Saturday, January 29, 2011

Scrimp or Splurge?

John Marine | 1/29/2011 03:54:00 AM | |
(UPDATED: April 18, 2012)

Here is a classic fashion question- you see some sort of fashion item you like, be it clothes, shoes, or accessories. You love it despite its rather high price. Worth it to splurge? For many fashionable types, paying top dollar for premium fashion items is worth it. Buying premium and quality items shows devotion and dedication to the represented maker and the quality of the fashion item. The common view is that you should get the most out of your money when you pay for something. So if you pay very little for something, you probably assume that it is going to be of little importance and quality. Conversely, if you pay very much for something, you likely assume it is absolutely worth the price. Do you scrimp (meaning you want to buy something much more affordable) or splurge (meaning you are willing to pay lots of money to purchase something expensive)? Does it depend on the garment? This blog post concerns the scrimp vs. splurge argument.


APR 18 2012 - edited a link, changed up look of post

--- Scrimp or Splurge: in General ---

Louboutin splurge
^ from: - What stylish girl wouldn't want a pair of Louboutin high heel pumps (like these) in her collection? Then again, are they worth splurging for?

If you have visited my blog before, you know I made I blog post long ago called The Price of Denim. That blog post was about denims that were of inexpensive and expensive varieties. You know, there were people who'd rather wear denim from 7 for All Mankind or True Religion rather than Old Navy or Wrangler. How many people, however, can afford a pair of premium jeans? Not as many people feel as content with lower-priced items.

"The Look for Less" Influence.

There used to be a show on the Style Network called "The Look for the Less." Before former host Elisabeth Hasselbeck moved on to be one of the five ladies on "The View," she was out and about helping ladies shop for items that don't break the bank. The show used to have a $100 Stylist Challenge where (mostly a celebrity) would shop around and put together a look from start to finish using only $100 USD.

This was really a show that was one of the true fashion-based shows I usually watch on the Style Network. These days, I mostly just watch Style for "The Dish." Most of the really good fashion shows and such are basically gone from the network, leaving it mostly to Clean House and Jerseylicious. Oh... there's "How Do I Look?" that's a show I've rarely seen.

The main point of this section was to highlight on "The Look for Less." It was just a show that really speaks volumes to me on the issue of whether or not to splurge on fashions.

The Knockoff Factor.

fake Louis Vuitton bag
^ from: - a replica Coach handbag.

Authenticity plays a real factor in fashion. Because not as many people can afford items from more established designers, certain designers make their own affordable knockoffs of certain garments. Case in point- there are many teen girls who would love to wear a pair of UGG sheepskin boots or EMU sheepskin boots. Some can afford them and wear them, but many others go with some knockoffs from companies like Skechers.

Knockoffs become even more dicey with some other items. The sporty cute girl would love to show her juicy side with a Juicy Couture tracksuit. Many other girls would rather wear a cute tracksuit from a much less expensive designer. Brand names play a serious role for most people. I can remember back in my grade school days, lots of my peers were wearing Starter jackets and Nike sneakers. People laughed at me just because I wasn't wearing name-brand apparel. I didn't care- I was never really big on big-name designer material anyways. I just wore what made me feel comfortable and what made me look good.

There is one case, however, where you have to go with brand-name material (even if it's expensive). There was some knockoff cologne sold at stores here in Houston. One expert said that just because it is inexpensive doesn't mean it is of great quality. So it's better to go with authentic products from authentic makers.

--- Scrimp vs. Splurge: in Shopping? ---

Do you go to high-end stores to do your shopping, or do you trust a low-end store that hardly anyone knows of or cares about? It all depends on your budget and your own tastes in style. You can come here to Houston for a good variety of low-end and high-end stores. We are not known as a shopping capital. It isn't like Houston has a Fifth Avenue or a Rodeo Drive where you can do all of your shopping. The two premier locations for shopping high-end here in Houston are the Houston Galleria mall and Houston Premier Outlets.

