“Investment shopping” can be a fraught subject, and not only because the term itself is a misnomer if interpreted literally. Unlike an index fund or a Roth IRA, clothes and accessories rarely appreciate over time. However, the idea of investing in fashion has become part of the cultural lexicon in the sense that buying fewer, higher-quality items in the short-term can mean saving the money you might spend on numerous, lower-quality items over the long-term that will probably have to be replaced. There’s also an emotional pay-off to purchasing something you know you’ll love and wear for years, and perhaps eventually pass on to another generation.
I’ve been thinking a lot about investment shopping after reading the comments under a recent story I wrote on this topic. The feedback was both heated and insightful, running the gamut from debate over the definition of an investment piece to criticism over the lack of lower-priced suggestions to eagerness for a continued stream of similar fashion inspiration. The common subtext was one of curiosity about investment shopping in general, adding to the many reasons why it’s a conversation clearly ripe for unpacking.
So, to shed further light on investment purchasing and how it differs significantly according to lifestyle and budget, I asked the Man Repeller community to share their recent splurges with me, as well as some details about why they consider them an investment. Keep scrolling to read what they had to say, and drop your own story in the comments. If there are any other aspects of investment shopping you would like to see explored on Man Repeller, feel free to share those as well!
Purchased by Merri, a 54-year-old who works in the non-profit industry in Pennsylvania.
“I’ve decided that I’m not buying anything but preowned merchandise, and I am selling what doesn’t bring me joy. This purse is the first designer bag I’ve ever owned. I am conflicted about it being leather, but just as thrilled that it’s gold. I plan to wear it with anything I want. I just discovered Poshmark, and I think I have a problem.”
Purchased by Sophie, a 23-year-old who works in the marketing and graphic design industries in Oregon.
“I purchased this blouse from a thrift store, somewhat impulsively after work one day. I’ve been wanting to bulk up my closet with ‘investment’ pieces for so long, but I just don’t have the money right now. However, I feel like investment pieces don’t need to be expensive to be perfect, timeless and classic. To me, an investment piece is something that can grow with me, something I’ll always reach for, and something that makes me feel like a better version of myself. I wear this shirt at least once every two weeks because I love it so much, especially as the seasons change. I don’t think I’ll ever regret this purchase because it’s so versatile and classic, and it didn’t cost very much money for the payoff it will give me.”
Purchased by Carson, an 18-year-old student living in California.
“For a student who thinks twice about a $10 salad purchase, $22 for a single pair of socks is a serious investment. These hiking/active socks are marketed as NEVER smelling bad and are highly cushioned, which piqued my interest since my feet smell like a dumpster fire after a run, hike, bike ride, etc. BOY have they been a good investment so far. Not only do they not smell (like, not at all!!!!) after intense activity, they’re also like walking on clouds. And to top it all off, they’re very colorful and give me an energy boost when I look down at them. I’ll probably buy more since reviews say they last forever, too.”
Purchased by Celia, a 20-year-old student living in Barcelona.
“I found this suit in a thrift shop in Oakland, and when I saw it, I immediately fell in love. It is made out of green, yellow, orange, red and brown wool. It’s super comfortable but elegant at the same time. I hesitated for half an hour while I tried it on because the trousers were too big, however I decided I had to buy it since it was too damn perfect otherwise and it was worth paying for the alterations. I haven’t used it that much yet, but I’m sure I’ll wear my whole life because it’s so well-made, and it’s too classic and pretty to go out of fashion.”
Purchased by Rebecca, a 33-year-old who works in the beauty industry in Illinois.
“These shoes are not the most expensive item, but for a commuter like myself they’re an investment in better quality and comfort. I walk a ton and take the Chicago “L,” so I’ve done a lot of research to find a shoe that provides the mix of practicality and fashion I needed.”
Two Bras from Curvy Kate, $150
Purchased by Maddie, a 26-year-old who works in the tech industry in New York.
“I was buying cheap and ill-fitting bras for too long, trying to squeeze into D and DD sizes even though they weren’t quite right. After using a reddit calculator on “A Bra That Fits,” I found out I was actually a J cup, and I found a British brand called Curvy Kate that makes that size. I finally invested (both mentally and financially) in buying bras that actually fit me, and I am so happy about it! All of my clothes fit better with a properly fitting bra underneath, and I feel so much more confident now.”
Purchased by Amy, a 27-year-old who works in the marketing industry in Michigan.
“I thought about and researched these boots for MONTHS before pulling the trigger. I bike to work, even in Michigan winter, and I needed something durable and cute. I wanted a pair of Doc Martens but they didn’t have the style I wanted in my size. My husband is a farmer and apparently Blundstone boots have a reputation in the farming community for being durable. I’ve worn them pretty much every day since buying them with no regrets. Comfortable, unscarred by snow and great for everyday wear. Zero regrets.”
Purchased by Jenna, a 17-year-old who works in the retail industry in Michigan.
