...and how to get the money for that.
Have you ever wondered what is the oldest item in your closet?
For me it will be my reversible down coat with a shawl collar. A truly best purchase ever. I’ve been wearing it for over 25 years. Yes, that’s correct, 25 years.
And when I say that I wore it, I mean heavy use, like every.single.day 3-4 months per year. Pretty amazing, right?
Living with a severe eczema my whole life taught me the thing or two about spending money and definitely helped me develop valuable skills. One of them is buying less but better (read: healthier) clothes that are smart investments in a long run.
You see, for me the high-quality clothes are not a cost or a waste of money. They are investments in my health and wellbeing, because well-made clothes that are gentle and safe for my skin help me to efficiently manage my skin condition. They soothe my skin and make it less itchy. When my skin itches less, I scratch less, which allows my skin to heal faster and when I’m not busy scratching, I can focus on other things that matters to me. Plus wearing beautifully made clothes feels so good.
Over the years I also learnt there’s more to take into account before buying anything than simply how much it costs. That’s why I never make the purchases solely based on the price tag.
If you want to know my secrets how to buy high-quality healthy clothes without destroying your budget, grab a notepad and a pen because I’m going to reveal them now.
The goal is the closet that you love and that serves you for long years.
“Opening up your closet should be like arriving at a really good party where EVERYONE you see is someone you like” – Amy Collins
Secret 1: Any good investment involves research, consideration and a lot of patience.
Smart spending isn't uniquely about love, but carefully studying your lifestyle, your needs, the options available on the market, and your budget.
Let’s look at each of these elements closer.
Your lifestyle and needs changes. The clothes you wore at your 20s may not be what you need now.
Knowing your lifestyle and needs will help you choose the garment that you will actually wear and enjoy. The better you know yourself, the easier it will be for you to find the investment pieces thar are right for you.
I used to wear a lot of blazers, shirts, and costumes when I was working in the office. Since I started my business, I work mainly at home and so, I switched from classic style to casual/street chic, which is more comfortable and easy-going than office chic.
My needs changed too. Over the last few years, my skin became more reactive and sensible, and doesn’t support the synthetic fabrics anymore. To make my skin happy, I only buy clothes that are made of natural, breathable and healthy fabrics.
Ok, once you know your needs and lifestyle, you need to figure out the budget, or in other words, how much money you feel comfortable to invest in clothes and accessories.
Not all items require high investment. Putting more money into a good winter jacket that will serve you for many years is definitely smarter investment than the summer dress that you may want to change every season.
Things I’m willing to pay more for are: winter coat, shoes, bags, and cashmere sweaters because I expect them to survive more than one season.
Make a list of pieces you would like to enjoy longer and then the max amount you are ready to invest in it. This will help you to find the best piece in your price range.
And finally, make sure to know your options before you purchase the piece.
Google the item you plan to buy, read reviews about various brands, look for inspiration in fashion magazines, use the Good On You app to find sustainable alternatives, ask your friends for recommendations.
And never but never buy anything that you don’t love.
When it comes to investment pieces, the haste is not advisable.
(I spent over 2 years to find the replacement for my old winter jacket and I have no regrets because my new jacket checked all the boxes.)
Secret 2: Buy smart
By “smart” I mean choosing exclusively clothes that are compatible with your skin and YOUR current lifestyle and taste. This is probably the most important thing I learnt over the years. Don’t buy clothes for future you, for “when I lose my belly” or “when I get this job”. Any piece of clothing you buy, need to fit you and your lifestyle NOW.
Also before any purchase ask yourself these questions:
- Do I really need this?
- Will this enable me to wear other clothes I have more often?
- Does it fit well?
- Does it suit my current style and lifestyle?
- Does it make me feel good and beautiful?
- Is there anything I don’t like about this item? What is it? Will that annoy me and stop me from wearing the item?
- Am I really going to wear it? Or do I buy it because it’s fun or because the price is attractive?
- Can I easily combine it with what I already own?
- Can I think of at least a few outfits that I can wear it with?
- Will it last?
- Can I see myself wearing this for a few years?
- Is this investment worth the money?
- Does it have to be dry cleaned or can I wash it?
- Does it crease easily? Will that annoy me?
- Does the idea of wearing it make me really happy?
Be honest with yourself when you answer those questions. They are what can make your purchase a success or a complete disaster.
Secret 3: Go for timelessness and quality
High-quality is the #1 thing you want from the investment piece.
To select the right piece, you need to be able to tell the difference between durable, well-crafted piece and the one that looks pretty on the rack but won’t survive more than few washes.
I will write a separate detailed post how to assess the quality of clothing piece.
