I’ve been attracted to pieces outside of my day to day price range since before I was a teenager. Back in the day it was impractical sparkly pants from Limited Too, in high school it was velour Juicy Couture track suits and flowy Free People dresses my babysitting money couldn’t buy me. Now I’m less fixated on specific brands but still crave pieces outside of my price range. I like to think my taste has evolved from the Juicy tracksuits of the past (even if they are coming back) and now believe splurging is about smart spending decisions and balance.
I’ve definitely picked unwise splurge pieces before. I can remember that pit in the bottom of my stomach for days after I realized I spent too much on an item I wouldn’t get all that much use out of. Not to say I didn’t love those Sophia Webster Chiara Booties (they’re certainly pretty) but they’re impractical and incredibly painful. As I grow older and learn to manage money more maturely I’ve rethought the items from the past. I now consider splurge pieces investments in my wardrobe so random frivolities that will only be worn once or twice a year don’t have a place in my splurge budget. I certainly no longer believe in spending more than my rent on a pair of shoes that I can’t wear on a weekly basis let alone walk or dance in.
Things to consider when contemplating a splurge piece:
Cost Per Wear
While a super trendy party dress will look great one or two times unless you’re a socialite you probably won’t get more than a handful of wears out of the dress per year. If you’re anything like me you rarely rewear statement dresses to big events (which is why I love options like Rent the Runway for balls/galas/NYE and weddings). The cost per wear for a $300 party dress is probably pretty high (if you wear it three times in a year it’s $100 per wear) whereas a pair of $300 nude pumps aren’t nearly as eye catching but may be worn twice a week for years! Say you wear these great nude pumps 100 times a year and they cost $350, they’re only $3.5 per wear, and if you keep wearing them another year the price only goes down.
Most of us are pretty familiar with the cost per wear concept but I really like to think about it when it comes to evaluating splurge purchases. It’s almost never worth splurging on a sweater, summery dress or date night look while a jacket, great jeans or handbag can be really practical at higher price points. Splurge pieces don’t have to be boring. If you’ll wear those hot pink metallic shoes ALL THE TIME they’re still just as fab of an investment as black ballet flats. Only you know what is a good splurge for you!
Quality of the Item
A few items I’ll never invest in t-shirts, costume jewelry, and super trendy pieces. I refuse to buy a $250 bell sleeve top because I know it’s a matter of months before the look is outdated. When I consider splurging quality is of the upmost importance. I will not buy a brand with a reputation for falling apart or that doesn’t stand by their products. Quality clearly means different info for different products. For Love and Lemons and Lilly Pulitzer are two of my favorite examples when it comes to elevating somewhat casual dresses. For both brands you can tell the difference in material, craftsmanship and fit. The details on a Lilly or For Love and Lemons dress are much more intricate than on the simple sundresses found in B.P. or at Brandy Melville-and the price reflects the quality!
Many luxury brands offer repairs on their products for years after your initial purchase. Really take the time to examine the quality of a product, if the quality doesn’t reflect the price I would question the purchase.
Longevity of the Look
Unless you’re drowning in a swimming pool full of $100 bills you probably don’t want to feel like your splurge piece is irrelevant next season. Consider the style of your splurge and whether or not it will look chic for months and years to come. If you must splurge on a trend consider how much use you can get out of the piece before it’s stuck collecting dust in the back of your closet.
Workability in your Wardrobe
If your style is super flowery and feminine and you splurge on a pair of futuristic sneakers you probably won’t get much wear out of them. I’m definitely not against mixing styles (in fact I believe it’s what makes fashion so fun) but it’s important to think realistically about how a splurge piece will mesh in your current wardrobe. The easier it is to mix the piece with pieces you own already the lower your cost per wear and the better your investment.
What do the Reviews say?
I’m not normally much of a review person. I like to try out items on my own and see if I like them -and usually cannot be forced to read Yelp before grabbing a sandwich. However, when it comes to BIG purchases I think thoughtful reviews are meaningful.
Be sure to read or watch a few reviews to get a full portrait of the product. You never fully know the person behind a review (even my besties don’t value all the same qualities in products as i do) so it’s good to do your research to get a general consensus. For example, I have pretty wide feet so I can’t tell you how many shoes have absolutely killed my feet that probably would have been totally fine for my narrow footed friends. Keep in mind what YOU need in a product and be a conscious buyer.
For handbags and shoes I prefer reviews from someone who has had the piece for months or even years. Everyone is excited when they first purchase that coveted handbag but what about after its been worn in a bit. How does the leather hold up? Is it practical for daily use or a night out? Does the color fade? Etc. Before purchasing a new tote for law school I watched and read reviews of women who had the bag for over 6 years and still wore it regularly. I knew I wanted a bag that wasn’t too delicate for daily use and knowing other women tossed in books, makeup, workout clothes and snacks helped me decide which bag was best for me.
How much of a Splurge is the item worth?
I’m willing to splurge a bit on a nice sweater, a bit more on well fitting jeans and substantially more on shoes, handbags and jackets. Sometimes it’s useful to think about splurging by breaking purchases into categories (ex. tiny splurge/moderate splurge/highest splurge). I might spend a great deal on a pair of designer shoes or a timeless jacket but you won’t ever catch me in a $900 Chloe blouse or Saint Laurent dress no matter how cute or timeless.
Everyone’s splurge price points are different so I’ve tried to stay away from specific numbers. A $100 dress might be a moderate splurge for some, a giant splurge for another or a daily purchase for someone else.
Highest Splurge ($$$)
These items are the highest price and for me need to be the most timeless. I think of classic pieces like a watch, a trench coat, a purse for daily use or a really sturdy pair of boots you know will be in rotation for YEARS to come.
Moderate Splurge ($$)
A moderate splurge isn’t a purchase you take lightly, usually it’s a piece I dream about for awhile before finally deciding it’s worth the investment. For me these items are usually well made shoes, high end jeans, sunglasses and purses.
Tiny Splurge ($)
Just a bit outside of your regular price range, for me things like a birthday or graduation dress might fall in this category.
Some of my best investments:
- Tory Burch Riding Boots (I’ve worn these more than anything else)
- Stuart Weitzman Leather Over the Knee Boots (Hands down my favorite shoes)
- Club Monaco Wool Jacket (Because winter is cold so you might as well look cute)
- Club Monaco Waxed Rain Jacket (Because Seattle is rainy so I might as well look stylish)
A few of the items I think are worth the splurge:
- A pair of great boots
- A timeless trench coat
- A little black dress
- Comfortable nude and/or black heels (if these ones are good enough for Kate Middleton they’re good enough for me)
- A sturdy tote for work or school
- A winter jacket
- A sleek and durable rain jacket
- Jeans that fit just the way you like
Investment Wish List Items:
Do you have a splurge piece you’ve been dreaming about FOREVER? What about an investment piece that has been well loved? I would love to hear your advice for determining when to save and when to splurge.