When It Comes to Your Wardrobe, Where do You Splurge and Where do You Save?

One thing Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton have proved: Great style comes in a range of prices. This month, fashion-savvy readers share how they mix steep with cheap.

 

woman-sunglasses-scarf-earrings
Photo by Christopher Silas Neal

The distinctive frames I chose for my glasses were extravagant, but they make me feel fun. Their narrow, colorful stripes remind me of a slice of ice cream cake. I wear them every waking second, so I think they were well worth their steep price. As for saving, I buy inexpensive workout wear.

Janet Hannah Eskridge

Lincoln, Nebraska

For me, colorful scarves are a worthy indulgence. They coordinate with so many outfits and dress up even a simple T-shirt. But I’m thrifty when it comes to underwear. I don’t think it should cost more than $3 a pair.

Hyounsoo Lathrop

St. Paul, Minnesota

I nab any pair of tights or leggings—regardless of price—as long as they fit my superlong legs. To make up for expensive bottoms, I bargain-shop for shirts on clearance racks. They don’t need to last forever, and frankly, after a dozen or so wearings, I’m ready to give them away.

Megan MacLaughlin-Barck

Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

A great bra that keeps the “girls” up where they should be doesn’t come cheap. When I’m wearing a bra that fits perfectly, I feel like I can toss a burlap sack over it and look like I’m wearing couture.

Melissa Morabito Geherin

Auburn, New York

I buy inexpensive yet fabulous jewelry at garage sales and resale shops. I truly believe that faux gems can be just as striking as the real ones. Another nice thing about the jewelry that I find: It’s almost always timeless.

Nykia Exner

Woodland Hills, California

Slacks made from top-notch fabric in a classic cut can last forever and are worth the investment. In fact, my go-to camel-colored pair has been around for 10 years—longer than my previous husband!

Lisa Milne

Pelham, New Hampshire


Nothing keeps me as warm as my pricey sweaters. I usually invest in two to four new ones each year. One of my favorites is a rich brown cashmere cardigan that ties on the side and looks great with skinny jeans and boots. On the other hand, I shop at Goodwill for blouses. It takes patience, but I always manage to find amazing deals.

Lisa Steffl

Watertown, Wisconsin

As an avid exerciser, I’ve noticed that expensive name-brand fitness apparel is much more durable and high-performing than run-of-the-mill T-shirts and shorts. Plus, looking good helps me stay motivated at the gym. I offset the cost with cheap tank tops. I load up on them only when they’re on sale.

Sadie Abuhoff

Cranbury, New Jersey

When I shop, I think about the cost per wear. That means I spend very little on party outfits that I’ll don on just three or four occasions. In fact, when it comes to festive attire, I usually try to swap pieces with a friend to avoid buying something new.

Vicki Goldsmith

Des Moines, Iowa

I’ve heard people say you should splurge on the classics and save on the trendy items. But I do the opposite. I’ve found that basics, such as cardigans and jeans, can be bought inexpensively and replaced each year to look crisp and current. I prefer to spend on signature pieces—like my platform oxford wedges and my bicycle-motif shirtdress—which are more likely to draw compliments.

Carrie Ryan

Vancouver, British Columbia

Most of my clothing budget goes toward major winter purchases, like coats and boots. I particularly love wool and faux-fur details. They really make a difference when the temperature takes a dip. I save on small accessories (hats, scarves, and mittens) by knitting them myself.

Elise Randall

Columbus, Ohio

When looking for jeans, I try not to spend more than $20 a pair. It can be tricky, since my favorite brand is expensive, but I’ve been able to find jeans (albeit gently used) within my budget at a thrift store in my town.

Gloria Collis

Lee, Florida

For the sake of comfort, I splurge on shoes: quality clogs for my workday (most of which is spent standing) and high-end running shoes for exercise. However, I’m thrifty with T-shirts. If I get a stain on one, I cut out some fabric in the shape of a flower or a leaf and sew it over the offending mark. It’s like getting a brand-new top!

Amy Heide

Missoula, Montana