{the life} Clothes-Minded

by Rachel on June 13, 2012

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d been loving neon nails lately. Well, what I didn’t mention at the time (because I had written an article on it and I was waiting for it to be published) was that I had a major internal debate over whether or not to wear neon nails. Long story short, I was obsessed with everyone’s else’s neon nails, but every time I’d think about wearing them myself, I’d get all, “No way. Me? Really? Neon nails?? BUT I’M A WOMAN, NOT A GIRL. I COULDN’T POSSIBLY.” (And judging from some of the comments on the blog post in which I showed off the neon nails, I’m not the only one who feels this way.) But, as you can see in the now-live Color Me Rouge article, I worked it out.

But the topic of looking appropriate and professional has been on my mind a lot lately and now it’s come up twice in the past few days.

Last Saturday, I was out shopping between my hair appointment and book club and I tried on a dress at Anthropologie that I subsequently fell in love with. Well, actually I had kind of been in love with it via the website and then really in love after seeing it in the store. The dress had short sleeves, which I like to see in the age of everything being sleeveless, it appeared that it would flatter my body type, it would work with heels or flats, and I just really loved the scalloped navy blue stripes.and so Saturday I decided to just let myself try it on. I thought I was in love with it but hey — it may have looked terrible on me, at which point I could just know and stop obsessing. Unfortunately, it looked awesome. Like, I put it on and knew this was a dress I will wear as much as possible (i.e. once a week and once a weekend, every single week, till October, and then starting up again in March). However, I could not get over the $128 price tag. That feels like a lot of money to spend on a dress, even one you’d venture to say you’d want to be buried in. But then I realized…I have no idea what a dress “should” cost.

Here’s what drives me crazy: whenever I’m reading a magazine, the “budget-friendly” option of something is approximately $200-$500. (Maybe it’s $40…if it’s nail polish.) How bad does that make you feel?! I see that $250 for a pair of wedges is a “great buy!” and I’m like…Wait, so these $25 sandals I kind of had to talk myself into at Target were…actually free according to “Glamour”? Well goddamnit.

So I had no idea if the dress was a good purchase or not.

I left the store and was still thinking about the dress and all the places I’d wear it; then I got to book club, where we got talking about the weather and summer clothes and then shopping in general. At that point I decided to ask my fellow young professional women: What’s the right amount of money to spend on a dress for work? What about ones that are actually for weekends? WHAT THE FUCK ARE CLOTHES ACTUALLY SUPPOSED TO COST?!?!

None of them knew either. We talked about it for a while but we never really landed on anything definitive.

Eventually, I decided to just go for it. I had tried on a size that fit but was slightly too big on Saturday; on Sunday, I went back and bought  the smaller size without bothering to trying it on. When I put it on this morning, I was worried that it wouldn’t fit, or I wouldn’t love it. But oh, it did, and oh…I did. It made me feel so good when I put it on and my first thought was, OK, this was clearly worth every penny.

BUT WAS IT REALLY!? I still don’t know!

Then today at work, I was wearing my new dress and loving life while talking to my boss. I also happened to be wearing a really bright shade of neon spearmint nail polish (Color Club “Age of Aquarius” via a recent Birchbox), which I’ve been alternating with the American Apparel neon yellow for the past few weeks. Suddenly, when there was a pause in our discussion about ads and CPM and such, he said to me, “What’s with the green nail polish? I’ve just noticed you’ve been wearing it a lot lately, no matter what you’ve been wearing.” After all my wondering if it was cool for me to wear neon nails in the first place (AT MY AGE! Would my nearly-octogenarian boss think I was a loose cannon!?), this conversation was exactly what I was worried about!

But he wasn’t asking in a way that was at all judgmental or disapproving; he genuinely seemed curious, as in, I care about you and your life, so tell me…is wearing crazy bright nail polish with your classic, everyday outfits your thing? But because I honestly had been thinking for the past few weeks, OK, bright neon nails paired with simple, ladylike clothes is totally going to be my thing for now, I felt kind of embarrassed that he had noticed and was calling attention to it. I’m sure I blushed as I said, “Yeah. I’ve been into it lately,” feeling — as I do on a fairly regular basis these days — like a teenage girl whose obviously shifting identity is not as well-concealed as she was telling herself it was. But he was satisfied with my answer and was kinda like, “Carry on.”

So there ya go.

Anyway, if anyone could tell me what you think is a reasonable amount of money to spend on a dress that you love and will wear 1-2 times per week for at least 6 months (but probably longer), I’d really appreciate it. Because I’m not sure if this dress should be the most expensive thing I own, the least expensive, or what.

{ 94 comments… read them below or add one }

1 [SMASH] June 13, 2012 at 8:09 pm

A very chic work friend tends to spend between $50 – $100 on work pieces (a great, structured dress, the perfect pencil skirt, etc) and she takes very good care of them. I think that as long as you’re putting time/effort/money into maintaining the good pieces you buy, they are worth the money.


2 Rachel June 13, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Maintaining stuff is a HUGE part of it for me. I feel like I sort of had this test period for a year or so when I tried to see if I could take better care of my clothes and once it became clear that I could own nice things, I feel a lot more comfortable buying them. I know that this dress isn’t going to lead me to buy a dress like this each week, or for every new event, and I know I’m going to hand wash the thing like the damn washing instructions say. So I agree that you have to be committed to taking care of your stuff if you’re going to spend more on it!


3 Jessica June 13, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I think that really depends on the person and the budget. I recently read that a reasonable amount to spend on your clothes is 3-10% of your salary (read that here: http://www.alreadypretty.com/2011/07/reader-request-how-much-should-you-invest-in-your-wardrobe.html).
I’m a bargain-hunter and I love to thrift and buy things on sale, so my absolute most expensive dress ever was $40 (on sale at J. Crew) and most are in the $15 range. But that makes me feel better when I decide to spend $200 on a new purse! :)


4 Rachel June 13, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Ah thank you! A percentage like that is exactly what I needed!


5 Anna June 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Whenever I want something “expensive” (i.e. 100+ dollars) like a dress, I usually ask for my husband’s opinion. If I really love it but can’t get over the price, he usually says something to the effect of, “Well, how often are you going to wear it?” So if I buy this dress and it’s 100 dollars but I’m going to wear it five times, would I be willing to pay 20 dollars each time to wear it? Would it be worth it to me to pay 10 dollars for 10 times of wearing it?

In your case, if the dress is $128 and you’re going to wear it approx. 48 times in the next six months, then the price for the pleasure of wearing it each time comes out to about $2.66, which seems like a good deal for how happy it makes you.

Anyway, I have no idea if this makes sense, but I think the more you’re going to love and wear something, the higher the “reasonable” price can be. $300 for a dress you’re going to wear once? Eh. But $128 for a dress you plan to wear 48 times at least seems like a great deal. (I’d spend that.)


6 Hannah June 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I’ve learned that trick before too and it really helps me make decisions like this!


7 Rachel June 13, 2012 at 8:37 pm

$2.66 per happy wear seems like a GREAT deal indeed — you’re so right!


8 Anna June 13, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I use this trick to justify spending money on good shoes… (even though that only means good running shoes at this point in my life). We wear shoes every single day, might as well invest in ones that won’t put your body in pain by the afternoon, because they’ll last longer and still only cost pennies per wear.


