You’ve probably heard the terms ‘investment’ and ‘budget-friendly’ when it comes to clothing and accessories, but what is it in context? What circumstances would you buy ‘investment’ over ‘budget’ and why? Let’s take a look..

Investment pieces

Investment pieces are items that get a lot of wear, or by opting for a higher quality material, which often comes at a higher price point, you can generally ensure they’ll last longer and are generally hardier- think leather boots that can withstand most climates, for example. Not every item in your wardrobe needs to be an investment piece but there are several items where it is worth spending more money to get better wear.  Additionally, designer items, like handbags, are not only made from those stronger materials, but if well-cared for, can hold a resale value.

The following are just an example of the items that will get a lot of wear but if going for a more reputable brand, will last longer too.

  • Staple jeans: skinny, boyfriend/girlfriend and straight leg. There’s something there for every need and occasion.
  • Jackets/coats: There are a few coats/jackets that are worth spending a little more on and these include a waterproof down coat (for those harsh winters and autumn/spring downpours) and a tailored/fitted blazer.
  • Everyday handbags: leather handbags will generally last longer, and offer longer wear than most other materials.
  • Shoes: Boots especially and trainers.

Budget pieces

Buying budget pieces can be a bit of a contraction. You don’t want to spend much money on the pieces that you’ll hardly wear, like gym clothing and eveningwear such as a dressy top, but it is also true of things you’ll wear every day, like t-shirts.

When we say budget, we don’t necessarily mean the cheapest you can find either. With t-shirts you want to opt for organic cotton where possible, as this is a more sustainable option in terms of production, repairing and eventually recycling. This does come at a slightly higher price point but is worth spending those few pounds more. However, if it’s something you’re wearing daily, or if you struggle to keep white whites for example, it’s certainly not worth spending lots on a t-shirt.

When it comes to evening wear, it’s difficult to find anything that would be considered elegant and budget, though of course, it depends very much on the occasion. However, there are ways to get something elegant outfits and on a budget; it could be that you buy something second-hand or even rent the items you may only wear once, such as a ballgown or cocktail dress. It’s not only more sustainable, but purse-friendly too.

As for gym wear, depending on the purposes and frequency of wear, you don’t need to spend a lot to have core pieces to wear for the 3-5 hours a week you’ll spend in them. However, as you’ll be prone to sweating which can prematurely damage the clothes, you’ll want hardwearing and suitable fabrics that can withstand the tough work, wear and washing that these items go through. Thankfully there are plenty of budget-friendly pieces from the high-street stores like Primark and Matalan that are perfectly fit for purpose. If you do need something a little more hardwearing, or something for a specific challenge, look to Marks & Spencer’s collections or head to Sports Direct for discount sportswear.   

Items you’d consider budget-friendly:

  • Gym wear
  • Statement pieces/trends: It’s not worth splashing out on an item that will be seen as old fashioned the next season over. Unless it’s something you generally think you’ll get a ton of wear out of, best to go for fast-fashion with a low price point.
  • Evening wear
  • T-shirts

How to make an objective decision on investment vs. budget

Although there are the core pieces we’d class as investment and budget, sometimes you need to be a little more thorough in deciding whether to splash out, or having to be more reserved on an item of clothing. As such, it can be helpful to take stock of what’s already in your wardrobe and thinking about how much you’ve spent vs. how well it has served you. Here’s how:

Consider the items already in your wardrobe; look at the brands, consider how long you’ve had them, the frequency of wear, and the condition it is in now. It’s also worth reflecting on the items you’ve disposed of, perhaps in the last year (if you can recall, we wouldn’t blame you if you couldn’t) and why it was you throw it out (well, hopefully recycled): was it not trendy? Did the style no longer suit you? Or, was it beyond repair?

When refreshing your wardrobe, this can help you determine the value you’re willing to spend for an investment or budget-friendly piece; you may find that what we considered should be budget-friendly, for you it’s worth spending that little bit more to get something that is more hardwearing and can take the demands of your lifestyle.

For an item you’re looking to splurge on, maybe a designer piece, or something you would consider an investment piece, it can help to conduct a simple calculation. The clothing calculation can help you to determine the cost per wear of any item in your wardrobe. It can help you determine the true value of that higher price point, if pricing is a driving factor in your decision. Here, you’ll need to make an assumption on how much you’ll use it, over how many years; this is just a gauge to help with decision-making.

Total cost of item ÷ total number of uses = cost per use

What do you consider to be an investment or budget-friendly piece? Let us know in the comments below.

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