Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I decided that this dress deserved some larger photos than I usually post, because it's Valentino and it's utterly, utterly gorgeous. I snagged it from Gilt for a fraction of the original cost, and even then it was still a major splurge. But my friends, it was worth every penny. It fits like a dream, it's beautifully constructed and totally flattering, and it's such a classic shape, length, and style that I'll be wearing it for years to come. And yep, I wore this sucker to work, and many, many people commented on how pretty it is. I was even told I looked "ladylike." That has GOT to be a first.
Wolford Hero tights, and a killer pair of shoes that I'll keep a secret for now. I fully intend to wear the three pieces together and create a Prabal Gurung-inspired red and black ensemble, but as I often do when I buy things to go together, I'm wearing them all separately first. It's one of my shopping quirks; I guess I just like to feel like I'm getting the maximum mileage out of my new purchases before I just roll them all together into a single outfit.
Reader Stephanie asked me to do a post about knowing when to splurge on a high end piece, so I thought I'd add some of my thoughts here, since this dress certainly qualifies as such. I should point out that my underlying assumption is that any high end item that's being considered already meets the basic criteria of being something you truly, utterly love, and that makes you feel like a million bucks. Beyond those minimal requirements, here are a few questions you might ask yourself when considering something that's on the upper end of your affordability index:
How versatile is it? Day-to-evening garments are going to give you the most bang for your buck. Something that is wearable in a daytime ensemble and would hold up for even a fancy evening affair will feel like it's worth the money.
Will you be terrified to wear it? Avoid spending a lot of money on something so delicate or stain-prone that you'll be forever fretting every time it leaves the house. Look for luxury that's combined with durability. Sure, you're not going to mow the lawn in it, but you should at least be able to hop in a cab or eat a meal without freaking out about ruining your gossamer dress.
Is this carefully considered, or an impulse? For many years now I've been searching for the perfect red dress, and about a year ago I decided I wanted that dress to be a Valentino. I've looked at many red Valentino dresses, and when I finally saw this one I knew it was perfect. High end pieces are best purchased after thorough research, not on an impulse.
closet orphan. Try to think of at least one or two ways to create a complete outfit without buying anything else.
Do you even wear this sort of thing? I happen to love dresses, so spending a lot of money on a beautiful dress makes sense for me. But don't blow your budget on a dress if you're really more of a pants wearer; likewise don't buy those towering Prada platforms if you realistically can't wear 5-inch heels without falling over. Just because it's a luxury item doesn't mean it needs to be completely impractical too.
How much staying power does it have? I would avoid buying high end pieces that are too trendy and will look dated in a year or two. I'll snag a trendy luxury item if I find it for a non-luxury price, but I would never break the bank for it. You can't predict what the next trends are going to be, but try looking backwards: could you have worn this item 20 years ago? If the answer is yes, chances are it'll still look great 20 years into the future.
You can see that with this dress I was able to make it casual enough for the workday by keeping the accessories light, going with simple sandals and bare legs, and topping it off with a denim jacket when it got chilly. For more tips on getting mileage out of your fancier items, please check out Sal's posts on repurposing a bridesmaid dress and wearing everything all the time.
Dress: Valentino, via Gilt
Necklace: Ambiance, Haight Street