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04-09-2005
  1
arndom
 
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I'm (Not) Worth It (NY times)
From nytimes.com
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/28/st...TW1798WOR.html


I think it is a deliciuos article:-)

Quote:
I'm (Not) Worth It

By LYNN YAEGER
Published: August 28, 2005

Right at this moment, somewhere in the deep recesses of the fifth floor of Barneys New York, a flimsy black Dries Van Noten dress waits for me. It's hidden away because I whined and begged until a saleswoman -- who is not, after all these years, unfamiliar with me and my ways -- agreed to put it on hold, partly to get me to shut up and partly in the slim hope that I might break down and buy the thing at full price.

And, sad to say, I might, even though it is borderline unwearable (transparent top) and the tag says $1,440, a gross reflection of the inflation that's afflicted fashion since the dollar sank against the euro.

Still, if the saleswoman is suffering, I am suffering more. I have an exquisite S-and-M relationship with shopping: I'm in agony most of the time, but I wouldn't have it any other way. After all, when pants cost as much as a weekend in Paris and a coat as much as a couch, is it any wonder one is so neurotic? You might not expect a $300 jacket to solve the world's problems, but for $3,000, it ought to do more than just keep you warm.

I may be an extreme case (in a whirlwind of zeal and regret, I tried the nerves of the usually beatific staff at Bergdorf Goodman when I bought and returned a hideously expensive Comme des Garcons skirt not once but twice last winter). But I'm hardly alone. When I ask Laird Borrelli, an editor at Style.com, if she is plagued with shopping guilt, she confesses that she is frequently troubled by shoes: ''Say there's a pair I want. If I don't buy them, they become my constant companions, haunting my waking and sleeping dreams. I become simply obsessed, until, usually, I buy them. It's not so much about the shoes as much as the wanting, I suspect. When I hand over the credit card, I feel like I've closed my eyes and dived into the deep waters, things are now out of my control, like at the hairdresser's, and fate has taken over.''

Lots of shoppers employ creative accounting to justify stratospheric purchases, but Borrelli's was a new one on me: she actually splits the cost of a pair of shoes in two because, after all, you are getting two things. (And, you know, she does have a point. An idiotic point, perhaps, as George Sanders said to Marilyn Monroe in ''All About Eve.'' But a point.)

More typical tricks include dividing the cost of the item by the number of times you plan to wear it. This would work if you were Nostradamus -- otherwise, how can you know if you'll even wear it once? Another ruse is to buy something that's really overpriced, return it and then figure you have suddenly freed up that amount to spend on other things.

Some shopping rationalizations have a built-in element of self-flagellation. Kym Canter, the creative director of J. Mendel, is forcing herself to take the subway instead of taxis until she has made up the cost of a diamond brooch that she was sure she'd wear every single day. As of this writing, she has worn it only a couple of times -- it isn't quite as magical pinned to the hip of her jeans as she had hoped -- and it'll be months before she can stop riding the rails.

Relatively more successful was the $2,500 coat Canter bought two years ago. It was a sweltering July 4 weekend, and the town was empty, save for Canter, who wandered into a tomblike Prada, only to be ushered into a V.I.P. fitting room by a bored sales staff delighted to have someone to play with. Not only was she among the first to see the new fall line, but also, miracle of miracles in the teeny world that is Prada, something actually fit, a plaid manteau with bracelet sleeves. No way was she buying, until it dawned on her that she had saved $2,500 by not going away for the weekend. O.K., so she's only worn it a few times. But at her prep-school reunion at the Modern, ''everyone loved it.''

For Bernice Kwok-Gabel, who does public relations for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, work offers a perfect rationalization for overspending. ''I manipulate my own vocabulary,''

she admits. ''Instead of viewing something as what it is -- just another acquisition -- I convince myself it's part of a collection I'm building.'' Kwok-Gabel fantasizes that someday her purchases will be a generous bequest. Which might be true, when you're talking about a red Dior couture suit, complete with bustier and top hat (''I wore it once, to dinner at the Ritz''), but doesn't add up when you ask her about the clothes she wears every day. ''Will any of them retain value?'' she asks plaintively.

I know better. This stuff has almost zilch resale value, and you can't even give it away, unless you want to haul trash bags to Goodwill yourself. Still, it's not as if everything ends up ignominiously stuffed in a garbage bag. Sometimes, after all the math tricks, the double-think, the soul-searching, there's one little item, one silly little Moschino skirt bought with a sick stomach and a deep sense of shame, that exceeds all expectations. When you wear it, your heart sings, and you understand the expression ''to feel like a million bucks.'' Even if you've just spent it.




Last edited by nqth; 04-09-2005 at 10:21 AM.
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04-09-2005
  2
flaunt the imperfection
 
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...
that is a GREAT article...

i have heard all of those rationalizations for spending ridiculous sums of cash on fashion items...
and have even used some of them myself...

the only quibble i have with her logic is ...
that she says that you don't know how often you will wear an item...
but of course you do...
i mean...you decide what you wear everyday...
so you just decide to wear it...and then you do...

ta-da!!...


i love the story about the red dior couture suit complete with top hat!!.....
i could have told her that she would have no place to wear that...
...
funny...thanks for posting this nqth...