To prove the point of scrimp vs. splurge, I will use my hometown as an example of places to shop at.

Shopping Low-End.

Low-end stores are what I will consider as stores that don't usually offer anything really high class or from too many big-name designers. Examples include clothes sold at flea markets, strip malls, small stores at real malls, clothes sold at supermarkets, thrift markets, and of course... clothes sold at major retailers (like Walmart, Target, Marshalls, Payless, Burlington Coat Factory, etc.). I've been to certain flea markets and seen some rather sexy clothes (but not adult-type clothes) for women. There aren't as many people who could afford appealing clothes from high-end makers and high-end stores. Some Fiesta marts here in Houston offer clothes ranging from babies and children to men and women. Some of the women's clothes I've seen are mostly nightclub-appropriate fashions from designers you've never heard of or know exist. However, they can look pretty hot to be honest! :)

Another example of low-end retailers here in Houston is a women's clothing retail chain called Clothesmax. Clothesmax features many more fashions from designers you've never heard of. There are Clothesmax stores both here in Houston and in San Antonio. The fashions are for both casual wear and for nights out.

There are some who shop at thrift stores. Thrifted items are becoming very popular among the fashionable set. You could say you can score big style by going to places as cheap and as inexpensive as thrift stores.

JUST SO YOU KNOW: Depending on traffic and interest, I MAY consider making a future blog post on thrifted fashions.

Shopping High-End.

Ready to splurge? Rather than go to some low-priced places, you go to the fancier outlets and the big-name stores. So you go to Saks Fifth Avenue as opposed to Macy's. There is a reason why you go to the higher-end malls and shopping centers- you want quality. You want to pay good money for quality items. You want items that you're not going to find at some mainstream retailer. So therefore, you shop at the big stores. Here in Houston, we have two big options: Houston Premium Outlets (out in Cypress) and the Houston Galleria.

A lot of the major and popular stores can be found in the Houston Galleria. I remember going to the Galleria in 1996 or so by entering from the Neiman Marcus store. Yeah- Neiman Marcus is a high-end retailer like Saks. You go to places like the Houston Galleria because there are stores and items that hardly any other mall may actually have. On top of this, you actually feel like you are at stores with items that most people only wish they could shop for. Think about it like this... would you feel like you're in a great shopping location if the majority of items are cheaply made and priced, or if you are in a store with high-end items?

You know you enter a high-end store thinking high-end shopping. It is that sort of allure that makes it extra special to be in such a place. I've made mention to high-end shopping malls and stores. However, outlet malls can also count as high-end. Just that high-end outlet malls, especially of Premium Outlets) can make for high-end and high-quality shopping for fashion. Premium Outlets just make for better shopping of high-end fashions.

HOUSTON/GALVESTON-AREA READERS: Learn more about Houston Premium Outlets in Cypress, TX by visiting the Houston Premium Outlets' home page.

--- Scrimp vs. Splurge: What Works? ---

If what you're looking for must be from a high-quality make, surely splurge. If you want something to be fashionable in even if not from a high-quality make, surely scrimp. There are no rough guidelines to whether to scrimp or splurge. Just because you pay a lot for something doesn't mean you are guaranteed high-dollar quality and charm. On the other hand, low-quality garments don't exactly equal low-quality fashions.

I used to be a real regular on the Fashion Spot's forums. Often times, I would respond to the "Yay or Nay?" questions certain users post. These discussions are if someone should purchase or pass on certain fashion items offered. Some of the items were from some well-established retailers and makers. For instance, Net-a-Porter, ASOS, Topshop, stuff like that.


I think scrimping is more for people who care more about just looking good rather than always having brand-name garments and fashions. In other words- me. I don't think I own a single garment that has a huge logo on it. Some have big Aeropostale, Volcom, and big-logo stuff. I care more about wearing comfortable clothes and looking good (regardless of who makes it). I also want durable clothes.

