In a year when pretty much all of us haven't really been out of the house much and loungewear became everyday wear; you'd be forgiven for asking why buying designer should be high on our agenda at all. And the truth is, right now it might not be. OR, it might not be at all and if that's the case, well I'll just see you in another blog post.
Even if your budget stretches to them; high ticket items aren't everyone's thing and we all have different priorities when it comes to spending our hard earned cash. But for some women, having a beautifully made accessory or garment to admire; is like hanging a great piece of art on the wall. And after all, exquisite craftsmanship can be admired in many ways, right?
Aesthetics aside, there's also the sustainability factor and the undeniable truth that we all should be buying clothes that we will wear for years and not just a matter of months (even weeks). Every year, the amount of fabric that ends up in landfill or being incinerated grows further, so it's important that we make better choices around our consumption - not just for fashion but across the piece.
All of that considered; there are many great mid range brands offering well made and ethical garments; so you don't have to choose a luxury version in your quest to save the planet. But if you're still coveting that Burberry dress or those Prada heels; here are three key considerations you might want to make before diving into designer......
Will it fit in with my lifestyle?
If you have kids or pets, weekly trips to the dry cleaners are very possibly not high on your list of priorities. More often than not, designer clothing is made from fabrics such as cashmere or silk and as such, require specialist care. If the thought of muddy hand/paw prints makes you shudder, unless you can be super careful or are prepared to change into your tracksuit as soon as you walk through the door; you may need a rethink....
It doesn't have to be a designer clothing death sentence. For example, it might mean investing in a great dress to wear at events and formal occasions or choosing accessories such as handbags, shoes and sunglasses. (Just make sure the dog doesn't chew them).
Stick with the Classics.
On the assumption you actually want to use your purchases and not just admire them (which is equally fine by the way - it's your cash); for a myriad of reasons, sticking with classic items in good neutral colour ways makes a lot of sense when buying designer. Firstly, your purchase will work with most of what you already have in your wardrobe. Secondly, if you do get bored with it, something timeless will have a much wider resale appeal and be much easier to sell on.
Away from the runway and haute couture and although there are always seasonal pieces and styles; most designer brands tend to produce items that lean towards the classic anyway. And neutral doesn't mean black by the way. As an example, a great taupe handbag is far more versatile than its darker counterpart and will work throughout the year, flexing across all of the seasons.
Would I consider buying it second hand or from an outlet?
Buying second hand is a great way to take designer for a test drive, all at a fraction of the cost. It's really easy to make an expensive mistake when you buy new, only to find out that there's not enough interior space in your handbag or the fit of your shoe is just too narrow. Whilst it would be lovely for Selfridges to offer try before you buy, realistically that's never gonna happen.
When you choose second hand, you lessen the risk of experiencing drastic buyers remorse if your luxury crush doesn't turn out to be everything you'd hoped for. It's also immensely satisfying to snaffle a bargain at a knock down price. Last winter I was browsing through eBay looking a MaxMara coats and came across a beautiful camel 3/4 length one, which I ended up winning for £46. Yes £46. It's a cashmere, silk and wool mix, is as light as a feather, wonderfully warm and in like new condition. It also likely cost over £1000 new. Here endeth the sermon.
There's also some great outlet sites, selling current and pre season styles at a fraction of the original price. Sizes are always limited but if you are quick, you might just grab your hearts desire!
(For some inspiration, we've selected our top five picks on sale currently in our own designer outlet).
With more and more counterfeit goods on the market (some of which are actually well made themselves with amazing attention to detail), it's wise to avoid big blingy logos, the usual suspects or trend led items. Firstly, they'll date really easily and secondly, who wants people looking at their Louis Vuitton Neverfull tote wondering if they bought it on the beach in Dubai?
And in closing, if you ever do make a mistake, you can always sell it.