|Image from Mademoiselle Coco Chanel Summer 1962 book. J'adore the cocktail ring.|
Following on from my previous post, in which I professed my love and admiration for the Country Road store in the nineties, I’d like to relate to you my first experience with investment dressing around the same time.
I worked for a financial planner then, as her secretary. One day an incentive arrived in the mail from one of the companies we dealt with. Submit $X of new business by a certain date and qualify for a Country Road gift voucher. It was a decent amount for twenty years ago, I think $800. I couldn’t believe it, that gift voucher would be my dream!
When my boss saw the promotion, she promised me if we reached the target, I could have the voucher. I’ve never worked on commission before but all of a sudden I saw how motivating it could be and I was ringing customers and updating profiles like nobody’s business. We reached the target and ‘my’ vouchers arrived in the mail. My boss made good on her promise and off I went to see what to buy.
I eventually settled on a wonderful basis for the perfect capsule wardrobe looking back (Janice at The Vivienne Files would be proud).
I chose, all in the same mid-weight black crepe:
- a pair of slim-leg flat-front pants
-a just-above-the-knee wrap skirt fastened with two buttons on the waistband
- a figure skimming unstructured blazer style jacket (three buttons I think)
- and a lined sleeveless round-neck top with an invisible zip in one side seam.
I made the following outfits with these pieces:
- Top and skirt
- Top and pants
- Top and skirt, with jacket
- Top and pants, with jacket
- Jacket (done up) and skirt
- Jacket (done up) and pants
Each piece mixed in with many other items in my wardrobe, and I also wore different scarves with my black outfits.
Wearing just the jacket done up over the skirt or pants felt quite cosmopolitan and fashiony to me, and paired with high heels and a scarf I was dressed for dinner or an evening event, but I also wore each item in work outfits often.
I wore those four pieces for at least a decade and always felt good in them. That was probably my first lesson in investment dressing. I bought the entire outfit all at once and paid full price (with my gift vouchers of course).
That in itself was sadly highly unusual for me. My usual mode of operation would be to buy lots of mis-matching items on special and have no actual outfits to show for it. I think because the voucher was ‘free money’ it gave me ‘permission’ to ‘blow it’ on something outrageous like, gasp, full-price merchandise.
Thinking back, if I’d carried on like this, only buying outstanding clothing items I really loved and needed that were purchases which fitted into my overall wardrobe plan, I probably would have spent a similar amount or less money and had a small yet amazing French-style wardrobe. C’est la vie! It’s never too late to start though, is it?
I obviously didn’t make the connection at the time between buying the pieces full price all at once and loving and wearing those items to bits over the years. It reinforces one does not need to shop often, but wait until you really need something and by then hopefully the money is saved and you can go out shopping for that perfect item at the beginning of the season when all sizes and colours are still available.
Thinking back to my Country Road four-piece outfit experience, it has reinforced that I want to enjoy the clothing I already have, streamline out items I don’t care for much, and wait to shop until I have gaps in my wardrobe that need to be filled. At that time I will make considered decisions on what items to buy and how they will best enhance my personal style.
What kind of shopper are you? What kind of shopper would you like to be?