Book: On Quality and Cost

Everyone wants to get a quality item and not spend much.  Some people have the gift of shopping, and can do this – I won’t lie.  But I also won’t lie and tell you that it’s the rule. Sorry, it’s the exception which proves it.

If you are looking for high-quality goods, you are going to pay more.

It’s not the paying more that’s the thing, though – you can pay more and just get something shiny or with a famous name.  That’s not necessarily quality.

You’re paying for:

  1. Natural fabrics/materials, or materials specifically suited to the purpose.  This means a wool skirt, not polyester.  This means leather shoes, not pressed plastic.
  2. Durability
  3. Support/comfort/function – the bra that holds you up and doesn’t leave back rolls, the shoe that looks great and doesn’t make you limp, the jacket that hits in just the right place and pulls everything in your closet together.

IF you buy quality, you should expect to take good care of the item and see it last.  Obviously, things that we wear experience ‘wear’ – so the more you use them, the fewer days they’ll last, but quality goods should be less expensive in wears/item than cheap goods.

My strategy:  Set a budget.  Be honest – how much have you been spending on clothes?  Shoes?  Yes, this means those bright sandals that gave you blisters in a day and got thrown out the next, and the ever-so-cute t shirt that was tossed in the give away bin before you’d cut the tags off.  All of it.  What do you *really* spend?  Next – what do you *really* need?

This list will vary somewhat, but I’ll give you a hint for most women:  You need good shoes.  You need a good bra.  You need one nice outfit.  In that order.

If you can only budget so much for clothing/shoes this quarter, and you have to sink all of it into a pair of quality shoes, because your feet need specific shoes… then you do.  And you air those shoes, you polish them, you take the best possible care of them.  Because *next* quarter, you’re going to buy a couple of good bras, or a good bra and a nice skirt.  The following quarter, you add another pair of good shoes.  You can muddle through a year in 2 pair of good shoes plus some gimmes if the budget is tight.  Same goes with good bras – if you’re hand washing them and air-drying them, they’ll last a year or more, even if you’re busty.

If you’re looking for quality items, please skip the discount stores.  Discount stores are for people who are looking for a quick fix, or for the gifted shoppers who already know what quality is and who can sift through mountains of shoddy goods to find it.  If you need good shoes, go to a quality shoe store.  If you need good bras, go to a nice lingerie store.   The owners make their living from being good at getting exactly what the customer needs.  They know their product and they’ll help you.  Your next best bet is a high-end department store.

If you are really, truly broke – go to a charity shop and see what is in the used items.  Your best bet is a charity shop in an expensive neighborhood.  This is far from optimum, especially with items that are all about “support” and which shape themselves to your body – but if you’ve got to, do it and don’t look back.

Quality goods are an area that has really suffered with the advent of disposable fashion, and we have suffered along with it.   If you get used to spending $20 on a pair of sparkly heels, spending $200 on a plain pair of pumps is going to hurt.  If you’re used to spending $15 on a cheap polyester blouse, spending $75 on a silk blouse isn’t easy.  Your intellect is going to be at war with your habits.  Your brain knows that the silk blouse, well treated, will last years and look expensive and go with everything, whereas the polyester blouse is going to be pilling in three wears.  Your feet know that the nice pumps feel great – but your eyes want sparkles.

The only thing to do is to budget your wardrobe, plan your purchases, and stick to it.  Just like any other healthy habit, eventually you’ll see the benefits.

Addendum:  I have had more questions about shoes, they’re a problem for so many of us.  Well, I’ve had more than my fair share of foot follies, so this is a list of the brands that have served my (wide, high-arched) feet well.  YMMV.  Do go to a good shoe store and try shoes, okay?   They’ll help you.  My shoe guy recognizes me at the gym, I’ve worked with him so long.  He sells OTC orthotics and will fiddle with them to fit you and your shoes… I know none of you live here, but seriously, seek out the shoe stores the people with foot problems frequent.  It’s not all orthopedic hideousness.   (It’s also not 5″ stilettos – but you knew that).

Aravon (pumps, mary janes)

Ecco (walking sandals)

Clarks (wedges  – they’re wide enough to be comfy)

Dansko (runs a little less wide, but so comfy they’re one of the favored nurse shoes)

Minnetonka (moccasins – no support but they stretch and fit like foot gloves, so I like them)

New Balance (tennis shoes for those with pronated arches, which isn’t me but is everyone else in my family).

