The 7 Investment Fashion Pieces Every Woman Should Own

ann taylorEvery season presents the temptation to buy new clothes, but loading up on all the latest trends may not offer the best return on your investment—especially if they're "perfect" outfits you only wear once or twice.

A closet bulging with the hottest looks from seasons past is liable to make you feel like you have nothing to wear once the moment has passed. (Not to mention, too many trendy spends make it harder to see the staples in your wardrobe.)

But that doesn’t mean you have to spend a pretty penny to cultivate a closet with significant style. Instead, think of an investment piece in terms of its versatility and value when it comes to making you look your best, on more occasions than one.

“Investment pieces are not the most expensive in your closet,” says Lisa Axelson, the creative director/senior vice president of design for Ann Taylor. “They are perfect pieces that offer a lot of versatility. Like the pants you feel confident and comfortable in, they are the best friends you go back to again and again,” she says.

To help you get more bang for your fashion buck, Axelson shares her wisdom for making wardrobe buys with enduring value. Here, her seven recommendations that “earn their keep as an investment” and belong in every woman’s repertoire.

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  • Liz

    Is this whole article an Ann Taylor ad? You lost me after the little black dress. The rest of the items are so trendy they might be out of style in a few years.

    • krysh

      And all for the low price of $899.50… what has happened to LV?!?

    • Julie G

      I know, right?

      Since this article is patently ridiculous for Learn Vest (after all, we’re here to save money, and paying full retail at Ann Taylor isn’t the way to do it), let’s all make our own lists. Here’s mine

      1. The little black dress on sale at Belk:
      2. A tailored pant that goes with all shoe heel heights:
      3. A Jacket that comes in three colors from Stein Mart, for those of us who get tired of wearing head-to-toe black:

      Who wants to complete the list?….Ladies, commence shopping!

      • Elle

        Completely agree…booties are trendy, not timeless.

      • Stephanie

        Wow! Good for you Julie for starting this list! Thank you. ;)

        • Julie G

          It’s only partial – I think we should all contribute our finds. :-)

      • Laura Thurston

        Jeans…a pair that fits well, doesn’t sag after a few hours and looks good with a sweater, tshirts, at work or out to play. Good jeans are hard to find…but once you find the pair….invest in a few pairs of different shades. I’m still hunting for my “perfect” pair.

  • Julie

    Agreed, sad to see LV forgo their brand strengths in exchange for straight advertising disguised as an article.

  • Jenn

    yeah this article was disappointing

  • CarrieSloan

    Hey all, this is Carrie from LearnVest. Thanks so much for writing. I’m sorry to hear that some of you disagreed with these picks. Bring on our own lists of the best investment pieces, we’re happy to hear them!

    To clarify a few things, the picks are from Ann Taylor, not because it’s advertising, but because our expert is a Creative Director there. We chose her because she watches trends come and go every day, and is choosing the pieces you see here because she believes they have staying power.

    You should of course get the little black dress that’s best for your budget! The styling tips in this story are meant to help you choose the best piece for you, at the best price for your budget, not to say,”buy this dress!”

    • Observor

      Good in concept, but I think most people were thinking ‘timeless’ in ‘conservative’ — skinny pants and booties are not generally considered so,

      OTOH, the idea of ‘one good pair of go-to trouser pants’ and ‘One pair of versatile black dress shoes’ isn’t a bad one.

    • ProfessionalLush

      To say this isn’t advertising seems like semantics to me…

  • sheena

    I agree with the sentiments of the others. I feel that in the past year LV has lost touch with the average woman and started catering more to those who already have money….. Ann Taylor clothing isn’t exactly something I consider an “investment” *smh* The cost per wear article, where they are trying to justify $100+ jeans just about made me sick. I still have the same pair of lucky jeans I scored on clearance at tj maxx over five years ago! I’m all for budgeting in nice work clothing, but get realistic, LV. I think their heads are all stuck in Manhattan. I’ve tried finding other websites on budgeting but mint and LV seem to have the market….

