How to Decide When to Splurge
Dress: Trina Turk (old, similar (on sale!) here and here; camel dress here; color block dresses here, here and (plus size) here); Booties: Sam Edelman; Necklace: Bauble Bar (old, similar here and here); Bag: Kate Spade; Sunglasses: Warby Parker (sold out, similar here and here)
You may have noticed that many of the pieces I feature in the blog are marked as "old," i.e., from a previous season and not currently available to buy (maybe I should use a more positive term for this??). This might seem odd for a style blogger who, theoretically, is supposed to help you keep up on the latest trends and help you shop!
While I certainly do want to do both of those things (which is why I always try to include links to similar items when those I am wearing are not available), my highest priority is to help you build a work wardrobe that you love without spending all of the money you earn on work clothes! The fact that so much of my wardrobe is from previous seasons is due to the fact that I've previously invested in high-quality, timeless pieces that I continue to wear and love today. For example, I've had this Trina Turk dress for several years now. I can't remember exactly how much I spent on it, but it wasn't cheap (probably in the $300ish range). While that's a bit more than I typically like spend on a dress (especially when I was just starting out), I knew this was a style that would work for many years, I loved the fabric and fit, and it wasn't something that I would see myself coming and going in.
Of course, not every item that I've splurged on over the last few years was, in hind sight, worth the investment. Through a bit of trial and error, I've developed a couple dos and don'ts in deciding whether an item is worth splurging on.
Do invest in timeless silhouettes and good fit.
If an item is in a classic silhouette or design that fits and flatters you well, then it may be a good candidate for an investment piece. While this is certainly true for the basics like silk shirts and suiting, in this situation I'm talking about items that are not the essentials. For example, a pair of leopard print pumps is not a workwear necessity, but it is a timeless item that you will be able to work into many outfits for years to come. It's worth spending a little extra on a pair that will last. The dress pictured here is another example. It's a conservative sheath (the most flattering style on me) in a neutral color combination, but with some interesting, not-too-trendy details (the little front slit and the color blocked belt) that make it stand out a bit from the crowd. As much as I love the ladylike bell and balloon sleeve trend, a dress with these is not something I would splurge on, as it will likely look dated in a year or two.
Do think about how the item fits into the rest of your wardrobe.
An item will be worth the investment if it will help enhance--or at least coordinate with--the other items in your wardrobe. The most obvious factor here is color (don't buy a tropical print blouse if your closet is full of muted neutrals), but this also goes for style, cut and fabric. If a splurge item will also require you to purchase coordinating shoes and jacket, then you've doubly busted your budget! If, on the other hand, an item will coordinate with a few of your other pieces in various ways to allow you to create multiple looks, then you've just expanded your wardrobe with one item rather than several, and maybe saved money in the long run!
Don't buy something just because it is on sale.
I once jumped at the "opportunity" to buy (final sale) a Diane Von Furstenburg wrap dress at a steep discount (but still not cheap!). The dress was not in a color that I tend to wear (bright turquoise), and I couldn't try it on before ordering. Big mistake. Not only is the dress way too low cut for the office, but the color goes with hardly anything in my closet, and I'm never really in the mood to wear turquoise. I have worn the dress exactly zero times. Now, even if an item is a higher-end brand on sale, I think critically about whether it really fits in with my aesthetic and whether I would be lusting after it if it was full price. If the answer to either question is "no," then I move on.
Don't impulse buy.
This is somewhat related to the first point, but also applies when items aren't on sale. If you see a beautiful dress out of your normal price point while shopping at the mall one day, by all means, try it on to figure out your size and whether you really love it, but don't buy it right away. If you're still thinking about it at the end of your shopping day or, better yet, a couple days later, then go back and spend your hard-earned money with confidence.
What are your rules of thumb when deciding whether to splurge on an item? Let me know in the comments below!