January 25, 2011
Adding up the Cost of Disposable FashionTags: Designer Jeans, Disposable Fashion, Value
My husband and I were tempted by the great deals on new televisions during the after-holiday sales last month. I had to stand in line, of course, for quite awhile, first, in the wee hours of the morning to get into the electronics store, and then again at the checkout counter after choosing the TV. When we got it home, though, I was very proud of how we installed the TV ourselves, hooking it up to all the other electronics properly, without any disagreements or calls to tech support. By that evening we were watching our favorite shows, and the whole experience only took…well, let’s see…most of one entire day! Come to think of it, if I put an hourly dollar value on the time my husband and I spent choosing, purchasing, delivering and installing that new TV, and then add that total to the price we paid for it, I guess that discount didn’t end up being as deep as I thought.
Buying “disposable fashion” can be a similar experience. By “disposable fashion,” I mean apparel styled in the latest trends and sold at very inexpensive prices in discount department stores. Ten-dollar t-shirts, cheap shoes or jeans under $30 are everyday examples of disposable fashion. It’s very tempting to buy this way, especially when the holiday bills start arriving in the mailbox at the same time as Spring fashions start arriving in the stores. The old adage, “You get what you pay for,” really applies, though, in this situation. A sweater set for $19.99 may seem easy on the budget, but once it loses its shape and finish in three wearings and you add the cost to replace it onto its original price, it doesn’t end up being a very good investment.
Paying fancy prices in high-end department stores and boutiques isn’t the answer either. Shoppers can expect to pay $100-200 or more for designer-label jeans, for example, in some of the shops downtown. You still get what you pay for; in this case, a quality product that lasts. It’s just that it lasts too long. Fashion at this end of the scale goes out of style before it ever shows any wear. Then it’s tempting to try to get your money’s worth out of the purchase by wearing it long after it’s gone out of style.
Remember our wardrobe communicates messages to others about who we are. What message do we send when our clothes are tired-looking or out of date? I recommend calculating your image goals into your wardrobe budget, and spending the majority of your money on mid-priced brands, such as Tribal, Renuar, or Karen Kane. These manufacturers make affordable products that are fashion forward and don’t show signs of wear until their style trend is on its way out, usually after about two years. Does that mean we should never buy inexpensive or designer apparel? No, sometimes it fit our purposes perfectly. But make sure its value is commensurate with its cost. And be thankful holiday sales only come once a year!