Decline Designs

Cost vs. Value

November 24th, 2008 by Michelle

There are several things to consider when buying a garment or accessory, too many times we just fall into the trap of looking at how much it is and assuming many things about the item from that. There’s the cost per wear, for instance. My Betseyville boots were $115, but I’ve already worn them 3-4 times in the two weeks I’ve had them, making the CPW already a relatively low $28.75, with plans to wear them a WHOLE lot more. By they way, they’ve broken in wonderfully and are now pretty comfy! In comparison, I have $40 shoes I’ve only worn a few times, which are much less of a deal.

But, this isn’t going to be another post about how expensive things are always better and cheap things are bad bad bad. Au contraire, that attitude actually grates on my nerves a bit, as there are several sides to the issue that often get blatantly left out.

When you pay more for an item, there is a good chance it will be of higher quality. There is also an equal chance that the higher price is just to make up for more advertising spent on the product, and that it is of no greater quality. Though this is more common with things like food, it happens with clothes too. I’ve seen bloggers turn their nose up at “cheap” jeans, saying that they wouldn’t spend less than $100-150 on jeans. Um. That, ma’am, is ridiculous. If you have the budget for that, be my guest, I suppose. But the best pair of jeans I ever had was a pair of Levi’s I got on clearance for around $20. I wore them regularly for 2 years and the only reason I stopped is because they don’t fit any more! Victoria’s Secret bras (and possibly their clothing, I’ve never worn it so I wouldn’t know) are another example - you can buy MUCH better bras than their’s for $40-50. Clearance is another matter entirely, but most people recognize that. An item that was originally $50 and is now marked down to $10 is probably a better buy than an item that was originally priced $10 and is still $10.

In fact, I tend to ignore the price when it comes to figuring out how long a garment will last and just look at it. Does it feel flimsy? Look “cheap” in general? I try it on and wiggle about in it, if I feel like the seams are going to rip at any moment, that’s generally not a good sign. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of “I don’t want to spend less than x amount on an item of clothing, because otherwise it will be cheap crap!” but I guarantee you, there will be cheap crap at and above that price range as well.

Another factor that often gets left out is how you care for the item - many people complain about items disintegrating in the wash but don’t take care of them properly at ALL, so the item remaining in good condition can hardly be expected. And of course, bras should always be handwashed.

For me, the most compelling argument to buy more expensive items isn’t that of quality, but of where the item comes from. The vast majority of the time an item is cheap because it was made in someplace like China, where the workers are paid a shockingly low amount and work in terrible conditions. I do try to buy American made when possible, but that’s usually nigh impossible to do with my budget (without counting thrift stores and discount-type shops, of course, which are every cheapo fashion lover’s best friend). I actually find it rather depressing how often this angle in the cheap vs. expensive debate is left out, to be replaced by “That’s going to fall apart the first time you wear it, you know!”.

And there are some items which are priced high for good reasons, but I still can’t afford them. Are there some $500+ shoes which skate by on name/reputation only? I have no idea, since I’ve never had a pair of $500+ shoes and, barring a very good sale, probably never will, but I’m sure there are some that do. However, there are also shoes that are (for me) exorbitantly priced because they were handsewn with Italian leather by workers being paid a more-than-fair-wage and all that good jazz. This is great, and usually means the shoe is worth whatever price is being asked for it. But I, with my lifestyle, simply cannot justify spending that much on a shoe. And shoes are one of the areas where I’m willing to splurge, by my definition of splurge anyways - I probably wouldn’t pay more than $200 unless I knew I would wear it for a VERY long time and love every minute of wearing it.

That’s my take on the cost vs. value debate, anyways. I just hate to see so many people assume that expensive is automatically better, and ridicule those of us who simply cannot or will not spend $100 on a pair of jeans, $50 on a t-shirt, $40 on leggings. That does not make us stupid or tasteless, thankyouverymuch, and it annoys me to see the implication that it does.

2 Responses

  1. Doe Deere Blogazine

    What an excellent post! I am a thrifty fashionista too, and loved reading your musings on the subject.

    I wrote a post on why designer stuff is expensive (and whether the increase in price is worth the quality), drawing a similar conclusion:

    You have a great blog by the way. :) I will be back to read more! xo

  2. Michelle

    Thank you Doe Deere! I love your blog so that’s quite the compliment for me. ;) BTW, I am totally looking forward to owning some Lime Crime makeup sometime in the nearish future. :)

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