Dressed to invest: buying clothes for the long haul
We read a lot about investment purchases – but who are the women who spend big on their clothes, and why do they do it?
Dena Walker wearing a Vivienne Westwood antique print dress, which she bought for €485. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Jennifer Hord wearing a Missoni scarf that she bought for about €200. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Katie Healy with a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes, which cost her €600. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
There was a time, not too long ago, when fashion journalists, stylists and TV personalities alike wouldn’t baulk at the idea of spending €10,000-plus on a handbag (see: Oprah Winfrey), and, by that same token, they had no problem recommending the same to their readers and viewers. The logic was, of course, that we each have the right to decide what to do with money we earn for ourselves.
But then came the recession, and big-ticket items became an embarrassment. There was something insensitive about extolling the virtues of a five-figure dress when people were struggling to pay their mortgages or feed their children.
In recent years, things have levelled out slightly. The fashion world has copped on a bit, striving to strike a balance between recognising exorbitant purchases as something of a folly and respecting the fact that, for some, spending €500 on a dress is okay as “an investment purchase”.
Such a purchase is, by its very nature, something that has longevity – it is usually an item that has been carefully considered by the buyer (after a long period of covetousness), and those who invest in their purchases are usually the same women who avoid fast fashion, preferring to spend their cash in a well-thought-out lump sum than blow it all in increments on knickers and onesies.
Loopy for Louboutin
“I couldn’t justify going into Penneys and spending €100 every three or four weeks, like a lot of girls I know do,” says Katie Healy, a fashion blogger (whatkatiehealy did.blogspot.com) and investment purchaser whose Christian Louboutin habit is almost in double figures.
“I have eight pairs of Louboutins,” she says. “But I’m always recycling them, on eBay and whatnot, so I’m constantly getting rid of old ones and bringing new ones in.”
It’s not just Louboutins Healy invests in – her money is usually spent on what she calls the finishing touches: shoes, handbags and coats.
“I’d be a really infrequent shopper,” she says. “I buy a few bits and pieces every now and then that are of good enough quality, and I don’t really shop in cut-price shops, except for things like leggings.”
Dena Walker’s shopping strategy is similar to Healy’s. “What’s the phrase? Buy cheap, buy twice,” says Walker. “Unless it’s something very basic like a T-shirt, the cheaper it is, the less long-term it is.”
Walker describes herself as an “opportunistic” but sporadic shopper, and her decisions to spend on leather handbags, good shoes and standout dresses are often down to her personal situation.
“I’m lucky, in a way, because I’m not married and I don’t have children,” she says. “The responsibilities I have are limited, in that I don’t have to apportion a part of my salary to anyone but me. That sounds like a very selfish point of view, but I can’t magic up children to spend my money on.”
Discounted but not cheap
Jen Hord is in digital advertising and, like Walker and Healy, believes that good- quality clothing is worth investing in – although, she says, she would never buy a big-ticket item at full price.
“I tend to spy something that I like and then I do lots of internet research on how I can find it for a super discount price,” she says. That said, Hord admits that this doesn’t always mean items are, strictly speaking, affordable.
“I bought a Moncler jacket that I found on a UK website for about 70 per cent less than what I would have paid here in Ireland,” she says. “I feel like I scored a deal, but I still spent a load of money on that coat.” A basic, padded parka by Moncler costs €775 at moncler.com.