Peinture

May 29, 2014 31

The art of affording “fashion” investments is analogous to how you afford your groceries.

And never use a credit card.

Credit cards are the devil.

haryono-givenchy copy

Haryono

Hi guys. Feeling lazy. Here’s an outfit. Cute. Bye.

I jest.

So, while the topic of the minute is that, as of yesterday, I am now a fully grown 21-year-old (though Alexei insists that my nose and ears will continue to grow until I die), this is not going to change any time soon, allowing me the luxury of time to mull over a florid essay on coming of age, and talk about clothes instead.

That’s why you’re here, right?

But, aujourd’hui, we address what may well be closely correlated with coming of age – the dreaded investment piece. Plural that – it would seem that anyone in the ‘K’s on Instagram seems to have plenty of them. Compounded with the fact that they are most likely flaunted at the likes of Fashion Week,* it is certainly a reasonable assumption that wealthy families, sugar daddies, or Frances Abbott fund all of that designer loot. And so be it. This is how the fashion industry sustains its glossy exclusivity and haughty Parisian cool (because none of us are French, but we all wear stripes and boyfriend blazers sometimes). That is, as well as dressing to nobody’s understanding, we also have a thirst for the exorbitantly expensive.

Now, while I have yet to reach the celestial limits of those elusive French fashion houses, I will say that if there is anything that my mother taught me, it’s value for money.

Write it down.

Live by it.

This not about buying a dress because it comes with a free I ♥ DOLLARS t-shirt if you buy with American Express before July 31. This is not about buying sale boots two sizes too small just because they’re on sale. By all means, check which of Shopbop, NET-A-PORTER, MATCHES, Farfetch, My Wardrobe, and Stylebop have the best price tag and free shipping, but when it comes to things like black boots and grey sweaters that you will wear down to the bone, or, on the

other end of the scale, pieces of art that you’d frame, not only does the anti-basic-basic rule apply (to the former, anyway), but also the decade-or-die rule, by which you commit to a garment for the next ten years, or until it falls apart, which it won’t because of your excellent judgment on the quality of a product.

This is not to say, however, that everything hanging in your wardrobe must be designer, or even expensive. The term ‘investment’ should, for most of us, mean infrequency – indeed, it would be impossibly boring if you were married to the same set of clothes and accessories for the coming decade. Fill out your looks with the high-street. TOPSHOP, H&M and ZARA are not the enemy – in fact, for those looking for quality, some of their lines are better made than independent labels. Here, for instance, @badgalriri is keeping me grounded (RIP to the maddest Instagram account that ever was). Embrace repeat offense and push your mix and match boundaries (confession: I’ve been wearing the same blazer for four days straight, and nobody has noticed yet).

And to the matter of how to afford your investments, an oft-flogged question by the anonymously curious (aggressive or not), the principle remains the same as how you afford your groceries.** Buy only what is necessary, spend within your means, read the ingredients, calculate dollars per kilogram (i.e. cost per wear), and don’t fall victim to barely valuable loyalty programs.

And never use a credit card.

Credit cards are the devil.

*guilty as charged…

**And in answer to those who just want to know how I personally have dollars in my account in the first place, “especially because (you’re) a student”, the obvious answer is that I work simultaneously.

White Suede Curve Bond Top

Haryono Setiadi Embroidered Paint Dress V

Rihanna for River Island Leather Pants

Givenchy Curved Heel Suede Boots

hair by Jon Pulitano of Headcase Hair for REDKEN Australia

  • I absolutely agree! The myth of always needing only high end items in a closet is partially what makes fashion seem very inaccessible for other people, especially those from lower income brackets. In examples like these, where an influential blogger recommends that one spend within their means, designer or not, is truly what democratizes fashion.