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04-09-2005
  3
mmmmmm...fashion....
 
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great little article- i can see alot of myself in there (!)

fave bit- exquisite s and m relationship with shopping...

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04-09-2005
  4
arndom
 
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You are welcome:-) Softgrey.

Is "collector item" still an argument:-P?

Agree with you, why one cannot just wear the items daily:-))

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04-09-2005
  5
Yes, please
 
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Oh Lord, this is so me. My ex used to chide me whenever I'd wear my gold Helmut shoes. "How many wears does this make it now? $70 a wear?" Some items you can't wear too often anyway, because then, their outings aren't 'special.' and to the public at large, they just become, "Oh, thosethings again!"

At my friend's store, many customers employ the technique of breaking up a sale into multiple credit cards - that way, when their husbands see the purchases, she can say, "But the bag was only $80!" Yeah, distributed over 5 credit cards!

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04-09-2005
  6
flaunt the imperfection
 
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well...
i've heard our own faust speak of himself as a 'collector'...
and i see that term on EBAY all the time...

i think of it more in terms of BUILDING a wordrobe...
because i don't have any illusions about the actual worth or value of these items...
especially because most of the designers i buy are relatively avant garde or obscure...
so there isn't a high demand...

and look at comme des garcons and marc jacobs and prada and vivienne westwood and even balenciaga in limited editions...
they have all begun re-issuing some of their older designs...
so that means they are readily available new...
so why would someone want them used...

it would have to be someone major like vintage YSL or vintage CHANEL...maybe vintage HALSTON...maybe...
and actually designed by the original designer...
not their heir...

plus...it would just have to be a very good design...
that stands the test of time and doesn't look dated...
or...
something that really changed the course of fashion...
like a mary quant mini skirt or a paco rabanne chainmail halter dress...

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04-09-2005
  7
no photos, no photos
 
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bakla--I know that trick all too well.....it can be quite a pain of a transaction......I do half debit and half Amex then pay the bill at the end of the month

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04-09-2005
  8
Yes, please
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by softgrey
the only quibble i have with her logic is ...
that she says that you don't know how often you will wear an item...
but of course you do...
i mean...you decide what you wear everyday...
so you just decide to wear it...and then you do...

ta-da!!...
Hehe. The flaw in your logic is you assume there's only one such item in need of wearing - what if there are multiple shoes, all bought with the same rationale?

If you had 5 pairs of shoes bought for workdays the season, they can only be worn once a week max, for a total of, what, maybe 12 times a season, IF you're dilligent about it (assuming it's not a statement piece that needs to be worn with some sense of reserve - some days, you just don't want to wear a vintage Gianfranco Ferré blouse with ruffles, some days you really just want to wear a tank top even if the day is PERFECT for ruffles! )? That's assuming that the outfit you make up that day works for those shoes, and that you don't even bother with the older shoes already in your closet (probably even bought with the same rationale, last year, and THIS YEAR, you need to wear them quickly because by next year, they will be completely out of style! )!

Haven't you ever dressed up planning to wear your brand new shoes, then find out it's supposed to rain that day, so you had to abort the outfit and change into an older pair of shoes that didn't work at all with the outfit, so you end up changing that outfit altogether (and subsequently, maybe changing another expensive item you had planned to wear to maximize its usage value, therefore raising it's per use value back up to a higher average!), and subsequently do so in a rush because you're late for work, so you pull out the old favorites that you've worn forever but cost next to nothing???

Yes, I'm so guilty of this!

And yet, I have several suits on order from Japan, until I realized this morning that I bought a similar suit I haven't worn yet last year....!

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04-09-2005
  9
Yes, please
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by purechris
bakla--I know that trick all too well.....it can be quite a pain of a transaction......I do half debit and half Amex then pay the bill at the end of the month
Oh, you're good about it - at least it has a built in expiration days (since Amex doesn't have any payment extensions. Well, except for Blue...)

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04-09-2005
  10
V.I.P.
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by softgrey
well...
i've heard our own faust speak of himself as a 'collector'...
and i see that term on EBAY all the time...

i think of it more in terms of BUILDING a wordrobe...
because i don't have any illusions about the actual worth or value of these items...
especially because most of the designers i buy are relatively avant garde or obscure...
so there isn't a high demand...
That's true. I still think so. I don't know at which point this becomes a "rationalisation" - to me it isn't. The whole thing is very subjective, really. I rarely feel that I need to justify a purchase, because I rarely buy an expensive item. My last Ann Dem boots were the most expensive item I've ever bought ($600), and yes, that one I can say I've rationalized.

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04-09-2005
  11
flaunt the imperfection
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baklanyc
Hehe. The flaw in your logic is you assume there's only one such item in need of wearing - what if there are multiple shoes, all bought with the same rationale?

