Already Prettypoll: Save or splurge?

Although there are several wardrobe pillars that nearly every woman is willing to invest in – generally at least one from the classic triad of handbags, coats, and shoes qualifies – there is always some fascinating variation. Some women don’t give a hoot about bags but will spend big on coats. others don’t care about any of the triad, but will plunk down the big bucks for properly fitting bras and undergarments. Plenty need to invest in suiting or work attire for career reasons while others have learned that springing for perfectly fitting designer jeans is a wise use of hard-earned cash.

Me? I am perfectly happy to thrift my tees and layering items, buy my button-front shirts secondhand, and stick to cheap but sparkly costume jewelry. I am more likely to spend big on boots than sandals, but always go for quality handbags. My coats are a mish-mosh of thrifted and cheap lightweight coats and expensive, reliably warm and well-designed down coats. And although I find blazers fairly difficult to fit, nearly all of mine are thrifted. I just can’t stomach paying $200 for a brand new blazer for some reason!

How about you? Do you scrimp on jeans and spend big on dress pants? Put serious money towards shoes, coats, or handbags? Which items will you thrift versus the ones you prefer to buy brand new?

  • ballewal

    Well I can’t say that I splurge on anything because my budget does not allow for it. But I will spend more on shoes because I am on my feet a lot. I will also not buy thrifted shoes unless they are completely unworn because the wear pattern from someone else always hurts my feet.

  • Lynn Barnes

    I will thrift everything except undergarments … oh, wait, I bought a bra once to disassemble it for the hardware, when I was playing at making my own bras … but I am uber selective about what I buy. I tend to run my hands down the racks and stop when something feels good; then examine it for size, color, fiber content, degree of worn-ness. If it is of excellent quality and “almost, but not quite” I will alter it or repair it to my taste. I so little shop at regular retail levels that I feel uncomfortable even walking into a store, anymore.

  • walkercreative

    I agree, splurge is not really on my radar right now, but I have done very well at getting high quality for basement prices by thrifitng or shopping sales. I am in the process of saving for investment pieces, and I am leaning toward boots, a blazer and a wrap dress. Boots will serve 3/4 of the year, and when my fussy feet are happy I am happy. Both my favorite blazers are on their last legs and I am at a loss to replace them in the mid-range (been looking a LOOONG time) . . . I just can’t find the uniqueness. split lapel, and fit and kimono sleeves that I crave. I wear them so much the cost per wear would be near negligible within a year. I recently decided that I want a fabulous but wearable wrap dress that will work with my curves well. I am frustrated with cheap fabrics, uninspired prints and poor cuts from midrange RTW. There are a ton of stunning dresses at the $300 price point at Sprinkle Emporium, but I will have to feed piggy to get there . . . one per year should do me good.

  • Linda

    I am loath to pay more than a few bucks for tights, camisoles/tank tops, and underpants. That’s what Nordstrom Rack clearance is for. Also T-shirts and to some extent cardigans–I wouldn’t want to buy them used, but I do buy them pretty cheap. Am resigned to spending big bucks on bras and eyeglasses, moderate bucks on shoes and boots. Handbags, meh.

  • Janel Messenger

    I’m with Lynn, I’ll thrift almost anything but undergarments. I love me my thrift store shoe collection! That said, I always keep two pair of good quality, well fitting, everyday around the house shoes that I will replace as needed. I’ve found ones new tags at the thrift store that fit the bill, but will also pay upwards of $80 for a pair.

  • Roselyne

    I find that I “splurge” on things where comfort and fit are of supreme importance, and have learned to tailor everything else to fit well!

    For example: I have large calves, so finding high boots that fit them is nearly impossible (Duo Boots are AMAZING, but pricy!), and I walk EVERYWHERE and pleather sandals give me the blisters of doom. So my boots are expensive, but I have an excellent cobbler who keeps them in fantastic shape for about 20$/year (considering I live in Canada and wear them for half the year, and they then last 6-8 years… that’s not terrible. I have 3 pairs of boots, total). For sandals, I LOVE Clark wedges – they reliably don’t give me blisters ever and are comfortable to walk in. I’ll typically wear through a pair completely in a year and a half, and I buy them on sale for 80-90$ or so. I’ll also “splurge” on bras (non-standard sizes don’t tend to come cheap, sadly).

