Mary Janes?

    • Reply
      Lisa
      September 28, 2015 at 3:15 PM

      I’m dying to… I’m in my cooling off period on them. I’m going to see if I can live without them or not. I probably can’t 🙂 DAMN MIU MIU for always being right up my street!

  • Reply
    Maggie
    September 28, 2015 at 3:10 PM

    Buffy Von Airline Hostess! I spit out my coffee on that one!

    • Reply
      Lisa
      September 28, 2015 at 3:16 PM

      It is so true! I put on a silk scarf, and immediately start saying “Chicken or Fish? Chicken or Fish? Chicken or Fish?…”

    • Reply
      michelle
      September 29, 2015 at 12:53 PM

      Me too Maggie!

  • Reply
    Audrey Ward
    September 28, 2015 at 4:07 PM

    I am a very decisive buyer so I definitely know if I truly will buy the splurge. I look at lots of beautiful things but my inner self stops me from buying them. When that IT item appears, I don’t buy the less expensive one or do any of the other suggestions. If I don’t act, it may be gone and I will never forgive myself.
    I love those MiuMiu silver shoes. Thank heavens I am a gold person. The heel even looks sturdy enough for me.

    • Reply
      Lisa
      September 28, 2015 at 7:56 PM

      Audrey, I’ll always remember your story about the Italian lady who had ONE black cashmere sweater, but it was Prada, rather than a stack of lesser items. I’ve finally perfected regret-free shopping, but it has taken some time! You seem to have it down to an art. xx

  • Reply
    Abby
    September 28, 2015 at 4:10 PM

    Now, that’s some insider’s info! Ok, I found it all super interesting and absolutely ultra useful, and well-thought-through, but the hammer came at the end: Chicken or Fish – LOL- I’m laughing so hard I’ve woken up all four cats and dogs sleeping next to me:) They must have smelled the chicken or fish too:) Hilarious! By the way it’s not funny when it happens in real life – Are you a stewardess Ma’am? – it’s a question I’ve been asked whenever I was wearing a red silk scarf.
    xx
    Abby

    • Reply
      Lisa
      September 28, 2015 at 7:53 PM

      I’m glad my poor scarfmanship is entertaining to you, Abby 🙂 I really look absurd in a silk scarf… just can’t pull it off. I should wear one with a padded headband one day, just to fully re-live the 1980’s Sloane Ranger experience. xx

  • Reply
    michelle
    September 29, 2015 at 12:51 PM

    I love this post for 3 reasons Lisa 1. It is very practical & all your points a valid. 2. It made me laugh out loud, you’re humour really shined. 3. I DO LOVE A LIST!

    • Reply
      Lisa
      September 29, 2015 at 1:28 PM

      Thank you Michelle, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’m a list girl too 😉 xx

  • Reply
    Anastasia Nicole
    September 30, 2015 at 12:54 AM

    Awesome advice! Now that I’ve finally settled into my style I’m buying less and only buying things that I truly love. BTW I thought I was the only one who skipped lunch to save up for the right shoe! LOL!!!

    xo
    A

    • Reply
      Lisa
      September 30, 2015 at 10:31 AM

      Ha ha! I’ve been rationalising and justifying insane purchases for 20+ years now, Anastasia! xx

  • Reply
    Lana
    September 30, 2015 at 7:11 AM

    Brilliant post Lisa! I must admit I’m guilty of impulse buying, and sometimes it works out, but most of the time it doesn’t. On the few occasions where I’ve been methodical with my purchases, I’ve always been happy. When will I learn?

    • Reply
      Lisa
      September 30, 2015 at 10:29 AM

      I’ve finally learned to stop the impulse buying… I think long and hard about my buys these days, and if I miss it because something sells out, it isn’t the end of the world. There are always other things! xx

  • Reply
    Veronica
    October 2, 2015 at 10:25 PM

    One rule I’ve had for years is that I never buy anything *almost* perfect. I’ve regretted every such purchase I ever made.

    • Reply
      Lisa
      October 2, 2015 at 10:27 PM

      That’s a good one, Veronica! I passed on a pair of boots in that exact category today. xx

  • Reply
    Little Red
    October 3, 2015 at 5:35 AM

    Excellent set of rules for splurging. I’ve never thought them through the way you have but I follow the same sort of process. For me, it goes back to that William Morris quote you blogged about several months. Part of the beauty of the splurge object is that it is perfect in every way. I’ve got a pair of Fendi red metallic pumps that I’m dying to buy. I’ve been in a cooling off period for the past month. We’ll see how long I last. Wish me luck. 🙂

    • Reply
      Lisa
      October 3, 2015 at 1:42 PM

      Good luck! I want to see them. Red and Metallic… I’d splurge just from the description 🙂 I agree that a splurge has to be ‘perfect in every way’ or else you’re in regret territory. xx

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