9 Katie Cummings June 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm

The same can be said for Forever 21 or similar clothes. While they may be okay to wear professionally at first, they can go bad after just a few washes. Since I live away from good malls, I tend to buy more quality stuff that can get me through multiple season versus a cheap outfit that only lasts 3 months.


10 Jacki June 14, 2012 at 8:17 am

The “per wear” price is what I look at too. It’s the same with when I buy Lululemon workout stuff. I’ll wear the pieces so many times that spending $80 on a pair of crops is not a big deal. I mean, $80 IS a big deal in my budget, but it’s not a dealbreaker, I guess is a better way to say it. A dress you can wear to work and play for at least two seasons (probably more) is a worthwhile investment!


11 Jodi June 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Don’t you hate that stupid feeling?! It drives me nuts as I almost always second guess myself when buy something that feels like a lot to send. I used to buy a bunch of cheap stuff, but the thing was, it looked, felt and wore out like cheap clothing. Now try to judge based not on the price, but on the cost per wear. OK, sure the dress cost $128, but if you wear it once or twce a week all season, that’s only $10-12/wear. If you needed a dress to wear one tme, say for an event, would you spend more then $12 on it? Of course you would, so why should you feel bad about spending that much per wear for a dress you really love?


12 Rachel June 13, 2012 at 8:36 pm

This definitely makes sense! I’m with you on not buying what looks, feels, and wears cheap. (Now, inexpensive stuff that looks awesome is a totally different story, but sadly, I haven’t had very much luck with Target buys lately.) I think where I often get confused is when I think, Okay but is $5 per wear crazy or fine? But your point about how much I’d pay to wear a dress just one time, really helps put it in perspective.


13 Katrina June 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm

I have a similar dress, also from Anthropologie, that I payed over $200 for. It was a birthday present to myself and a huge splurge. But, two years later, I still love it, and wear it all the time. If it’s something that’s flattering, comfortable, and will be worn a lot, I say go for it. The style you bought is neutral enough that it can be accessorized SO many different ways, and is classic enough to be worn for years to come.

That being said, I don’t think everything in a woman’s closet should be totally pricey…I’m a huge fan of mixing high-end and low-end pieces for a unique and eclectic look. But having a few key staples that are “investment pieces”? Totally acceptable in my book.

Also? Life is too short to not treat yourself every once in a while. Sure, it’s important not to let it get out of hand, but as confident, intelligent, hard working women, it is our duty to buy ourself something nice (for me usually between $100 – $300) once or twice a year. We deserve it!


14 Rachel June 13, 2012 at 8:31 pm

I’m a fan of that too, but I’m still struggling to figure out the average working woman’s investment piece budget! Definitely not what the magazines say. A $200 dress is, for me, an investment piece. But part of me is like, Is that what I should expect to pay for most dresses? It’s such a mystery to me!


15 Amanda June 21, 2012 at 8:49 am

You should be paying less than 200 but over 100 for an solid, well-constructed dress that will last you through several seasons. That Antro dress was a good buy, it can be dressed up or down and (I’m guessing, though I haven’t seen that particular piece in store) that its well-constructed and will last. Its also a relatively classic silhouette.

You get what you pay for and the transition to building a closet of base investment pieces spiked with the cheaper, on-trend items is a tricky one. Just remember that if you are going to spend that much a piece it should be a piece that’s a bit more timeless; one you won’t mind wearing through several seasons. Invest in items like pencil skirts, well-constructed jackets, and dresses with classic silhouettes. Go cheap with things like tops, and accessories.

I have a mix of cheap and expensive heels (my expensive heels all bought through flash sale sites like Gilt, Ideeli, HauteLook, etc); the only reason I really pay for the expensive heels is because they offer a more diverse selection as far as appearance and durability (provided I take care of them properly, get them re-tipped and soled regularly etc.) though honestly I have some cheap-y heels that have held up relatively well with regular care too.


16 Chelsea June 13, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Ugh, I was hoping for answers here because I am in the same boat! I think it come from having to watch every single penny I spent in college. I worked and payed my way through out college so there was no room for extras, including clothes. Now at I am all grown up and make a grown up pay check, I still have a hard time justifying paying big bucks for things I don’t really need, and unfortunately, clothes usually fit that discription most of the time. However, I was shopping with a girl friend last summer and she talked me into buying a super cute dress I had no reason to buy for $80, and it is still probably the most worn article of clothing I own. My attitude recently is, that I work hard and have the right to occasionally spoil myself with items that I don’t neeeeed, but really really want.


17 Rachel June 13, 2012 at 8:29 pm

I’m so with you. I think the hard thing for me is accepting that yes, I do need clothes! Last summer, I sweated my ass off wearing jeans because I couldn’t justify buying crops and sundresses. My shoes are all literally falling apart. Clothes (especially ones that make you look pulled-together at work…and holes in your shoes and broken zippers do not…) are something of a necessary evil and I still have trouble accepting that it’s not something I can just not buy on the grounds that I need to be frugal.


18 Chelsea June 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm

That is why my whole wardrobe is work friendly! And I’m a teacher, so it’s not always super trendy. If I have to spend money on clothes, I at least want to get the most wear from it, which means work clothes. I am trying really hard to allow myself to purchase clothes that are not for school so I can branch out from my cardigans! And can we please discus shorts, because they are horrible and I can’t keep wearing jeans in this stupidly hot weather!


19 Rachel June 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I am also in that positon where I want to get the max amount of wear from everything I buy! My clothes have to do double-duty. Luckily I can wear whatever I want to work, so if I buy a pair of Lululemon pants, you can be damn sure I’m wearing yoga pants to work for a while. But yeah, when it comes to “play clothes,” I have a hard time with that. I think I’ve been prioritizing work clothes because I don’t feel set there. Maybe once you are totally set on cardigans you can branch out?

And OK — SHORTS. I actually found a pair of comfy shorts that I LOVE from Target (they fit well and are flattering and have actually lasted three summers!) but I can’t decide if they are work-appropriate. My male coworkers (bosses, actually) will wear shorts to work when it’s hot, but I still feel like as a woman, it might look different and it feels risky, so thus far I’ve avoided it. I’m sticking with sundresses till I feel more comfortable doing otherwise!


20 Chelsea June 13, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Luckily for me, I’m off for the summers so all my summer clothes don’t have to be work appropriate! :)
I know how you feel about being extra careful at work. I am young and teach high school so I make sure my work clothes are very conservative. 15 year old boys are perverted enough as it is, I don’t need my clothes sparking their imagination.
FYI, let’s be friends. I used you in conversation the other day and felt really awkward. I was said, thins girl I know… Well I don’t really know her, but I read her blog.. Awkward.


21 Emily Susan June 14, 2012 at 9:15 am

I am a Teaching assistant who is in grad school an I have the same problem with perverted teenagers. I tend to wear conservative clothing, but as a lady with a bigger bust, this can be challangeing! I also struggle with prices of clothing, especially on a budget! Do I buy a nice dress and eat R. Noodles everynight or get the cheap one and eat nice food???


22 Deva @ Deva by Definition June 13, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Dude – I totally have a bottle of neon nail polish in my bathroom right now. I’m just not ready to take the gray polish off yet. You inspired me to buy the neon yellow polish, btw.