    Everything else is pretty cheap: Old Navy pants fit me well and are inexpensive, and I wear a LOT of long-sleeved black t-shirts. Summer involves dresses, which tend to be on-sale buys that I tailor to fit.

    Honestly, a sewing machine and basic tailoring knowledge has been key to making inexpensive clothing look fantastic – even just being able to tailor a sundress to fit over a large bust AND a small waist makes a 10$ dress look fantastic.

    • walkercreative

      Great point about tailoring . . . more of my “splurge” money is headed there too. I bought a designer dress for $60 online, but it was huge, and non returnable. The tailor is fixing it up for me now, in time for Easter. This is my first tailoring experience . . . if it comes out well I will be doing much more! I have a sewing machine collecting dust, maybe I’ll invest in a sewing class as well!

  • Jenn Wisbeck

    I’ll thrift/buy used almost anything, but often have to resort to buying new decent shoes for walking around, pants (long inseam), and tank tops (I like particular and really long ones).

    I’m always on the lookout for cashmere sweaters- nice ones I wear, ones with holes and stains (but are thick enough- i.e. not one ply) I unravel to use for yarn. I probably pay more for these sometimes than I should (up to say $15 for ones I plan to unravel), but still much cheaper than buying it as yarn!

    There are some things I only buy used- I can nearly always find button down shirts in basic colors, silk scarves, silk slips, and half slips (not silk though).

  • Mary

    I don’t get the obsession with purses…especially *large* expensive ones. I understand that quality ones can last longer but honestly I’d get bored with a purse too soon to justify spending more than $30 on it and I’m just not hauling enough stuff everyday to need a carry on sized purse.

    As for clothes I focus on what looks good on me so in the past I was willing to both save and splurge on all kinds of clothing items as long as they fit well. Lately though I have decided to keep it cheap when it come to jeans. I have a hard time with finding jeans that both fit me at the waist and have enough room in the seat. (And my butt isn’t anywhere near big so if any other ladies with curvier rear ends have any suggestions on specific brands I’d love to hear them!) I am also short waisted so that adds to my frustration. For now though I’ve found the inexpensive jeans sold by Target and Forever 21 are the perfect solution. Especially those at Forever 21 as most are stretch denim AND under $20.

    • lindaloui232

      Mary, I have a small waist compared to my seat (10 inch difference in measurements) and I’ve found great fitting jeans from Levi’s Bold Curve, Eddie Bauer Curvy fit, and Ann Taylor Curvy fit. You can usually get all of these under $50 with sales. I haven’t tried any designer or very high end jeans so don’t know about those myself.

      • Mary

        Thanks! $50 jeans will be an “investment” for me after buying super cheap jeans for so long but if they fit well it’ll totally be worth it.

  • loubeelou

    I will pay a good amount for quality undergarments, swimwear, and boots – so mostly items where fit and comfort are really important. If there is a very specific clothing or accessory item I’m looking for, I will keep my eyes out thrifting – especially if there’s no deadline – but if I can find the exact thing for new I will also shell out for it. Otherwise general day to day clothing I am happy to hunt for and thrift. Oh, and I will splurge for nice, handmade jewelry – but even then I really look for special pieces that “call” to me.

  • Carol Norris

    I splurge on basics that will last me years and years. Basic colors like black, brown, navy. I splurge on shoes because of feet/knee issues and the cheap ones just end up not getting worn. Love leather purses but if it is a fadish color I likely will go with faux at least until I see if it is something I end up using a lot. I’m not hard on my purses though so even faux ones can last for years. I don’t spend a lot on jewelry because we have had two house robberies and they have taken all of my jewelry both times – even costume. I prefer to wear vintage pins on my blazers and had a 30+ year collection that was taken last time. Broke my heart…so I’ve determined to not invest a lot in jewelry any more and always wear my best every day. Because I avoid the dreaded yeast infections at all costs, I just wear white cotton briefs so those are not expensive. I’m fortunate to love Wacoal bras that are not too outrageous and I get them on sale once a year and get 3-4 new ones then. I am getting ready to transition to retirement in a few months and will be able to move my clothing budget more into jeans and nice tees then.

  • Claudia Gray

    Splurge: glasses frames, shoes, bras, swimsuits.

