Let’s talk about money and how it effects style

by Sylvia

money and style
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Money. What does it mean to you? Is it important? Would you like to have more? Does it create problems? Does it stand in the way of your style?

Money brings with it all kinds of emotions and it can certainly be a hot topic in dressing.

Can someone who spends a lot of money on clothing look effortlessly chic? Can someone who only shops at thrift stores look expensive and sophisticated? Can you relate to blogs that only feature high fashion brands?

I can’t answer all those questions for you, but I can give you some of my own thoughts on the topic.

I feature both bloggers that wear high fashion labels as well as thrift store shoppers on this blog. However, I only feature people who I consider to have a clear style and sense of dressing. To me that often has nothing to do with their budget.

It’s true of course that women with a high budget may get better advice in shops and the quality of their clothes will be better, but it still takes a critical eye and your own unique sense of style to really look good. I have seen women looking absolutely hideous dressed top to toe in Zara or Chanel. Remember how many ladies end up on the worst dressed list, dressed up in these high fashion labels?

I follow some younger bloggers too who seem to have all the money in the world (or have items gifted to them by companies) and I enjoy how they combine garments and style them into unique outfits. Although I sometimes might wish for the same budget, I also know that I would never spend $6000 on just one outfit, no matter how good it looks. Still those bloggers very much inspire me, because they know how to style themselves and it gives me lots of ideas for my own lower budget creations.

I’m also inspired by those bloggers that mix the high and the low end and by those who can look amazing on a super low budget. It’s really not about the money, it’s their unique sense of style.

What it comes down to is personal style. If you forget about the dollars and just look at how a person carries of an outfit, does it really matter how much they paid for it? Let’s just be happy for those that can afford those really expensive clothes and not be jealous or dismiss them. In the end they offer us a lot of eye candy too and having people that are willing to pay big dollars for fashion keeps the industry afloat as well.

Why not appreciate an outfit or someone’s style for what it is and don’t judge it by the price tag?

I love to hear your opinion on this. Do you get jealous when looking at someone who is dressed in high fashion items? Can you still relate to bloggers who feature $6000 outfits? Can you judge someone’s outfit, regardless of the price tag?

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Please note that I welcome any comments on this post, so long as they are written in a constructive and kind way. Any personal attacks or rude comments will be ignored.

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Rita

That’s a lot to think about, Sylvia! A very interesting topic. I’ll dive in and hope I don’t offend anyone. :-)

When I’m looking at someone’s outfit, I notice how nice they look, the style, an interesting pattern, and things that are unique and pretty. I can tell if something looks well made or not, but quality isn’t always indicative of cost. A beautifully made garment will always look best, even if it’s very inexpensive, I think.

I don’t spend a lot on clothing…a few well made things each season, and I try to wait for sales, but if the perfect piece comes along, I’ll pay full price. One store I love to look in is Max Mara…they have gorgeous things but I would never spend that much for a blouse or dress that I know I’ll slosh tea on, get caught in the car door, or my cat might snag with her paw.

I do have my weakness for higher end shoes and handbags, but not for the labels. It’s because I honestly think some higher end brands are just crafted better. I’ll invest in those items as they tend to last a lot longer than less expensive alternatives. I avoid items with obvious logos so all someone will see is a pretty pair of well made shoes, not how much I paid for them.

I do have to admit that I am not a thrift store frequenter for clothing or accessories (I’ll go in now and then to look for unique tea cups or antique kitchen ware). I just don’t like to go through a stranger’s used clothing, and usually thrifted shoes are already broken in to someone else’s foot. I know there are great deals to be found and I could save a lot of money, but it’s just not for me.

Sylvia

Thanks for your feedback Rita. What you do makes a lot of sense.

Jeannie@gracefully50

Sylvia, what an interesting topic!
I’m not really jealous of $ spent on outfits or accessories, but I do envy the talents of some bloggers/celebrities to look effortlessly stylish no matter what they have on…even in cut off shorts and t-shirts!
I believe you can look classy/elegant/chic/stylish on any budget! Just own it! :)

Sylvia

Absolutely!

