Q: I just went back to school for my master’s—so I’m living off of a small university stipend. At 26, I feel I should start buying investment pieces, but my budget is so limited. Should I be spending on one investment piece a year, or buying less expensive alternatives throughout the year? —Natasha
A: Dear Natasha,
The good news: It used to be that the correct advice was, Buy either good shoes or a good bag; make the investment; it’s worth it. But not anymore, says fashion director Anne Keane: “The chasm between what’s affordable and what’s an investment—in terms of style—
is gone,” she said. “An investment piece is a piece you feel like spending the money on!
"There are great flats at every price—but that doesn’t mean you should necessarily buy the cheap ones. You buy the ones you love.” I have experienced this changing definition of an investment firsthand: Many seasons ago, I happened upon a pair of orange wedge sandals from Prada. Conventional wisdom: If you’re buying Prada shoes, make them black and make them classic. I was pretty sure wedges were on their way out, trendwise, but could not resist them. A good 10 years later, wedges are still cool, and the orange sandals continue to delight stylish people whenever I wear them.
Conversely, for years I’ve wanted slim black satin pants. Classic, right? I wanted them so badly—and was so totally unable to find them—that I actually said these words to the fashion department: “Price is no object.” A comment that in no way reflects the reality of my financial situation. “What about Dolce?” I goaded them. “How about YSL?” There was nothing! At any price! Until, in an H&M on Black Friday with my shopping-deprived cousin, I found the perfect pair. For $35. So: You don’t have to choose; the editors here are Lanvin, and they’re Target. Buy what you love—and if you can afford shopping only at a certain type of store, embrace it. I know you’re going to find something you love in one of those stores!
Photo: Isabel Marant, Fairchild Archive
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