Buying Expensive Clothes Is Not Just About Status Symbols

Woman by Common Projects

A few weeks ago I bought a pair of shoes that retail for $410.

Absurd, isn’t it?

What about if I got them on sale for $225? (Which I did.)

To some people, $410 is an offensive amount to spend on a pair of shoes. And $225? Still obscene.

If you’re like me you read a lot of frugality blogs. Almost every day I come across a string of posts that scold people for wasting money buying brand names. “People who buy expensive stuff are only seeking status and attention,” they say.

There’s always a judgy tone, from afar: That spending “a lot of money” on clothes is not only wrong and stupid, but truly mind boggling. “A lot of money” is usually any amount more than what the author would spend.

Funny. Nobody seems to question spending on things like, $5,000 wedding dresses to be worn for a single day, or splurging on rent each month, or tithing to their church.

But when it comes to the “correct” way to spend on clothes everyone’s an expert, and their opinions are universal truths.

Look, I get it. It’s easy to dismiss something that you don’t understand.

Like for me, it’s foodies. You eat this amazing food, and then it disappears into your belly. And then that’s it. That’s the saddest thing to me; something you love just disappearing like that. I don’t necessarily understand it, but I’ve never felt it was wrong or stupid. It’s their money and they can spend however they want.

So when the topic of clothes provokes such divisive opinions, I can’t help but get turnt up. Because the people who make these judgments have no idea what they’re talking about. Their judgments come without any real context; they likely have no experience buying or interacting with nice things. To me, their point of view is incomplete.

Maybe you’ve even wondered, “What IS the purpose of spending MORE on clothes when cheap ones will cover you just the same?”

Today I’m going to try to explain the reasons why I don’t settle for the cheapest option. Spoiler: None of them have anything to do with keeping up with the Joneses.

My “Status Symbol” Shoes

Achilles Woman by Common Projects

The shoes I paid $225 for are a pair of plain black leather sneakers by Woman by Common Projects. There are no logos, no bling, no frills. The brand itself isn’t a household name. Besides the gold embossed serial number, they’re a pretty mundane pair of shoes. They certainly don’t scream, “Hey, I’m an expensive shoe.”

Woman by Common Projects Achilles Sneakers

They’re so minimal, they’re almost invisible. Just like stealth wealth, there’s such a thing as stealth luxury.

Because they don’t stand out, they won’t make my friends jealous. Or make me sexier. Or make me seem smarter at work. Not really much of a status symbol, huh?

Specificity Is a Thing

So, if it’s not about status, then why not get a cheap pair from Target? “It’s the same thing,” people say. If all I wanted was a “black sneaker” I’d go to Adidas and grab a pair for $50.

But what if you wanted something more specific than that?

Like:
They have to be all black…
and low top…
and buttery soft leather…
and timeless…
and look good with dresses…
and have a sleek design…
but no logos…

By the time you’ve gotten down to the last criteria you’re eliminated 99% of the shoes on the market.

It’s not uncommon for me to dream up exactly what I want in my head. Once, when I was little, my teacher told us we had to choose a Christmas card from a pile on the table in the classroom. Most kids just picked one from the top of the pile. But not me. I was the weirdo who went through the full stack, not once, not twice, but THREE times. I wanted to find the card that represented “me” the most. To put it bluntly, I have been and always will be picky AF.

Having specific tastes is a challenge. Here’s a question for you: have you ever thought about how hard it would be to find a handbag that doesn’t use shiny gold hardware? It’s close to impossible to find on the mass-market level.

The reason I don’t shop at Target is not because Target is beneath me or because it carries bad designs. Target just doesn’t have the options that meet my criteria. It’s that simple.

So if you have specific tastes, you don’t buy expensive clothes just BECAUSE they are expensive. The clothes you want just HAPPEN to be expensive. Because the more expensive items will pay a lot more attention to the details you want.

The Five Details That Matter

Design

If you’re a fan of aesthetics and love creativity and originality, you’re only going to get that with higher-end stuff. I think everybody knows that mass-market items are just copies of stuff from the runway. Nothing wrong with that, but forward-thinking they are not. If it’s wrong to value aesthetics, then let’s just do away with all art museums then.

Taste in design is highly personal. For instance, I don’t care for Chanel or Burberry or Gucci, because their designs don’t resonate with me. Also, throwing a honking logo on a bag does not automatically equal good design.

