As part of my birthday spending spree this year, I bought a sweater dress in two colors. Now, plenty of people will buy a dozen pairs of identical black socks at a time. Some will even splash out on two cardigans in the same style but different colors. But two of the same dress, and a fairly distinctive one at that? OK, I’ll admit that I was a little dazzled by the $25 clearance pricetags on these frocks, but I stand behind my decision. I have spent years honing my style, I know my taste, I have the storage space, I have the money, and I enjoy abundance. So, really, why not?
A friend recently lamented her husband’s inability to grasp the wisdom of multiples, and asked me to weigh in here on the blog. I was a little surprised, since many of the men in MY life have been known to find a flattering style, purchase every available garment in that style, and then not shop again for an entire year. But as a dedicated buyer of multiples myself, I was excited to tackle the topic regardless. Especially since buying multiples is a controversial practice that many see as wasteful, financially unsound, and stylistically stifling.
And in the interest of fairness, I’m going to offer up some serious “cons” before I hit the “pros.” Although I love my multiples, I don’t believe that this practice is universally wise, nor should it be universally implemented.
- Expensive: Should you buy those leggings in black, brown, and gray since they make your stems look amazing? Why yes, you should! UNLESS you are broke. Or don’t have the money right now, but should have it next week. Or have the money right now but really need it for gas. Buying multiples is a luxury, so treat it as such.
- Limiting: Say you find the perfect black pencil skirt, and it’s so perfect that you buy two and store one. That way, when the first one bites the dust, you’ve got back up! Also, you are now completely full up on black pencil skirts. If you find one that’s even better, how are you going to justify buying it?
- Bulky: I have ribbed tank tops in about 15 colors, and I utilize them for layering pretty much constantly. But they take up almost an entire drawer in my dresser and that drives me a little batso. Always be mindful of your available storage.
- Security: Most of us struggle to find pants that fit properly, tights that don’t constrict, shoes that are both cute AND comfy. Knowing that you’ve got a staple nailed, and knowing that you can ruin that nailed-staple and still have one waiting in the wings, is a happy, comforting, serene feeling.
- Pragmatism: In my opinion, multiples are most applicable when it comes to layering. Buying awesome tights, or long-sleeved tissue tees, or even tube tops in multiple, solid colors is generally a sound practice. You’re going to use those things as supporting players in many different kinds of outfits, so why not stock up?
- Consistency: Many of us struggle to create a consistent personal style or signature look. And while buying 15 identical sheath dresses from J.Crew could be disastrous, buying three blazers in the same style but vastly different colors or fabrics could help create some unity within a woman’s everyday looks.
- Creativity: On the flip side of consistency, having multiples at hand can create mini dressing challenges. How are you going to make your red blazer-based ensemble drastically different from your olive green blazer-based ensemble? (Please note that I am doing a piss-poor job of this one with my sweater dresses pictured above!)
Years ago, when I bought my first pair of Tsubo Acreas in red, I fell madly in love with them. They were comfortable, walkable, stylish, distinctive, and fit perfectly into my established personal style. So I began buying them in other colors, and if you pore over my outfits category, you’ll see that they get TONS of wear. Possibly more than any other items in my closet. These shoes are not cheap – unlike the sweaterdress splurge, which was bargainous and pure fun – but they are a sound investment for me. And someday I’ll pony up for the black patent and mushroom brown ones, too, because I know they’ll get TONS of use.
As I’ve said, buying multiples is a practice with pitfalls and should not be considered for every purchase. Even some staples are best left as singles. But implemented carefully, the acquisition of multiples can create a richer, more flexible, and long-lasting wardrobe.
UPDATED TO ADD: Winona at Daddy Likey has posted on this same topic today! How nuts is THAT?