Alice

I would what you call have champaign taste with beer budget. For me, I am realistic about what I can afford and stick to pieces that are timeless and can be worn season after season. The most important item to have is confidence – if you’ve go that – you can wear a bathrobe and look great!

Alice
http://www.happinessatmidlife.com

Sylvia

haha I’m the same when it comes to taste. But i’m just not willing to pay too high a price for a garment. And I love seasonal fashion, which is often best to buy at a lower price..

Sue

I sew most of my own clothes. I have lost a lot of weight, and so am in the fortunate position of rebuilding my wardrobe almost from scratch. I love ideas. I look at what women wear, recognizing trends and considering if I might be able to use those ideas. I am developing a better idea of what suits me and what does not. Something great on someone else might not look great on me at all. The cost doesn’t matter, it’s the ideas I can adopt and adapt to work for me that fascinates me.

Rita

That is wonderful that you are a skilled seamstress! You can make anything exactly how you want it, and be so creative. Love that!

Sylvia

That is a great way to approach it. And how wonderful that you can sew your own clothes. I dreamed of that once. I was in Italy and so inspired. I bought a sewing machine and gave it a go. Only to discover that I really don’t have the patience or the skill. But what a pleasure to adopt all your ideas and turn them into your own creations!

Lorraine

Interesting topic Sylvia!
First of all I think jealousy is a playground emotion and a waste of energy so I can happily say I am not jealous of anybody. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have the chance to wear some of the beautiful dresses on the red carpets but that’s life!

Money does not buy style – you only have to look at people like Tamara Ecclestone to see that. When you see people dressed head to toe in couture they sometimes look faintly ridiculous and often with designer clothes they (or their stylist) have purchased a whole outfit which has involved no skill or styling. On the other hand, I will always remember Sharon Stone wearing a man’s shirt with a ball gown skirt and looking stunning.
A magazine recently featured a ‘best dressed’ list and I was incredulous at some of the choices. The same people are trotted out time after time and it seems that editors are afraid to tell the truth – that these ‘celebrities/stars/models/royalty’ actually have no style. It’s the emperor’s new clothes mentality.
Because I sew I appreciate well made clothes and beautiful fabrics from designer labels, but that makes me discerning when I shop and I always check the labels. The UK has a great selection of shops such as Whistles, Hobbs, Laura Ashley, Monsoon etc etc where you can get well made pieces in good fabrics (plus Zara and mango from Europe).
I also look for interesting clothes when I am on holiday and treasure items from around the world.
Since leaving my management job I have no problem with buying second hand but I know my labels and buy carefully.
The bloggers I admire (who I already mentioned in a previous post) shop in J Crew (I think we are getting one in London ) and similar but are creative and stylish on a limited budget. There are very stylish bloggers with bigger budgets who can often be copied for less.
When it comes to bags and shoes, it’s harder but there are some great ‘look-a-likes’ out there. I confess I have some lovely designer handbags but all of them were bought in Bangkok over the years and are indistinguishable from the real thing (I know because I checked out the designer shops first).
Personally I don’t think money has anything to do with style. There! I’m going to shut up now!

Rita

Wow…so many talented ladies here that can sew! What a great skill to have. I recently looked at Monsoon’s website and they have such nice things. I’m excited to know they are well made, too. I may just have to order something. :-) Thanks for all of the recommendations, Lorraine! It’s nice that the interent makes available stores to which people might not otherwise have access. Can’t wait to browse! :-)

Lorraine

My turquoise pencil skirt came from Monsoon (in the sale!) and I also had a lovely jumper dress from them before Christmas. However, I would say that their strength is dresses in silks with beautiful embellishments – and slightly boho!

Rita

I noticed all of their pretty boho-style items. Maybe just one blouse. :-)

Sylvia

Great feedback Lorraine. I guess we have come to the same conclusion!

