Ask the Stylist

When to Save Versus Splurge: A Guide

by Drew Dagan


The classic “save versus splurge” debate has been around for a long time and for good reason—it’s tricky to figure out how to get the most value out of your wardrobe. When deciding whether to save versus splurge, there are a few suggestions to take into consideration.

Staple Items: Splurge

Think of an item you wear several times a week—is it a pair of trousers? A tailored blazer? Or, maybe a silk blouse? If there’s a particular item that you wear often and makes you feel extremely put together, consider investing more money into it. An item like a tailored black blazer would end up costing you less in the long run, thanks to a low cost-per-wear. (That’s the price of the item divided by the number of times you’ll wear it.) If you invest in a pair of pants, for example, in a year-round, blended fabric, you could decrease cost-per-wear even more, as it’s something you’d use for more than just one season. Quality items that stay in your closet for years can get the cost-per-wear down to practically nothing—a small price to pay up front.

woman in classic black one button blazer

Pieces with Personality: Splurge

You can also feel good about splurging on a piece that completes many looks. If you have a closet full of neutral staples, an item like a colorful jacket can add a little something extra to your wardrobe—and be used time and time again to finish off an outfit. Red or hot pink pumps can jazz up everything from jeans and a button-up to a shift dress, and a statement necklace can help you nail the look. Think of a piece with personality as a splurge that gives you confidence and shows off your unique sense of style.

woman in pink plaid trench coat

An LBD: Splurge

Your mother probably told you to invest in a little black dress, and it’s advice that still rings true: a well-fitting LBD is a garment you’ll have for many years. To get even more out of your LBD, look for classic silhouettes in season-less fabrics that can move easily between day and night. It’ll increase the value of the dress even more and drive down that cost-per-wear.

woman in black pleated bodice fit dress

Underpinnings: Save

Even if you wear them every day, things like camisoles, tees, tank tops, or shells can be bought for less—no one but you sees them, and they’ll wear out quickly from use. You’ll especially want to get new ones every season if you wear them under blouses, sweaters, cardigans, and the like. They act as a barrier between your skin’s oils and your clothes, and they’ll age faster from repeated washing.

Fashion Jewelry: Save

We’ve all been there—you see a really sparkly, shimmery piece of jewelry and suddenly you just have to have it. These are often one-season-and-done kinds of accessories that you might not want to repeat the next season or the next year. Save on anything and everything that isn’t an everyday staple, such as a pair of studs or a delicate pendant necklace. But just because you’re saving doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it. This is an area to experiment with before committing to a style.

Trends: Save

Classics are classics for a reason. Still, sometimes trends just speak to us, and if you feel particularly drawn to a trend (such as the recent trends of palazzo pants or hair scarves), you should try it. Just keep in mind, however, you might tire of a trend quickly (anyone remember last year’s clear shoe trend?). Think of trendier items as things you won’t be sad to see go after one season and purchase accordingly, as their cost-per-wear will often be higher.

Learning to save versus splurge can be a fun exercise, not only when it comes to budgeting for clothing, but for really honing in on your sense of style.

Featured in this article:

Essential Blazer, $160

Plaid Suiting Trench Coat, $190

Lace-Bodice Black Fit-and-Flare Midi Dress, $160

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