Till then refer to the key things listed below that you should pay attention to when you asses:
Check how the fabric drapes and works with your body.
Asses the comfort level and the way it fits your body. Quality clothes should retain its shape after stretching.
Always (!) check the composition of the garment and choose natural fibres like organic cotton, linen, silk, cashmere, merino wool, and leather over synthetics. They are healthier and more skin-friendly and often they have a higher-quality than synthetic fabrics.
Assess whether the weight and texture of the fabric is suited to the design and how it feels against your skin. I always test the skin-friendliness of the fabric by apposing the fabric to the face and I reject anything that feels unpleasant.
Remember: Quality fabric should never itch or irritate the skin.
Check if the seams are straight and neat on the inside and outside of the garment. Seams should not pucker, pull, or come apart when you pull at them. There should be no loose threads. Seams should not slip and create holes in the fabric when you pull at them. Quality garments usually have shorter and more stitches. Topstitching should look very neat.
If you have very sensitive skin or suffer from skin condition, make sure you check how the seams feel against your skin. Bulky, hard seams and stitches can irritate your skin, cause the rashes, and aggravate your condition, so make sure you to not skip this point.
Check how the buttons are fastened
The buttonholes should be adequately reinforced with thick thread so that they don’t tear.
You should not be able to see the raw edges of the fabric through the buttonhole stitching.
A quality garment should come with a spare button or two.
Check also the quality of the zippers, the snap buttons, and the lining if you buy the coat, blazer, or elegant dress.
Once you finish assessing the quality of the garment, it’s time to assess the timelessness of the piece.
Timelessness applies to items built to last the test of both time and trend. And it refers to design, color and cut.
Timeless design is a design that never goes out of style. Here simplicity and “less is more” are your friends.
Timeless colors are the classic colors that works with all other colors and continue to last season after season. Beige, black, navy blue, and white are the examples of timeless colors I always opt for when I buy an investment piece.
And finally, timeless cut is the style or shape of a garment that always remains in style. The straight-leg or boot-cut jeans, sleeveless LBD, or classic white button-up shirt are good examples of pieces with a timeless cut.
Secret 4: Look at the value tag instead the price tag
A value tag tells you “What's it worth for me?” to buy the product. Or in other words, “How this piece of clothing will improve my life?”
It’s scientifically proven than clothes can optimize our mood, increase our comfort, boost our self-esteem and confidence, make us happier. These are actually the extras that we want our investment pieces do for us.
Here are examples of questions I ask myself before I take my wallet out:
- Will this item improve my comfort and quality of life?
- Will it save my time?
- Will it make dressing up more fun or less stressful?
- Will I feel empowered, more confident, happier while I will wear this piece?
- Will this piece of clothing make me feel good and beautiful?
- Will it soothe my painful and itchy skin?
The bottom line is that your investment piece needs to make your life easier or better or both.
When I was choosing my winter jacket I didn’t look only at the aesthetic side, practicality, functionality or the price tag. I wanted my new jacket to save me some time and make my life easier by making me feel and look good, cool, and modern whether I wear gorgeous dress or tracksuit under it.
Secret 5: Planning is everything
Let’s face it, well-made, high-quality pieces requires financial investment.
The good news is that you don’t need to be rich to afford them.
I’m going to share with you my money hack that allows me to buy anything I want even when I was unemployed.
Yes, you heard it! I do have a piggy bank that I “feed” with 5-swiss-frank-coin every day throughout the year. At the end of the year, I break my piggy bank, count the coins and bring them to the bank to pay into my account. This pretty sum of average 1,825 chf (365 day x 5 chf = 1,825 chf) is my clothing and accessories budget for the incoming year that I am allowed to spend only on this stuff.
But wait, there are a few rules when it comes to piggy-banking:
- the piggy bank can’t have the hole (this will prevent you from taking the money out before you reach the end of piggy banking period)
- before you start piggy banking, clearly define the purpose of saving, frequency of feeding your piggy (every day/week/month) and the amount you will consequently insert in your piggy. My advice: choose the amount that doesn’t put too much financial pressure on you yet nicely adds up over time. In my case 5 chf is the price of Starbuck’s cappuccino in Switzerland.
- decide how long you plan to piggy bank. To save a significant amount for investment pieces, 12 months sounds like a good timeline.
- The saved amount needs to be spent according to the intention you set up at the beginning. Plus, you are not allowed to buy more clothes than your piggy bank budget affords you.
Ok, now that you know how to buy healthier and better clothes without destroying your budget, it’s time to turn those insights into action!
Let me know in the comments what pieces in your closet need an upgrade and which will be the first one you look forward to hunting for.
And remember: Healthy clothes create healthy bodies & healthy minds