Laura

I agree, style is not about how expensive your clothing items are, it about how you put things together, and most of all, your attitude, how you carry yourself. I buy things from thrift stores to boutique stores-on sale of course and try always to be creative and true to my own personal style. I mix low end and “medium” end (never actually buy high end) and always try to have a positive strong attitude.
Great post. Thanks for making me think this morning!

Sylvia

Thanks for your feedback Laura. Great that it got you thinking!

Christina

What an interesting topic for discussion! I had to shop at thrift stores for many years out of necessity, but now have a lot more disposable income for clothing. However, it is only in the last couple of years, that I would say I’ve taken the time to figure out some true style for myself. Most of this, has come from reading style books. Ironically, it was in a Value Village book section a couple of years ago, I discovered my first ‘style books’, by Kendall Farr. I learned SO much, in particular, her book Style Evolution; How to Create Ageless Style in Your 40′s and Beyond. I figured out, that time spent reading is a better investment than shopping. I’ve purchased several more books from Amazon. It is vitally important to work out what works for your body!! I learned that shift dresses work great on me, Stuart Weitzman shoes are worth every penny, and which designers are better for women 40 and up. I now shop mostly on eBay for specific designers, and really only buy things I know will work with my frame, colouring, personality etc. I will also spend a morning or afternoon every couple months, figuring out 6-7 wonderful outfits from my closet, and will write down all the details ; for example; dress, shoes, earrings, scarf, handbag, coat, sunglasses and even nail polish. This makes dressing a lot simpler, and I don’t worry that I’ve forgotten something!

Sylvia

Wow Christina. I’m impressed. You are very organised. It’s absolutely true that your style and dressing will much improve when you spend some time analyzing your own body, personality, likes and dislikes etc. (which is also why I wrote my ebook) and it’s great to hear that it has worked so well for you.

Lorraine

Christina you sound so sensible and wise. I will have to find that book. Funnily enough I was thinking of putting some outfits together and photographing them although I haven’t been organised enough to do it yet!

Christina

Lorraine, your idea to put together outfits and photograph them is really great. I did a half day session last fall, and when I looked at the outfits, I found I could be a lot more objective. I think this was one of the most helpful exercises that I’ve done, and I would recommend everyone try this twice a year minimum. I could see that I was taking minimalism too far, and needed to add a splash of colour, or needed to add an accessory or two, and could see what hemlines were more age-appropriate and flattering. Also, got a better sense of what looked overdone /over-planned, which I wanted to avoid. Looking effortless – takes effort!!
I would also recommend taking photos from the front, side and back of outfits. Kendall Farr, talks about this in her books. When you think about it, we see people at least half the time from the side or back!

Jeanette

Hi Sylvia,
Great topic. No I am not jealous of those who spend a lot of money on their clothes. If you have it why not buy the best. I personally look for deals I buy what looks good on me. I will buy one or two items that are expensive but they have to be on sale. I bought a Celine bag at the regular price as a 60 th Birthday present to myself and I have used it once. I am affraid to get it dirty crazy I know.
I am not a thrifty person I do not like wearing clothes other people have worn but I will look at accessories like rings or necklaces and bags but they have to be in good shape.
I believe like Jeannie above you can look stylish/ chic/ classis on any budget.

Sylvia

Congratulations on your fabulous buy. You know what I’m going to say of course: use it! No point to save your good things. Especially in the beginning when you still adore your new purchase, wear it all the time!

aileen

This is a great subject and from the above comments, I can see it has interested a lot of ladies. I buy middle of the road priced clothes and have never bought anything from top designers. I couldn’t afford to. I haven’t ever bought thrift shop clothes, mainly because I haven’t seen anything I like or think is worth buying and I’m not keen on wearing second hand clothes anyway.
I noticed a new sewing programme starting next week on TV in the UK. It seems there is a huge increase in people buying sewing machines to make their own clothes, due to the cost of living nowadays.
It will be interesting to see how the sewers get on. Years ago I used to do a lot of sewing, but the price of cloth and also the availability of much cheaper ready made clothing made it uneconomic.
Thanks for a great subject Sylvia, it’s so interesting and inspiring to hear others’ thoughts and how they buy.

