There comes a time in every shopper’s life when the idea of splurging on a designer piece arises. With so many gorgeous bags, shoes, and clothes out there, how could it not? But, in order to ensure you’re shelling out your hard-earned cash for the right reasons, there are a few things you should take into consideration.
Here are the 10 questions to ask yourself before buying anything expensive.
Question 1: Do I already own something like this?
First things first: Take a cold, hard look at your closet and see if you already own something that resembles your potential pricey purchase. If the answer’s no, move along to question two.If the answer is yes, then there is a little more work to do here. Let’s say the item in question is a fabulous black designer cocktail dress. Do you own a million similar less expensive black dresses that you love and find yourself reaching for often? If so, you might want to skip shelling out big bucks for a new one unless you’d rather get rid of those, and only have one. Why? Because it’s a known fact that the more you own, the less you wear.
Question 2: Do I love shopping? (Or: Am I addicted to fast fashion?)
This is a big one, ladies. We’re not going to condemn you for shopping often for things you probably don’t need—we’re totally guilty—but we will say that when comes to spending on an investment piece, you might want to think about whether you’re still going to want other items in the same fashion family.
For example: If you buy that $3,000 Céline bag, do you foresee yourself not buying any other bags—no matter how cheap or trendy—for the next year or two? When someone buys a new car or a new house, they don’t buy a bunch of smaller, cheaper houses and cars a few months later, right? We like to use the mentality for fashion items. If you know you’re someone who likes to own a huge variety of bags, maybe buying a super-pricey one isn’t the right move.
Question 3: Will this item cause problems for me down the line?
Another thing to figure out: Will this expensive purchase cause real problems for you down the line? Meaning, will that pair of Isabel Marant boots set you back far enough that your phone bill or student loan payments won’t be met this month? If so, it’s a good idea to let them be for now, and start saving a little every month so you can eventually buy them guilt-free (the best way!)
Question 4: If the label was cut out, would it still be my taste?
As fashion lovers, it’s a given that our inner Sybarite will occasionally emerge. Nothing shameful about that—most designer things are beautiful—but if you’re buying simply for a label and the item isn’t really your taste, well, isn’t that silly?
Question 5: If Instagram didn’t exist, would I still want it?
We hate to assume you’d buy anything expensive simply so people know you own it, but alas, this is the world in which we live. Are you buying that Balenciaga bag because you really, really love it, or because you want others to know you have it?
If you buy those designer shoes, will you be able to truly enjoy them without posting them to social media (“artfully” hiding them behind a vase of peonies counts as posting, people.) If the answer is no, you might have some thinking to do.
Question 6: Is this an impulse buy?
Like social media, today’s world is also jam-packed with online promotions, flash sales, and deals. While these can be a fantastic if you’re legitimately in the market for something, they can be pretty dangerous for the casual shopper who—when she woke up this morning—had no idea she needed or wanted, say, a $600 Phillip Lim blouse until she got an email that it’s 20% off.
If you’ve been itching for a certain pair of designer jeans and you fortuitously see they happens to be on Gilt today, or they’re 30% off at Barneys, go for it. But if you’re ready to pony up for $500 in five minutes for a pair of shoes you’ve never seen before, well, you might want to step away from the computer for a few hours and revisit the item when your dopamine levels recede. After all, most impulse buys end up causing serious cases of buyer’s remorse.
Question 7: Will I realistically use it often?
There’s nothing wrong with treating ourselves to special-occasion pieces now and again, but with truly expensive buys it’s worth calculating the cost per wear—especially if the item might not fit into your lifestyle.
Are you a pre-school teacher who would never wear heels to work? You might not want to shell out $600 for those Manolo Blahniks right now. Are you an attorney at a conservative firm? You probably won’t get much wear out of that bold printed Kenzo suit. Why spend your hard-earned money on something that will just sit in your closet?
Question 8: Am I buying because [insert blogger/street style star here] had it?
Any street style addict knows that there are certain personalities that simply kill it every time they’re photographed. However, just because you saw your favorite fashion blogger draped in Miu Miu, Stella McCartney, or Valentino—or because you’ll be in New York during Fashion Week and want to get snapped by a street style photographer—isn’t a great reason to go out and splurge on the same stuff.
Don’t forget: Several big street-fashion players, editors, and bloggers get sent designer stuff for free to entice folks like us to go out and buy it. Others are, well, richer than us and it’s their day job to flit around the world in the latest designer clothes, which is fun to admire but not necessarily healthy to emulate.
Instead, seek out lesser-priced pieces of things you admire on street style stars, and out your own stamp on it—and splurge when it’s something you really want, not something you really want to copy.
Question 9: Can I get it for less?
As with any big purchase, it pays to price-shop a bit before biting the bullet. For current items, check out department stores, boutiques, and every online shop you can find. For vintage or discontinued items, call your local consignment shops, or scour eBay, Etsy, and Craigslist. If it’s a new item that you really want but don’t necessarily need this second, sign up for site like Shop it to Me, which scours the web for every discount from brands you specify.
Question 10: Is this item a one-season wonder?
Let’s be clear: We certainly don’t think every spurge needs to be something “classic” that’ll last forever and ever (where’s the fun in that?) but we do think dropping a ton on something that’s so obviously the “it” item from one collection (ahem, Alexander Wang‘s $1,000 Parental Advisory sweatshirt) is silly.
Why? Because there’s an excellent chance that, after the season is up and the luster starts to fade, you might start to feel that your splurge was partially due to the immediacy of having something covetable, rather than having something you absolutely adore.