Fit

Designers of higher-end clothes will have spent more time making sure the fit jives with actual human anatomy. Almost nothing mass-market fits me off the rack. And I’ve seen plenty of shoes where the cut is shaped more like a Christmas stocking than a real foot.

Material

If you ever go into a Barneys or Saks and touch the clothes, you’ll notice the fabrics feel different. They’re more likely to be thicker and sturdier. When you pull on them they feel durable. Higher-end clothes also tend to use natural fabrics. Fabrics like silk, wool and cashmere cost more than synthetic materials like polyester and viscose.

Craftsmanship

Craftsmanship involves the hand skills and labor put into actually building the shoe. I follow Common Projects on Instagram and I always enjoy it when they post videos of their workers making the shoes. I appreciate the process.

Story

Common Projects don’t advertise, because they don’t need need to trick people into thinking their shoes are worth it. Their product is good enough to speak for itself, and their fans spread the word for them. There’s something appealing about a brand that isn’t afraid to be different.

In the list above, you’ll notice one key detail missing that everyone loves to talk about.

Quality.

Quality is a crapshoot. Just because something is more expensive doesn’t mean it will last longer. It really depends. In general, if you pay more you’ll get better quality, but at some point, there’s a threshold where it’s just not true. If you spend 5x more on a T-shirt, doesn’t mean it will last 5x longer. Especially as most people treat their things like utter crap.

Status Symbols Be Damned

So expensive clothes as status symbols be damned. That may be an incentive for some, but for others, like me, there are a host of other reasons that matter. You see, to some of us, clothes are more than just utility, a shell to protect you from the elements. We can see and appreciate all the small details—the ideas and the artfulness behind a piece of clothing.

And when someone tries to say their $30 jeans are “just as good” as a pair of $300 jeans, I can’t help but laugh. Just as good, for sure, but as thoughtful and detailed? Not a chance in hell. And can people really be the judge of this if they’ve never even touched a higher-end garment before? It’s like saying an expensive restaurant isn’t worth it when all you’ve eaten at is McDonald’s.

You Can Afford It, You Just Don’t Want to

And then there’s the question of cost. People say they can’t afford $80 for shoes, much less $225. Barring extenuating circumstances, I’d guess that most people reading this have a decent amount of disposable income and have an extra $225 laying around.

“Yeah, but, I don’t have the budget specifically for shoes,” they counter. That’s a lot of control you hand over to those little pieces of paper called money. And wait, don’t you tell your budget what to do? Because if you really want to buy something and your budget doesn’t like it, you’ll tell your budget you’re moving this here and that there, finding a way to make it happen.

PSA: The phrase, “I can’t afford this” needs to be erased from everyone’s vocabulary. What you’re really trying to say is that you don’t prioritize spending on a pair of shoes. That’s totally fair and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just use the word ‘prioritize’, and not ‘afford’, OK?

You can go ahead and get a version that’s good enough, but when it comes to things I’ll wear a lot and plan to keep for a long time, I don’t want to settle for a substitute.

I’ve learned my lesson: Every time I’ve settled for anything I’ve always regretted it. And don’t we all want to avoid a life of regret?

To me, intentionally spending money on clothes that I truly want is the ultimate representation of my values:

Authenticity rules.
The little details matter.
Less, but better.

Tomorrow I’ll wear my favorite sweatshirt (also outrageously priced at $200) to work: it’s navy blue and seemingly plain, but with a slightly twisted hem. By design. And that little detail, the one that only I notice, makes all the difference. There’s power in dressing for yourself and no one else.

So for now, I’ll sit at my desk in my overpriced sneakers and not-worth-it sweatshirt. None of my coworkers will compliment me on my outfit. But I don’t care. I’ll continue to buy exactly what I like, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be me.

What about you? What are your reasons for not buying the cheapest options? Have you ever felt judgment for choosing to spend more?

Image: The Luxe Strategist

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  • Love this! I too agree that ‘I can’t afford this’ needs to be erased from our dictionaries. Not only because it isn’t an accurate representation of what’s going on, but also because it’s overly negative. If you think you can’t afford something, that makes you feel lesser than someone who can. But, if you reframe it as ‘spending money in this area is not a priority for me’, then that’s a much more positive message because it puts your money back into your control. Wonderful read as always Luxe!

    • Thanks, Britt! Exactly: I think my issue with “I can’t afford it”, is how you’re giving up control. If you reallllly want something, you’ll find a way to get it, barring truly unfortunately circumstances.