If you had 5 pairs of shoes bought for workdays the season, they can only be worn once a week max, for a total of, what, maybe 12 times a season, IF you're dilligent about it (assuming it's not a statement piece that needs to be worn with some sense of reserve - some days, you just don't want to wear a vintage Gianfranco Ferré blouse with ruffles, some days you really just want to wear a tank top even if the day is PERFECT for ruffles! )? That's assuming that the outfit you make up that day works for those shoes, and that you don't even bother with the older shoes already in your closet (probably even bought with the same rationale, last year, and THIS YEAR, you need to wear them quickly because by next year, they will be completely out of style! )!

Haven't you ever dressed up planning to wear your brand new shoes, then find out it's supposed to rain that day, so you had to abort the outfit and change into an older pair of shoes that didn't work at all with the outfit, so you end up changing that outfit altogether (and subsequently, maybe changing another expensive item you had planned to wear to maximize its usage value, therefore raising it's per use value back up to a higher average!), and subsequently do so in a rush because you're late for work, so you pull out the old favorites that you've worn forever but cost next to nothing???

Yes, I'm so guilty of this!

And yet, I have several suits on order from Japan, until I realized this morning that I bought a similar suit I haven't worn yet last year....!
first of all...hardly anything i buy goes out of style...
ever...
half the time it's not 'in style' when i buy it...
that's the thing...like i say over and over...
i have stuff from high school...
because i bought good quality and a good shape...
stuff moves to the front and back of my closet according to my moods, sure...but i never have to hurry and wear it before it's 'too late'...

i've talked to runner about this..
sometimes you buy something because you just HAVE to...
and it could sit unworn on your closet for years...
until suddenly it is the most perfect thing in the world and you wear it all the time...
i can't tell you the number of times this has happened to me...
so, i KNOW i will wear it all eventually....
because i WANT to...
that's why i bought it...


i have more of an issue with size fluctuation...
as even 3-5 pounds can make all the difference in the fit of some garments...
rendering key items off limits at certain times...
that's usually when i have to shift into a different gear...
but i've also learned to compensate for that over the years...
so it's easier...
and i've put that rubber sole on most of my footwear so most of it can withstand some rain...etc...

where there's a will...there's a way...



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04-09-2005
  12
slightly dizzy
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by softgrey
first of all...hardly anything i buy goes out of style...
ever...
half the time it's not 'in style' when i buy it...
that's the thing...like i say over and over...
i have stuff from high school...
because i bought good quality and a good shape...
stuff moves to the front and back of my closet according to my moods, sure...but i never have to hurry and wear it before it's 'too late'...
Exactly my philosophy!

I might buy quirky stuff sometimes, but hardly ever trendy. It never goes out of style because it was never trendy. Style over throw-away fashion!

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04-09-2005
  13
Yes, please
 
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Softie, you may not buy trendy stuff because you have such a strong personal sense of style beyond fashion trends (which is fabulous), but some people - like me - do! It's great you don't dress the way I wrote about and will always have your own stamp regardles of season, but that doesn't mean others don't... and ulitimately those might be the ones the article refers to. So it's not flawed logic - it just may not apply to yourself.

And yes, I have items that never go out of style that I've kept since the 1980s, and I also have articles that have a freshness date stamped on them like plastic-covered produce in the meat section! I'm not ashamed to say I wear trends - I just like to wear them hopefully before people think they're trendy! It's my version of the fashion machine that likes to predict and sport what may be next and ultimately, out of style further down the future. I've calculated that I have a two year prescience - I usually start to feel a new look about 2 years before it becomes a trend, allowing me about 3-4 years to actually wear it before I move on, if I can find vintage versions or make the articles before brands actually manufacture them.

So the point in the article about not knowing how long you'll wear an item does apply to some in that sense, and isn't a flaw in her logic, because some people (like me) dress a certain way that is more of the moment. It's a valid choice, one with a built-in obsolescence date, but valid nevertheless. Unfortunately, it makes on fall prey to the very bad habits outlined in the article!


Last edited by baklanyc; 04-09-2005 at 06:09 PM.
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05-09-2005
  14
Meg
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love this article and the comments it has spurred.

I don't think of a collection in terms of actual monetary value, even vintage mint condition chanel suits, go down in price. However, it's not about that, and I disagree softie, I would rather have the original slightly worn or used design than a new re-issue that hasn't been worn. To me, the original is much more valuable and has a history as well.

Love the comment about the bequest, I have this exaggerated fantasy in my head of amassing a great collection of clothing and then handing down the pieces to a family or family friend who truly appreciates it (maybe it's only because I wish someone would do this to me?!)

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05-09-2005
  15
flaunt the imperfection
 
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hi meg...i actually agree...
personally i'd rather have the original as well...
but unfortunately...
in the grand scheme of things...it DOES lower the re-sale value...
and realisitically...
a lot of vintage stuff(not all, but a lot) is too delicate to withstand normal wear and tear...
so, sadly, it isn't actually so practical to wear...
ie-necklaces snap, handles on bags break, delicate fabrics shred...etc...

i see your point bakla...
so the logic only applies in certain cases i guess...
because it doesn't apply to people like me and tott...:p

but i believe the article referred to how many times you'd wear something, not how long...
i still say that you have control over that decision...
even if you only wear the item for 2-4 yrs due to its 'expiration date'...
you could decide to wear it 5 times or 500 times during that time period...

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