Quality Over Quantity: When It’s Worth It

If you read fashion magazines and books, you’ll often come across this advice: choose quality over quantity. I sometimes think this is a tease to get us to spring more $$$ for everyday stuff. On the other hand, there are some wardrobe pieces I buy for which quality does matter. And I don’t need to add much quantity; at age 60 most of what I’d like to add to my life can’t be bought or sold. (Time, good health, good friends and great wine – oh wait, you can buy that.)

Here are some style categories for which I think quality, and possibly a higher price, are important. These pieces can last a long time with good care. I often shop at the thrifts and consignment stores to find them at lower prices than Bloomingdale’s, but I have been known to go retail. Your mileage may vary and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

1. Shoes. Yeah, my old feet are getting fussy, and that means no cheapie shoes or boots for me. They don’t have to be brand new but they have to fit well, feel great all day and have a little personality. Favorite brands include Clarks, Calvin Klein, Dansko, Born, Naturalizer, and Naot. These Born booties check all the boxes:

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2. Handbags. Most of mine have been thrifted over the years but I do have high-end taste  : >  My latest thrift score was a barely-used Eric Javits bag for $30; retail price over $200. I used to buy a succession of cheap bags but they always aged/ripped quickly and had to be replaced. Now I have three purses total: my new Eric J. and two Coach bags I bought at their outlet store, including this adorable cross-body bag:

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3. Luggage. Another item where quality does make a difference. Cheap suitcases fall apart after a few traumatic trips in the airplane’s hold. Have you seen how luggage handlers assault your bags?

And some things in my world that can always be found at a bargain:

1. Underwear. I am a Fruit of the Loom woman; their poly-spandex high-cuts last forever and are super-affordable. Some of the colors are garish, but that’s just my little secret.

2. Skirts. I wear skirts a lot, and they don’t have to be designer or precious for me to enjoy them. I love a full midi skirt and am always combing the thrifts for them. This little treasure is only about $30 on Etsy:

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3. Costume jewelry. I have several pieces of “good” stuff: my wedding ring, a few gold earrings and bracelets. Costume jewelry is a fun, fast purchase at the thrift or even at the Macy’s sale counter, and you may come upon the most unusual, lovely pieces. Don’t pay too much though. Love this pendant, for example, at $40:

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4. Makeup. I’ll spring for a great foundation, up to $50, then I forget to wear it most days. Drugstore mascara and lipstick are fabulous and have you tried e.l.f. cosmetics? Most are $1 – $4 and are so much fun to play with.

I do follow the one-in, one-out policy for clothes, shoes, and household goods. If we get new sheets, e.g., one set goes to the Cat Thrift. At chez Not Dead Yet we are in the opposite of accumulation mode, so a lot of “stuff” is not attractive to us at all. Our next apartment will likely be smaller than the 1,400 square feet we currently enjoy. And my closet might get even smaller,  and less truly becomes more. So you gotta love what you bring in the house!

In what areas is quality-over-quantity important to you?

Stay fabulous,

Browse the looks:


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patti

12 Comments

  1. My feet are terribly fussy now, so I won’t hesitate to spend $$$ on stylish, comfortable shoes. I’m one of the few women I know who don’t care about handbags, so I have a shoulder bag made by Sportsac that I found at Winners years ago that cost a lot at the time but has been worth every penny. Most of my clothing is secondhand, but I always look for quality labels and fabric. Now if I could only stick to the one in-one out rule…

  2. Hah – I am the opposite of you when it comes to purses. I like something new every year or so, therefore I buy cheap (and light — pinched shoulder issue) and replace with no regrets! (I also harvest the zippers before I discard, and use in my upcycle sewing)

    It’s quality over quantity for me in footwear, both summer and winter (Canada), in winter outerwear, and in glasses. I don’t like being cold, or being without glasses because something has broken prematurely 🙂

  3. Recently there was an article in the NYT about inexpensive athletic shoes vs expensive ones. They concluded that prices in athletic shoes didn’t necessarily correspond to the shoes’ comfort and support. The latest styles with the hardly-there upper don’t suit my feet. I need cushioning and an upper that holds my foot to the sole in a sturdy way. Those less-stylish more basic models are usually less. It works for me as then they can be replaced frequently as the sole gets worn down.

  4. I agree that shoes are important. My feet are such divas. I sometimes find that buying used shoes means that often I won’t get the regular blisters I’ll get from new shoes because someone else has already done all the hard work. Often they are softened up. I always add insoles too, I do that with new shoes as well.

    You are so much more dedicated to not accumulating items than I. I think now when you come and visit you will think I am a hoarder! LOL

    I don’t wear much makeup and don’t spend much $ on it either. I’d rather spend that on hair maintenance and lash extensions : )

    bisous
    Suzanne

    • oh yeah, insoles are a must now, aren’t they? I won’t judge your closet – I shall envy the hell out of it! xox

  5. A great read, Patti!
    Where clothes and shoe are concerned quality rules and I’d rather pay more for top quality vintage than some shoddy new thing made in an awful Asian sweatshop.
    My sheets have to be Egyptian cotton and cotton knickers from Marks and Spencer. Buying cheap is false economy.
    Beauty products are anything cruelty-free and the cheaper the better. xxx

    • So true about not supporting the dreadful sweatshops. And good sheets are indeed worth it – we spend a lot of time on them. xox

  6. I’ve been thinking about quality over quantity a lot lately! I like your one-in, one-out policy. My goal for the new year is to really think about my purchases and only buy what I really love. I want to add items that will last for years and not fall apart after one wash… But you are right, your don’t always have to buy the most expensive items, and you can also find great items at thrift stores that still have a lot of life in them.

    I love the pendant necklace!

    Have a great weekend!

  7. Patti, I absolutely loved this post! I am in the mindframe right now where less is definitely more so this was so much fun (and inspiring!) to read. I definitely agree that as I’ve gotten older the nicer footwear is important. But I will never pay exhorbitant prices for teeshirts or makeup (I’m an e.l.f. girl ALL the way!) Great post! XO -Kim
    http://www.thethirtysomethinglife.com

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