5 questions to ask yourself before buying a designer item

16 April 2018
By Fashion Quarterly

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Nothing says turn off quite like the taste of buyer’s remorse.

Some of us can swipe credit cards and snap up extravagant designer items with little thought beyond “I love it, therefore I must have it”, whereas others will grapple with a series of internal questions to the point of paralysis before making any purchase. Irrespective of where your decision-making abilities sit on the scale, your aptness to make a decision doesn’t necessarily mean you always make the right one.

When faced with the to-buy or not-to-buy conundrum, it’s not unusual to turn to friend’s opinions, bank statements or the voids in our lives to affirm, justify or curb our purchases. But what about the real-life application of this said designer splurge? How can we know if we’re going to gain maximum satisfaction and not have it wind up on the shelf gathering dust or posing as a reminder of a frivolous expenditure that saw you eat instant noodles and oatmeal for a month? There’s no way your counsel could have possibly foreseen the remorse, right? So, let’s cut to the chase…

Consider these five questions when deciding whether or not to purchase a designer item: 

1. Name 3 existing items in your wardrobe you can wear it with

Before you launch into daydreaming about all the other fashion-forward and trending items you could buy to go with this item, you’re instantly devaluing it. The cost now exceeds the cost of the item itself and includes all of the other pieces you’ll need to purchase to make it work. And if you’re prepared to do that, then you’d best be prepared for it to go out of fashion as fast as it took to approach the counter. If you can, however, think of at least three solid items in your wardrobe it will go with, then roll on to question number two.

2. Can you think of three separate events or occasions you could wear it to?

We really do have social media to thank for this brutal question. You may have found the holy grail in wedding guest dresses, but realistically, you can probably only get away with wearing it to one wedding for fear of repeat offending in photos and friend groups. If it also makes for a great high tea dress, formal dinner dress or birthday dress, then you’re by default reducing your cost-per-wear which is a positive sign. That being said, if you’ve had a history of buying items thinking you’ll wear them on multiple occasions that are still yet to happen (and probably won’t), then your best bet is to reserve your cash for a designer item you can thrash (in multiple wear terms, of course) and cherish for life.


Balmain denim logo waist belt, $1,504 USD from Farfetch; Celine micro luggage handbag $3,299 from 24 Sevres; JW Anderson Pierce crossbody bag, $1,748 USD from Farfetch; Dolce & Gabbana ‘Sicily’ tote, $1,267 USD from Net-a-Porter; Miu Miu platform sandals, $1,030 USD from Net-a-Porter; Marni rope knot earrings, $863 USD from Farfetch.

3. Does its value equate to its price? Be honest.

Designer items are always more expensive – that’s a given. You have to accept that the brand’s prestige and heritage are factored into its price – it’s all about exclusivity and supply and demand. But you also need to be able to identify and draw the line. Consider whether or not the item is irreplaceable or unparalleled in the market and whether or not it will hold its value come resale down the line. That way if you’re prepared to keep it in good condition and sell-on when you’re over it, the cost can be a fraction of its price long term.

4. Does it elevate your mood more than your current outfit?

If you’ve gone to designer shopping, chances are you’re wearing a relatively solid outfit comprised of items you already love and adore. If the designer item you’re seeking is a clothing item, you should be feeling on top of the world in the fitting room with it on, not relieved as you pull on your loafers or throw over your leather jacket. Your item should be special, and it should ultimately make you feel special.

5. What items in your wardrobe can this item replace?

Your designer splurge should seek to be a solid replacement of an existing item (or items) of lesser value or quality in your wardrobe, which would justify the investment. Or it should pose as something entirely new. Bear in mind that wardrobes shouldn’t become a growing heap of cloth and thread that realistically only sees a 30% chance of being worn. The one-in-one-out is the golden rule for avid shoppers: If you can’t part with any existing items be it via selling or donating, perhaps you don’t love the prospective designer piece as much as you first thought.

Words: Terri Dunn
Photos: Supplied

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