Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cheaper to Buy Quality?

For a couple years, I've been operating on the principle that by paying a little more for clothes that last upfront, you actually do better than by buying a bunch of cheap clothes that don't wear well. My wardrobe is "classic" enough that my clothes don't (or shouldn't) go out of style, and I'm constantly trying to practice the art of accessorizing. The problem is, I'm still broke enough that even when I invest in good quality pieces, it seems like they still don't last.

I fear I'm being duped by the price tag, and am paying more for equally shoddy clothes.  Perhaps I'm just too fickle to not replace my wardrobe seasonally, but I keep going into the store thinking I need to get a pair of classic dark gray pants, and then the next year, I need new grey pants again.

I do have clothes that I've had for years. The pair of jeans I recently discovered have a hole in the crotch, I've been wearing those for years--long enough to wear a hole in the crotch. So I don't feel like those were a waste of money, I actually wore them out, but there are so many other clothes that I either wear once, then wash and they fit weird, or that just don't hold up like good clothes should, that I feel like I'd be better off just not thinking of clothes as investments.

For example, I do a lot of shopping at Old Navy, and Old Navy clothes have become much better made over the years, but when I became a professional (read: grownup, I guess), I decided to invest in what I thought were good quality clothes that would build my professional wardrobe and I upgraded to Banana Republic. I have very little patience for shopping, and this seemed like a logical next step. Trouble is, these clothes really are not holding up well at all.  Most are dry-clean only, so I haven't even washed them, but they just start to pill and stretch out funny and just don't look as good as something I paid that much for should look.

My new beef is with Victoria's Secret, however, and I am legitimately curious how often other gals replace their bras.  I feel like if I spend $60 for a Biofit® bra, it should last me at least three years.  Turns out, not so much.  Am I just paying for the name?  Does all that space age, NASA technology not really mean anything?  It seems like by the end of a year, the straps are completely stretched out, in fact everything's stretched out.  If my modest chest can wreck a bra in a year, what are the poor, bustier ladies dealing with !?!?!?

Yesterday I went to Target and bought two new bras.  I know I'm not supposed to be spending money on clothes, but I don't count this as clothes.  I got two bras for $30 as opposed to one for $60 and I'm pleased as can be.  In fact, I'm wearing one as I write this and it's the most comfortable bra I've worn recently--and it only cost $14.99!

I'm legitimately torn about this.  Even when shopping at cheaper stores, I do examine the material, seams and other construction elements to see if the item will fall apart after one wearing, but sometimes it's just impossible to know.  Then again, I could be using this as an excuse to buy new things all the time, but I don't think I am.  Has anyone else found a high-end brand that seems to hold up well?  Am I just not going high enough?


  1. I am in the same boat! I've been trying to buy quality clothing over cheap clothing, depending on what it is. The only exception I make is workout clothes. I just can't justify spending a lot of money on something I'll be sweating in.

    Anyway, I've oddly found myself buying pieces from Coldwater Creek lately, online at the "outlet". There is a line though there: it's either stylish or old lady with no in-between. Lands' End is my other favorite for quality clothes.

  2. In terms of Old Navy, I've actually found that their quality in fabric has gone way, way down in the past year and a half/two years. Their basics (tee shirts, tank tops, pj bottoms) are now paper thin and their sweaters pill almost right away. Some things there are still okay, but I'm finding less and less of it.
    Banana Republic (and the Gap) are owned by them too...maybe they have the same slightly downward quality spiral...just at a less noticeable rate???

    As for Victoria Secret, can't help you there. Can't afford there. I do like the Curvation brand at Target and I find they last me fairly long for a $14.99 bra. Plus they are one of the few that don't come with their own shaping or padding, which in my case is unnecessary :)

    The only higher end brand things I buy are my hiking boots (Keen), running shoes (Asics GT-2160) and my winter sport/waterproof rain jackets (Columbia)...and I wouldn't trade anything for those items.

  3. I agree with BrandiRae. I've noticed a downturn in Old Navy (especially in their sweaters) and I'm also not as happy with Banana Republic and Gap as I used to be. I've started shopping more and more at LOFT, Ann Taylor, and Talbots. I happen to be lucky enough to have an outlet near enough to me that I can shop all three.

    I've also noticed my Victoria Secret bras are wearing out much faster than they used to. I'm considering going to a specialty store in town where they fit you for a bra. They're expensive ($60+) but a friend of mine wears them and they last a long time and really, really fit. I feel like VS doesn't fit as well either.

  4. I read another blog called Wardrobe Oxygen and Allie buys a lot of her clothes from Ann Taylor and LOFT. She has a gorgeous wardrobe and a lot of her clothes are years and years old.
    Myself, I have an excellent opportunity shop nearby (like Goodwill). I find that the good clothes (and yes, you have to look often) are the ones that have already stood the test of time and wearing. It isn't often that I buy new and just like you, I am often disappointed. If I like something enough to buy I want to wear it for a long, long time !