As for work clothes, my work environment is casual, so my budget for work clothes tends to be no more than $50 for a piece. HOWEVER. I did buy myself a 70$ bolero at White House | Black Market earlier this year, after hyperventilating over it. It’s become one of my more frequently worn articles of clothing. One of my favorite pieces is a $30 black dress I bought at Target. Paired with some black peep-toe shoes (which, NOT coincidentally match my wedding shoes almost exactly, except my wedding shoes are red) and some accessories and I feel pretty.


23 melissanibbles June 13, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Your wardrobe and budgeting for it isn’t so much about what you spend, but what you’re spending it on and how often you shop. Investing in classic, key pieces like jeans, a trench coat, a black blazer, a few pairs of work pants/skirts are what you want to be doing. Then sprinkle your wardrobe with cheaper trendier items and accessories. You’ll be shopping less and saving money.


24 Rachel June 13, 2012 at 8:42 pm

I completely agree — but I still am not sure what is the right amount to invest! That’s sort of what I’m hoping people can share. I like the idea of looking at it on a cost-per-wear basis, but I don’t have a frame of reference. Is $10 per wear crazy? Or is that average/reasonable? I really don’t know!


25 melissanibbles June 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Like I said, it depends what you’re spending it on and how much you can actually afford to spend. A good pair of jeans might be around $100, but if you can’t afford it, DON’T SPEND $100 on jeans. I think the whole $/wear thing is a way of rationalizing spending money so I don’t like to do that. You know that you’re going to wear dress pants to work, jeans on weekends, a coat, etc… If you have to actually sit and think about how much wear you’re going to get out of an item, it’s not an investment piece and you shouldn’t spend that much money on it.


26 Rachel June 13, 2012 at 9:03 pm

I think for the past few years, I’ve felt like clothes are frivolous or a good place to cut spending so I can spend more wisely elsewhere, so I never feel like I can afford $100 jeans even if I have the money, if that makes sense. I like the comment above about using the percentage of your income should go to your wardrobe as a starting point. From there, it seems like you can think more realistically in terms of what to spend on each piece. I think it’s easier for me to determine if $100 is reasonable for a dress if I look at it as “Well, if I buy this it will be the only clothing item I buy for the next two months. Worth it?”


27 Meghan @ Run With Meg June 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I always end up buying something I like less for cheaper and wishing I had bought the more expensive item that I loved. I’ve learned to realize I’m doing it and try to stop myself. If I love it I will wear it a lot. I’d rather pay more for something I will wear often than cheap clothes that I avoid wearing again.


28 Eirinn June 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm

i love this post because i can completely relate. i think your article for color me rouge pretty much sums it up. that the women must wear the make-up/outfit not the other way around.

i’ve come to the conclusion that if i like something, i’m going to wear it. and i’m going to find a classy way to do so. because thats just my style.

just like you did above. you go girl.


29 Whitney June 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm

First of all I have to say that you look absolutely fabulous in that dress! Next, we totally need to have a puppy play date. :) I have to say, I’m in the exact same boat you are. I’d love to have a good amount of nice clothes to wear to work, but I have such a hard time spending lots of money on anything. For example, I went to the Ann Taylor outlet and it actually made me cringe to spend $48 on a pair of dress pants and a nice blouse. To most people, this probably wouldn’t phase them at all but I really have a hard time with it. I agree with an above comment about buying lots of cheap things but having them wear out quickly. I guess you get what you pay for… but still. I tell myself that I couldn’t spend $128 on a casual dress but I’d spend it on a special occasion dress. What kind of sense does that make?! Argh, I don’t know. I’m just rambling now. The main point was to say that I totally am in the same place you are, and if you find a solution, please let me know. OH, and I’m so with you on the nail polish thing. I was rocking mint polish for a couple of months and got so many compliments on it! I moved on to one of the Essie summer colors and I am in looove. (Sorry I wrote a novel! =x)


30 Rachel June 13, 2012 at 9:18 pm

That’s SO true that we often spend more on special occasion dresses than ones we’ll wear every day…what sense does that make!? I’m going to try to keep that in mind…great point.

Second, I would love a puppy playdate!


31 Nikki June 13, 2012 at 9:18 pm

A dress like that is priceless, IMO. You’ll get a gazillion wears out of it. Totally WORTH it! So glad you got it!!


32 Meg June 13, 2012 at 9:19 pm

If you love it and it makes you feel amazing every time you wear it, if you know you’re going to have lots of reasons to wear it (or you’re going to invent lots of reasons to wear it), and if you can’t help but smile when you put it on, it’s worth every penny of $128.


33 Jane June 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm

This is only really tangentially related, but when I started reading I thought this might be where you were going with it, and it may be of interest to you additionally because it’s wedding-related. NPR’s Planet Money team did a video about the true cost of wedding dresses, and why they cost so much: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/04/03/149929993/why-did-my-wedding-dress-cost-so-much


34 Deva @ Deva by Definition June 13, 2012 at 10:00 pm

This is amazingly interesting, especially as someone who just bought her wedding dress. Mine was over half off and is still the most expensive article of clothing I have ever purchased.


35 Mikala June 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm

The dress is AWESOME! It’s worth it. You look fabulous in it and it looks like a dress that you’ll be able to wear for many years. Stripes can always be dressed up/down to match current trends.

I don’t even try on the clothes at Antropologie because I know that I can’t afford it. In the past two years, I’ve probably only spent $200 on clothes. A lot of my work pieces are worn down, but I can get away with it right now because my job isn’t very professional. I have bought a few basics that I can dress up/down for nights out etc. I’m definitely really sick of my clothes, but when I do my budget, I know that it’s something I can’t afford at the moment.


36 Mel June 13, 2012 at 10:57 pm

OMG yes. I have been wondering the mall aimlessly these days because I feel too old to be buying items at Forever 21 (though I find some trendy, nice looking pieces, most are low quality) but I still feel weird dropping $70 on a full price sweater. Not to mention, I am struggling with current trends and knowing what looks good on my body but doesn’t make me look like I’m in college. I’m finding that I am OK with spending $40 on quality classic blouses or tops, $50 – 60 on a fun dress (Thank you Francesca’s), $70-$80 on an amazing dress or outfit, and Limited sale prices for most professional attire (so $30 tops, $40 bottoms). I think some of this is my low budget because I am making less than many people -but also because I prioritize travel over shopping. Since it’s rare, when I do shop I feel ok spending more on something I love and will continuously wear instead of something that is “fine because it’s there.” Funny, the one thing I’ve never questioned splurging on is shoes! I am a sucker for shoes but I question whether or not to buy the $20 cover up from Target. Oy.
Anyway, I love your dress! Like I said, I think it’s more worth it to buy the occasional item you love for more than be a shopaholic with an assortment of $20 worn once shirts. (Not that I wouldn’t take both if I could.)


37 grace b June 13, 2012 at 11:46 pm

I try to keep all of my things nice but not specify them for certain occasions.

Bought a $40 dress a month ago or so (a lot for me as I am a big fan of the thrift stores these days) and have since worn it to work, out on date night, sightseeing with friends, and to family events. It gets a lot of wear and to me that definitely makes a ‘splurge’ worth it.

