I get a lot of questions about how I can afford to buy stuff and what my secret is. I mean it's not really all that complicated. I'm 32 and have a career.
I don't have a mortgage or children yet. I don't drink alcohol or go out that much. Basically, there's not a whole lot that drains my funds before I can allow myself to be a little selfish here and there with my hard-earned money. I figure I only have a short time to spend on myself before I have to sacrifice for others, so I may as well enjoy my interest in fashion while I can. Within reason of course.
There are a few tricks though that I can share with you. Here they are:
- GIVE AND TAKE : Part of my consumption directly correlates to me being an anti-hoarder. What is that you ask? Well just as it looks, the antithesis of a hoarder. I get anxiety when I own too much or my closet looks too full so I have to let something go before I can let something in. Ask yourself if you need 17 black skirts of varying incremental lengths or just one or two really good ones?
- BASICS : Perhaps because I work in the apparel business I have a skewed view on spending a lot on basics. I just can't bring myself to buy a $100 tshirt or $300 jeans. No judgement if you do, but I personally just can't. I like to feel like I'm getting a lot for my money - leather, craftsmanship, intricate detailing, whatever. So I buy really budget basics and save for things like shoes or jackets.
- THINGS YOU LOVE : If I really really want something, it has to be because I need it (literally, like underwear or an unstained white shirt) or because it speaks to me on profound design levels (insert husband's scoffing here). Lackluster purchases lead straight to crowded, nonsensical closets and insufficient funds. My only two purchasing categories are 1) necessary closet staples or 2) ridiculously amazing brilliant design.
- BARGAIN HUNTING : This is how I get the majority of everything I own. I very rarely pay full price for anything. There's always the infrequent exception with things I obsess over and know will sell out and be impossible to find, or the special jewelry purchase, but for the most part, most things are found with good old-fashioned internet resourcefulness. I don't do a lot of impulse buying. Some of us don't have the luxury of impulse buying. My choices have to be carefully measured against what I have the funds for. So if I notice that an item is offered on a lot of different sites, I'll usually wait it out for end of season sales.
- EXAMPLES : I've said it before and I'll say it again, eBay is my #1 favorite place for bargain hunting. You can find anything from luxury shoes to vintage sweaters to rap tshirts at the best prices. Other great resources are YOOX and Bluefly and of course all my other favorite online retailers when they start slashing prices. There are no two better words than DISCOUNT CODE. When it comes to physical shopping, I stick to thrifting and vintage stores, and for nicer things Nordstrom Rack and Off 5th.
- WHAT'S IN A NAME : This isn't a lesson on how to procure luxury goods. This is for you to think about what you want to spend your hard-earned money on and why. Do you have endless funds and your father is a soda baron? Go out and buy those Hermès athletic socks! (No judgement! Get me some?) But if you are like me and need to calculate and save and pinch pennies here and there, it doesn't have to be about the name. It's not a competition. You don't need to keep up with the Joneses. Try buying only things that you love or need and nothing in between. Fashion isn't exclusive to luxury brands. A black cotton Prada button down is essentially the same as one from J Crew - wait for the J Crew one to go on sale (or better yet, thrift it!) then take yourself on a weekend trip with the difference. Balance Daniel-san, balance.
- LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS : Take care of your responsibilities before taking care of your wants. Isn't that what's at the core of enjoyment? Enjoying fashion should come after your rent and bills are paid, you've eaten and taken care of all the things you want to do in your life. If you're living on your parents' couch jobless, eating Top Ramen raw out of the bag, and maxing out fraudulent credit cards, I believe that's called an addiction, not enjoyment. And if you're working part time at a supermarket, maybe you should put off buying a Chanel bag until you go full time? Me, I can't afford a Birkin, but I can afford a Pandora (just once!) so that's where my limits are. Know yours.
- WORK HARD : Just work (hard) for whatever you want, be that a Proenza bag, a hundred thrifted silk button downs, a bio fuel Mercedes hooptie, a trip to Vietnam rice paddies, whatever! Your tastes will change, just as your priorities will, but fashion will always be there. Just put the work in and live the life you want.
This obviously isn't for everyone. Different strokes for different folks. But maybe it will help a few of you out there to gain some perspective. After school special over.