This particular question I’ve been mulling over for a while. Cost vs. Worth when it comes to Vintage clothing. I admit, I have spent a LOT of money on pieces I just didn’t wear enough to justify the purchase, so maybe this is a bad topic for me to cover. Either because of fit or I just didn’t love like I thought I would or another item pushed it out of wearing rotation, I have found I need to constantly be asking myself about cost vs. worth of the items I lust after. I’m a total emotional dresser and shopper- I buy things that I make me feel something, as well as wear things that evoke those feelings as well. I’ve been asking myself the following questions so I can ensure I’m spending money on an item that will be celebrated by being worn, or celebrated by display (admittedly, I have a few display-only pieces!)
How much should I spend?
I think it depends on a variety of factors. Is this piece in great condition? If not, can I/am I willing to invest in it to get it into better condition? Does it fit? If not, can I have it altered and am I willing to alter it? Is it rare/a collectable/something that has significant meaning to me? Does it evoke feelings when I wear it? Can I afford to spend that much? If I spend that much, will I regret my decision later on?
How much will I use it?
How much use will I get out of it? I like to look at things in dollars per use. If I want to buy that $200 bag, how many uses (equalling $1 per use) will I accumulate by the end of the year? $30? $130? 230? $365?!?!?! (I haven’t found a bag yet I want to wear year around!) Is it a staple I can use continuously or is it for special occasions? With modern clothing, I tend to spend way more on basics- classic pieces that never go out of style- a great pair of jeans, a well-cut blazer, crisp white button down, etc. With Vintage, I tend to be more of an emotional shopper, spending more money on pieces that “speak” to me through pattern or cut. I struggle with this question the most. Do I REALLY need another silk or rayon 40s dress in a floral print? Do I wear all the other ones I have? Truth be told, I get more use out of them than my 50s shirt dresses, because of my job, but everyone is different!
How versatile is it?
In talking with my friends about this, Elizabeth brought this up- how versatile is it? If it’s a cocktail dress or day dress, it’s pretty easy to figure that out. But what about separates? We were discussing it’s difficult to sometimes gage the versatility of pieces when you have to pair them with other pieces. Anne, is a perfect example of knowing what pieces work with what- that lady can put stuff together I would have never though to and look smashing every time! But for me, I struggle trying to put pieces together, which is why my “signature” look is a dress and shoes- and maaaaaybe a card:) That great blouse- how many pants or skirts will it work with? What about a vest? Or that high waist skirt? Can it work with the tops in your closet or will I need to get a top that is closer fitted to the body so I don’t have any crazy lumps around the waist?
How much will it cost me in terms of both time and money for upkeep?
Some items, like furs, will need to be cared for and cleaned specially occasionally. Do I have a trustworthy cleaner? If they are shoes, do I have a good cobbler? If it’s a rayon or silk crepe, do I have a dry cleaner or another method to clean it properly? If the item needs a seam repair/button repair/fabric tear, do I possess the knowledge to do it correctly myself or do I have a good seamstress who is knowledgable in vintage fabrics? This takes some research if you don’t have the skills to do alterations or mending yourself. Personally, I can only fix seam mends, and hems. Sewing on a button? HA! Yeah.. it’s bad. If you don’t have a seamstress, PLEASE go find one! They will change your life! I had the BEST one in Augusta, GA. If you are down there, I am more than happy to point you in her direction=)
Do I have the proper storage set up for items I won’t be using often like evening wear or heavy furs/coats/winter items?
Not everyone is blessed with massive closet space (if you do, then I’m envious. And we need to talk!) so if you’re like me with minimal space, do you have the proper area and means to store certain items? If you’re unsure of proper storage of Vintage textiles, here is a great article about storage techniques. I invested in acid-free tissue paper, archival bags, and even have a climate-controlled storage unit (that mainly houses furniture I can’t fit in my apartment, but also some random clothing that I don’t wear often.)*
Do you have questions you ask yourself when contemplating a purchase? Do you have items you invested in that were so totally worth it you’d do it all over again? Tell me about it below:)
*Acid-free tissue paper and archival bags/boxes can be purchased online pretty easily. I get all of mine off Amazon currently through a few different vendors. Some dry cleaners also have them to purchase if you ask.