What you need to know before you buy that investment clothing piece.

At some point in your style journey you've probably been advised to spend the bulk of your budget on "Investment Pieces." Pieces that supposedly will stand the test of time. This sounds like awesome advice and I confess I've fallen for the concept myself more than once. But can I just say, here and now, that this advice is not always as savvy as it seems.

In an economic sense, an investment is the purchase of goods that are not consumed today but are used in the future to create wealth. Last I checked, the clothes you purchase today are not actually going to produce future wealth unless, of course, you are a celebrity and can auction them off to the highest bidder!

But let's say you do decide to spend the bulk of your annual clothing budget on a well-made, beautifully designed winter coat, guaranteed to last a lifetime. That could seem like a great investment until you gain 25 pounds, get it caught in the car door or the cat uses it as a scratching pad. And even if your life runs much smoother than mine, there's still the pesky problem of fashion trends and how close to the end of a trend your "classic piece" is purchased. While I appreciate that a good piece may be worth altering (taking a hemline up or down, letting a seam in or out, changing out the buttons etc.) the reality is that often the cost of such alterations nowadays can run higher than the price of a new coat on sale.

So... can I suggest three alternate ways to think about how to invest in your wardrobe.

#1. Consider the "cost-per-wear" of an item and spend the bulk of your budget on those clothes you will wear most often.

If, for example, you live in your jeans, you may choose to purchase a really great pair of designer denim that fits you like a glove for $120.00 If you wear (on average) those jeans 6 days/week the cost per wear for is $.38/day. But you'll get the same cost of wear per/day if you purchase 6 pair of jeans at $20.00 each. It's all about whether or not you value quality or quantity more (and if you shop carefully, you can sometimes have both). Compare this with a holiday dress that you spend $120.00 but only wear once. The cost of that dress is $120.00/day in the first year.

#2. Consider the impact of the item on your well-being.

I'm not talking about the adrenaline rush you might get from purchasing yet another pair of shoes or t-shirt, I'm talking about what the clothing will do for you personally.

The first pair of supportive footwear I purchased cost much more than I was accustomed to paying, but the physical relief from chronic foot pain was worth every penny.

An outfit that makes you feel more confident could help to advance your career, make that sale, or meet that someone special.

The right outfit can make you appear more authoritative, more approachable or more credible which can make a big difference in how others relate to you. And that's an investment in yourself that is simply priceless.

#3. Consider good quality foundation pieces.

Spending some extra money for a great fitting bra and the right shape wear for your body is money well-spent. The investment you make in buying these pieces will improve the look of your entire wardrobe.

#4. Consider how it will support your lifestyle.

Invest in pieces that will support your lifestyle and make it easier to function in the roles that you play each day. Don't skimp on running shoes if you are physically active because that will just cost you in foot pain down the road. Splurge on a good raincoat if you are walking the dog in all kinds of weather or invest in a fabulous sunhat if you spend time out in the garden. Buy some great travel pieces if you are a frequent flyer or splurge on a great cocktail dress if you are frequently attending social events. Learn to spend the bulk of your budget on clothes for your real lifestyle, not some fantasy lifestyle.

While the money you spend on clothing will not appreciate over time, investing in yourself will pay amazing dividends. So think carefully about those so-called investment pieces and focus on investing in clothes that will support you. You are totally worth it!


Joan Kosmachuk

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