Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Knowing When to Splurge

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.

It was this dress that prompted me to make another couple of long-awaited splurges recently: the 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.  

Will it work with the rest of your wardrobe? A splurge purchase can quickly snowball into the realm of unaffordable if you also have to buy several other completer pieces just to be able to wear it at all. Before you get out that credit card, make sure you're not bringing home a gorgeous item that's going to end up a 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
Jacket: Tulle
Sandals: Azura
Necklace: Ambiance, Haight Street


Fawn said...

Oh my goodness.


It's even more stunning than I imagined. Hooray for Valentino!

f. said...

you look stunning in this dress, and it was really worth the wait :)

Lisa said...

You look great!

Wow it must be warm in Cali.

Anonymous said...

I am SO GLAD you splurged on that dress, Audi. Good lord, you look amazing in it.

Can't wait to see these mystery shoes, and thanks for all the shout-outs!

angie said...

This is my favourite colour in the world! And Valentino is close to my heart. To say that you look incredible in this dress is an understatement. ENJOY!!!

Emma at Daily Clothes Fix said...

Wow, it's beautiful and looks so lovely. I can't wait to see you styling this up over the years. Loving the bigger photos and that is certainly great advice on splurging.

Unknown said...

What a gorgeous dress. And don't you love it when you get a bargain? Good purchase my dear!

Cel said...

Woo, $65 for a pair of tights seems excessive o_0 That dress is amazing though! I love its shape and cute, so lovely.

Christine said...

The dress is spectacular! It looks like it was made just for you.

tinyjunco said...

oh, just beautiful Audi! how fun for you, too ;) i've been thinking about needs/wants these days, how to untangle it and how a certain amount of 'wants' is essential to joy and feeling satisfied. your list of ??? for a splurge is excellent and comprehensive.

one little addition to staying power - how will you feel about wearing the item as a 10+, 25+ year person to where you are now? this dress will look amazing on you when you're 100!!! (don't laugh, my grandma is allllmost there!) if your arms aren't all you'd like (understandable at that vintage) hey, just throw on a stole, bolero, or moto jacket.

have a great evening and give Georgie a nice scritch for me, steph

Claudia said...

GASP! Wow, that is an amazing dress and you look amazing in it! Stunning.

Sheila said...

That dress was made for you! I love how it's so drapey on the front and then beautifully fitted in the back. The colour is perfection.

Totally agree with your tips on shopping for these items.

Patricia Flores said...

You look just FANTASTIC. What a marvelous splurge!

Stylepint said...

Wow! The dress looks absolutely stunning on you and it's so worth it! Great tips...I'm always trying to talk my way out of larger purchases but sometimes, I need that push to get something that I've been lusting over forever. =)