  • alwaysconservative

    I’m with you on the logos. While I definitely like a Coach, Michael Kors or Ralph Lauren handbag, I always choose the design without the logo emblazoned all over the bag, opting for a style that has the logo in the smallest, least noticeable place, like a removable hang tag, or the zipper. And similar to your statement against the “can’t afford” mentality, I have an “I’d rather” approach where I choose what I want that is most important to me. When hit with a fleeting temptation to buy something cheaper or not on the list, I save until I get the amount of money I need for my priority and don’t look back when purchasing that item. That way I control where my money goes rather than it simply flying out of my wallet with no real destination in mind.

    • This is a perfect comment 🙂

      I’ve found that the plainer and simpler the item, the more likely I am to still like it and use for years to come. My current handbag just got ruined actually (I left it out and my cat scratched it up!), so I’m starting to look around for a new bag. In terms of style I think about it in decades. Like, will I still like this in 10 years? Will it go with all my outfits? It’s hard to forecast so far in the future but it helps me really step back and make sure I’m really considering a purchase.

      Love the outlook on budgets and money. Taking control of your money and being purposeful is a much better feeling than just buying whatever’s cute.

      • alwaysconservative

        Had to comment on your “will I like it in 10 years” outlook. I have a couple of Coach purses that are well into their 2nd decade. And while I haven’t had to do this, it is my understanding that Coach will re-furbish and clean their bags for free. Planning to keep them for that many years means I usually go for the very classic styles opposed to the newer trendy designs.

        • Yeah, I think vintage Coach is very high quality. Not sure of their recent stuff, but the way it seems to work is quality goes downhill as brands try to maximize profits. And you can never go wrong choosing classic over trendy!

  • Your Average Dough

    Yes, yes and yes!

    While I have a different perspective on clothing than you (based on what I’ve read), you hit some really great points! I spend slightly more for quality of something like plain a black t-shirt. For example, I bought my husband a $10 Alfani plain black tee. After a year of being worn, he just had to throw it out this weekend due to a huge hole. On the other hand, I purchased a $30 black tee for myself 2.5 years ago and it is STILL going strong.

    There’s certain items of clothing that I personally don’t believe are worth an excess amount; however shoes I can always justify. I love me a high-quality, beautifully made shoe, especially one that makes a statement. Shoes are almost like art to me!

    • OMG, girl, T-shirts are the bane of my existence. The plainer the item the harder it is to find the right one! People always say to go get the $7 one, but dude, that $7 one doesn’t have the fit that I want.

      I agree that some things just aren’t worth it, quality wise. I haven’t seen any cashmere sweaters lately that won’t pill.

      I’ve tried on cheap shoes and expensive ones. The difference is night and day. The higher-end ones just feel a lot more substantial.

  • Similar to you, I read a lot of finance blogs and feel like some of them judge you for spending more than what they think is reasonable. My attitude has always been that if you budget for your expenses, then go ahead and spend. Not everyone wants to save every penny.

    • Yeah, I also feel like because someone edit find the budget, that for some reason, you can’t either. Nevermind I have a healthy savings rate and have cut my needs down so that I can focus more on my wants. Besides people who genuinely live paycheck to paycheck, for the rest of us it’s simply a choice.

  • Serenity he

    Omg yes! I was judge by the internet ppl very harshly for wanting a $2200 purse which I can get for $1100. I read a lot of per.fin blogs; although I learn a lot from them but none of them I can relate to cuz none of them care for designer items or go out to eat. Husband and I love our occasional expensive steaks and happy hr. And I love designer purses. 😄

    • I’m in the market for a new bag now! I was silly and left my PS1 out so my cat nested on it and scratched it up everywhere. I’m looking at The Row or Celine, but probably won’t do anything until next year (I’m keeping my clothes spending under 1k this year!). But for now, I’m in research mode.

      Yeah, I think there’s a balance to be had between fun things and saving money. I definitely think you can do both! You just have to be creative.

      • Serenity he

        just curious tho, how do you shop and where? I’ve never seen that brand of shoes you bought and I really need to invest in my footwear. I’m the lazy type that shops behind a computer screen. if I don’t have to leave the house,I won’t. cuz going out with a toddler and a baby isn’t breezy.

        • 99% of my shopping is done online. I live in a big city so there’s way too many people to shop in peace in an actual store. I shop at most of the places I listed here: http://www.theluxestrategist.com/exactly-how-to-afford-designer-clothes-without-a-benefactor/

          Then if I need to investigate a piece further, I’ll go try it on in person. Then go back online to buy!