    That being said, low end stores are generally not going to have original designs. I’m not sure if you’ve discussed this topic before, though it is a hot topic, but how do you feel that buying a cheaper replica of an item from a high street retailer, or even a department store play into the idea that most people (especially fashionistas aspiring to a high rank in the industry) want to live in their means, but don’t want to appear to be (i.e., fake it till you make it)?
    The argument that an individual should be able to recognize the difference between fast fashion and smart fashion and should work on developing personal style if trend obsession is a problem can easily be made; however, if someone happens to be unable to even afford a full price high street or designer item, should they be dismissed in the fashion world and be denied the option of a particular look, or even be judged for buying knockoffs?

    -Khadijat
    http://www.offbeatedit.blogspot.com

  • I appreciate how you don’t preach the overspending habits that some lucky bloggers can afford to do. Rather, you provide a more realistic approach to your broad viewers; that not only is it wise to spend within our boundaries, but also “Cool”.
    As a person who takes a similar approach, I take months before I pick out the “perfect pair of shoes” or the “best luxury bag” to keep for decades to come, or at least til it looks too worn! =P

    Regards,

    Miss Eliza WonDerland
    http://www.misselizawonderland.com

  • I do agree with the idea of being fashionable within my means. And people need to accept that being fashionable doesn’t mean having to buy replicas (cue: all the knock off ads on the ‘gram) of designer items at high street stores when they can’t accord designers, or wear that one item that looks good on this one blogger. While I may not be able to find the coolest prints in cheaper stores, there are still lots of options for everyone. Personally, I would only get an “investment” piece if the quality is on par with the $$$ that I have to shell out, and I also think about other characteristics like cost-per-wear, etc…

    However, I enjoy credit cards. I don’t think about them as, an I-don’t-have-to-pay-for-this-until-the-end-of-the-month thing, I solely use them because I don’t have to count cash at the register + they build up my credit score. I often pay it off right away and set budget and savings goals. And I am not currently in accessible distance with many stores I shop at, so credit cards are obviously useful when I shop online.

    And respond to the knock-offs debate…I would never buy knock-offs. Good knockoffs aren’t cheap either and you can spend the same amount of money buying from other brands with better qualities than the knockoffs. People who can afford multiple Chanels a year live a different life than I do. I do not want to compete with them or people around me in terms of how many designer items one can buy. I am happy with what I have now and am sure I will be happy the days when I will be able to afford designers. And I consider myself a lot more fashionable than many people who have more money but lack tastes.

  • This is so on point, Margaret! Very well said. I love how you talk about such substantial things on your blog. They’re definitely worth the read. It is no wonder that us (your readers) keep coming back for more. Also, people should be practical when it comes to spending. They should buy clothes that they would wear more than once. At least then, you would definitely get your money’s worth. One thing I hate sometimes is how people point out that (for example) you have repeated an outfit/any clothing item like it’s a crime. Um hello? You’re supposed to wear it more than once? Clothes are meant to be worn more than once. It’d be a total waste if you didn’t! So impractical too. People can be crazy sometimes. And also, designer stuff aren’t always all that. There are a lot of cool clothes in cheaper places. I have a friend whose wardrobe is pretty much thrifted and his outfits look AMAZING. It’s just a matter of how you style it and how you carry it!

    sartorialust.net

  • Chanty

    You are the best of both worlds! :) Be it designer or not! You make everything look expensive in my opinion.

  • Domenica Calarco

    Thank you for this wonderful piece of writing Margaret! Thank you for always keeping it real. You are THE best xxx

    http://www.voguevandal.blogspot.com

  • Very inspirational! You push the mix and match boundaries! And this dress is sensational.
    Now if you could mix and remix this like your blazer your mama will be proud of the value for the money. ;-)

    http://www.eyelikefashion.com

  • Avanti

    Great advice! Though it seems that the more you spend the more value you will get, I have to say that sometimes there are exceptions. I have a pair of $60 boots that have lasted me 4 years even after wearing them to death. Goes to show that shopping around is the key.
    Credit cards are the devil.

