Investing in the Good Stuff

It was drizzling today on the way to work in that awkward I’m-not-going-to-really-rain-just-sprinkle-enough-to-soak-your-shoes-and-make-you-cold way.

Growing up, I used to love the rain. But that was San Diego, where it rains five days a year. Rain meant that our house wouldn’t spontaneously combust. It was reason to celebrate.

That isn’t to say that I dislike rain now. But when I was younger, rain was something I was able to enjoy. From my living room, curled up by the fire with hot cocoa and a book. I wasn’t actually living in it. In fact, I didn’t even own a pair of rain boots until my senior year, when I bought myself a pair because I knew I’d be moving to a colder climate.

Anyway, walking to work today, my shoes did get wet, as did my hair. But I wasn’t necessarily cold. And when I evaluated my outfit, I realized the quality (and lack thereof) of my clothes.

Kmart flats, black drugstore tights, discount pencil skirt, H&M sweater… all of the basics of my outfit were well under $20. But my coat was a wool, black pea coat—the warmest I could possibly find in California, and a very expensive Christmas present from the Christmas before college. On my hands was a pair of insulated leather gloves that I bought myself when I was fifteen and hid in the back of my dresser because they were too pretty to wear.

The gloves probably cost something like $40—quite an investment for a 15-year-old, especially one that lives in a climate where I can’t wear gloves. And by asking for a quality coat for Christmas, I was sacrificing the opportunity to get something else. Something less useful, but more immediately satisfying.

I’m as big a fan of Forever 21 as the next frugalista who pays for her own clothes. Forever is good for cheap clothes—by any definition. But the most beloved, prized pieces in my closet are the ones I invested in: my leather jacket that I bought in Florence, my (very worn) cowboy boots that I bought as a graduation gift, my Marc Jacobs PanAm bag from my 16th birthday, my Marc Jacobs Daisy perfume that I bought somewhere over the Atlantic, my pearls, my sorority pin.

I don’t know if I care about them because they cost me, or if I was willing to pay more because I cared so much. But I have noticed that in many ways, you get what you pay for with clothes. And it makes a lot of sense to invest in the pieces that will last a lifetime and still be just as beautiful. That longevity is what makes those clothes classic.

Jackie O had “classic” down to a T.

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Hi, I'm Marian.
By day, I'm a PR maven with a nerdy affinity for research and branding. By night, I'm an explorer; I delve into books, food, design, and the murky waters of my own psyche, then share my musings here.





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