          But all of these places will carry the shoes:

          Creatures of Comfort
          Eaton Trading Company
          The Dreslyn
          The Loit
          SSENSE
          Five Story

          I have a small niece and nephew, so I can definitely understand how challenging it is to leave the house with small kids!

          • Serenity he

            oh I take that back. I have seen this brand on fwrd … lol they really are “simple” looking shoes haha. your posts has really helped save me money, it has kept me from clicking ” place order” many times. The one with your friend not buying any face products and not taking any samples home really stuck with me. It has curb my fomo moments. I’m very discount driven, I’m one of those that gets hypnotized by big 75% off sales. But now, unless it’s stuff for my kids, I don’t fall for it anymore lol.

          • I think the simple stuff is actually harder to get right. Really! If you see the shoes in person they are a thing of beauty. It makes my week that my blog posts have helped you! And I’ll be sure to tell my friends that their stinginess at the Barneys counter has helped my readers, haha.

  • So I can’t lie. I love me some Target. But I’ll never apologize for my Jimmy Choos or any other shoe I own and wear the hell out of. If you can buy quality and have an awesome cost per wear ratio, why apologize? The cheap stuff that I only bought because it was on super sale has been way more problematic than my $700 sparklers that I adore. Not sorry. Great post, friend!

    • There’s nothing wrong with Target! I just like to dress like a boy, and they don’t carry boy clothes for women 🙂

      I actually think my spend on clothes is super reasonable! But in our PF world, sometimes it seems like travel is the only acceptable vice, you know?

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Hi Selena,

    A designer’s point of view is important to me, too! There are lots of brands that have no soul, so I don’t identify with them and don’t want to spend my money supporting them. Although you can never really tell the conditions of how something was made, even if it’s made in Italy.

    I think the common mindset is to buy a bunch of cheap things. Buying just one nice thing is so counterintuitive to our culture, so it takes a major mindset shift to change that. Everywhere online I read about people who can’t spend more than $80 on a jacket or whatever. They have the money, they’re just not used to spending that much, so I guess it feels out of reach. But once you start spending the big bucks, I don’t know anyone that’s ever gone back down to fast fashion.

    But yeah, it gets really frustrating when people tell you that cheap things is a better “deal” than 1 expensive thing. It’s just a matter of preference.

  • Sophie

    Ever since I was young, my parents would joke that I always gravitated towards more “expensive” things. Specifically, school supplies and clothes. They couldn’t understand it. They also grew up in poverty so that explains their logic. As for me though, I knew cheaper notebooks meant paper that would rip easily and not write as well…same goes for pencils/pens/markers and all the stuff teachers recommend students buy on the first day of school. As for clothes, I’ve always had sensitive skin so if something didn’t feel comfortable then it wasn’t going to work for me. So that’s part of my criteria and only I would understand it. I totally agree with you about not settling-everytime I’ve settled, I’ve always regretted it. I believe that as long as you live by the values that matter most to you then you’re doing right by yourself. In the age of fast fashion and wanting everything to be accessible and cheap, this was such a refreshing piece to read.

    • Hey Sophie!

      Yeah, when I was a teenager my dad would take me back to school shopping at the mall, and I was so picky I’d leave empty handed. I could never quite pinpoint what my problem was. But I think that personality trait naturally helps curb impulse buying. You’ll never see me leaving a store with multiple bags filled to the brim.

      It sounds like you’ve always had a sense of detail and quality. I actually thought about it and I think all of my best friends are like this, too! They don’t want just any old notebook–it has to be a nice, cute one. I think it has something to do with identity and communicating our personalities through our things.

      • I agree completely. I think it’s a major bonus to not impulse buy…saves so much stress and frustration in decluttering it later on, and is such a distraction.

