Sunday, May 15, 2011

When Saving Doesn't Pay

I have a confession to make.

I bought these Lucky Brand Maggie Jeans at full price. From the actual Lucky Brand retail store. Not an outlet. Not Ebay. Not the hallowed swap meet.

How could I do such a thing?

Well, I was much younger back then -- naive, living off scholarship money, suspicious of this whole "online shopping" thing, and desperate to shuck off the shackles of my thrift-store-exclusive past and buy The Perfect Jeans for the first time ever. I saved for months. I researched for weeks. I dragged my little sister from store to store for hours, agonizing over every little detail. I quizzed the poor shopkeeps for information like they were Jeopardy contestants. And I walked away with these jeans.

Yep, I mean that I bought these exact jeans seven years ago -- and they're still going strong. And looking at these photos, I think they're actually the most flattering part of the outfit (not sure why I layered those two particular top pieces... oh well).

After I'd worn my perfect jeans for a couple of months -- oohing at my own backside in the mirror every time I put them on, strutting around because I felt utterly fabulous in them, doing mental fist pumps when I received compliments on them -- I knew I wanted to feel that awesome all the time. I actually found 2 more pairs at thrift stores. The two purchased at thrift stores, however, simply weren't the same. The fabric content was different, the pocket embroidery was different, the washes were different, and I do believe the denim had molded to the exact specifications of someone else's ass.

I don't think in terms of "cost per wear," even though it is a popular philosophy in the fashion world. There are just so many things that can go wrong and blast your initial I'll-wear-it-forever plans out of the water. Me, I spill things. I get shredded by cat claws. I get bored and donate clothes before a single season has fully elapsed. But if I could go back in time, I wouldn't buy the secondhand jeans again -- even though they cost about one-tenth the price of retail, they weren't perfect enough to stick by my side or give me that elusive clothing high.

If you're out looking for The Perfect Item, and if that type of item varies from wash to wash or batch to batch, the least-expensive option might not be the best. You may be better off buying at full price, in a fully hands-on, try-it-on, test-it-out-before-purchasing environment... and funding the splurge.

Item Original Price My Price Vendor Type Location
Carters Children's Jacket $17 $3 Goodwill Santa Monica
Gap Pullover Sweater $49.50 $1 swap meet San Fernando
Lucky Maggie Jeans $99 $99 Lucky Brand Santa Monica
Army Surplus Boots $30 $30 internet internet
Chococat Necklace $32 $0 gift gift

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