If you’re anything like me, spending more than $20 on a basic t-shirt seems a little steep, but shelling out hundreds on a beautiful pair of impossibly uncomfortable designer shoes or dress that you’ll end up wearing once isn’t too much to ask. After a while though, you end up wearing those swanky shoes and feathery frocks to meet friends at a fast-food burger joint (and look like an off-duty Cher in the process) because you realize you don’t have any fashion dough left for anything remotely comfy or practical. (Yes this actually happened to me when I didn’t plan any casual looks for our trip to Vegas last year, see below… but, hey, it’s Vegas right?)
So, how do you temper the temptation for all those high-priced designer duds and end up with the budget for good quality basics that complement your fabulous pieces in all their versatile glory? By putting your money where it matters! In this edition of the MDM Splurge vs. Skip List, I’ll give you the general rundown on the types of items I like to go big on, and which I go home without. Read on below…
My first rule when it comes to what to buy: Don’t. Splurge. On. Basic. Basics. Or at least not if you can help it! Take these two pairs of sandals. The Prada ones retail for $590 at Saks Fifth Avenue. To me, I can find simple metallic thong sandals very similar to these just about anywhere, minus the monumental price. When I’m choosing what to indulge on (especially with shoes!), I look for items that really pack a design punch and add visual interest to an outfit, like the Sophia Webster butterfly sandals on the left. They retail for only $350 (that’s a whopping $240 cheaper than the Prada option!) and, while they’re just as versatile as the Prada pair in that they’re also a flat metallic sandal, the butterfly cutouts add a sense of whimsy and fun, ultimately making this splurge into a closet staple! (Plus, I actually have a version of these in tan with subtle studs, so I can attest to their neutral prowess!)
Somewhat similarly, my second rule is: do consider use value when it comes to your splurges. Is a one-hit-wonder occasional dress really worth the hefty price tag? Don’t get me wrong, if something totally unique yet impractical is The One, then I’m happy to splurge if I can. But the key word here is unique. That understated $495 Aidan Mattox evening dress for a friend’s black tie wedding? Probably not worth the splurge unless you go to a ton of fancy events (in which case, I’m totally jealous). Instead, I’d drop the cash on the $620 Stine Goya dress. More pricey for sure, but the details, beautiful brocade fabric, and versatility make it all worth it! I’d dress it down for day with a wide belt and sandals (like the gorgeous Sophia Websters above) or up for evening with some strappy heels and clutch! (And if you do need that inevitable understated evening gown, check out clothing rental services like Rent the Runway for an economical alternative to ownership!)
This last one was a hard one! Both are from one of my favorite designers, Cult Gaia, and I love just about all of their avant-garde offerings when it comes to bags. But, when it comes to the ones I’ll actually purchase, it’s use value for the win again! I love a good mini bag because I hate carrying around cumbersome totes or bulky shoulder bags, so the Estelle was the perfect choice. I especially love them when they come with crossbody straps because hands free is the only way to go for me when I’m grabbing clothes off the rack in an all-day shop-till-I-drop. Throw in a little ocean hue for the uniqueness factor (which also conversely goes with just about anything) and I’m set! At $388, it is quite the splurge, but the $198 Nano Belt Bag just seemed a little too impractical in design (Basket on a belt? Not quite my thing…) to justify the lower price.
All in all, my first Splurge vs. Skip can be summed up like this: uniqueness and use factor is the name of the game when it comes to spending the big bucks! An intricate wardrobe is nothing without wearability, but utilitarian alone can borderline boring, and going with solely either can still leave you broke in the process. A great wardrobe is full of balance, so splurge a little on those special pieces, but pass up the ones that don’t give you butterflies (literally, in the case of the sandals) to make room in the budget for some basics.
Well, there ya have it! The first edition of MDM Splurge vs. Skip! I’m thinking about doing seasonal entries and/or item type-specific ones in the future, so stay tuned for more!