Darlings, it is fabulous that good design is now available at all prices. What one considers inexpensive is relative. Recently, I saw a wool skirt by the GAP priced at more than $200, but, it was a classic and it looked sharp. If the quality of the fabric is good, it will last for years.
What concerns me is quality. A few years ago lower-priced lines by designers were exciting. Now they are often disappointing. They look shoddy, fit poorly, and are not fun to wear.
Granted if you pay $50 or less for an item you can’t expect to get more than a season from it. For many trendy items that is enough, but if it looks tacky from day one what is the point?
It’s not all bleak; H&M still does a good job, although a couple of years ago it was looking a bit sad there. The clothes are cheap and you do have to try everything on. Be ruthless about fit. But, H&M it does have the goods if you want the latest look fast and cheap. Many of their guest designer lines by the likes of Matthew Williamson, Stella McCartney, and Karl Lagerfeld have exceeded expectations.
I have seen nothing that I would buy or wear in the last few rounds of ballyhooed designer lines from discount department stores. I have not seen the Vera Wang at Khols. Nor is new Anna Sui line for Targe out. The Rodarte line for Target is causing a frenzy among the fashionsitas. It looks promising from the runway photos full of avante garde touches, but what will it look like on the racks? Will it be budget –friendly or just another disappointment?
The shoes and bags are especially awful. The look and feel cheap. I cannot imagine any good reason fashion editors are reviewing them so favorably. What’s worse are most lines by so-called celebrity designers, who are not designers at all. I will exempt Kimora Lee Simons, as her line Baby Phat is wearable and trendy. Jessica Simpson’s line of shoes and bags are trendy, cheap and not that well-made, but I have seen worse.
Darlings, luxury is not about designers, brands, or names. It’s about materials, construction, feel, and design. I carried black Coach hand bags throughout high school, even though my mother complained they were pricey (although inexpensive by today’s standards). My father bought me a new one every year, telling her that while I got just a single bag each year, my sister went through three or four cheaper bags. He understood that I adored the fine calf leather used in the bags — you could polish it to a high shine — and the wonderful workmanship. In college, I switched to classic Marc Cross bags. I have never regretted the purchase of any quality item then or since.
Since the money mad 1980’s, too many people have mistaken logos for class and style. Manufactures have been quick to part them from their money with the help of this mistaken idea. Watches became the badge of success for many in the financial world. Never mind if the house or salary doesn’t match the timepiece, the watch is a banner of identity. For many young women it became necessary to have an “IT” bag, designer sunglasses, or $500-plus jeans. In the hood, “kicks” or sneakers are the must-have totem.
I do not want to disrespect anyone’s chosen status symbol, but in the quest for brands darlings, much true luxury has been lost. A fine watch is a lovely thing. If you can afford it, enjoy it. I adore a good handbag and I loathe cheap shoes. And I stand by the fashion dictate that good accessories can elevate the simplest outfit. But a brand name on substandard merchandise is not luxury, it is a mockery. Even some major designers’ secondary and bridge lines make me wonder if they designed them — or simply took the licensing money as so many designers did in the 70s. These days too much junk is branded as “designer merchandise”.
Luxury is about quality no matter what your budget. There have never been so many real luxury goods available at good prices. Even the resale shops are busting with good stuff. Be ruthless about quality, fit and style. Forget about logos and brands. If you love a brand or designer for the right reasons, you still have to be vigilant about buying only what flatters. Use the Internet to hunt down deals.
Develop your own style and discover lesser known designers. Susan Faber for example makes stunning handbags. http://www.susanfarbercollections.com/.
And there are many more smaller and new designers worth knowing about.
Find well-made, well-priced basics that work for you. I like inexpensive knits from Hue. I also like Wolford and Fogol tights which are very luxurious. I have worn them for years. Tights are very in this year. I usually buy them online or in bulk at my favourite departments store’s discount outlet. I find Hue tights and basic kits are perfect to slip into for errands. I add a scarf, jewelry, heels – and I am dressed. It is the height of luxury to have a stack of laundered tights and knits at the ready. You might relish a stack of super-soft turtlenecks, perfect jeans, or maybe a couple of pairs of black Spanx pants.
Luxury is not one or more "status" items. The saddest and most ridiculous thing I ever heard of is Bag, Borrow or Steal, a business that rents designer items. I find it sad that anyone would spend $85 to rent designer sunglasses. How desperate for identity they must be, and sadly lacking in math skills, too. With a little shopping, the cost of two rentals would more than pay for the sunglasses. Alas, I doubt they would meet the expectations of anyone who believes you can rent luxury and identity for $85 a month.
Remember darlings, luxury is quality. Demand it at any price. It is also a lifestyle that you create for yourself. Make your home an oasis of pleasure: light candles, arrange pillows, and rearrange your objects and books. Take time to pamper and groom yourself. Darlings, time is greatest luxury of all.