A girlfriend and I were out one weekend night, sharing the same umbrella as we took teetering steps toward a bright street where we could catch a cab. Despite our pedetentous pace, her foot slid into a puddle as we climbed a sidewalk curb.
"Crap. These are Chrissy Lous," she muttered.
"Chrissy Lous. You know. Christian Louboutin," she explained before examining her heels. “I love my Chrissy Lous...”
I looked down at her nicknamed shoes. I loved them, too.
They were crafted of smooth black leather and delicate lace. It seemed almost an indignity that they came in contact with the murky puddle, let alone the New York City pavement.
I understood my friend’s remorse: Those beautiful shoes, with their signature red-lacquered soles, cost anywhere from $600 to $1,400. Their average lifespan? Well, speaking from a completely utilitarian standpoint, three to four years. Speaking from the standpoint of someone who’d splurge on black lace boots? The end of the season.
Which made me wonder: Given fashion’s transience, do we really love the items we splurge on, or do we only lust after them?
While every woman’s personal shopping allowance varies, one thing we all can agree upon is that women’s fashion is more fickle than men’s. One season, leopard-print might be all the rage, while it might be deemed a faux pas just a few months later. One year it’s all about low-waisted jeans, while in the next, higher cuts are all the rage. While men often invest in more staple pieces—tailored shirts, well-structured suits, business casual staples—women's fashion tends to change season to season, year to year.
Keeping up with fashion’s breathless pace can wreck havoc on one’s personal finances. If we didn’t shop, we could either accrue earnings on our savings (if we’re shopping on debit), or prevent monstrous debt (if we’re shopping on credit).
Let’s imagine that a woman’s shopping habit costs about $8,000 per year, or $2,000 per season. If she were to instead put $8,000 into a savings account with 2% APR, she would have a total of nearly $49,000 ($9,000 in earnings) within five years, and about $96,000 ($16,000 in earnings) in ten.
If, heaven forbid, an avid shopper is shopping on credit and not paying the balance in full, her personal finances could quickly plummet and her debt could spiral out of control.
If, for instance, one has a credit card balance of $8,000, an APR of 12%, and only pays the minimum payment each month (say it’s interest plus 1% of the balance, or about $160), it would take over 25 years to pay off the balance in full! And, over the course of those 25 years, she would have paid $7,618.24 in interest – over 95% of the beginning balance. Ouch – and this is assuming that nothing else is charged on the card that entire time!
So, instead of purchasing things that lose their appeal and depreciate in value as time goes by, it might make more sense to love our future selves more than we lust after current fashion. We’d do so by putting money away for the future rather than splurging in the present.
I’m not saying that we should completely abstain from shopping. In all things, moderation. So, when you’re itching for something of immoderate prices, consider these ways to beat the system and still look fabulous:
Have a special day coming up, and want to wear a dress from designers the likes of Yigal Azroul and Catherine Malandrino for the special occasion? Try RentTheRunway.com, where one can rent $500 designer dresses for 4-8 days for about $50. RentTheRunway.com will ship your order on the date of your choosing, and it’ll even send you each item in two sizes to ensure the perfect fit.
Can’t Stave Off Your Weakness for Designer Items?
Online boutiques such as Gilt Groupe or Rue La La can often save you over 50% on designer pieces. Another option is to simply do a search for the specific item, and the prices of various online retailers. Most of the time, online stores are likely to have better prices than a brick-and-mortar stores, as they have less overhead. Since variations in price take mere clicks to expose online, you’re likely to find the best deal on the same item – we love e-commerce!
To wrap it up, there are ways to save, ways to spend and ways to find middle-ground; however, the most important truth remains that being beautiful has less to do with keeping up with the latest trends, or donning the most fashionable pieces of the season. True beauty stems from being intelligent, independent and in complete control of your life and your future. Strive for those perennial ideals, and you’ll possess the kind of glamour that money can’t buy.