While I don’t spend a lot of money on everyday clothes or shoes (haven’t bought a new pair in a year!) I used to spend a TON on my hobby of horseback riding–so I guess this is even-ning it out!


38 Aj June 14, 2012 at 12:07 am

So I got my first big girl job a year ago and while I can wear jeans, everyone there is super well dressed! And gorgeous and nice and smart…I have a huge girl crush on my job and want to be just like it and dress super cute and trendy. What I’m learning is to mix and match pieces. I wear jeans from Old Navy, Levi, and American Eagle. I wear shirts from Target and Old Navy (and get compliments!) . But I’ve also learned I have a love for Anthropologie and, oh Anthro, I just can’t quit you. And I got some cute fitted blazers from the Gap that were pricey. So how much is right? I think it depends…if you love it and you don’t *only* love expensive things (or are willing to have a few things over many options) I say diversify!


39 Iulia June 14, 2012 at 4:02 am

I loved your article Rachel! I loved your dress and nails(cute!). I find dresses very comfy and I’d spend more or less around 50$/dress. From my point of view it’s a fair price and usually for that amount the material doesn’t look very cheap and the dress has a nice shape, etc. But again, that’s just my opinion…


40 Emma @ BITE | Boredom Is The Enemy June 14, 2012 at 5:20 am

First of all, I LOVE that dress and you look stunning in it. I also support the minty fresh fingernails. Regarding clothing prices…I definitely don’t have a hard and fast number in my head of what’s an acceptable amount to pay, but interestingly enough, I actually find myself subconsciously eliminating anything under $75-100 or so based on the assumption that the quality will be terrible. Weird, right? It’s not like I’m in a position where I can be spending tons of money on clothes, so basically I just don’t buy anything at the moment. But I used to work at a resale store where we bought in gently used clothing, and it just became so clear so quickly how various brands and price points hold up over time. It made me hate cheap clothes. It totally skewed my conception of price, though. I’m a huge J.Crew fan – the quality of their clothes is terrific given their cost – but I still see it as a “budget brand” (despite the fact that I can’t afford to buy their clothes new) because that’s where they fall on the overall spectrum.

Anyway, price truly does reflect quality in my experience, and you can pay more (for more!) without paying astronomical designer prices (the exception being any celebrity design collaboration because they jack that shit up shamelessly regardless of how it’s made).


41 Rachel June 14, 2012 at 6:25 am

Oooh this is interesting! Any recommendations on brands to avoid because they don’t hold up??


42 Emma @ BITE | Boredom Is The Enemy July 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Ah sorry, just now seeing your reply! There were definitely brands that would consistently fall apart (most of them are pretty obvious—the F21/H&M/junior department store lines of the world) but what was more surprising was how GOOD the really good stuff was. For example, I was always super skeptical of those $80 Alexander Wang t-shirts, but I got one with my discount and I would seriously buy another one full price—it’s held its shape perfectly for over a year with no pilling etc., and I have worn and washed it plenty. Ditto J.Brand jeans (once you wear nice denim, you cannot go back to the cheap stuff. The difference in fit/flattery/number of wears you can swing between washes is mind-blowing) and quality cashmere vs. the stuff you get at Target or TJ Maxx (I love Vince and Rag & Bone, although like I mentioned before J.Crew is a pretty excellent value). Zara is also surprisingly great quality for its price point.


43 Hannah June 14, 2012 at 6:12 am

Rachel, I’m honestly surprised that no one has mentioned this yet but here goes: the right amount to spend on clothes is: whatever you can afford and want to spend! I hate detailed budgets but they’re useful here. How much do you make every month? How much of that goes into savings? (pay yourself first). How much to rent and other recurring bills? How much for gas and groceries? What’s left over? There you go. Any amount of that money is the ‘right’ amount to spend on clothes. What the individual items cost will be partially a product of what that dollar figure is and partially a product of what your clothing philosophy is (a few classic pieces or ‘OMG 5 tees for $25!’)

Of course if you don’t spend any one month you’ll have double the next month, and ect. When I started my first ‘Big Girl Job’ I spent $750 in two days. HOWEVER, I had absolutely no business casual clothes to build with and that $750 includes *everything* — nylons, tights, shoes, a belt, as well as the clothes. Since then I have bought 2 items for work totaling less than $50 and I’ve been working there for 8 months. I bought high quality classics that (hopefully!) I will be wearing for years to come.

So I guess none of us can tell you if that dress makes sense or not because we don’t know what your salary is! And I agree with the commenter who said that ‘price-per-wear’ can be a rationalization tool.

Great post, as usual!


44 erin June 14, 2012 at 6:44 am

i spend maybe between $50 to $100 on dresses, but i maintain them really well. and if i can make it last 2-3 years or even longer…. like amazing! i could probably spend $150 max on a dress, but i’m not there yet!

i have a similar dress – striped, that i wore yesterday. i love it! i never thought i’d like stripes on me! and neon nails. i’m all about that now!!!


45 erin June 14, 2012 at 6:49 am

now that i’ve read everyone’s comments — i’m with a lot of the ladies that have a hard time buying play clothes. That is the most difficult cuz i work 5 days a week, so i can easily spend money on work clothes, but play clothes…. my husband is always trying to get me to not buy work clothes, but play clothes. so hard!!!


46 Marie June 14, 2012 at 7:17 am

I was going to suggest considering the cost of each time wearing it, like someone else did…my other suggestions are (I didn’t read allll the comments so sorry if I’m repeating!):

– Sometimes when I am on the fence about a purchase I consider how much work I have to do to get it. If I’m being paid hourly I use that (and when I’m salaried I you know, do the math and figure out how much per hour I make). Is this dress worth 5 hours of work? 10?

– When I have the extra cash — because I really hate shopping, and it’s worse when I surprisingly find something I like and then can’t afford it — I put some away each pay period in a jar just for clothes, then go shopping on a random free day. That way I can buy a lot of inexpensive things if it’s what I need or one or two more expensive things (like dresses) if I need or want those, without feeling like I’m going to be eating fewer groceries that week.

– BUT REALLY it depends on YOU! How much money you make and how much of your paycheck you are able to devote to clothes. There is no universal clothing budget for everybody. I don’t believe in that fashion mag advice to ‘buy quality [ie, expensive] pieces to last forever’ (it sounds too much like ‘part with money you don’t have, and I change my mind so frequently about clothes). I’ve had $10 pair of jeans that looked amazing on me and that I wore twice a week every week, except during the summer, for three years before they fell apart, and a $200 coat that started deteriorating within the month. Buy what you need and what you want and what you can afford and don’t worry too much about it.

Also that dress is killer, especially on you. I love the sleeves. I don’t wear sleeveless anything…but I also don’t wear white, which is good or I would said ‘fuck it’ and ordered this dress right away. :)


47 Caitie June 14, 2012 at 7:46 am

That dress looks fantastic and is super flattering!