        We are pretty similar in that we simply won’t settle for what doesn’t feel right for us 🙂

  • the budget epicurean

    I absolutely support your decision to spend according to your own values! We are all adults who can decide what to do with our own money, you put all your resources into the things you value. Your time, your money, your attention, whatever. The phrase “I can’t afford…” is on par with “I don’t have time for…”. No, you have plenty of time you just don’t want to prioritize cooking healthy meals,or tracking your expenses, or working out regularly, or learning about another country. And That’s Okay. It would be a boring, bland world if we all prioritized exactly the same things. Stop judging others because they don’t live their lives according to your own personal rules.
    But on the flip side, you can’t be mad at people who DON’T value fashion… like a plain black shirt is a plain black shirt, I don’t care if there’s an extra button on the sleeve, or a zipper for no reason, or a twisted hem. If it fits well and feels nice, then I’m all about it. I try to balance quality and frugality. The majority of my closet was purchased at Goodwill, or traded with my sister/mom/friends, and I have some pieces that I got for $3 that are still going strong 5 years later. And guess what? Those are mostly bigger labels (like NY&Co or Lane Bryant or Banana Republic). So while I won’t spend the $100+ to get a brand-new shirt in the store, heck yeah I’m gonna jump on a well-made and well-taken-care-of secondhand piece.
    You keep on rocking the things that make you happy! Like you said, life’s too short for regrets.

    • Hey, and thanks for stopping by! I totally agree with you that everyone has their own priorities and should live their lives accordingly. That’s actually one of the reasons I started my blog! I didn’t see anyone else who wanted to be good with money, but also had similar shopping habits as me.

      I’m not mad at people who don’t value fashion. I totally get it’s not everybody’s world, and I don’t judge them for their clothes or for buying cheap stuff. But what DOES bug me if when people who don’t know much about fashion try to tell me what look’s good, what’s quality, or what’s worth it. It’s kind of like me trying to tell a mom how to raise her child when I don’t have a kid of my own.

  • I totally feel you on this. I don’t often drop big money in clothes (sometimes shoes though), but I have been known to regularly splurge on concert tickets. Sure I could sit in the nose bleeds for $40 but if I’m going to go then I’d rather drop more money and get great seats. And I can do that because I have a budget that gives me room to spend on things I want. I’m not going into debt over a ticket and it’s not impacting my savings goals so if that’s how I want to spend my fun money then I’ll go for it.

    Another person’s expectation of frugality doesn’t have to be yours, and just because you spend money doesn’t make you any less of a personal finance blogger. And to me, it feels a lot more applicable.

    • YES, THIS. As long as you budget for said items, it shouldn’t matter WHAT you spend on. I think the problem is that people think a $20 shirt is the same as a $200 shirt. In many cases it is not.

      PS: I’ve never regretted spending money on concerts. I just make sure it’s band that I’m really into. Too many times I’d have friends try to get me to go to a concert “as a friend in support” and I’d have to be like, yeah, I’m not really into them and don’t want to spend the money…

  • Yes to quality and buying what you value!

    Sort of related — I really wish more brands made resoleable shoes. Actually, any suggestions for that?

    • Lots of shoes are. Talk to your cobbler.

    • Thanks! Wait–you can’t resole just any shoes??? Or are you talking about rubber shoes? I know for sure leather bottomed shoes can be resoled. I think the best thing you can do is take preventative measures. Example: when you buy a new pair of leather bottomed shoes, take them to the cobbler to have Vibram leather put on them. That way they’ll almost NEVER need to be resoled. It’s easier to prevent issues than to revive shoes when they’re half-dead. Also, two brands I’d recommend that aren’t crazy expensive are Frye and Camper.

  • This! I love this article.

    The reason I named My site, Save Splurge Deny Debt was for all of these reasons. I think you can manage a great savings rate, live without debt, and splurge on what you want after that!

    The $500 dress shoes I buy will not alter any savings goal I have. Not to mention I can wear them for years, feel better in them, and have no care in the world if people know the cost. I can feel the quality every time I wear them.

    This is also why I had no problem buying my wife and LV bag. She carries it nearly every day, and it looks great. She values the gift and the quality of the piece. Thankfully it was not the LV logo print either…ha!

    Thanks for sharing this! I hope more people would take the time to realize that buying value and quality can be worth so much more than just the price tag up front.

    • Yeah, I feel like our culture is slowly changing, with the rise of minimalism and all. But for many people, spending over $200 for a pair of sneakers just seems crazy. But what if that’s your ONLY pair of sneakers? Still crazy? But the idea of having just one pair of sneakers is still a foreign idea!

      The other argument I see if people saying, “If you stopped buying the $500 shoes, you’d have X amount invested in 20 years”. First, you could argue that about any vice. And second, that’s just not realistic. Most people will not consciously take the $500 savings and actively invest it each year.

      Glad the wife didn’t go for the rainbow printed LV logo bag. Phew!