    Avanti
    xxx
    Avantigarde.wordpress.com

  • Julia Shutenko

    Always different and inspirational!

  • haha, agree! Actually some of the brands are better than some designer stuff. Either way have to buy things you can afford.

    http://www.shallwesasa.com

  • SO true. I think having the right investment pieces can be a foundation of a wonderful wardrobe. Although shopping for them takes practice, I have made some bad mistakes in the past, buying things I now no longer wear. Thank you eBay for solving those problems for me!
    Another wonderful post, I am always so excited to sit and read through what you write.

    http://www.shotfromthestreet.blogspot.com

  • Rachael

    This post has annoyed me.

    I don’t begrudge all your pretty things and your success as a blogger, but I think you need to at least acknowledge the role your privilege has played in your ability to pay for all of this.

    I’m a doctor and I can’t afford half the shit you have. Let’s not pretend that you’re getting all of this from your part time job and not using your credit card.

    • margaretzhang

      Hi @disqus_h3tYIWeTRT:disqus – hope you’re having a great Friday. As a matter of fact, I don’t own a credit card (I don’t believe in spending beyond your means). As to privilege, I don’t come from a terribly privileged background, and work the equivalent of full-time alongside full-time study, and then some, to pay for everything from food, to petrol, to clothing, to flights.

      I’m sorry that you found a truthful post annoying, though I’m not sure how else I would have put it. This space is far from candy-coated.

      • Vanessa

        WOOOOO YOU GO MZ! I aspire to be as far along in my career as you at your age. It’s super impressive. Also, I go to your old high school and Mr G is always talking about how hard you worked and that you were a star scholarship student!! Good on you for being candid and honest. I like that about you over all other ‘bloggerssss’.

      • Agreed. Flip that thing positive!

    • Nina Ng

      Oh my goodness I have never seen such a bitter comment on this website!? How rude of you to assume that Margaret is just another rich kid with a credit card to buy a hell load of things. If you’d have bothered to do your research, you’d know that she’s much more than just a blogger. She’s a stylist, a photographer, a model, a writer… and works super hard. Besides, compared to most of those disastrous ‘fashion bloggers’ out there, her wardrobe is super realistic, and accessible. Just because she’s 21 doesn’t mean she can’t have a fully fledged career and maturity beyond her years. And, just because you’re a doctor doesn’t mean you’re making a hell ton of money, either. Take your bitterness elsewhere – it’s actually embarrassing to see.

    • Bernadette Williams

      ok @disqus_h3tYIWeTRT:disqus before you start pointing fingers, getting up on your high horse about ‘privilege’ and being an all round snarky bitch, you should probably read up: http://shinebythree.com/2013/04/zimmermann-goot-cue/

    • Fashioned

      Well said

    • Chelsea Dunstan

      are you serious?

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  • Joe Beverly

    Sometimes I like your outfits, sometimes I don’t, and if you
    happen to spend a lot of money on them, that’s alright with me.

    • Joe Beverly

      P.S. Aren’t a lot of the items you wear promotional gifts?

      • margaretzhang

        No, @Joe Beverly. Hardly any of the items I wear are ‘promotional gifts’.

  • Erika

    This dress really adds a pop of color to your outfit! Such a perfect look for spring :)

    http://www.yourchicblog.com

  • I love reading your posts, it def was relatable and quite insightful as to the true meaning of an “investment.”

    Love, Van
    http://www.forevervanny.com

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  • YES! So much truth in this piece! It’s refreshing to hear this conversation, and the many voices in agreement! High end labels, although a icing on the fashion cake treat, don’t define style, they only serve to embellish your personal design and wardrobe influence! Truth be told, so many fashion bloggers don’t realize their gorgeously curated editorials are, for most readers, 6 months of student loan payments lol! BIG kudos for you on bringing it back down to reality AND keeping it about style too! :)

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  • Charlotte

    love love love. @Margaret – can I buy this dress off you?!