I’m still a student, surviving on a graduate stipend, so my clothing budget is VERY minimal. When I was in undergrad though, I spent an 8 month internship working for a big pharma company where I was making big bucks. While I was there, I was shopping at a big outlet mall and went into this store that sells only shoes and handbags- designer end of lines etc at a discounted price. After trying some stuff on, I found a pair of boots and I swear it was like they were calling out to me. They weren’t on display, and I couldn’t find another pair of them anywhere. Knee high, stacked heel, hand-tooled leather made in Italy, felt like butter. Of course, they were exactly my size. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I looked at the price tag AFTER trying them on and they were well over $200. So, being a student and used to saving, I had a little hyperventilation break over them and left the store, figuring I’d walk around for a bit and decide. I ended up basically sprinting back to the store in ten minutes because I realized that I’d never forgive myself if they were gone when I went back. I plunked down my money (which I could totally afford, because I had a full-time job!) and never regretted it because those boots are the nicest things I own and I get so compliments every time I wear them (which is regularly, because they are super comfy!). If you love it, you can afford to splurge, it makes you happy, and it’s an item that feels like it was “meant for you”, I think sometimes you just have to buy it and not rationalize to yourself.


48 Dori June 14, 2012 at 8:02 am

The dress looks perfect on you and you clearly really love it and also clearly don’t spend money like that on yourself often — so yes, it is worth it.


49 LindsayH June 14, 2012 at 8:21 am

I definitely spend quite a lot of money on clothing. Probably about 10% of my income (10% of my total income, not 10% of my discretionary spending, but I have no consumer debt – just student loans and a mortgage). But I like to make that go as far as I can and invest in quality pieces. At anthro, especially, I’m super picky about what I will pay full-price for. Synthetic fabrics? Probably not. I have noticed the quality there (well, and everywhere) has really gone down a lot. I tried on the Scalloped Stripes Dress and I think it’s adorable but I didn’t feel it (at least the one I tried on) was very well constructed. Some of the stitching on the bodice was uneven and again, it’s polyester so it would have to be pretty great for me to pay $130. If you really love something, though, I think it’s totally worth it.


50 Rachel June 14, 2012 at 10:35 am

Yeah, I was really torn about the quality because I don’t shop at Anthropologie enough to know how long it will last. I feel like Anthro is overpriced so I can’t assume it’s quality, you know? I have one other dress from there that’s in perfect condition, but I haven’t worn it very often, and it’s a different fabric. I appreciate the info on how to decide if something is quality and to consider the fabric! That’s definitely an area where I could stand to learn a lot more.


51 Jessica June 14, 2012 at 8:26 am

In my ripe old age of 29… I’m actually starting to invest more on quality items that I know will get a lot of wear and (hopefully) last a long time. My rule of thumb is that if the item is $50+, I try to think of 3 ways I can wear it, and if I can do that pretty easily I’ll allow it. Dresses are a whole ‘nother story, but I usually decide if there are different places/events I can work it into, and if it’s more of a “classic” style, then I’ll splurge. Anything over $100 makes me cringe though and I have buyers guilt for at least a week.
I think you chose wisely though- the dress is adorable and you can wear it a million different ways.


52 Rachel June 14, 2012 at 10:35 am

What is it about the $100 cut off that makes something feel like a BIG DEAL?! That’s totally mine too.


53 Rachel June 14, 2012 at 8:30 am

I love that dress! Now that I’m working, my main criteria when buying a dress is: can I make it “work” for work and also for going out? If not, it’s basically worthless to me because then I might wear it once every few months (or less). I think your dress does that and I would definitely spend $128 on it (honestly that seems low for anthro prices) because it is versatile. I think the other thing to keep in mind is what part of your wardrobe do you like to spend money on? Some people are handbag people, others are shoe people. Spend money on things you care about and then go cheaper on stuff you don’t. No matter how many purses I own, I just end up using the same one every day.


54 Rachel June 14, 2012 at 10:40 am

Oh that’s a good point. I think I used to be a purse/shoe person but now I’m realizing I’m set there and need actual real clothes to wear (especially in a totally different climate) so I kinda feel like I’m starting over!


55 Ashley M. June 14, 2012 at 8:38 am

Hey Rachel,
That dress is killer and worth EVERY PENNY. You’re investing in yourself when you purchase a piece like that; your confidence skyrockets and creates a really positive energy, which empowers you to make great things happen around you-for others and yourself.

~Ashley (I am the chick that ran up to you at EWR when you were trying to fly home from NYFW.)


56 Suzanne June 14, 2012 at 8:45 am

When I’m shopping for clothes, I try to come up with a “price per wear” in my head. For instance, a pair of jeans may cost $200, but I’ll wear them at least once a week, and they will last me at least three years if I take care of them. That’s roughly a $1.25 per wear. Not bad. On the other hand, a fabulous dress that costs the same amount that I’ll wear once to a wedding, and then not want to repeat that summer for facebook photos’ sake, that I might wear the next year if it hasn’t gone out of style and I’m not bored with it, costs $200 a wear (maybe $100, if I wear it one more time). That’s too much. A timeless, versatile piece that is well made is worth extra money. If you actually get as much use out of the dress as you say you will, it is definitely worth it. It will keep you from blowing $25 here or there on things that will wear out or go out of style next year. Plus, $125 is pretty good for Anthro, I think.


57 Lia June 14, 2012 at 8:57 am

I like to invest in basics and things that I know I will wear for years to come. I have a set amount in my budget to spend each month on “discretionary” items which includes clothes, beauty products, restaurants, coffee, etc. If I find something I love and it fits my qualifications and budget (i.e. fit is great, natural materials, timeless), then I get it. Those “qualifications” are more important to me than the price tag (as long as it fits in the budget). I have some cashmere sweaters from J. Crew that I bought on sale and wear ALL THE TIME. I know I will wear them five years from now since they are so classic. I like to keep a simple, really pared down closet. Anything I don’t love anymore/haven’t worn in a year, I offer to my sister or donate. I usually accessorize with scarves, watches, bag, shoes.


58 Amanda June 14, 2012 at 9:03 am

I learned to shop for anything based on absolute price points. I do this with clothing, shoes, food etc. Basically, determine from your past shopping habits and experience with what you’ve learned is your absolute highest price paid. For me this breaks down in the following ways.
Jeans-max price $50
Dresses-max price $100
Shirts: $25
Tank Tops-$10
But this doesnt’ mean that if I found something a little bit over that max price point I wouldn’t reconsider it or potentially try to find a way to get it cheaper using a coupon, reward points etc.
If you consistently shop at Anthro and you know you’ll never get a dress for less than $150, then set you price points around that figure. Another thing I am learning is labels does not always equal quality. I’ve had some “nice” brands fall apart on me. So don’t assume that because it costs more it’s better quality. A lot of times what you are paying for is the label. Which is another reason I’ve built my shopping around max price versus times worn.


59 Laura June 14, 2012 at 9:13 am


Thank you soooo much for posting this. I have this exact problem. I have been working in a semi-professional position for the last three years and I have had clothes-schizophrenia (what I’ve named it) the whole time!! I have a hard time figuring out if something is a good investment or not (and I’m still at an age where the majority of my friends are students and buy much cheaper/less businessy clothing so I’m on my own in figuring it out). Some days I feel like I’m dressed well for work and others I feel like a mess!!! And when I see the price tag on some of the clothes I’d like to invest in, I’m just not sure they’re worth it…..oh the joys of being a young professional!!!


60 Diane June 14, 2012 at 9:26 am

That’s my favorite kind of dress! It looks great on you. Also, “Age of Aquarius” is one of my favorite nail colors.