Lorraine

Hi Aileen – I noticed the sewing programme trailers too. I am interested to see what it’s like – I just hope they don’t go down the road of Kirsty Allsop and her craft attempts. I grew up sewing, thanks to my mother, but as you say, clothes became cheaper and fabric less available as less people sewed. The dress making fabric department in John Lewis in Oxford Street is now tiny. I now only sew soft furnishings (which has saved a lot on curtains over the years) and do alterations to clothes but I still think that clothes are relatively cheap – Primark and Matalan – and the more expensive ranges are constantly on sale. I just got a skirt I admired at £32 in M&S for £6 in the sale!

Sue

I really can’t say I sew to save money. It’s the pleasure of the creative process and the even greater satisfaction of wearing something that I planned, worked on, completed, and look great in. You can’t beat that!

Lorraine

You are clearly very good at sewing and have something unique and tailored to you as a result. Well done.

Sue

Thanks Lorraine for the lovely compliment! Sewing certainly gives me a great deal of pleasure. It is very healing in our busy world.

aileen

Hi Lorraine,
I think you are probably right that the new sewing programme will be on the same lines as Kirsty Allsop and her crafts, which isn’t much help when you want to learn how to sew clothing.
But we might be surprised!
Well done on finding the skirt in the sale.

Lorraine

Aileen, I’ve seen a trailer for this programme (at least I think it’s the same) and it starts this coming week and the format is a ‘reality competition’ (!!!!!) with one of the judges being Claudia Winkleman! I certainly didn’t put her down as a seamstress but then she presented a dance competition and she doesn’t dance so what do I know?! I despair! It seems that watching someone sew is boring so they have had to jazz it up…..

Sylvia

Sewing is a lot of work and if time is worth any money to you, then in my opinion it is a lot more expensive. But of course it can be extremely rewarding to be able to make your own clothes and designs. I’m not nearly patient enough and gave up long ago……

Lorraine

You are right as usual, Sylvia. I sewed when I had less concept of the value of time, then, when I had no free time I had to put all my hobbies on hold. Now I have a bit more time I may do more sewing. You certainly have to be in the right frame of mind and with no distractions.

Greetje Kamminga

Everything is said and I agree. Style cannot be bought. But if you have the money ánd the style… that is a very inspiring combination. I can sometimes really go: “Ohhh, gosh, how lovely is that. WANT that! That never lasts more than 2 minutes, but still I guess I am a bit jealous then.
I just wish I had more style. I know I am not doing bad, but that is more due to hard work and perseverance than skill. Fortunately there are more ways leading to Rome (litterally translated Dutch saying).
And I agree with Rita: I don’t wear things with logos. Would only consider that if the brand pays me for this advertising haha.

Sylvia

Except for your lovely coach bag :)
You are right Greetje, style and a good budget can be a powerful combination….

Greetje

Oh dear, forgot about the Coach logo on that bag. I did try to switch the lovely tassle to the other side of the bag where there is no logo. Failed however. But you know that this ostentatious (here is that word again, haha) was an unpleased surprise to me.

Greetje

unpleasant… Not unpleased…. Pffff..

Lorraine

I will not hear this nonsense about you not having much style! You are one of the most stylish people I know and if you have to try hard then don’t tell us. You are way ahead of most of us.
I hate logos too – when Ralph Lauren increased the size of the Polo Pony logo it was ridiculous. You would have had to pay me to wear the smaller one!

Seeker

How can you say you don’t have style?????!!!!!!
You are sooooooooo stylish Greetje, no matter the level of work you put on it!

Greetje

Lovely ladies, the truth may always be told. It is BECAUSE of hard work, trial and lots of errors and because of the help of women who do have “the eye” that I can come up with nice outfits. But if you look closely, most things I come up with, are seldom very ingenious or creative. Just sometimes I (myself) get it exactly right. And nobody is more pleased with that than I am. But there is no shame in that. Quite the contrary.

