Are luxury items or designer clothes a complete frivolous waste of money?
I am not a fan of posts, especially ones from the money blogs, decrying why luxury items are such a waste of money, and how people are SO DUMB to be paying X amount of money for something that could easily be substituted with much cheaper, more practical items.
Sure, so instead of a nice purse, why don’t I just carry around a free plastic bag?
“Oh no no, not a plastic bag, but you know, there’s no need to spend hundreds or thousands on a purse when $50 will do. That’s such a ridiculous waste of money that could go to something much better.“
I’m going to side eye that, because as always, it is a question of priorities.
Priorities? What priorities? Money is money!
Well I don’t find weddings, any wine (any alcohol really), cigars, fancy furniture, fine art from famous painters or sculptors, or expensive baubles* very interesting to spend money on.
*I like jewellery, don’t get me wrong, got lots of it, but it doesn’t tug at my heart strings if it is a diamond, or a gem. It just isn’t my thing and I don’t really want to spend thousands on fine jewellery.
So why don’t you tell these wine connoisseurs that spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a bottle of wine is ridiculous and a waste of money?
Or tell people who want weddings that they are ridiculous for not just going to sign a piece of paper at a court house? A marriage is a marriage right?
I know what it is — it is because fashion in general (I am talking about luxury goods) typically a feminine domain, so because it is female-centric, it is frivolous, and easy to dismiss as a flight of fancy.
Wine however, is the realm of men.
You know, the history, the taste, the idea of drinking an expensive glass at an exclusive country club while puffing on a cigar. That, is definitely not a waste of money, right? It is a great experience and who can put a price on that?
Luxury fashion always comes under fire because it is easy to disparage luxury items.
“A pair of pants does the same job as another pair of pants – why pay more?”
Because.. fit, tailoring and cut!
The cut and tailoring of a great pair of jeans for instance can see you through 10-15 pound weight gains, it always feels comfortable and keeps its shape, its colour and doesn’t sag out or stretch out after a few washes or wears.
Why do you think when you wear a really nice coat that fits great, it looks so sharp and impeccable that it gathers compliments and catches the eye of those around you?
It is because it LOOKS great, but another cheaper coat in the same cut, even style but of lesser quality and fabric, will look dull, wrinkled, shapeless, and instead of sharp – just like any other coat.
People may not be able to pick out on the spot what makes the coat great or not, but they can immediately tell it looks good even if they can’t say why. Like this Smythe beauty I get compliments on all the time:
For me, it is the fabric first and foremost and how it drapes / holds its shape. Then it is the colour – it is even, rich and luxe, not cheap, and then it is the details in the shoulder seams being sharp, the cuffs and wrists being so well cut, and the lapels. It all adds up to a great looking coat.
Other cheaper coats cut costs on those details like a wrist or cuff accent, or the buttons are cheap plastic instead of metal.
Wearing great clothes changes your entire demeanour
A great pair of pants makes you feel amazing. Like a thousand bucks.
You stand up straighter, you walk with more confidence and comfort and you aren’t wondering if you look good in them – you do and you FEEL GOOD.
Imagine wearing leggings and a tee to present to a board of C-level executives instead of a sharply tailored suit.
Or just wearing comfortable but chic items that elevate any outfit, and make you feel like a total badass.
There is no comparison – you don’t feel the image of a powerful, confident person – you feel casual and lounge-y. This is why the concept of power dressing exists.
Quality clothes also last longer and are overall more economical
I wouldn’t put all clothes in this category, I mean a white tee is a white tee that’ll stain at the pits and collar no matter if you paid $5 or $500, but in general, clothes that are well made, well stitched and of quality cloth, last longer.
Especially coats or blazers.
They look impeccable even after a decade of wear.
I sold my too small Burberry coat recently and it looked like new even after 10 years with very minor collar stains!! I could not say that about my other cheaper coats from other brands that have dulled after a few runs to the dry cleaner or washes/wears.
They last longer, keep great value in resale (designer stuff goes faster than H&M and the like), and if you buy only one pair of jeans or a great coat isn’t that better than owning a closet full of subpar items that don’t make you feel or look your best; what’s the point? Very likely you would have spent more on disposable mainstream crap than just spending money on a quality piece. I can guarantee you that was the case for me before I started buying quality.
You can even save a heck of a lot more money by buying SECONDHAND.
I got a pair of amazing Armani white cashmere/wool pants for $100. I think even at Zara, a pair of pants of a lower quality, cut and fit, would have run me at least $60. The resale on the Zara pants might be $10 but I can get at least $50 for the Armani ones.
Which would you rather have? A great, fantastic pair of pants you could wear and resell later? Or a pair of disposable fast fashion ones that don’t last through the wash or a few wears?
So stop feeling shamed.
Spend on what you want, and makes you feel fantastic all the time, whether it is a $30 pair of jeans or $300, just keep in mind that not all luxury items are a waste of money.
Some are, to be sure but don’t discount how far quality can and will will take your wardrobe.
Don’t look at just the price tag, take into account the piece itself and how often you’ll wear it, and how you’ll feel in it.