My general rules are:
– maximum of $15O for a dress I will wear to work functions [I only have a handful of these, as my office only requires me to dress corporate two weeks a year during conferences.]
– maximum of $7O for a dress I’d wear for a performance or bar-related event [New Year’s Eve, etc.], but the rule is I have to be photographed in it at least twice, so it must be flattering and not something I just kind of like that won’t look good in photos.
– $35-5O for a regular weekend/casual workday dress

The photo rule is most often the dealbreaker for an item. But I do find it to be really useful! I am a fan of weird/slightly ugly/super retro items, and sometimes I’ll talk myself into them even when they aren’t flattering. It’s good to be able to say “if you were photographed in this, would you feel embarrassed?” It’s definitely helped me edit. [Though I will still buy horrible 8Os sweaters. Not sorry!]


61 Lindsey June 14, 2012 at 10:31 am

LOVE the dress! It was absolutely worth the money, IMO. I typically try to spend *no more* than $100 on a dress. However, if I love it and can’t get it out of my mind, and fits me like a glove (which can be difficult), then I know I have to buy it as long as it is under $175. Especially if I can justify my purchase and make it multi-purpose for the winter, such as throwing on some fun tights, blazer, a new belt and wearing it straight through December.


62 Katie @ Livehalffull June 14, 2012 at 11:11 am

I have the same problem! I think it’s hard to shift from the “I need a new Forever 21 dress for every night I go out” to the “investment piece” outlook. I agree, the cost per wear is important. If you only wear a $15 Forever 21 dress once, in the end it’s a worse deal than the investment dress!

I went through the same internal debate over a $148 white lace shift dress from Antro a few weeks ago. I knew I would wear it for both my wedding showers, rehearsal dinner and to work with different shoes/accessories, so I bit the bullet. At my first shower I felt awesome and got so many compliments. It was so worth it!


63 Amanda June 14, 2012 at 11:12 am

My problem is that I, being fresh out of college, don’t make enough money to feel okay with dropping $100 on a single piece of clothing. I had to talk myself into buying a $25 shirt a few weeks ago (fabulous investment, by the way; I have to make myself not wear it every week for casual Friday). So I guess it really depends on your budget. If I made a few more dollars an hour, I might be willing to spend $100 on a really good dress every now and then (though I doubt it will ever feel like a steal to me).


64 Rachel June 15, 2012 at 7:44 am

Why NOT wear it every week for casual Friday?! I wear the same few outfits ALL THE TIME. I have no shame. I will definitely wear this dress once a week to work. I don’t care if it looks like I don’t have a lot of clothes. I don’t!


65 Margaret June 14, 2012 at 11:19 am

I have totally been going through this exact same struggle. For so long I was underemployed and my Mom is quite the thrifty shopper, so I was never willing to pay too much for clothing. But I’m now working at an office job and realize that my wardrobe is greatly lacking. Lately I’ve finally gotten to a point where I’ve had to say, “Margaret, you’re just going to have to pay more than you want to for quality pieces.” It’s not that I can’t afford it, but it just feels ridiculous.

All this brings me to a specific dress from the one and only Anthropologie which I tried on (and fell in love with) probably 6 times over the course of 3 months but just couldn’t get past the $178 price tag. One of the last times I wandered into Anthropologie and tried it on, I was with my friend and we were planning our combined birthday party. She had had enough and insisted I buy it. To this day, it’s the most expensive thing in my wardrobe. Even more than a pair of brown leather riding boots from J.Crew. But I love that damn dress. It’s super slimming and I feel beautiful and grown in it.

So now, I’m dreaming of a pair of Cole Haan shoes that I might have to splurge on because my current everyday flats literally have a hole straight through to the ground. . .

On another note that should be a comment on the appropriate posting but I love reading about your relationship with Eric because I can see myself thinking the same ways about balancing head over heels-ness and reality/values/logistics. I admire that and wish you all the best!


66 Rachel June 15, 2012 at 7:43 am

I am TOTALLY with you in that realization that my wardrobe is lacking. Like, it’s not a desire for new clothes so much as a need for something functional/professional…but like you said, it just feels ridiculous.

Sometimes it really takes another person to help you get over that hump! I feel like it’s taken a buddy to help me get through so many big decisions (like my car or the house like I mentioned earlier this week) and yeah, spending more than $100 on a dress feels like a big decision to me. Anyway, I’m glad you got the dress…sounds like it was a worth-it buy!

And thank you for the comments about the relationship posts! :)


67 Janet June 14, 2012 at 11:34 am

Excluding formal dresses, I usually go with no more than $1/wear. That means: if I am able to wear a pair of jeans twice a week for a year without them significantly fading 100 bucks is okay. Your dress seems to follow my rule.
side: I’m willing to spend a lot of money on a handbag. But I follow the same value judgement. If I spend $350 on a handbag, you better believe you’ll see me with it everyday for over a year.


68 Katie June 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Are you kidding?! Not only does this dress look HOT on you, you feel good wearing it. Case closed. Money will come and go, but I think the dress is worth the cost considering the pleasure you will get every time you wear it.


69 Lauren @ Sassy Molassy June 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Ha – don’t you just looove those fashion posts about budget friendly outfits?! Perhaps they’re thinking of those big city, high(er) paying careers, but not the “oh, I can pay my bills and occasionally go out to eat” kind of careers.

I think that price is totally worthy to spend on an item you love, feel great in and know you will wear a lot. After all, the number of times you might wear that dress over a $20 shirt that was just so so, is totally worth it in the cost per wear perspective. I bought a pair of Fryes a few years ago and was a little nervous about shelling out the $$$, but I now think it’s one of the best purchases I’ve made. Love the boots and wear them a lot.


70 Kate June 14, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I have a coworker who I swear, looks so fabulous every day, from head to toe, and whom I’ve NEVER seen wear the same thing twice, who says she has a $10 rule. As in, she rarely if ever will buy it if it’s not less than $10. I consider myself a bargain shopper but that is true commitment! I think it depends on your income – I have friends who make the same as me and think nothing of spending $100 on a pair of jeans, but personally, I would rather have five things for $100 than one.


71 Sarah June 14, 2012 at 2:55 pm

For me, whether something is worth it has more to do with “can I get something that will perform the same function for a better value?” than a cost per wear, which is hard to predict when you see something you want anyway.
If it’s a really well made dress that makes you feel amazing, then you may not be able to find something that would perform the same function for cheap – or at all. A dress that makes you feel amazing and look put together and is appropriate for all occassions is a tall order, and thus worth spending on.
But if it’s a pair flats, just get them from target or TJ maxx – I just tossed a pair that I paid $20 for 4 years ago. I could have justfied spending a lot of money on something I’d wear that much for that long, but why, when there is such a cheap alternative which is functionally the same?


72 Rachel June 14, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Ohhh that’s a really good way to think of it! I think in the case of this dress, I would have gone ahead with it because I have been looking for summer dresses that are good for work and play for a couple months and have been coming up with nothing. So I think I feel better about it knowing I’ve exhausted the less expensive options!


73 Sarah June 15, 2012 at 7:31 am

I’d feel good about it! finding a dress that works for that many occasions for more than one season (in Houston, you can probably wear that just about year round!) is really tough, so worth spending on. (if that dress was in my budget, I’d buy it myself!) I think it’s unlikely you would have found the same function for a better value, and because you looked for a while, you KNOW it’s unlikely. Nothing more satisfying than finding something you’ve been looking for for months!