  • I like well-structures clothes that make me look incredible. I had a bespoke suit made because I want what I want. Finding a women’s suit with useful pockets is impossible. I told my tailor to give me male – style pockets. And I strut in that suit.

    So many shoes are ugly and uncomfortable and poorly designed. I spend good money on shoes and then have my cobbler re-sole as necessary, because they are worth it.

    I don’t spend on a fancy apartment or a car, because those things don’t matter to me.

    • Oh! I want a custom made suit! Maybe I could find something that I just love. So tired of off the rack women’s suits.

      • It’s been interesting. The tailor is still figuring out curves that don’t want to be hidden. The other women who use him are masculin-of-center.

    • I love this bad-ass comment!

      I don’t spend on a fancy apartment, either. That is still one thing that I’m weirdly super cheap about. Spending a lot on it just always made me physically ILL.

      You bring up another great point. I also feel more myself in boyish clothes. So if your style is even a teensy bit left of center, you’ll be hard pressed to be able to find it at the usual places. Although only recently “boyfriend” style stuff has started to become trendy so you’ll see it pop up here and there.

      I had a problem with workwear as well, especially pants. When I was in Vietnam I had a few pants and skirts made for me. I had to go back to the shop 2-3 times to get the fits just right, and it was worth it to have them made from scratch instead of of reconstructing something off the rack and ruining the integrity of an existing garment.

      I’ve never thought to have any shoes re-soled, but it sounds like an awesome way to revive shoes you love.

      • A good cobbler is everything!

        There’s definitely tailors from Hong Kong, Thailand etc who come to major US cities often and set up “shop” in a person’s house for a night. It’s awesome. I’m going to write a post about it soon.

  • Former New Yorker

    This exact situation happened to me about the bag! I researched for months for the perfect large leather tote (no labels, but I wanted a monogram, and I wanted something not a lot of people had). Finally found Frank Clegg based in MA, if I shared their FB post of the bag, I could get $20 off. I think it cost about $500 but I don’t remember. I shared it and a friend commented giving me crap for how I could just go buy a $1 canvas bag instead!

    I think that particular friend had issues that manifested in how I purchased things that had nothing to do with me. She’d bring up my bag purchase at weird times in front of people who didn’t know me. It was bizarre, and a strange jealousy issue. Years later, she texted me a photo of a logo-emblazoned Coach purse she bought on sale and said, “Look, my first major bag purchase! I know you’d be proud of me!” I think I texted back something polite, but how do you even begin to find middle ground there?

    A few weeks after I bought that bag, it turned out Obama purchased a briefcase from Frank Clegg! But FC is a quirky dude, he refused to confirm that it was his bag (it definitely was) because he thought the president deserved privacy. I still love my FC bag — the guy even signed the invoice and thanked me for my purchase, and I still have that invoice. THese days though, I use a diaper bag I got off amazon. I need to do a deep clean of my FC bag — a sippy cup leaked water in it and I haven’t trusted it around the destructive force that is my toddler ever since. Waiting for the days for little one to get older so I can take my lovely bag for a spin again.

    tl;dr: An “expensive” purchase lasts generations, so it’s better value. Some “friends” might not understand your purchase and get weirdly jealous but that’s their problem. And kids will destroy your nice things, so store everything in heavy duty plastic because those dust bags won’t do the job when it comes to the adorable destructive forces of a toddler.

    • Kids AND pets will destroy your nice things. Recently I was a dum-dum and had my PS1 just laying around. Well, my cats started nesting on it while I was at work and I just found a bunch of scratches and holes all over it. Sigh, it’s my own fault. But now I have a reason to research a new bag 🙂

      Any bag that Obama is into is approved by me! He also wears Spring Court sneakers, which I have, and Michelle likes Phillip Lim. Truly a fashionable couple!

      The Frank Clegg stuff will last FOREVER, though. The leather is thicker and more durable than most designer bags, so I think their bags are a great value.

      So your situation is exactly the problem! And if that happened to me I would have Hulked out in rage. You should be able to share a purchase (no matter the price) without being shamed. See, that’s the thing? Why is cheaper somehow “better” when it comes to clothes??? Obviously, there are BS things you pay for, like marketing and stuff, but a canvas tote bag and a leather tote bag are NOT the same. I think this is going back to what I was saying about ‘specificity’. If you want something with specific features, you’re almost always going to have to go higher-end.