If you want to read more on this, Adina has a few thoughts.
This is the first nonjudgmental money blog I’ve found! I truly respect and admire your attitude. Secondhand luxury is absolutely the way to go, although as a plus size woman I have an entirely different set of challenges – namely, finding things with a good cut and flattering fit (which can be ridiculously cheap or crazy expensive, depending) and then getting them tailored to fit. You rock on!
Although I can’t afford designer items, I see your point and I cannot agree more. E.g. I would always prefer FabIndia hand-block-printed cotton Kurta to some other non-branded one from local store even if it costs twice or thrice as much. No matter how many times I wash it, it looks as good as new, it doesn’t shrink and colour doesn’t fade. OR American Tourister laptop bags – my partner has one which is 8 years old, I won’t say it looks as good as new but it’s still usable and sturdy. I can say same about cosmetics as well – Kiko Milano lipstick (not that high-end but still better than Revlon or Maybelline) – lasts through meals, colour looks good even after slight fading – and even if it has matte finish, it doesn’t dry out lips.
Totally agree with your post. For the last 3 years I have completely changed my clothes spending habits so I no longer buy in fast fashion stores (Zara and the likes) and my wardrobe items come from secondhand luxury websites (except for underwear, socks and some T-shirts). Last week the girlfriend of one of my fiancée’s friends asked me how much money do I spend in clothes because “I only seem to wear the fancy stuff”. I got a bit annoyed at the tone of that and decided to give her a good reply with my very detailed budget for clothes and shopping habits. It turns out that a) I spend less money than her on clothes. I have a 500 euro budget per year. She has 800. to 1000 (I think she doesn’t even know how much exactly she spends on clothes) b) I buy 3-4 items per year. She gets minimum 15. c) The quality of my clothes stands out, she needs to be constantly replacing her basics because after a few uses the clothes don’t look the same. d) it takes me like 5 minutes to put together a nice outfit. She spends 20 minutes because she has a wardrobe full of rubbish. After a 40 minute talk (she started to get more and more interested in my shopping habits) she asked me what I bought this year and how much did you pay for that. My reply: Isabel marant grey coat for 90 euro. Isabel marant wool jumper for 70 euro. LV suede boots for 220 euros. Total: 380 euros. She almost fell out of the chair because she spent 250 euros in Zara that afternoon. The positive thing is that she is really willing to change her habits now 🙂
One thing u did not touch on. Buying a luxury handbag feeds the economy. U have helped to employ a retailer, truck driver, warehouse employee, artisan (many handbags are hand made), designer, tanner, farmer and many more I’m sure I missed. All from countries such as Italy and France which pay everyone competitive wages. When u buy from inexpensive retailers u are supporting companies that use mostly young women and sometimes children to make the products. These women do NOT make a decent wage, they have no rights and are downright abused.
And they are from countries in Asia which are notorious for these abuses.
It’s all up to the individual whose money it is, isn’t it? If a fancy car makes one happy, go for it, but I personally just want a dependable ride. If expensive coats make you feel good, great; I couldn’t care less about my coat so long as it’s not uncomfortable and flashy. If a big and gaudy house excites someone, fine; it’s his/her money, but for me a modest home gives the same privacy and shelter. It’s nobody’s business what anyone else does with his/her own money. I enjoy reading your fashion posts,but I would never consider spending what you do on so many clothes. I prefer a small and simple wardrobe in colors and styles I like. I still respect your choices and enjoy looking at pictures of your purchases. To each her own! Thanks for the reading material and often thought-provoking.
I never considered the sexist aspects of those who might judge higher-end wardrobe choices. It’s a very interesting point. Myself being male, I guess I haven’t experienced it quite the same way. However, it’s mainly my male friends who make comments on things being overpriced or “the same as one from Target.” Sometimes they almost have a point. Recently a friend tried to reprimand me saying that for the price of any of the jeans from my closet, I could buy 6 – 8 pairs at Target and use the money for better uses. It almost sounded valid until I explained that for every pair of Diesel or Hudson on AG that you see in my closet- I bought each severely marked down during sales at Saks, Neiman and Bloomingdale at an average of 15% to 50% of the normal price. That he buys jeans at least twice a year out of necessity and that I have enough jeans to wear a different pair everyday and therefore they get very little wear and tear that comes with constant cleaning and heavy usage. I likely will never have to buy jeans ever again. Plus they fit better and many retail brands like Levis and the sort don’t put out a lot of clothes under a men’s size 30. Then the final argument: what else should I be doing with the money instead? As much as I’d like to change the world, the $50 or so bucks I spent on a reduced priced pair of jeans isn’t going to save the planet or end homelessness. I wish it would but despite there being terrible situations all around us, sometimes just to maintain your own happiness and self-care goes a long way towards refraining from contributing to other problems. He doesn’t really get it but he almost agreed with my final point: spending money on experiences. I would never pay $500 for a meal at any restaurant. Something that will be over quickly and is guaranteed to lead to waste. Fettuccine might taste good but Fendi is forever.