A softer aspect of scrimping is if you can can get brand-name fashions for less (or even MUCH less). For example, imagine a girl (18-25 years old) going to an outlet mall or someplace who finds a lovely pair of 7 for All Mankind jeans marked ridiculously low and look great. She probably could have shopped online or went to a high-end retailer to find these 7FAM jeans, but she was able to get them for much less and love wearing them with her outfits.


There are only a few reasons why I would splurge- if there is something offered that I don't think can be bettered by any other item or store. It's the ultimate show of confidence. It is confidence in putting down as much money as need be that it is worth the investment. Not every expensive garment is of extremely high quality, but at least you know you paid good money for it. That's all that matters.

In the Middle?

If caught between wanting to splurge on an expensive item or holding onto your money for a certain garment, it's up to you. Maybe that item will remain in the store's inventory for you to check out again in the future. Or you may feel it is in your best interest to purchase that item. It is entirely up to you. Just don't make it a life or death decision- it's just clothes/shoes/accessories.

--- Scrimp vs. Splurge: Alternatives Shopping ---

Think about if something is worth splurging or scrimping. What would I recommend if anyone is shopping for alternatives? Most of what I've seen reminds me of the former Style Network show, "The Look for Less." In later seasons of the show, Elisabeth Hasselbeck (nowadays on ABC's "The View") wanted to challenge someone to re-create a look for much less and on a low budget. Here is an example: re-create an entire outfit that costs about $2K USD with a $150 USD or $200 USD budget and with only hours to shop.

Here are two bits of advice I can think of in a situation like this...

Search on Visual Cues.

Here is a problem for you. Let's take a pair of booties, for example. Pretend you were thinking about getting a pair of black suede wedge booties that cost $350 USD. The ones you want to get are pretty expensive and out of budget. So when you shop around at stores, you think about what item comes closest to exactly what you're looking for. So in the case of these booties you're shopping for, you shop for shoes that look similar (or perhaps even better) than the expensive item. Then at a store online or at a physical store, you see another cute pair of wedge booties that cost about $60 USD or $90 USD. You win!

So this is more along the lines of going on visual cues. Think about what it is you like (but can't afford), and then try to find something as close to that item as possible. You may even get lucky and find that same item offered at a store for a much lower price.

Re-create an Expensive Look... for Less.

Here is another problem: a 20-year old college girl needs a party dress and some lovely/cute shoes or sandals to go with them for an upcoming party. She sees a look in a fashion magazine and wants to have that look. Trouble is... it costs about $1,500 USD. Being the savvy and inventive girl, she wants to re-create that look, but for less. Also, she doesn't want to look too cheap to where she could have better spent her money on more high-quality clothes. The look this girl is trying to re-create is a royal blue party dress with a pair of silver metallic strappy sandals.

This college girl could simply just go out and put together any outfit for a formal function, but she chose to re-create a certain look. This will be tough since most of this depends on if you are able to accurately or closely design a look using inexpensive fashion items. This girl has two options: (1) re-create the look from that magazine as best as possible, or (2) re-create the same look, while modifying it. She could find a similarly-styled dress in a different color or find a different pair of shoes. Maybe instead of strappy metallic sandals, she could opt for some metallic peep-toe slingback pumps. Instead of a knee-length dress, she could go for a mini party dress. She could even MODIFY that look from the magazine. This girl could wear some opaque black tights along with some black pumps. The main goal- come up with an outfit that looks similar to a look you have in mind.

With so many options, it can be tough trying to re-create a certain look. You may be better off simply trying to create your own dream look rather than inspire your look on something you see in magazines or blogs. Some would rather just take a look and add their own twist to it.

I may add more materials to make this blog post more viable in the future.

You may sometimes get lucky and find certain dream clothes that you'll love to wear again and again with love and confidence. As long as you paid good money for it, that's all that matters. Whether or not to splurge on certain garments is all entirely up to you. There are a tremendous number of variables that go into the decision to splurge or scrimp.

Thank you for reading!

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