Suzanne

I have friends who spend much more on clothes than I do and friends who spend much less. It really comes down to what ones priorities are and I do not judge anyone on that. If I had an unlimited budget I would love to sit front row at Prada and order anything I wanted to. It would not bother me at all to wear a “label” – as long as I have respect for the designer.
I do not buy top of the line (like the $10,000 red leather Valentino dress I loved last season) but I do not shop at discount stores either. I guess I am a middle of the road person. I appreciate the best quality I can afford and I would rather have one nice $200 blouse than 10 $20 blouses. But I have friends who feel the opposite and that is cool. Some things are worth the extra money. I just bought a pair of shoes made in Italy and the fit and materials are lovely. I have a pair of Italian boots that are so perfect I will never part with them. I see the value in this investment but I have friends who think it is silly to spend that kind of money on shoes – and that is fine. I think that a less expensive garment that is tailored to you makes more of a statement than an expensive garment that neither fits your body nor your personality. If what you are wearing makes you truly happy that will be reflected to everyone around you – now that I do notice!

Sylvia

I bought so little this year so far that I would be ready to splurge on the perfect shoes or dress. That said, I got so frustrated with my 6 year old winter wardrobe that I need next week, that I just had to have something to juice it up a bit. So I went into Zara and bought a fashionable jacket and pants. I love that shop for allowing me to add a bit of (short-term) fashion into my wardrobe without breaking the bank balance…. I guess needing a bit of fashion is part of my style!

Spashionista (Alicia)

It’s about how well you wear it, not how much it costs you to acquire it. If I buy a genuine Louis Vuitton bag from a thrift store – which , incidentally, I did – does it look any different than if I buy it from a high-end shop? If I find a $20 trouser that fits impeccably and suits my style perfectly should I forego it for a $200 pair that are trendier but not quite right for me? Conversely, is the cheaper winter coat that will fall apart by the end of the season a better choice than it’s expensive counterpart that will last for 10+ winters?
There really are no hard and fast rules about money except, as you said, as it relates to your own vision of your personal style. Can you express your sense of style with the clothing budget you have?

Spashionista (Alicia)

Sylvia

Very well said Alicia!

Highland Fashionista

A well-made garment that fits well will always look best. Luckily, a lot of these are still available at discount and thrift shops. the quality of designer clothes and high street is not always that great, as evidenced by a cashmere sweater that I paid $340 for and within 2 wearings it was pilling…meanwhile the Macy’s one I got secondhand that I have had forever looks brand-new. Looking at quality and not the price tag is the way forward.

Laurie

Sylvia, great topic. These comments have me thinking. I may post a new topic in the forum, because I have questions about how to apply this to me.

denton

I think style is available on any budget. Fashion is a kind of art and it takes an artist to do it well (we all have a bit of artist in us). Personally I like beautiful well made things that are made in places where craft is a tradition and workers are well paid and have health insurance. Those things are more expensive.

Having said that there are ways to dress well for less, and that’s what my wife and I try and do. Living in Manhattan, there are many second hand and consignment shops where one can get lovely clothes for a fraction of retail. We also pay attention to sample sales and have fun going to them.

Laura

How timely. Just as I was thinking I might write and share how frustrated I become when I see a great shoe, bag, etc. in your blog, only to discover that the bag, for example, is $500. Even $100 is a lot for a bag to many people. It would be great to see items, say, from Target, that you highlight because they are especially chic in design or color, etc., even it they are inexpensive.

Sylvia

Thanks for your feedback Laura. I always to feature a variety of prices although it’s true that I’m often drawn to designer stuff. I will try and feature target a bit more in the future…

Lorraine

Laura, I think Sylvia’s problem is that we are all around the world so Target is not a brand I would know, for example, here in the UK. However, the items she features are for inspiration. Having said that, I love those features in magazines where they show an item that’s expensive and a ‘copycat’ that’s more affordable. I expect it’s very difficult to actually research that though!