Personal comments:  I have found that my feet can deal with heels now that I’ve substantially strengthened my legs.  I have *no* idea how that works.  I don’t know if it will work for anyone else.  For all I know, God may simply have healed that bad foot a little bit.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude, whatever avenue He took to get me here, and I am thrilled to wear some girly shoes after years in all the practical stuff I just recommended.  I didn’t say practical was FUN – I said it was the priority.   And I’ve been there.  Done that.  Combat boots, people.  I had to wear combat boots as my first shoes post surgery.  Then work boots.  MEN’S work boots, because of the high arch and width… men’s workboots two sizes bigger than I ought to wear (I still have them – they’re the only non-moccasin boot that fits over my foot).   Moved from there to mary janes with a rocker bottom.  Ever so sexy.  Just do what you have to do, then figure out how to make it work when you’re done.

Oh, and bras?  My old size bra was available in *one* store in San Diego county for over a decade.  ONE store.  Which was over an hour away.   For twenty years I made an annual pilgrimage to that store to buy bras.  I’d spend a week’s grocery money to buy three bras.  So when money was tight and I could only get one?  Well, it got washed and aired out a bit more often, that’s all.  Do what you have to do.

Love,

Hearthie

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11 thoughts on “Book: On Quality and Cost

  1. fiberaddict

    Yes! Especially for bras…..figure out what size you actually wear. It probably isn’t what you’re in right now! Then.,,..shop eBay. I found a seller that has new old stock Pennyrich bras – normally $75+ – for $19.99. Take proper care of them, and they LAST. (Or sew your own. I’m not quite there yet, but am working in it. Slowly – I don’t want to screw up!)

    Shoes, now…..I love Birkenstocks, but they’re ugly. I need to look at your list and see what’s out there.

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    1. hearthie Post author

      My shoe list is what works for seriously damaged foots, YMMV.

      GOOD hint on the bra-age. I am going to need to take myself out bra-shopping yet again soon. Sigh.

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  2. magistratrium

    I need a proper fitting for a new bra. I’ve been thinking that I really need a good fitted blazer for work. I usually wear cardigans but one blazer would be a good way to up my look on days when I have meetings or presentations. I plan to buy one good one, as you suggested. I just need to decide on color (anything but black!).

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    1. hearthie Post author

      Navy looks good on nearly everyone, and is extremely professional. It also goes with every color OTHER than navy.

      If you’re only getting one bra, it should be nude.

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      1. magistratrium

        Yep, I was thinking navy although what do you do when the navy pants don’t match? I’m thinking hard about getting a jacket and skirt to match and then I can mix and match them with other things. I’m in need of a basic navy pencil skirt, too. In the fall probably. The bra will happen this summer and definitely nude.

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      2. hearthie Post author

        Honestly? You take the navy pants with you when you go shopping. BEST of course is to buy basics as a suit so they all go together when they’re not being used as separates. Sounds like you already knew the rule of “navy goes with everything…except navy”. Darn dyelots. But seriously, just take the pants with you when shopping for the blazer. They don’t have to match perfectly, as long as they look good together.

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      3. hearthie Post author

        My mom is putting together a swatch card snipped from bits of garments she wants to match/coordinate so she doesn’t have to haul them all in. She hates mis-matched blacks. (Dyelots/fabric again).

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  3. Bike Bubba

    Recent word picture of the cost of cheap fashion from Chanhassen, Minnesota; it’s said that Prince’s death may have been brought on by massive doses of painkillers that he needed to cope with the foot damage brought on by acrobatics in high heeled shoes and such.

    Birkenstocks are ugly until you figure that your loved ones may want you vertical for a while longer. But that said, there are a lot of shoes than can both look and function well; Dansko, Naot, Teva, Beautifeel….and if you don’t know where to look, ask your doctor and nurse where they buy their shoes. My family has found that there are a lot of European and Israeli companies that do a great job.

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    1. hearthie Post author

      Thank you! Yes, I like a heel as much as the next girl, but I refuse to hurt. Always have. Silly, silly me. Notice my toes all point forward? :p

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