The Art of Dressing Like a Blogger on a Shoestring Budget by Employing Creativity, Smarts, Know-How, A Little Thriftiness, and Timeliness | Part 1 - On Luxury and Quality Shopping on A Budget

Luxury items. We all covet them, but we all hate that extra designer charge so much for their brand name! I know I do, although I wholeheartedly understand and appreciate how much creativity, hard work, and thought process goes into that one-of-a-kind, beautiful, quality piece that feels right, looks right and lasts forever. And that’s the kind of luxury and designer piece that I am I willing to pay for (if I absolutely have to! :-)

And so, in today’s blog post, I’ll share with you how you can dress like a blogger on a shoestring budget, by employing creativity, smarts, know-how, a little thriftiness and timeliness. I’ll also share with you some of my knowledge and beliefs on luxury and quality, some shopping tips and some business acumen when thrift shopping for luxury.

To summarize, in today’s post, you’ll learn:

  1. What is Quality in Fashion
  2. What is Luxury in Fashion
  3. How to Identify a Quality or Luxury Item
  4. Where to Shop for Luxury/Designer Item on a Budget

What is Quality in Fashion

 Quality is the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.(Merriam Webster dictionary)

Of course, that is the general meaning of the term quality, and in our context, we are talking about the quality of clothes in fashion, luxury clothes, designer items other things from similar categories. So, we need to apply the definition of quality in that very context.

Since fashion is a form of art, hence subjective, its perception will also be quite subjective. However, its physical expression, meaning the actual designs, CAN be evaluated objectively. This means that while fashion is subjective, design and construction are not, and therefore can be evaluated against standards of utility, best practices, durability, and uniqueness.

As such, whether visually to everyone appealing or not, from the artistic perspective, one can objectively tell whether the clothes, for example, are qualitative or not, by simply looking at whether the garments were appropriately matched with the right purpose and fabric for example, when evaluating whether an athletic outfit is qualitative or not, we  would look at whether the outfit has enough stretch, whether it is too sheer,  how breathable it is, the composition of synthetic fibers, how well is absorbs moisture etc.

Conversely, if we are looking for linen luxury pants, we want to have a smooth pair of linen fabric, so, no elasticity, 100 % natural fibers, breathability, so, exactly the opposite.

As you can see, both are high-quality items but are exact opposites. In that sense, the criteria differ from item to item, so, keep that in mind: in fashion, the purpose of the garment will determine, the definition of quality, so to speak.

As a starting point, and depending on the item you are evaluating, a few things you should be looking for are:

  • durability of fabric and its suitability for that particular item of clothing
  • breathability or elasticity of fabric
  • general properties of the fabric and how it affects the functionality of the garment
  • whether the fabric is lint-resistant or has the propensity to pile easily
  • whether the fabric is made of natural or synthetic fiber

There is much to discuss on the topic of quality but since this blog post is meant to address quality as an element of luxury shopping only, I won’t go further than this. However, I’ll come back to it in a separate blog post later, so, make sure, to subscribe, so you don’t miss it.

What is Luxury in Fashion

Luxury means something desirable but expensive or hard to get. (Merriam-Webster dictionary)

Again, putting that into the context of fashion, the definition becomes very complicated, debated, and subjective. From Wikipedia to economists, fashion designers and models, as you can imagine, you will have a very wide range of opinions. In that sense, I’m not sure I’ll bring much value by quoting any of those definitions in this article since everyone is pretty much voicing their own version to suit their needs or preferences.

I find most people tend to confuse luxury with style. It’s also true that a lot of folks don’t really think that it is important to invest into developing a personal style and subconsciously subscribe to the outdated view that tending to your image is somewhat a frivolous activity. Again, that’s another topic for another day and, I obviously disagree with that view, wholeheartedly, and hope to have a chance to convince you otherwise soon enough.

But I will just say this, that like with anything else, people tend to choose the easy way out: it is simpler to buy a brand name and let the brand name do the heavy lifting in terms of image. Brand names have ideas and lifestyle goals attached to them, and when you see a person wearing or carrying such brand names, you tend to associate them with those goals and images. That’s essentially the idea behind the brand names. It’s that “hero factor” that everyone wants a piece of.  Remember in high school times where if you hung out with the cool kids you were cool too? You get the idea now.

My point is why live in in a perpetual high school, fitting into someone else’s commercial all your life? Why not create your very own personalized one and keep your money in your pocket? Think about that for a second.

