I used to think that unless I was rich (which I'm not) I couldn't have nice things. Nice things like a designer dress or a name-brand purse or a pair of shoes with a value above what I typically pay at Payless (and isn't the object of such a place to pay hardly anything?). I even figured I would never own a piece of jewelry with a real gemstone in it until the day some man got it into his head to propose to me with a genuine diamond ring. Another part of me wondered if buying something so small (i.e. a piece of jewelry or super nice shoes) was good stewardship. Somewhere in the back of my head lurked my dad's accurate advice to never buy a brand new car because it loses much of its value immediately after being driven off the lot. Didn't noticeably indulgent pieces have the same fickle worth? I ferreted out my version of the answers by thinking it through, talking with people whose finances I respect but who own designer items, and watching how "investment pieces" work in my own life. Here are three reasons I believe owning investment pieces is worthwhile:
1.) A classic is a classicI would never buy an "of the moment" designer item. I think Kate Spade's food-inspired purses are adorable but I'd never choose to spend my money on one. However I would consider spending more money than usual on something like the Concord Street Gail. In the same way, I think it's ridiculous to buy designer sunglasses, knowing how many $5 pairs I've lost or broken over the years. The difference is that one can be worn a few times for a few summers before one tires of the design or the sunglasses come off while jet-skiing, or some other unforeseen circumstance. The other is a bag that can be used and re-used for twenty years. Some items like rings, watches, or necklaces can become heirlooms passed down from person to person and far outlive their original item. A classic, then, worth the investment. Especially if you can catch it on sale...
2.) I'll wait for salesSince an investment piece shouldn't be an impulse buy, I have the good fortune to be able to sit back and wait for the best prices. As I mentioned in "When To Style-Splurge," knowing an item's value is vital research. It allows you to lurk in the wings and pounce when there's a flash sale or you find it majorly discounted in the designer section of the good TJ Maxx in town. In addition to sales, you can find amazing designer pieces on reputable consignment sites like TheRealReal. This tactic works wonderfully well if you've been saving because you'll already have a fund built and the purchase won't effect your current finances. Even with sales, one of the most financially savvy people I know recommends thinking on it for 48 hours if it costs more than $100.
3.) I'll save for itThis is perhaps the most gratifying part of a major purchase: saving for it. There's something about having money set aside specifically for an item that makes its purchase doubly thrilling. Mad-money. A rainy-day pickle jar. Or, as my dearest friend calls it, her "#cartierfund." Whatever item you're wishing for from afar, I challenge you to begin physically saving for it. As I march into my full-fledged adult years I want to collect several bangles in gold and silver. Though the prices are exorbitant compared to the tin bangles I currently wear, if I truly want to buy, say, this infinity cuff from Tiffany's (what are you gawking at?) and began saving ten dollars a week, I could have it by Valentine's Day. If I saved five dollars a week, in a year and a half I'd own it free and clear. Just skipping one coffee a week for 80 weeks and I would own a piece of iconic Tiffany & Co. jewelry that I could wear (truly) for the rest of my life. Haters will ask if spending $400 on one bracelet is good stewardship. To them I would say, is spending $400 on coffee as worthwhile? Take it farther: if I wear my Tiffany's bracelet for forty years or in the same space of time got an extra coffee a week, I would have spent $0 on jewelry and $10,400 on coffee. I would so much rather save my weekly $5 and own a Tiffany's bracelet. But remember that the key is to actually save that money, not just talk about saving it. If you still buy all the coffee you've lost your argument.
These, then, are the reasons I chose to invest in my first real piece of jewelry earlier this spring. I bought my white gold ring with its natural ruby and halo of small diamonds off TheRealReal. I'd been wanting and needing a replacement for the two low-quality ruby rings I'd gone through since my parents gave me one when I was thirteen. This time I decided that I was going to do this thing the right way. I knew my settled preference for white gold/silver. I knew I didn't want a lab-created ruby and I had an idea of what style ring I wanted. Feeling only a slight twinge of buyer's panic after clicking "finalize purchase," I bought the thing. It came and guess what? I've taken it off only one time since. It has now become a part of who I am. Part of my sartorial identity like Grandmama's amethyst ring and my best friend's David Yurman bracelet. I haven't regretted the money spent for a single moment. I'll wear this ring forever, if possible and one day pass it along to some other elegant, beautiful, spirited girl with an eye for the classical. To let her love it for another forever. And that's worth so much more than the money spent.