“I contemplated buying these for months. I now wear them at least three times a week if not more. I’m definitely happy with the purchase because Re/Done offers free repairs and warranty for life. In high school I would usually buy around five pairs of Hollister or American Eagle jeans, which I didn’t completely love, and they would rip within a year. With Re/Done, they use sustainable fabrics that last a lifetime! Also, jeans are definitely a staple wardrobe item that will never go out of style.”
Purchased by Janice, a 50-year-old who works in the media industry in Canada.
“I thought about this jumpsuit for years before finally buying it. I love it. I am embracing a more androgynous aesthetic and this jumpsuit is a perfect example of it. I can dress it up or down. It’s comfortable. And it’s made by local designers and manufactured without using sweatshop labour. The quality is amazing and I expect to wear it for years through the spring, fall and winter (at least a couple of times a month).”
Purchased by Sarah, a 30-year-old who works in the advertising and playwriting industries in New York.
“I’ve spent the entirety of my post-college life living paycheck to paycheck, working classic “artist” day jobs like waitressing, catering, nannying, retail, etc. while barely making minimum wage. Despite working several of these jobs at a time, six to seven days a week, I was in tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt and miserable. I had no time to create and no cash to show for working myself into the ground. I decided to commit to a full-time, high-paying job simply to get out of debt, and fit in creative projects around that. My new job also worked me into the ground, but paid handsomely enough for me to pay off my debt in six months. A year and a half after that, I managed to snag a new, even higher-paying job, and while I’m generally now decently frugal (the Specter of Debt Past barely in my rear view), I felt like I needed to celebrate with one gratuitous purchase. I’ve never walked into a designer store and walked out with anything. It was pretty thrilling to stroll into Gucci and put down my credit card, even if I only left with a belt.”
Purchased by Hanna, a 24-year-old medical student living in Germany.
“After recently inheriting a little bit of money, the first thing I invested in was a traditional Dirndl from a very well known Trachtenshop (Tracht is the german word for any traditional clothing). Its an investment because a) to me thats a lot of money and b) I would have never spend that much money if I hadn‘t inherited that money. I‘ll wear it on every Oktoberfest for as long as I fit into it. It’s made of linen and so beautifully crafted. It’s going to last a long, long time. I’m so happy with it, not a single moment of doubt!”
Purchased by Brooke, a 36-year-old who works in a museum archive in Massachusetts.”
“I started a new job in Boston that required something akin to a briefcase. But, I commute from Providence, so I wanted something a bit more portable than a briefcase, which led me to the Senreve Maestra bag. I’ve never spent so much on anything clothing/accessory related before, but I decided the investment was worth it because I use it M-F, and the quality is such that it should last a long time. I’m three months in and I still love the bag: It’s beautiful, well-made and easily transitions between messenger bag, briefcase and backpack. It’s also nice to remove decision-making around which bag to carry every day. Because I’ve been so accustomed to consuming fast fashion, I am concerned that I’ll be tired of it after a year when something of lesser quality would have run its course, but I’m hopeful that I’ll still love it! And the big price tag has encouraged me to take extra good care of it, which is unfortunately something I’ve been less likely to do in the past.”
Purchased by CC, a 42-year-old who works in education in New York.
“This jacket has haunted my dreams and consumerist stalkings for some time, but one day this past winter, I was like, you know what? Fuck it. I’m 42. I’m halfway through this bitch. I want that jacket. I can afford it. Yes, I generally do not believe a great jacket has to cost over $1,000. No, I have never parted with that kind of cash for a product, but man am I happy I did this. The jacket frankly moves my heart and stirs my soul each and every time I wear it. It is the ultimate hug from the best looking, highest quality piece I own, one that literally transforms any other combination of whatever I have thrown on into an effortless oasis of baldfaced, mega-Lord-have-mercy COOL. I love it so much I recently communicated my full swoon to the brand with a perhaps trite but EXTREMELY true statement: “This jacket has changed my life. Period. Thank you.”
Purchased by Brooke, a 22-year-old who works in the entertainment industry in Texas.
“I make barely enough to meet my rent and get groceries, but I found these shoes and convinced myself they could go with everything I own (so far I haven’t been wrong). I took on extra jobs like dog walking and catering gigs and saved up for three months to buy these babies.”
Prabal Gurung Strapless Red Gown via The RealReal, $1,798
Purchased by Mackenzie, a 27-year-old who works in the advertising industry in Tennessee.
“I thought about it for a few weeks, but not too much longer than that. I bought it because it’s incredibly unique and very beautiful. I’ll wear it for my wedding, and because it’s not traditional, I’ll wear it again.”
Chanel Bag, $4,300
Purchased by Jess, a 33-year-old who works in the commercial real estate industry in New York.
“This was not an impulse purchase. I consider Chanel to be a reward for hard work and only justified buying it because I can finally pay for it without hurting my savings account. This year, I received my largest bonus to date and had a baby six weeks ago, so I decided I deserved a reward. Generally I spend my money on vacations, but I’ve been wanting this bag for YEARS. And it feels great! I did worry I would have buyer’s remorse, but I just feel a sense of accomplishment instead — this was well thought out.”
Feature image by Edith Young.