PATRICIA | T. Talks
Why we believe in a few fine things...and how to choose a wardrobe investment piece.
Clothing isn’t an investment in the traditional sense (it never gains value, and you’ll never sell an item of clothing for more than it was purchased), but it’s good to think of it like a down payment on your daily comfort, your confidence in your appearance, and the utility of your wardrobe.
For example, having a couple pairs of really nice jeans that fit well, make you look good, and last forever is better than having six pairs of jeans that look “okay”, are just kind of comfy, and fall apart after a year.
People come in all shapes and sizes, yet a lot of cheap clothing is mass produced in a “one shape fits all” manner. Low-quality dress shirts, for example, look terrible on people not shaped a specific way. Look for classic pieces that will ride the wave of trends, and fit into your wardrobe year after year. After all, you will want to wear these pieces year after year.
If a shirt is too loose or tight in the wrong places, you feel vulnerable and uncomfortable, and it shows in your body language. If it fits you well and you’re comfortable, however, you can get a nice confidence boost.
Whether we like it or not, clothing is also a part of our identity. Spending money on quality clothes might seem frivolous if you’re a frugal person, but in some cases, you can’t afford to not spend the money, especially if you’re trying to land a job or network with colleagues.
Generally speaking, cheap, throwaway clothes aren’t cheap in the long run. Poorly made clothing with thin material wears out faster and requires you to spend time and money repairing or replacing it. The key isn’t to spend more on clothes across the board, it’s to spend a little more on a few nice items.
When buying high-quality (and sometimes more expensive) clothes, however, you know you’ll be spending a little more, so you’re more inclined to research before you open your wallet. It’s better to have a wardrobe with a few versatile, durable things you love to wear than a wardrobe stuffed with junk. Marc Bain at The Atlantic explains that buying expensive, high-quality clothing forces him to truly consider each one of his purchases:"The point is to make you pause and ask yourself, “How much do I really want this?” …it’s enough that it causes me to seriously hesitate, which is the real point. It forces me to think about just how much I want that item of clothing, how much I’ll wear it, and whether I think the value it offers is worth a significant cost… I can’t make these purchases all the time, at least not without sacrificing elsewhere or going broke. It’s an investment, rather than the cheap buzz of getting something new."
It’s always good to have a personal “should I buy this?” test for everything you purchase, but it’s especially important when it’s something you spend so much time with, whether it’s expensive or not. As Heather Levin at Money Crashers explains, having quality clothing in your wardrobe is valuable because you spent more money on it, but also because it means something to you. You devoted real thought and consideration to your purchase and didn’t just buy because they looked cool on the mannequin when you walked by.