74 Olivia June 14, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Love the dress!!
One of my recommendations for shopping at Anthro as a recently graduated college student (and soon to be graduate student) is to shop the sale racks ONLY. There is usually a ton of really great stuff there, at somewhat more reasonable prices. My mom, sister and I will only ever look at what is on sale there, and it saves us from falling in love with something that is ridiculously overpriced. Also, modcloth.com has some super super cute dresses at much more reasonable prices (usually under $100), though some of the dresses are much more pricey.


75 Robyn June 14, 2012 at 9:51 pm

i used to always balk at buying dresses for work that were over $100. then a friend explained to me that it’s a relative bargain compared to putting together another outfit. i.e. by the time you buy pants, a top and maybe a sweater or blazer, that outfit will no doubt cost more than one dress. so now i look for dresses that can be worn with a few different combinations of shoes/accessories, and if it’s over $100, i can justify it, and i would wear it frequently.

but i seriously hate spending money on clothes. i struggle with this all the time. also harder when you live in a city with 4 distinct seasons (i work in toronto), and i feel like i’m starting from scratch every 4 months.


76 Chelsea A. June 14, 2012 at 10:55 pm

When I graduated college and went into my first “real job”. I spent a fortune on outfits that society told me I needed. After working at my new job for a few months I realized that the clothes I’d bought were a) not me b) not practical for my job even if they were cute c) not being worn because they were too much maintenance. Now I dress for how I want to feel and what makes me comfortable. Granted I’m an interior designer so I can wear just about anything, but it took me many years to figure out what MY work style was.

Since I’m a single woman living in a large and expensive city I run the following dialogue through my head when I get the itch to splurge: #1. Is it something I can wear to work and for fun? If so then I allow myself to seriously consider it. The other thing I tend to do when I fall in love with something that is either way too expensive or just not as versatile and truly an impulse purchase is I think about it for a few days. If, after three days I’m still thinking about it then it’s mine. If not, well, I just saved myself from making a foolish purchase. I also keep the tags on everything until I’m going to wear them (with the exception of the clothes that just have to be washed prior to wearing). That way if a month goes by and I haven’t worn it yet, or I change my mind after realizing I’m not that excited about it after all, I take that sucker back!

On the flip side – When it comes to white tank tops I buy them cheap. That way if I stain them and it doesn’t come out I just toss it and get a new one. I’ve spent too many hours trying to get stains our of expensive white tops!


77 Rachel June 15, 2012 at 7:39 am

I keep the tags on too!!

Also, I’m with you on the white shirts! I don’t buy a lot of white tank tops but I wear white V-neck T-shirts constantly (white T-shirt + jeans + boots is my uniform in cooler months) and I also buy them really cheap. I love the ones from Target. $8 and I toss them when they wear out or get a stain that won’t come out!


78 Jessica June 15, 2012 at 5:49 am

I think it’s appropriate for a dress to be more expensive than your other clothes, because it’s a whole outfit by itself! The way I look at it, it’ probably the only thing you’re putting on besides your shoes/accessories. Most outfits include at least a top and bottom, which – if they were also great quality – could add up to close to the price of the dress, if not more.


79 Rachel June 15, 2012 at 7:29 am

That’s so true!


80 Elizabeth June 15, 2012 at 6:31 am

I’ve been reading http://www.jseverydayfashion.com/ for a while now and it’s helped me figure out how to budget to buy nicer clothes. I’ve become very picking about the feel of fabrics lately, but clothes that feel good cost more. That’s not a bad thing since I’m at a point in my life where I should be wearing nice clothes, but I agree it feels weird to spend more than $15 on an item.


81 Heather June 15, 2012 at 7:17 am

cough. HLS cocktail party dress. cough.


82 Rachel June 15, 2012 at 7:30 am

Haha I definitely had that thought too! I think the only other Anthropologie dress I own (from SXSW in 2011) is perfect for the cocktail party…I was thinking this one might be good for a panelist to wear. Cough cough cough.


83 Heather June 16, 2012 at 10:26 am

agreed! :)


84 Marissa June 15, 2012 at 9:41 am

a.) I just looked the dress up on Anthro, and it looks better on you than on the model.
b.) I think I read a post by Joanna Goddard that said you should only buy clothes you really love. I’ve instituted that, and tend to test it by asking myself when I’m trying on a dress or something “Do I just not want to take this off?” “Am I just happier wearing this dress?” Then, because I’m trying to reign in my spending, I typically leave the store without it. If I’m still thinking about it in a week or two, I go back and get it. If it’s gone, I didn’t need it anyway.

I’m trying to apply this to getting a new car. It’s helping me walk away from the dealership, which in turn drops the price more.


85 Ashley June 15, 2012 at 11:42 am

I am a firm believer in figuring my “cost per use.” I generally shoot for $1/use, but there are definitely exceptions.
Basically, whenever I’m looking to purchase an item, I consider how much I’d wear/use it, and decide if the cost per use is worth it.
For instance, if I found a great dress for $150 but could only think of two times I would reasonably wear it, I have to consider if that cost is worth it (chances are, if I’d only wear it twice, I don’t love it as much as I think I do).
Likewise, if there is an item I know I will use every.single.day, I’m likely to be willing to spend more money on it, especially if a higher cost means higher quality.
And, at the end of the day, there are still a few items I splurge on because they’re too good to pass up.
Purple glittered high heels? Yes, please. Will they ever reach a $1/use point? No… but I can live with that!


86 Savannah June 15, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I was watching a show yesterday and Clinton (from ‘What Not to Wear’) said that how he recommends people shop is to try on items without looking at the price. If you love it, it fits, looks great ask yourself how much you would pay for it. Then look at the price, if it’s more than you would want to pay for it, leave it there. I think that works good in theory but I haven’t tried it IRL yet.

Right now I really only shop at two places: Ross & Nordstroms Rack. Things I buy @ NR tend to be a bit more expensive but I’ll either wear ALL the time (work camis, cardis, skirts) or an amazing piece that I can go to time & again (lavender sheer sequin kimono sleeve top that I wore for my bday,NYE comedy show, and maybe at Gay Pride next weekend). Things I buy at Ross are more inexpensive but also seem to wear pretty well (blouses and slacks for work, casual tops). I want to shop more and buy more clothes but I’m kinda stuck between practical (for my-day-today biz cas work environment) and fantasy (how I dress on the weekends and in my head).


87 Rachel June 18, 2012 at 7:34 am

That’s a GREAT tip! I love it. I’m sure it’s hard to put it into practice, but it’s a good one to try at places like Anthropologie, where dresses range from $100 to $300.

Also, I always forget about Nordstrom Rack (and I also like Saks Off Fifth). The clothes are definitely pricier than I’m used to, so I avoid those stores, but the stuff I have bought there has been cheaper than it would be at a department store and has had staying power (like my first pair of designer jeans). Good call!


