Paula-Loves-Marla's Blog

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Do Fashionistas Care About Clothing Quality & Fiber Content?

I love fall and more importantly, fall clothing. For the record, I am not a fashionista. I shop at thrift stores and eBay much more than I do at the mall. I don’t mind wearing other peoples castoffs as long as they are clean, well made and are classic in their design.

I’ve been perusing the offerings on eBay the last couple of weeks to see about adding a few quality pieces to my cool weather wardrobe. I’m mainly looking for 100% wool skirts and blazers and maybe a sweater or two. Even though it’s sort of early in the season, I have been very pleased at the selection that’s been available.

I was lucky enough to have two very good teachers give me advice on buying a work wardrobe. My mother always pointed me towards classic styles and educated me about quality fabrics – 100% wool is best, but to avoid wool blends if they contained nylon since they tend to pill and do not wear well in the long term. In college I took a personal finance class and again it was stressed that good quality, higher end classic styles were a much better investment than cheap items and trendy design. My first job was in a store where women’s career fashions were sold and I learned quite a lot there as well.

Those lessons served me well and there have been relatively few clothing purchases I have regretted.

Getting back to eBay and high end fashions, just out of curiosity I browsed ads for higher end coats just to see how the other half lives and how the higher fashion pieces differed from the mid range coats. While the clothes do seem to have a finer cut and contain wool & cashmere, I was surprised at the nylon content in some of the pricey pieces.

Does the designer name trump fabric content? Does the seasonal nature of fashion render garment longevity irrelevant? If it’s only going to be worn for one season and then discarded, perhaps it doesn’t matter that it looks a little tired when spring comes along. In fact, that’s probably what fuels the next buying season – the need for bright and shiny things to replace the old, tired stuff.

Here are a few examples of what I found:

This is a cool looking military style coat made by Burberry which according to the ad retails for $1,095. Yikes! You can get it on eBay (for a limited time) for the bargain price of $521.55.

Burberry $1,095 Grey Wool Military Coat

It is 84% wool, 4% cashmere and 12% nylon. The lining is 50/50 Acetate & Viscose.

Baby, if I were going to drop a K on a winter coat it better be at least 100% wool and an 80/20 split with cashmere would be even better. Oh, and definitely a silk lining too. On top of that, the coat in question would be in my wardrobe forever (barring flood or major moth infestation), not just a season.

Our next item is a Smythe crew coat listed for $589.99 plus $14.99 shipping.

Smythe camel crew coat

It’s only 80% wool and 20% nylon with a mostly polyester lining.

Yes, it’s very stylish and all the seams are probably finished to perfection, but again, this coat will probably look very run down in a couple of years. I wouldn’t feel like I was getting the full bang for my buck in that amount of time.

On the flip side, I think this Emanuel Ungaro Houndstooth Jacket is just awesome! For $114 (coat & shipping) you can buy this previously owned 100% wool coat which will look great and wear well for years.

Emanuel Ungaro Houndstooth Front

I think this is the best bargain and well worth the money.

As I’ve mentioned, I am not a slave to fashion nor do I aspire to be a fashion plate. I don’t run in fashionable circles, but I am expected to look professional at work. I am the face of the company after all. A funny thing about us company faces though, the salary doesn’t always match with wardrobe expectations so a little creative shopping goes a long way.

There was a little Yahoo! Finance segment (hosted by Fanoosh Torabi) I watched on line yesterday that covered what to think about when you are buying clothing pieces and the term “utility” was used. That was another concept we covered in my personal finance class.

You take the item price and divide it by the times you will wear the piece (obviously an estimate) to come up with the approximate cost per wearing.

The example given was a pair of $200 jeans that will be worn three times a week for one year which equals $1.28 per use. Frankly I’d rather buy 6 pairs of used jeans at the thrift store for approximately $15 a piece and wear them over a five year period. My plan works out to 11 ½ cents per wearing and offers more selection over a longer time period.

That’s just me though.

Now I understand why there have been some articles on spot cleaning your denim rather than washing it. If they’re going to have to stand 156 wearings in one year without falling apart, than limited washings are a must.

I’ll do my usual frugal thing and add nice quality bargains to my fall wardrobe, jettison stuff that just doesn’t cut it anymore and feel good not only about presenting a professional appearance at the office, but also that I didn’t empty my bank account in the process.

Happy autumn & Happy shopping!!!

p.s. this $590 Dolce & Gabbana coat 80/20 looks like nothing more than a bathrobe although I have to admit that I like the lining which is most likely polyester.

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