Friday, May 18, 2012

The Best List

#3 Quality over Quantity

I love shopping. I think you've guessed that by now. I'm the type of person who can shop whenever and wherever. I just love the activity (not to mention the results). Sadly, however, I do not have an unlimited budget which means I often have to decide whether or not I want to get 5 cheaper things out of my budget or one higher quality item. It's the eternal debate when it comes to clothing - quality or quantity?

My answer is undoubtedly, quality.

Before moving to New York I was certainly a quantity person. I tend to drift back to that get-as-much-as-I-can attitude now and then but I've been making an effort lately to shop with purpose. The fact of the matter is that quality clothing costs more because it will last you at least twice as long. That's the bottom line. And purchasing a few really well-made staple items that you can style different ways won't lead to "what was I thinking moments" like wearing all the latest trends can. That's one of the "secrets" of French women who always seem so effortlessly chic - buy quality, wear often.

I'm not strict by any means; there are a few items that I just can't and won't splurge on. But, take it from someone who shops and browses far too often, you will build a better wardrobe with quality pieces.

My golden rules for shopping are as follows:

My golden rules for shopping:

1. Buy trends cheap
This will keep you clear of regrets when you no longer want to wear that neon yellow dress three months down the road. Stores like H&M and Old Navy are always great bets for fun, affordable on-trend clothing.

2. Buy the best quality basics your budget allows for
These basics should include: a little black dress, a black blazer, one great suit, one pair each of perfect nude and black heels, a stunning cocktail dress in the color that flatters you most, a gorgeous leather bag, and a tailored button-up.

3. Comparison shop (always!)
Try your best not to make impulse purchases. When a new season starts make a list of what needs replacing in your closet - these will most likely be the things you wore the most anyway. On that note, make another list of items you wear constantly (mine would include black skinny jeans, leather jackets, blazers, and wedges). Those are the items to spend more money on so they last. Once you have your list start doing your research. Most brands are available on multiple sites and you neve know who is having a sale. Signing up for email alerts will often get you a nice discount, too. If you're looking for a specific item but not a certain brand try the site You can search by description like "green pleated skirt" and you'll get results from stores all over the web that you can narrow down by price, length, etc...

4. Mix high and low
More expensive items will elevate your whole outfit when you pair them with affordable pieces. On that note I always recommend trying to imagine three places you'd wear an item to and/or three ways you'd mix a piece into your current wardrobe. If you can only imagine one way or one place to wear it - it's probably not worth the money.

5.  Buy what fits
See Best List #1

The next question is, how do you recognize quality pieces?

Check for the following:

1. Fabric - Natural fabrics like cotton and silk are definitely preferable to many synthetic fabrics. One thing that truly annoys me is seeing an over-priced garments made out of inferior fabrics. Let your instincts guide you, if it feels itchy, slick, stiff, is totally see-through or smells odd (like fabric or shoe glue) you're better off without it.

2. The wrinkle test - Scrunch the bottom of the garment in your hand to see if it wrinkles up. You may want to reconsider buying that inexpensive shirt if it'll be a crumpled mess by the end of the day.

3. Lining - This one bothers me so much. If the lining of a jacket, dress, or pair of pants is not smooth and perfectly matched the garment it's not worth it. Nothing is worse than a blazer that looks great until you roll up the sleeves to reveal a pulling, cheap-looking lining. The lining in dresses should stay in place - not ride up - and should not be too short or tight.

4. Seams - Turn your garment inside out and check the seams. Are they pulling, fraying, or uneven? Put the thing back! Seams are a tell-tale of bad quality and they'll give you away every time.

5. Buttons - This one is pretty obvious but bears repeating nonetheless. Buttons should be sewn on tight - no wiggling or loose threads.

6. Care instructions - If you have to dry clean your $20 blouse to avoid it shrinking, becoming misshapen, or falling apart, it's not worth the purchase. Read what it takes to keep you garment in tact before you buy it.

7. Hems - Hems should be neatly finished and not fraying.

8. Zippers - Always look for quality metal zippers. Plastic zippers are easily damaged.

9. Summer heat test - This is a big one for me since I walk everywhere in NYC's baking summer heat. Many synthetic fabrics do not breathe and therefore will cause you to sweat like crazy.

10. Draping - In general, expensive clothing drapes/fits your body much better than discount pieces. If the $10 dress you want doesn't fit you perfectly what's the point in buying it? Save that $10  and put it towards a $100 dress that will hug your frame in all the right places.

Whew that was a long post. Now, keep in mind I'm all for affordable pieces that still look great and fill in holes in your wardrobe. I have target jeans that have lasted just as long as my designer denim and dresses that I got for under $50 that have held up to multiple wearings. Just be smart about what you buy. Keep the things I mentioned in mind and happy shopping!

P.S. Have you heard of the company Everlane? They are making high quality items at lower price points. I am obsessed!

Tell me, what will you splurge on and what do you buy on the cheap?

Happy Friday!

(What is the Best List?)

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