    Save/thrift: handbags (I scout for quality brands secondhand on ebay), many tops and skirts, belts.

    Regular price: Dresses. My particular combination of attributes (long torso, short legs, large bust) means that gauging the fit on dresses is really tricky, and if I want to get something that will really suit me, often I need to buy new. Sometimes also slacks – for some reason I find thrifting petite pants very challenging. I can get stuff hemmed, but as I’m not a seamstress myself, I have to take it to be altered. When I add that cost onto the thrifted price, it’s not always much more of a bargain than buying something new from the store, especially when the new item will be exactly my taste/without wear/etc.

  • Mpwdmom

    I don’t scrimp on jeans anymore, I’m almost 60 and I want my jeans to look good, feel great. I only wear NYDJ…always buy on clearance or at a lower price on Amazon.

  • DorothyP

    I’d rather have one or two items that fit me well and look great than dozens that are kinda sorta. I can usually find things on sale or maybe my favorite consignment store, too. Lots of stuff that’s not really great just isn’t my style.

  • Shawna McComber

    I don’t spend much on jeans, buying either second hand or discounted brands. I don’t spend enough on underwear and would like to but still can’t bring myself to spend on something nobody sees. I don’t wear costume jewelery but it’s not expensive either, mostly silver, wood or glass beads and a few inherited bits. I don’t need suits or office attire-hooray, hooray- and most of my clothes are inexpensive through thrifting or discount shops. I buy layering pieces, tees etc from places like Target. I spend the most, though comparatively speaking it’s still not a lot, on shoes and bags. It is probably more accurate to say that is the area where I am willing to spend the most. I don’t own anything on which I spent or which has a value of more than a few hundred dollars.

  • taylor

    Good question. I definitely splurge on shoes, and also take care of them. I hate my feet being uncomfortable and I find shoe quality is often reflected in the price, to a certain point. Also I just love shoes. Honestly most of the time I don’t even consider the price of the shoes, if they fit me right and fill a hole in my wardrobe. They need to be leather and well made, and I need to see myself wearing them for years. I have a few pairs from about 5 years ago that are still going strong, and some boots I’ve had for nearly 10 years.

    I splurge on purses, I suppose, but I only have 2 (and am thinking about a third). I’m not that interested in purses style-wise (I just need to carry my stuff, heck I could use a plastic bag) but I find a too-casual one can kind of drag down an otherwise nice outfit. So I buy good ones and just use the same ones all the time.

    I don’t thrift, I hate sorting through things and the fit always seems off. Most of my clothes I buy on sale though. I only pay full price for the two aforementioned items, or anything I really need right away (which is rare), is particularly special in a store that doesn’t often have sales, or if I’m travelling and it’s a unique item I can’t get at home. Most of my clothes are from Banana Republic or JCrew and they usually have good sales, particularly BR.

    Often the % sale drives my purchases…ie. I just bought a great fitting grey Schoolboy blazer from JCrew for $100, down from $240. But if, in some alternate universe (or just at a different store!) it was full price $100, I probably would have waited till it was down to $60 or something. 40% off is kind of my target sale price. I figure then I get a “nicer” wardrobe for less money than it “should” cost. For clothes, mainly tshirts I guess, if they are $30 or under I don’t worry about it being on sale.

    Can’t stand spending money on jewelry and have very little interest in it, so I don’t wear any except a cheapo pair of small silver hoops I bought over 10 years ago, my $50 silver wedding ring, and a silver necklace my honey bought me. I wear the same jewelry every day. Also I hate spending money on scarves though I wear them almost every day. And socks.

    I buy nice quality bras/underwear but again only on sale. Would love to splurge on a coat but can’t quite justify it (or afford it). I’d rather put the money towards shoes 😛

    I splurge on makeup and face/hair products but keep them minimal.

  • Stephanie Ganger

    It is really random on what I splurge on or what I save on. I regularly shop second-hand always checking for brands I love and know fit me. As a plus-size it really depends on what needs replaced on what I splurge on. I have spent $100 on a pair of good fitting jeans and have another pair that fit me just as well that I spent $5. I like having a mix of things and I look all the time at trends, materials, and what is new to see what things could update or replace something that is starting to wear out.
    Currently I have been evolving my style again and so added quite a few new pieces over the last couple of years. Part of that is because I changed my shoes to a minimalist style. My health is better but the style I wore before just wasn’t working anymore and felt confining to me for physical movement. Now most of my clothing is more fluid and I can move better and am no longer constricted.