Sylvia

It’s a good idea though. I should try that some time…

Lorraine

I shall keep a look-out and let you know if I see anything worth featuring. Perhaps we could all look out for ‘lookalikes’?

Lisa

I think most of the people who look “fabulous” on the runways look fabulous because of their personal trainers as much as because of their personal style consultants and unlimited budget. LOL. Looking good for me includes trips to the gym, not just the mall!

I do occasionally shop at a higher end thrift store not far from my home for basics. On my last trip, I got a couple of gorgeous pairs of designer pants that still had the original tag on them. The cost ended up being about the same as for lesser quality ones in the department store. Women tend to do silly things like buy clothes a size or two too small with the thought that they can lose weight and fit into them — and then they never do. So for the people who are squeamish about buying other people’s clothes, just remember thrift store doesn’t necessarily equal used.

I have better style in my 40s than ever before in my life and I own less clothes than ever before. I have a few higher quality neutrals — black, gray, brown — that fit my body type well and won’t go out of style. And then a few trendier tops and lots and lots of accessories.

Sylvia

I think that the perfect fit is key to great style! And when clothes fit perfectly and are made of a decent fabric, it’s very difficult to tell for people if a garment is expensive or not…
You style plan sounds like a very sound one!

Seeker

I have a low budget for clothes, but I always try to buy something modern every season to update my wardrobe. I believe that expensive doesn’t mean stylish.
I don’t do thrift, we have no stores like those here and I’m not sure if I would do it, if we had. I like to shop on-line despite the risks, because I can find some different pieces that aren’t sold here. I feel pity that H&M doesn’t ship to here, but Zara does.
I don’t like to wear things with logos, even if I had the $ to buy them.
When I was young my mother used to sew many things for me. But I have no time and neither her skills.
At the end I think you have a quote that says everything “Fashion is what you buy Style is what you do with it” So I guess one can buy something very expensive and wear it in a bad way and in the opposite a less expensive piece can look very stylish.
I must confess that sometimes I envy the talent of some bloggers to look effortlessly stylish no matter what they have on, because I don’t feel style worth.
But probably it’s something I must deal with, not feeling worth…..

Sylvia

Yes that quote says it all!

33

One can spend a lot less money to look very put together, stylish, and/or “expensive” but the key is that one has to have a sense of style, adventure (gotta try on items that may not say “you”), and knowledge of self/life style/body, self control (can’t get into debt buying), and a great deal of confidence to pull of a low budget/thrift shop wardrobe.

Then again, buying inexpensive doesn’t guarantee eclectic or stylish. Plenty of people look semi-homeless by shopping thrift or garage sale.

For those who have unlimited resource to buy luxury items, I’d say good for them. But that doesn’t mean that they are well put together or stylish either.

Some people have the innate sense of style and are really into playing with dressing. Some people have to be told what to wear or else they’d look as if dressed blind-folded.

It has very little to do with your clothing budget.

lasallepal

Well, it’s the end of 2013 and I just found this fascinating post. Am I jealous of a woman dressed in head to toe designer labels I could not afford to touch? I would not say I am the jealous type and feel comfortable with my style, but when I see Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy I release an appreciative sigh and think how wonderful it must have been to be her. She had style and I think she would have had it if Givenchy never came into her life. Of course he did and her I believe it was her sense of style that guided/inspired him. So, I would not call it jealousy. Rather, I would call it admiration and sometimes wishful thinking. I do not have her gamine look, nor her long neck and legs. Yet, I have assessed my strengths and found those clothing items that reflect who I am: artist, dreamer, nature lover, poet, and wife. I am also a fan of Audrey Hepburn and not just because of her unique sense of style. She was a fine person and gave herself to humanitarian causes.

Sylvia

Thanks for your contribution to this discussion. I think Audrey continues to be an inspiration for many of us! (including me)

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