  • All this. You mentioned how some shoes are cut more like a Christmas stocking than a foot – fit and comfort are so important, particularly in shoes! Cheap knock-offs just aren’t as comfortable. If you wear the shoes all the time, then spend money for ones that fit your feet perfectly. Your body – your most important asset – will thank you later!

    And is it really more expensive to wear the same higher priced shoe 500 times or the cheap shoe 20 times before it falls apart? Invest in your clothes and you’ll usually come out ahead.

    • I’ve seen too many shoes that look like a third grader cut them out. And then you wonder why your feet keep slipping out of them. I actually have a pair of sneakers that are styled very similarly to a pair of Adidas, except they cost, like $300 more. The little differences in the design and cut make them much more flattering on the foot, and I know they are a LOT more comfortable than the Adidas. The “leather’ on the Adidas would have started to crack by now, while mine are still going strong.

      I think our culture strongly promotes quantity over quality, so I get why people get sucked into the cheaper stuff. Just takes a shift in mindset to realize that spending $200 for one pair of shoes instead of 5 mediocre ones is a viable option, too. But once you do it once, it’s hard to go back to the cheap stuff!

  • Pia

    Hey, quality over quantity. If you invest in a good pair, they last so much better. If you invest in a good pair of shoes, or clothes, you look sleeker, feel more confident and life becomes that much rosier. That’s a huge lesson I learnt as I used to always opt for cheap shit, and that has never ended well because I felt like a slop, my things fell apart and I think in general, I ended up wasting more money. #backwardfrugality

    • Ha, I love that hashtag! And yes, quality over quantity any day of the week. Although I’m learning that people have different standards for what ‘quality’ is.

  • Those shoes are amazing! I’ve always secretly wanted a pair actually 😀 I also love the shoes by Fiet, so simple, high quality, and deliberately designed.

    I think sometimes we judge the spending habits of others not primarily because we don’t have the same spending values but because we wrongly assume someone else’s spending decisions aren’t as deliberate as our own and that’s actually what we’re looking down on.

    After a friend of mine read my coffee article, he kind of poked fun at the fact that I value the ambiance of coffee shops and am willing to pay for that. Yet he spends over $100 on personal training sessions twice a week. Obviously he made a very deliberate decision and commitment to his health and fitness just as I have to being productive. Who’s to say what’s right or *if* it’s a good decision?

    Even so, the thing I can’t figure out is then why do I still feel justified to judge people who think paying the minimum on their credit card is a good idea? Or why do I judge people who thinking saving for retirement is stupid? I guess because my perspective is so practical, maybe I’m really missing something in their deliberate choice to make dumb financial decisions…

    • They’re my third pair. 10/10 would recommend! I wore them sightseeing in Japan for 10 days, and they STILL looked good. Of course I stole the little shoe mitt from the hotel to take care of them as well. Yes, FEIT has beautiful craftsmanship, although I wonder how flattering they are on the foot.

      Yeah, I think there are definitely some stereotypes about ppl who like to shop or like fashion. You know, going on shopping sprees and stuff. Buying minimal things intentionally doesn’t get enough press, but that’s why we blog. And in an ideal world, nobody would judge anyone based on how they spend their money, but unfortunately, we’re all way too biased for that.

      It’s understandable to be concerned about those who financially harm themselves. But I think what people do with their disposable money should be a judgment-free zone.

  • I completely agree about buying quality. I hate having a bunch of cheap stuff that gets destroyed after one washing on wear. I’m also a firm believer in comfortable shoes, because there is nothing worse then getting blisters.

    https://kerielaine.com
    Keri Elaine

    • I don’t think any of my stuff has unravelled after just one wear, but I get what you’re saying. And yes to paying more for comfortable shoes! Blisters are so not worth the cheap price.

  • Hey Melanie,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment. My husband was looking over my shoulder as I was reading this and he was like, “Ohhh, Melanie wrote a good comment,” so, the Luxe Husband gives you a thumbs up!

    I agree with you about the stereotypes about retail therapy. To be honest, I was nervous about starting my blog since I thought people would say it’s impossible to save money and also buy the things you want. So far that hasn’t been the case, so maybe the idea that people are unique individuals isn’t a total lost cause.

    I love your way of evaluating purchases individually. I was just looking into a pair of sandals, and realized that since I only wear them a handful of times a year, $400 on a nice pair doesn’t really make sense for me.

    I still need to see that bag you got!

