Whether you’ve spent the last few months hunting for the perfect piece or you’re just starting to dip your toe into high-end fashion, the decision whether or not to pull the plug on that really expensive, really amazing garment you have your eye on can be a tricky one.
Let’s face it: we’re all on a budget of some variety, and no matter who you are, laying down hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars all in exchange for just one or two articles of clothing can pack a painful sting.
However, once you’ve finally gotten your hands on that holy grail that’s absolutely perfect in every way (the buttery-soft Italian suede, the calfskin leather, the impeccable construction, my God!), it all becomes worth it. In all of my years of dressing well, some of the most joyous moments I’ve experienced in fashion have come from finally getting to wear designer garments I’d longed after for ages — in fact, it’s really not even close.
But just because a garment carries a premium pricetag doesn’t mean that it will provide you a premium value. That initial sting of spending tons of cash could soon be followed by a far worse, far more lingering feeling of regret if you don’t weigh your options carefully before you make the decision to purchase. So how can you know if it’s really the right time to commit to a luxury garment before you buy?
Obviously, every person will have to reconcile this choice in a way that feels right for them, but if you’re having trouble, here are a few ways of reframing the decision to buy that I’ve picked up over the years that I think can help steer you clear of a bad purchase — or help you make the final call on picking up something great.
1. What role would this garment play in my existing wardrobe?
This one is major: if you aren’t able to quickly come up with a detailed answer to this question, I’m willing to bet that you probably shouldn’t drop the cash on whatever you’re considering buying.
While it’s totally normal to be impressed by a garment just by its own virtue, when wondering if you should make a purchase, you should consider how any garment you add to your wardrobe is going to interface with the clothes you already wear every day. Does this garment, for example, finally fill a gap in your closet that’s been driving you crazy for months? Or perhaps this garment is a high-end, impeccably-constructed alternative to a favorite inexpensive piece that you’ve worn endlessly?
Typically, buying clothes tailored to an aesthetic you’d like to have rather than the one you already have can be a recipe for disappointment. If you’re looking to make a change, consider adding inexpensive basics to your wardrobe first like jeans and a dress shirt before investing in a more expensive piece like a suit.
2. What is the lifetime cost for this garment?
Let’s say you’ve finally found the missing piece that’s going to tie your whole wardrobe together, but every time you look at the price tag, you start to wonder if it’s really worth it to drop so much cash on one item. This is a totally valid concern, but in my opinion, might not be the most useful way of thinking about an expense like this.
Taking into account the lifespan of the item (which is typically much, much longer for luxury and designer items that are worth the investment) as well as the amount of use you’ll get out of the garment can help make potentially murky buying decisions far clearer.
Try this example on for size: let’s say you’re trying to decide whether to splurge on a pair of absolutely perfect designer boots that retail for $500 or to settle for a decent pair that only cost $100. If you consider that the cheaper pair of shoes are likely to be worn down after just one or two years while the designer shoes can last for much longer, you might find that thinking about the cost of these items over a five-year period reveals that the “cheap” pair doesn’t actually save you that much cash in the long run.
3. Always, without a doubt, try everything on.
I just mentioned this in the last article we posted, but it bears repeating: the same size between different brands — or even different collections within the same brand — can fit drastically differently.
And fit is arguably the most important element of any garment you might be adding to your wardrobe: even the most gorgeously eye-catching pattern isn’t going to look good on you if the sleeves don’t properly fit your arms and the shoulder seams fall halfway down your biceps. Understanding whether a seemingly perfect item actually makes you look and feel good when it’s on your body should be a mandatory prerequisite to any purchase, especially expensive ones.
If you try something on and realize the fit needs some alterations, that’s not necessarily the end of the world: here at Hellman Clothiers, for example, we offer alterations and tailoring on site. That said, custom alterations can sometimes introduce an additional cost and time barrier that might make you feel less passionate about a seemingly perfect item.
No matter the outcome, understanding how an item is going to behave once it’s off the hanger and on your body is only going to help you make a more informed purchasing decision.
4. Wait. And then wait even longer.
This one is an absolute pain, but has undoubtedly prevented me from making questionable purchases more than any other entry on this list. No matter how you feel after considering the other entries on this list, before you make any final decisions, just write down the name of the garment somewhere you’ll remember it and wait for a few weeks before doing anything.
It’s simple, but it works: if you find yourself mentally returning to the garment over and over again, that’s probably a good indication that you’ll return to it over and over again once it’s actually in your closet. If after two weeks of waiting, you find that you barely remember being interested in the item to start with…well, your decision is pretty easily made.
Simply giving yourself time to digest a decision like this can remove the gratification elements that could otherwise cloud your judgement, and allows you to be confident that if you make the decision to buy something, it’s because it actually provides value.
Ultimately, if you tread carefully, do your research, and follow these steps, you’ll be able to navigate the decision-making process like a pro and make calculated investments in your style that amplify the outfits you wear every day.
Ready to start looking for your next pickup? Feel free to visit Hellman Clothiers’ website or drop by our downtown Cincinnati location for a hand-curated selection of impeccable American and European designer garments that fit every style.