  • weasel

    I’ll buy anything except undergarments secondhanx but I have found good quality basics rare. Lots of fabulous vintage skirts and outrageous woolly jumpers but have unless I plan on looking like a caricature I need more toned down items to wear them with!

  • fashionforgiants

    I splurge on purses because I carry one purse every day for years. I also splurge on shoes because I haven’t had much luck thrifting any and I have sort of fussy feet so I’ll pay more to be comfortable.

  • Lisa Wong

    I tend to splurge on coats, bags, shoes, and small accessories. If a Ferragamo wallet gets daily use and makes me happy every time I pull it out, it’s worth every penny.

  • Leslie Le

    I like to thrift anything, but I spend big $$$ on shoes because I have problem feet. Right now I have two pair of SAS sandals (black and brown) that cost $190 apiece and a couple of pairs of Sausony tennies that cost around $115 apiece. That’s a LOT of money to me. But– they keep my feet from hurting as much, and I need them.

    When I’m shopping in a regular store, if I find it and it fits like a dream? I buy it. No matter the cost (though I usually shop when I have coupons!), because I know that it’s so RARE to find things that fit me perfectly. But I mostly thrift. :-) Because it’s more fun!

  • Allison

    I splurge on the tailor! My clothing comes from all over the place, but practically everything needs fit adjustments. A few years ago I found an all-cotton coatdress (with pockets!) on rock-bottom sale price at Target. It had giant, weird bell sleeves and a huge lapel, but was otherwise my style and color, and in a good durable fabric. The tailor took care of the strange details and now I have a gorgeous dress for under $100, which is what I would have paid for it from another source.

  • Ann Wood

    I do consignment for blouses and some blazers and maybe heels. I do spend on items that are super current and something I really love and will wear for years. It must fit, without altering, so I know I love it. These pieces have to move my wardrobe in a new direction style wise. Most purses and shoes I wait for a sale. Almost all my sweaters are from thrift stores. I need a shorter sweaters and there is so many out there.

    blue hue wonderland

  • contrary kiwi

    I save on anything I can, but that list is shrinking :(

    Shoes: Problem feet + a very specific and YOUNG style (seriously, I’m 23 with an almost teenage trend style, I don’t want shoes that scream “COMFORT”) means that my shoes generally cost upwards of $250, if I can’t find what I want on sale. I’ve just bought $50 sandals but have no idea if they’ll work, and don’t even like them much. The shoes I have my eye on are about $280.

    Bras: 32FF is an easier size to fit than my previous 30G in NZ, but I still run to about $85 per bra.

    Anything else: with a long, long torso, a hiiiiiiiiigh rise, tiny legs and big boobs I struggle to fit a lot of clothes. Skirts and knit tops are fine, but I tend to buy pants that fit and look nice whatever the price because they’re so rare. Dresses often sit strangely because of my boobs and long torso, shorts I just can’t find and woven tops aren’t even worth trying because of my boobs.

    Save: handbags (I own one at a time until it breaks, my most recent costing $3.50) because they’re just things to keep stuff in, nail polish, makeup, jewellery.

  • Trystan L. Bass

    I can’t say there is one single category that I always splurge on & always go budget on. It really depends on the item — I’ve spent big on a few sweaters that made me squee inside to see & touch them, & I’ve bought cheapo sweaters from thrift stores & Target. I’ve bought expensive & cheap shoes that have served me equally well. I do tend to only buy cheap sandals, bec. I know they won’t last past one summer, & the rare times I get more expensive ones, I’m always disappointed. But with most things, I never say never to a specific price point. The item has to really work for me & make me love it.

