Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Good InVESTments

Jacket (Ralph Lauren); Vest (Bushwacker - see it styled another way here); Scarf (Ralph Lauren); Bag (Street Fair in Florence, Italy - see it styled differently here and here); Woven leather boots (Bass); Watch (Charriol); Brooch (passed down from my grandmother)
As precocious 8th graders too eager to grow up, my best friend Jill and I were obsessed with Vogue magazine and, of all things, the stock market.  After a penny stock exercise in a social studies class in which we both made a mint in make believe money, we read every book on trading we could get our hands on and talked about it ad nauseum with any adult who would listen.  In retrospect, I think we were more interested in how smart and sophisticated we thought we sounded than we were in the intricacies of investing.   

As an actual adult, my experience with investing in the market has not been near as glamourous and easy as it seemed when the risk of losing wasn't a reality, and I wouldn't even attempt to give anyone advice on winning the Wall Street war.  Investing in clothes, however, is a different story.

I'm not talking about setting a budget to buy new clothes every season, or even every year.  I'm talking about true investment pieces - they may cost a little more up front, but high quality classics that stand the test of time in terms of style and longevity are smart purchases.  They won't appreciate in value the way that stocks might, but you'll end up ahead in the long run because they won't need to be replaced every time fashion trends change or because they've worn out after a few washings.

With the exception of my watch (a more recent investment piece), every item that makes up this ensemble is at least fifteen years old, and I treasure each piece as much today as I did when I bought them.   The herringbone jacket and vest had my neighbor remarking a few years ago that I looked like a little boy in a Ralph Lauren ad, but to me it has an Annie Hall vibe that I love (and a beloved vintage brooch passed down from my grandmother is decidedly girly).

The leather bag was my first real investment piece.  I found it twenty years ago at a street fair in Florence, Italy on a solo backpacking trip.  It was a lot a money for an unemployed twenty-one year old headed to law school, but the style was so quintessentially "me" and the quality of the leather was so high that I blew my souvenir budget on it and never looked back.  I couldn't afford to ship it home so I toted it all over Europe as though it was the perfect complement to my backpack, t-shirts and Tevas.  Since then, it has been much used and well loved.  I had it refurbished this winter at my favorite shoe repair shop and it looks better than new, having acquired the rich patina of age that is a hallmark of the finest leathers.  A good investment, indeed.

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

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