A reader posed the question on how to determine what to buy when there’s so much to consider and so many good options. Rather than briefly answer in the comments, I thought the discussion deserved its own post.
As one who is constantly browsing fashion, I’m frequently tempted to buy. But, there are a few rules I apply before I hit the purchase button. It begins with categorizing items down to needs, wants, obsessions and investment staples.
Needs: These are the essentials like jeans, tees, and basic cashmere sweaters. They’re often repeat buys (or buying double) so I don’t spend a lot of time looking for the latest and greatest. I have my go-to brands and look to them for updates. Jeans are Mother Denim (wearing the Hustler Roller lately) and Closed. For tees, I shop Uniqlo and COS. I’ll refresh my cashmere sweaters with new colors and cuts from James Perse, COS, and occasionally splurge on Khaite.
Wants: A majority of the pieces on A Note on Style are in this category. They’re items that’ve caught my eye because they look fresh, updated, modern, cool, and stir some excitement. A fantastic new loafer or sandal that makes the rest of my wardrobe appear more stylish, a poplin shirt in a new color or with interesting details, a trouser that will elevate a number of looks, or a skirt with unique style (like the Gucci skirt above). These pieces will usually go in my shopping cart or wish list and stay there for a day or two while I contemplate.
I have to question myself with the “wants”. Are they filling a void? Will they replace something I already own that perhaps looks tired? Will I be excited to wear them? Can I style them with existing pieces in my closet? But, most importantly, is it my style? It’s easy to get wrapped up with what looks good on others and works for their lifestyle and budget.
Obsessions: I would almost categorize these pieces as impulse buys because when I see one, it’s a quick purchase. They’ve likely already been lurking in the back of my mind. An example would be a Chanel bag in a specific color (like this one in silver) or the Chanel T-Strap pump (wearing above). I had them on my wish list the minute they appeared on the runway. My current obsession is this pump.
Investment Staples: I’ve made an effort in the last few years to buy less but better. I’m trying to build a quality wardrobe based on functional staples. These purchases fall between needs and obsessions because I do give them a lot of consideration and want them to have significance for the long run. (Remember this post?) A blazer by The Row, a Celine dress, Chanel jacket or knit,(buying pre-owned is a good approach), a classic Gucci bag…they’re items I’m counting on wearing for years to come. And I mean years. This Jil Sander jacket from over 20 years ago just made the rounds last winter.