88 Eszter June 18, 2012 at 5:09 am

Well, I just bumped into the following article the other-day: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2158186/Dressing–paying-price-As-closets-bargain-fashion-finds-environment-suffers-U-S-jobs-lost-reveals-new-book.html
…and it really made me think for a while. You know, the average middle-class woman owned 8-9 outfits 150 years ago, and now we can purchase $10-30 pieces in stores like New Yorker, H&M, C&A and the rest, any time we feel like we need a new dress. But is it right? Isn’t the global price of vanity a bit too much? And do we even need 40-50 dresses, shoes or bags…? Considering this whole new perspective, I guess it is okay to buy quality-dresses that cost a bit more than your usual Forver21/Target-stuff… :)


89 Jennifer June 19, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I’m really loving this discussion! I’m always wondering the same thing myself. How much is too much? I recently decided that certain purchases, such as black heels or black boots, which I will wear multiple times a week, are OK to spend a little money on. Same goes with certain dresses, such as the dress you bought! For me, it’s shirt dresses. They’re flattering, can be dressy or casual, weekend or work, and are timeless. So I don’t mind spending more than $100 on a good shirt dress. I also think it’s OK to spend a little more on decent bras. You’ll wear them every day! And if you care for them, they’ll last a good year or so. Plus, that kind of good support is priceless! (So glad you bought that dress, Rachel! It looks AWESOME on you and you’ll get a TON of use out of it!)


90 Rachel June 20, 2012 at 8:58 am

I wish shirt dresses looked good on me! I see them everywhere, they are totally timeless, and I think they look great on other people…but they never look right on me. I would definitely invest in one if I found one I liked!

And I agree that good bars are worth every penny! (Though I’m kinda thrilled because I found bras I love at Target recently and they are way cheaper than the ones I had been buying from VS.)


91 Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie June 20, 2012 at 10:15 am

Such a pretty dress! I adore sleeves as well.

I have to admit, the “budget friendly” and “great buy” picks in Bazaar & Elle drive me mad. Remember the end of Confessions of a Shopaholic when she quits because they try to list Christian Louboutins as a good buy? That’s how it makes me feel!

I definitely think, re-think, worry, wonder when making new purchases. Zara, BCBG & Banana Republic are my go-to stores for work dresses so the usual cost can be anywhere from $75-$200, and though I’ve been shopping at these places for years, I still think about any $100+ purchase before proceeding the cash register. What else could I get for that? I could get a new bag & some accessories… Is the dress really worth it?

Alllll of that being said, I think that you made a wise decision with that dress. If you love it that much, and obsessed about it for DAYS before making the purchase, I say it’s a good buy! Congrats! :)


92 kate July 5, 2012 at 10:06 pm

I just have to say I love this dress, especially the fact that it has sleeves!


93 Carol July 26, 2012 at 12:37 am

In my opinion 128 dollars is completely reasonable to spend on a dress. Especially if you have a full time job. My rules for shopping are as follows.
1- I can only buy something if I can wear it now. None of this talk of slimming down to fit into it, or ‘it’ll look great once I get the right shoes to match’ or ‘now if I can just find a perfect lime green bolero to go over it..’ Everything must be in place to wear it already.
2. I would always spend more on a dress than I would on a skirt or a pants. When you wear a dress you are fully dressed – you dont need a top half or a bottom half to match. When you wear a skirt you still have to make a choice to put some shirt with it etc. Therefore I am entitled to spend more on a dress because a dress is a complete outfit.
3. I divide the cost price by the amount of times I think I will wear it. If I am shopping for a dress for a wedding and its 300euro – and I cant think of at least 10 occasions I can wear that dress apart from the wedding, then I won’t buy it. But if I saw a dress for 300 euro that can be worn both at work or in the evening and can be worn from Spring, through Summer and into Autumn then it’s mine! 300euro divided by 3 or 4 occasions is still 100euro a wear. That is steep! But 300euro divided by 30 wears, thats 10euro a wear. Much more reasonable.
4. Life span. If I see a blazer for 250 euro that is a timeless classic I will buy it. A blazer is something one can wear for years to come. However I will not spend 250 euro on this seasons ‘must have’ trend … whats the life span of the item. If its a classic but costly – buy it. If its a trend and costly – leave it.
5. Final rule : “If in doubt leave out” – If you dont love it in the shop you’re not going to love it at home. If it doesnt fit right or you’re just not quite sure, leave it. There will be something nicer out there.

PS I saw on another post your dress is ‘hand wash only’. Almost all items are marked handwash only to protect the manufacturer should something go wrong if you machine wash it. If its 100% cotton simply wash it on a v cool cycle. like 30 deg Celsius max! Cotton shrinks slightly so if you wash it at 40deg or above it might shrink a bit. Also if its very patterned the colours may run, so the first time you wash it, do so in cold water.

Alternatively just be careful not to stain it with food and when you want to wash it just leave it soak in a sink of luke warm water with a little bit of washing powder. When you rinse it, spin it in the machine,shake it out and hang it up to dry. (never hang wool to dry, always dry flat). Hand washing is simple as long as you’re not drying to get red wine out of something. Then the fun starts!


94 Britta August 11, 2012 at 2:28 pm

As a librarian who recently purchased the same dress, I would totally suggest you check out this book:

Book Description
Publication Date: June 14, 2012
Until recently, Elizabeth Cline was a typical American consumer. She’d grown accustomed to shopping at outlet malls, discount stores like T.J. Maxx, and cheap but trendy retailers like Forever 21, Target, and H&M. She was buying a new item of clothing almost every week (the national average is sixty-four per year) but all she had to show for it was a closet and countless storage bins packed full of low-quality fads she barely wore—including the same sailor-stripe tops and fleece hoodies as a million other shoppers. When she found herself lugging home seven pairs of identical canvas flats from Kmart (a steal at $7 per pair, marked down from $15!), she realized that something was deeply wrong.

Cheap fashion has fundamentally changed the way most Americans dress. Stores ranging from discounters like Target to traditional chains like JCPenney now offer the newest trends at unprecedentedly low prices. Retailers are pro­ducing clothes at enormous volumes in order to drive prices down and profits up, and they’ve turned clothing into a disposable good. After all, we have little reason to keep wearing and repairing the clothes we already own when styles change so fast and it’s cheaper to just buy more.

But what are we doing with all these cheap clothes? And more important, what are they doing to us, our society, our environment, and our economic well-being?

In Overdressed, Cline sets out to uncover the true nature of the cheap fashion juggernaut, tracing the rise of budget clothing chains, the death of middle-market and independent retail­ers, and the roots of our obsession with deals and steals. She travels to cheap-chic factories in China, follows the fashion industry as it chases even lower costs into Bangladesh, and looks at the impact (both here and abroad) of America’s drastic increase in imports. She even explores how cheap fashion harms the charity thrift shops and textile recyclers where our masses of cloth­ing castoffs end up.

Sewing, once a life skill for American women and a pathway from poverty to the middle class for workers, is now a dead-end sweatshop job. The pressures of cheap have forced retailers to drastically reduce detail and craftsmanship, making the clothes we wear more and more uniform, basic, and low quality. Creative inde­pendent designers struggle to produce good and sustainable clothes at affordable prices.

Cline shows how consumers can break the buy-and-toss cycle by supporting innovative and stylish sustainable designers and retailers, refash­ioning clothes throughout their lifetimes, and mending and even making clothes themselves.

Overdressed will inspire you to vote with your dollars and find a path back to being well dressed and feeling good about what you wear.


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