  • Amanda Eisenberg

    Also important to note that price often equates to labor costs. Everlane is transparent with its pricing structure. Reformation shows how sustainable the fabric is. That top from Forever 21? Likely made in Uzbekistan or Vietnam by people paid cents on the dollar for each hour they toil away.

    • I didn’t include that because I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Example: lots of Phillip Lim and Alexander Wang stuff is made in China, but it still costs the same as other designer stuff that’s made in Italy. And it’s even sketchy how to classify where something is made. As long as the last step of the creation process is in the US/Italy, doesn’t mean most of it wasn’t made elsewhere. I think the whole transparency thing is as much a marketing tactic as it is an actual philosophy. I of course like the idea of paying more for labor costs, but I’m not totally convinced that’s true unless I go to the factory and see everything with my own eyes!
      http://www.thefashionlaw.com/home/radical-transparency-hm-and-zara-are-actually-more-transparent-than-everlane

      I’ve never seen Reformation in person before, but from what I see on the site, it looks like mostly synthetic fabrics for high prices.

      Maybe I’m an uber-skeptical consumer 🙂

  • $30 jeans mean a lot more than just the price of the fabric vs $300 jeans. I dare anyone to try on my favourite jeans that cost $300 and then go and put on some cheap jeans and let me know if you feel a difference cuz.. I DO.

    Plus, so much goes into $300 vs $30. From the pollutants used or not used, to the way they process it, the way they treat and pay their workers…

    • Yup! I think it’s mostly an education thing. If you don’t know about the features of clothing, it’s pretty easy to think a pair from Kohl’s is “essentially” the same as a $300 pair. I hope to do some future posts about understanding quality.

      I also think people forget that ideas cost money. So, I could have gotten a cheaper pair of minimalist sneakers. But you know what? They’d be ripoffs of the ones I bought. They absolutely pioneered the idea that sneakers can luxurious and can be worn to work. I’m happy to pay the price for innovation, ideas, and the time it takes to make that stuff happen!

  • Sense

    My issue with paying more $$ for an item is the X factor: how will this break in? how often will I wear it? will I find it as useful as I think I will? is it super-comfortable or will it be tight some days or make me feel itchy?

    Has anyone been able to create a magic formula to figure this out yet?

    If I knew for a fact that I absolutely would wear something often, it would last, I wouldn’t stain it accidentally and irreparably, and I’d love how I felt/looked in it, I would save up and pay top dollar for an item I loved EVERY TIME. The pieces in my wardrobe would be top quality and expensive, but everything would last a long time, so it’d be worth the money and I wouldn’t have to shop so often.

    To me it comes down to the cost if it doesn’t work out and how much I need an item. I don’t make a lot of money (~$30K in New Zealand dollars), so I just don’t have $200 to drop on a pair of heels and have them not fit well/feel good/be useful to wear. I do need life-saving outdoor gear, so that is where I save up and spend my money.

    A good example is my field boots–I need them to work (hiking to remote places over rough terrain is a major part of my research). I pay hundreds of dollars for good field boots because I know which brands I like now, which ones last, which ones are comfy, which ones make me slip and fall more, etc. It has taken ~20 years of buying different brands and expensiveness of boots to figure that out, though. Ditto for backpacks, jacket and rain pants, etc. I now know which brands are best for my uses/needs. Plus, I need these things to keep me alive when the weather turns, so it is important to buy good, decent gear. And that comes at a huge cost. (No, work will not buy them for me–I work at a University.)

    However, I’m still figuring that out for heels, dresses, etc. Quality heels won’t save my life. I don’t have to wear them for work or anything else, so I don’t technically need them. I end up not buying the more expensive, quality items in favor of one-offs. Also, to buy a $200 pair of heels and have them not work out would be devastating to my budget.

    I really wish I knew before buying stuff which ones would last and suit my real needs and which ones were a waste of $$!

    • There’s unfortunately no magic formula for determining whether or not something will be worth it. However, making good choices about clothes has a lot to do with how well you know yourself, like recognizing patterns for the stuff you wear and the stuff you don’t. Figuring out brands is something you develop over time, just like how you know which hiking boots to wear. And the brands will be different for everyone based on style, etc.

      With that said, from what you say, it seems like you don’t really need nice heels. If you aren’t wearing them a lot, then why would you need to get a really nice pair?

      Not everybody needs to be spending on designer clothes if it doesn’t fit your lifestyle. They also don’t have to cost $200. If you look on eBay and on secondhand sites you can usually get them for much cheaper.