Buy Less, Choose Well: More True Than Ever

Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Vivienne Westwood’s oft-repeated quote is no less true for all the repeating. And in an economic downturn when new purchases might have to wait, it’s brilliant to have well-made, reliable clothing at hand. The same applies to quality house goods, like appliances, furniture, linens, and dish-ware.

Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity. Everybody’s buying far too many clothes.

-Vivienne Westwood

It’s better to have a stable of good stuff we can rely on than a pile of so-so belongings. Take fast fashion for example – it’s not truly affordable over time. The upfront tab may be attractive – tee shirts for $5! – but what about cost-per-wear, and the cost to the environment? 

The “buy less, choose well” philosophy is gaining traction in the general marketplace, I think. As I get older, a thoughtfully chosen wardrobe made of good quality pieces, makes me feel more pulled-together than a huge closet full of random “on sale” bargains. Those “bargains” often end up getting donated after just a few wears, and then where do they go?

This is where they often go.

My shopping goals include skipping fast-fashion trends and choosing more well-made styles as my core pieces. I’m also paying attention to a brand’s ethical and environmental credentials.

With Dame Vivienne in mind (love her buzz cut), here are a few guidelines I’ve adapted when adding pieces to my closet:

  • Number one, the most obvious, is that I shop secondhand. You can find top-quality handbags, for example, for $50 at the consignment or thrift store. Pick up designer clothes at a fraction of the retail price at Poshmark, eBay and ThredUp.
  • I buy mostly neutrals for my basic pieces – jeans, skirts, tees and dresses. The neutrals I find most flattering are black, gray, navy and ivory. They can all play together.
  • I choose quality pieces in my “go-to” style (that is: casual, clean, modern). I love jeans that are cropped and ragged at the hem, so I own two pairs of them. I avoid other styles for the moment because I’m happy with what I’ve got. If you love floral print dresses, invest in a few great ones that suit your style and wear them a lot.
Here’s a gorgeous feminine dress to live in all summer; layer a tee underneath for Fall.
  • Mix and match everything. I love to discover new ways to wear simple pieces, and new combinations. A graphic Keith Haring tee over a tank dress, love that.
  • I look for pieces that can be made more casual or formal. This well-made Everlane jumpsuit is cute (if I must say so) layered over an octopus tee , or dressed up with a necklace, red lipstick, and pointy-toe flats.
A simple jumpsuit has many lives. Can you see my tentacles?

Quality is like buying oats. If you want nice fresh oats you have to pay a fair price. If you can be satisfied with oats that have already been thru the horse, that comes a little cheaper.”


What are your guidelines for buying quality? As always, no wrong answers. Stay fabulous and safe, wash and wash and wash, xo

Listen to the professionals for all the latest news on the virus. Meanwhile, browse these quality goodies:

Header image via source.

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  1. I favor small boutiques that are picky about quality. Machine wash though. No thin fabrics except for chiffon.

  2. I do like you! I find so many gems through consignment and thrift. I style women for a living-and converting them to thrift is not a simple task (nor do I always succeed)…But when it comes to shopping for myself, that’s the way to creatively style it up! (work is work and play is play:)

    • Yes, that’s the fun way, Lucy! Would love to go thrifting with you, if only we lived closer. Stay fabulous and safe, xx.

  3. don’t forget eBay!! … great place to buy new or lightly-used DESIGNER handbags and clothes! I love Michael Kors purses (zip pocket divider in the center & other pockets), and now have about 4 (all lightly used or new from eBay)… plus 2 Michael Kors tankini swimsuit tops & several casual tops to wear with jeans! … at a fraction of their retail cost

    • Good morning Cindy and thank for coming over! i shop eBay too. Have a great day, xx.

  4. Your words ring true for me, Patti, less but better, which is why I shop secondhand too. The quality for price yields me far better results than any fast fashion outlet could. I’ll still sometimes (used to before the pandemic) pick up an unusual fast fashion piece at a thrift shop, but not new, but these also don’t hold up during a cull. They are like a quick little chocolate bar that I may enjoy but then think, why did I do that? Heh. Vivienne Westwood, yeaaaah.

    • Yes! If we can get those chocolate bars to last a couple of days, we have hit the jackpot – where all our inventor dreams come true. Don’t you miss the occasional good long thrifting day? I do.

      All your creations and experiments are pure joy for me. Keep em coming, plz. xox

  5. you had me at Vivienne Westwood!!! love her…i could dedicate a post just to her and Galliano! ok….now i am off topic….
    I am an upcycler…not sure if you’ve had a chance to visit my blog yet? I watched a documentary all about the effect of fast fashion on the 3rd world countries and how devastating it is to their economies…and it really was eye opening… i have vowed off purchasing anything (except undies & socks ; ) from big retailers…. thrifting started out for me as a 16 year old from financial necessity turned into my passion…
    xo eva

    • Vivienne – live forever! Yes, I’ve been to your blog and really enjoy it; keep up the great work for sustainable fashion, xx.

  6. You always give the greatest tips thank you. I admire French fashion style and remember French styling tips which advised like you buying less avoid trend focus and purchasing quality items. I try to do this to me quality is something of beauty that matches my personal aesthetic value a silk scarf with a Baroque design an antique piece of jewelry neutral clothing in appealing fabric no leather or fur as I care for animals.

    • Hello Joan and thanks for the kind words! I agree, quality is something of beauty that lasts. And hooray for caring for the animals, xx.

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