  • Lisa

    Well….. if anyone does like the pieces, Ann Taylor is 30% off right now….

  • rthomas

    Well unlike the others, as a soon to be graduate I found the article timely for myself. I have been trying to balance by (would be) splurges with pieces that are timeless and work appropriate. I realize that most of the items were from Ann Taylor, but I know their fit will not work for my VERY petite with no curves self. I took the article as more of a set of suggestions for pieces to look for.

    Also about the price point – for the record, lots of Ann Taylor items can be found at thrift stores, ebay and at Ann Taylor outlets for under $20. I have owned a number of their pieces including pants and dresses and have never spent more than $20 per item.

    Sometimes I think you ladies can be a bit too critical of people trying to constantly create relevant content. As the other commenter stated, LearnVest really has the market on personal finance for women. How about making suggestions for articles if you have them instead of spreading negativity around what I see as a site that supports a very positive thing.

    • Julie

      rthomas, you’re right, I was being critical. For me this is not about the price point. Its about the fact that I read LV for good advice. I think staples in your wardrobe is good advice. But the fact that the article was written by one of their paid advertisers is what bothers me. LV certainly need to pay their bills and advertising is a great way to do that. I would just prefer that they keep the articles and advertising separated.

  • Sheena Nix

    rthomas- you’re right. I was being kind of negative and I do actually love the clothing featured in the article and wish that I could afford to buy it (but I’m also about to graduate college, so it’s out of the question….. I’m an intern for goodness sake) I mean of course.. it’s good marketing… it’s pretty stuff… it makes me WANT to go out and buy a pair of little booties because, “HEY! It’s an investment according to my financial advisors….” and there’s where I have the problem with the article. It’s just encouraging women to buy over-priced items, relating worth to possession.

    That bothers me, because it makes me feel like in one breath LV is saying, “Be frugal. Weigh needs V wants” Then in the next breath, they are saying, “HEY! Go buy expensive Ann Taylor clothing and calculate the cost per wear of designer jeans, it’s an investment!” Jeans won’t be paying my mortgage no matter how many times I wear them!

    I think LV should do more articles on how to score deals deep discounts on more practical things, and NEVER at full retail, are they insane? Ann Taylor is having a 30% off retail price ad (AKA- this article) is not really a great article for a broke college girl whose entire monthly budget is nearly the same as these “Ann Taylor investments” LV claims I need. I guess I’m biased, as the owner of a small business selling women’s clothing…. I buy/sell/trade brands like Ann Taylor on consignment and over stock and think anyone who pays full retail needs to have a sit down with a therapist. They should do articles on thrifting and upcycling, repurposing, etc.

    I find the site is useful for keeping me on track…. sometimes. The budgeting tools are great. Then, they go and contradict themselves by saying shoes are an investment! My grievance is with LV trying to convince women that buying new shoes will land you a job or impact your life in any way other than as a red number in your check register….. Call it being negative if you want, I just feel LV has fallen out of touch with their target audience…. or, perhaps, I simply am not the target audience for LV and should stick to the budget calculator and ignore the content. I guess I should look for frugal living blogs. Anyone have any suggestions?

  • Sheena Nix

    Here’s my list of staples!!!

    1. A dress with some color to make you smile!
    2. Basic Knee-high boots with a conservative heel for walking city streets
    3. A timeless trench with a waist cinch (always classic and figure flattering!)
    4. A single strand pearl necklace (statement necklaces will go out as quickly as the booties)
    5. OK- I will hand it to them…. that silk blouse is now on my covet list. (good job marketing!)
    6. A subtle, single breasted blazer in a quality material
    7. A knee-length pencil skirt, because it goes with everything (I’m sorry ankle pants come and go every few years, it seems!)

  • Rosabella Alvarez-Calderon

    I would add one important “investment” piece: something absolutely crazy and unique that you absolutely love and flatters you, but that is well-made so that it will stand multiple wearings. My own favourite is a black and white printed shirtdress that I found in a thrift shop!