  • Texas Aggie Mom

    As a single mom working multiple jobs, it has always been a challenge to
    find career-appropriate clothing on a budget. A former mentor gave me
    some pointers and taught me how to shop our local thrift stores for quality
    items. For many years, those made up the bulk of my wardrobe, but she
    also taught me to figure “cost per wear” for more expensive investment
    pieces like coats and boots. My style is pretty classic, so a mix of
    those two strategies has worked well. After my divorce, my teen
    daughter convinced me that it was time to ditch the “mom jeans” (Lee
    with an elastic waist, very 80’s) and insisted I go to Nordstrom and try
    on expensive jeans to get something appropriate to wear on a date.
    Once I tried on a pair of Joe’s Curvy Honey fit boot cut in a dark wash,
    the $200 price tag seemed completely worth it. I took extremely good
    care of them, and just replaced them this year, so I got about eight
    years out of them. Once a group of friends was discussing whether I had
    made a good decision spending so much on a pair of jeans. My best
    friend’s response in my defense was “Have you seen her ass in those
    jeans???” As my attorney friend said, “Case closed.”

  • shayelea

    Shoes, bras and swimwear, vintage dresses, the occasional thing I fall in love with from Anthro. Everything else can be thrifted or otherwise scored for cheap – even quality stuff!

  • KimM.

    I used to not splurge on jeans but discovered a few years ago that Hudson jeans fit me perfectly. So I bought 2 pairs, $165 and $110, and find that I wear them constantly. Get lots of compliments and they’re comfortable. Cost per wear negligible. I also splurge on eyeglasses, bras and shoes. Especially shoes. After standing on my feet 12 hours a day x 25 years, I need comfort! My poor feet hurt all the time so I don’t mind at all paying big bucks for comfortable shoes.

  • oohlookasquirrel

    I don’t get anything that’s not on sale somehow, but I buy my panties, bras, socks, and tights new, because those would be icky to buy used. I wouldn’t say that I splurge on them. Shoes I typically get on ebay or 6pm, for big discounts, because I gave up on buying fake leather, and shoes I can’t walk a mile in. I thrift skirts, dresses, pants, shirts, coats, etc. and I couldn’t be happier. I occasionally splurge on unique necklaces. I rarely buy purses, but if I do, they’re used but real leather from ebay. If only I had more money to spend on fancy silk underwear!

  • beeejet

    I splurge on swimwear. I live near the coast and we are always in swimwear from Mid-April through September, and later! I probably have close to a thousand dollars worth of swimsuits in my closet.

    I also splurge on bras. I’m fine with cheepie panties, but not bras!

    I usually buy cheap shoes. I’m rough on shoes, and while i know that if were to splurge on shoes, the quality would be exponentially better, I just can’t seem to do it! I love buying dozen pairs of sandals each spring/summer. I can’t try out any trend I find. And I don’t feel bad when they don’t work for me. But I also know what doesn’t work for me. I never buy plastic/rubber flip flops (except for my gym bag- for the showers). I never buy pumps (they ALL slide/rub. I’ve had $100 ones and I’ve had $10 ones. never found ones that fit my feet correct. could be all the time I spend barefoot or in sandals).

    Not sure which category it falls into, but I buy jeans at Old Navy. They just seem to be what fit me best at a price I can afford to stock-up on. Living in a coastal town, and working in a laid-back field (think graphic designer/ computer programmer) jeans are practically an everyday item for me. So I can’t justify one $200 pair, that would have to be washed frequently, when I can get 10 pair for that price. And like I said, Old Navy’s sweetheart cut seems right on me.

  • Jenny/Adventures Along the Way

    I have found over the years that I prefer to buy well-made shoes (which tend to be more expensive), if I am going to buy shoes. I think the last time I bought a pair of shoes was fall 2011 though. But I have taken a couple pairs to the cobbler for repairs since then. So, I prefer to invest in shoes that will last me for years. I’m picky, so if I find something I like, I want it to last as long as possible.

    A year ago, I actually figured out that I had been wearing the wrong size bra my whole life. Unfortunately my size is very hard to find and only in (some) specialty stores. So now bras cost me a FORTUNE. But they are also well-made and gorgeous. I went to try on bras over Christmas in a normal department store and found one in my size. Beige. I bought it because it was on sale for $20 (and practical), but I almost never wear it. I realize now that I feel beautiful and sexy wearing my exquisite (and expensive) bras. Even if they might be less practical. (One is red lace.) I don’t have much of a choice due to my size, but that is an area that I will splurge. I’m okay with just having a few bras I love and really taking care of them and handwashing them, etc. And I guess I also invest in my eco-friendly, fair trade, super comfy boyshort underwear and socks from Pact. But I wait and buy those on sale every now and then. That’s worth it to me. About everything else tends to come from thrift stores… :)