Franca Sozzani, former Editor-In-Chief of Italian Vogue, may be biased toward the classic luxury brands, but makes some interesting points when she states that luxury has nothing to do with money and everything to do with the idea of exclusivity.  I like the idea behind this because, all in all, you do not need a designer item to look rich or exclusive. In addition to that, if there is one thing that I have learned in my two years of fashion blogging it is certainly that and the fact that style cannot be bought but it CAN definitely be learned, contrary to what most think (!). It just requires a lot of practice, just like anything else.

Luxury has nothing to do money and everything to do with nailing down a distinctive personal style + carrying it well + styling pieces made of quality fabrics + that are also functional + that also fit your size and proportions. Do that consistently, and not only will you get yourself an affordable luxurious wardrobe, but you will also get yourself a very distinctive signature style. Before you know it, you may become the next fashion icon.

Now that we have discussed quality and luxury and how they fit into our perception and sense of style, it’s high time we get a little more concrete and discuss practical and more palpable things such as how to identify luxury items and where to buy them.

How to identify a quality or luxury item

1. Look at the seams

When inspecting an item, generally, you want to look at the seams. They need to be neatly sewn, there should not be any threads hanging out, the lines should be perfectly straight and aligned.

No fabric should be caught in the stitches, be it in the lining or on the outside (especially on the outside – a big NO-NO!! That would be a total flaw in my book!)  and everything should be flawless. I know I sound demanding and rigid, but luxury comes with a hefty price tag, and you are paying for it so you too should be rigid. That is because luxury is supposed to be superior in fabric, quality, and design.

So never, and I mean NEVER, be shy or compromise in your expectation for quality when shopping for luxury, especially when you are paying full price. These go hand in hand and you are well within your rights and are expected to have those expectations so to speak J. Nobody will be judging you.

2. Look at the lining

If you are looking for a luxury item, the lining is an easy indication of whether the quality is worth the price tag. Luxury items usually have linings made out of silk, nifty chain hanging hooks or chain along the lining border (which is the case of Chanel blazers), monogrammed lining, etc.

I have seen expensive items that were missing lining and were tagged as designer items. I am not going to name the brands because I trust that next time you see an expensive item without the lining you will simply skip it without even dignifying it with it with a second look. My personal opinion on that is that it is simple pretention to claim yourself a luxury item if you are missing the basic qualitative requirements for a luxury item. In my book, skirts, blazers, and jackets have linings. That’s just not negotiable.

3. Look at the shoulders

This is especially true for blazers and dresses.  A well-cut blazer will sit perfectly on your shoulders and the padding won’t be visible to the naked eye and won’t be felt.

On a poorly designed blazer or dress you see the padding and, sometimes, if the padding is too large, you will also see a droopy shoulder look. My advice: leave. Swiftly. Mad Max looks good only in the theater. There is nothing more off-putting than an ill-fitted blazer no matter how expensive it is.

4. Look at the pockets

Luxury and/or qualitatively made items have functional pockets. Pockets cost extra to make so expensive items usually have them. So, if the item you are considering to buy costs a lot but has fake pockets, maybe you want to reconsider, both out of practical reasons and because your retailer is overcharging for this particular “luxury” item. Also, pockets are kind of cool, don’t you think?

Where to Shop for Luxury Designer Items on A Budget

 Finally, I’d like to share some resources where you can shop for quality, luxury and designer items on a budget. Note that I distinguish between all these terms because they don’t necessarily mean the same.

 So, let’s get started.

1.     www.outnet.com

2.     www.barneyswarehouse.com

3.      www.century21stores.com

4.      www.yoox.com

  • Favorite designers that I get on this website:  8 (exclusive to Yoox; has a very clean modern & minimalist design meant to last for years), Patricia Pepe (very petite friendly!), Dries van Noten, Prada, Ferragamo
  • What to expect $$ wise: $50 and up
  • Note: Particularly petite-friendly since the Italian brands tend to run smaller so an Italian size 36 or 38 will be the equivalent of a size 00 or 0 in US sizes, for example. 
  • Scored to many things to mention, including jewelry, bags and shoes (shhhh)

Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed my post :-). If you did, you may like as well: The Trendiest Boots And Bags That You Should Invest In This Year Are Also Timeless And Practical6 Cool And Fun Ways You Can Style Plaids In An Innovative And Unexpected Way, and From Office To Dinner: A Chic Valentine's Day Outfit That You'll Wear Again.

xx

isabel

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