Style and fashion experts often encourage us to invest in stylish, high quality wardrobe items because the cost per wear whittles down to nothing when we wear them frequently and over a long period of time.

In theory I agree wholeheartedly agree with this reasoning, since I’m a less-is-more kind of gal who will save up to pay a premium price for a single killer piece that’s beautifully made. But there are also other factors that play a role in our wardrobe purchasing decisions and sometimes that big investment is not a good idea.

  • Your budget: If you can’t afford to invest then you shouldn’t be spending the money.
  • Your stage of life: In your teens and 20’s, investment pieces often make less sense. If your tastes and style preferences are still in flux, then experimenting with many different fashion personas is part of the fun. Shop budget brands and let the sky (and your budget) be the limit.
  • Your changing body: If your body shape and size changes frequently due to weight loss or gain, or pregnancy, it makes little sense to invest in expensive items of clothing. Accessories and footwear are impacted less by body shape changes.
  • Your changing mind: You might not like the idea of wearing something frequently or for several years. If you get bored with your wardrobe quickly, be careful of investing in premium pieces.
  • Volatile trends: If you like the idea of a trend but aren’t sure about its longevity or its place in your style, it’s a good idea to first purchase an inexpensive version of the item to road test the look. My first pair of skinny jeans were not premium denim and my first boyfriend jacket was from Express. But after successful road testing I bought better-end versions of both items a few months later.
  • The value of “premium”. Some items, like T-shirts and knitwear, never justify the expense of a high end purchase. They have a short life span no matter what, and there is often little difference in fabric and manufacture between the good mainstream brands and the expensive premium products. You really are just paying for the name.

Premium items make a lot of sense in certain situations, but in many others they don’t make sense at all. Make savvy purchase decisions, considering all the factors that play into the potential return on your investment. How much value will you get from the item each time you wear it? How frequently will you be able to wear it? For how long will you be likely to LOVE the item? How long will the item last?

Finally, if you’re in doubt, don’t do it. There is always another purchase opportunity right around the corner.