Hi YLFers --

Seemed like the perfect time to add yet another post about item price, quality, and perfect-for-the-personness.

This one might be cheering for those like me with champagne taste and a beer budget!

My personal backstory around clothes and dressing is complicated but let's just say:

  • "wishing I had better and feeling guilty for wanting that" is a feeling that goes way back
  • in the last decade, it's been joined by "feeling dumb and/or guilty for paying full price"

For reference, I shop thrift, consignment, online used, and retail. And have had some custom items made, including ones where I supplied higher-end (discounted!) fabric.

Some of you've seen my posts re experimenting with Rent the Runway [RTR] and their Unlimited subscription for a couple of months. [Monthly fee to rent 3 items at a time and keep out as long as desired vs their usual shorter-term rentals.] I did it for 2 reasons:

  • access to more expensive clothes than I usually buy (most were MSRP of $400-1200)
  • ability to test dresses for a fancy fall wedding before committing to renting them (because I'm a control freak re color and fit)

At the same time, I was helping my mom (MoB) and friend (guest, fancy summer wedding) look for dresses. This led to me realizing I could get a great deal on a designer-y dress for about the cost of the the future dress rental, so I experimented with ordering from stores I normally don't. [Who knew Neiman Marcus -- main store, not Last Call -- carried anything under $200?!]

What I found surprised me: the grass wasn't necessarily greener. The more (currently or originally) expensive dresses weren't always the most "expensive-looking" on the 3 of us because fit, color, design, and that meld-with-personality thing all matter more than cost.

Am I saying we couldn't have found amazing dresses for more $$$? Of course not.

But between the rentals and the up for purchase dresses, I was pretty surprised I wasn't 100% wowed by construction, fabric, and design details each and every time. Separate from how the dress looked on.

Even though IRL and YLF I see great examples of women looking great on very very small budgets, I personally found that harder. And because like Caro in Oz and many of us I love clothes I define as beautiful, in the back of my mind I tend to think, "I'd look even better if I had more to spend."

I'm happy to say this experiment has helped knock that way back! Hopefully if you ever suffer from Nose Against Store Window Syndrome this will make you feel a little better.

In case anyone's interested in some of the losers and winners I'll post a few.