What is ‘investment‘ dressing and how to do it.

In a perfect world everyone would have an amazing wardrobe. Clothes maketh the man as they say. Our wardrobe would be filled with beautifully made clothes for any conceivable occasion, life might decide to throw our way.
In real life, clothes are plentiful and cheaper than ever, yet we seem to have lost the ability to dress well. It is, I am told, ‘de riguer’ not to care.

Investment wardrobe in the true sense, is probably couture. Wealthy ladies like the Hon Daphne Guinness who are regular couture buyers, buy a few pieces every year, some of them never even worn.

Investment wardrobe definition
Investment wardrobe in the true sense, is probably couture. Wealthy ladies like Daphne Guinness who are regular couture buyers, buy a few pieces every year, some of them never meant to be worn. They are strictly collectors pieces elevating fashion  into fine art form. Related Post here
For most of us, who may love good clothes but we are not couture clients, ‘investment dressing’ means presenting ourselves, in the best possible way.

There are two simple principles to follow.

Cost Per Wear principle
My own investment definition, is all about cost per wear. The CPW factor. Everyday clothes are what matter to me. As an ideal example I’d use my coats. Chanel and Max Mara get daily wear, and have  the demanding task, of keeping me comfortably warm and stylish. Tweed coats don’t seem to ever be out of fashion, but is important to choose a flattering silhouette without too many exaggerated details which will date a look.

Current season Chanel -prices are making it harder to justify a good CPW

Chanel tweed dress. Will this ever go out of fashion?

Let’s do the math. How many times would I have to wear this to get reasonable CPW?

Current season max mara, wool, alpaca and pure cashmere.

Pleasure Per Wear principle
There is also the elusive factor of pure pleasure per wear. PPW. My new-ish manolos (impractical satin, I know!) are not likely to ever make a good CPW, I predict their lifespan to be fairly short and uneventful-  but once I had the basics in place a slightly mad purchase may be what’s needed.
Good handbags are another example of investment dressing. Choose wisely and a good handbag can last for decades. Good CPW as well as PPW! Think Chanel classic, rather than Chloè Paddington

Good investment pieces
My own investment dressing relies on just a few quality basics peppered with the odd transitional trend. Chanel quality tailored jacket, a simple trench without too many frou frou and overstyling, top notch knitwear and well fitting dark wash jeans. Comfortable every day shoes and perfect fit underwear. I like Hanro whenever possible but M&S is an excellent back up, and more wallet friendly alternative. Never skimp on underwear quality, you will simply be uncomfortable and the whole effect will be ruined.

Some of the Better wardrobe investments I have made over the years. Items with excellent CPW and comparable PPW

Tweed jacket – Chanel
Silk shirts – top shop boutique
Jeans – Levi’s
Denim jacket – oxfam
Boots – hand made
Trench – Burberry
coat – max mara
Handbags – hermes Kelly

T shirts- majestic filatures
Yoga pants- no balls
Cashmere socks -Brora

I am now putting together a follow up post on how I created my own investment wardrobe with relatively modest budget. I have a mortgage and London living is very-very expensive!

Dear readers, let me know your own views and rules on Cost per Wear and Pleasure per Wear principle!

Forthcoming post: Creating the ‘investment’ wardrobe on a budget # 2
Creating the ‘investment’ wardrobe on a budget # 3
Creating the ‘investment’ wardrobe on a budget # 4

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© Ladysarahinlondon

Hermes investment bags

Chanel investment bags


23 thoughts on “What is ‘investment’ dressing and how to do it

  1. Natash

    I love the idea of cost per wear , but don’t see me wearing any jacket for 49 years even if it is Chanel!

  2. couldashouldawoulda9

    I wonder if the companies now play on the cost per wear and increase the prices knowing there will be some sort of justification. A white shirt, trench, staples I can rationalise. Bags yes bc it belies weight gain or loss. Shoes, no, not on the london streets and the minute curve of the heel or height always does give away the era even though it seems a “staple” buy. But like art, if you really love something, then even if useless then it surely is worth it.

  3. dottoressa

    My purchases are the combination of CPW and PPW-I don’t buy extremly expensive things,because my lifestyle and finance are not at all suitable for couture.
    But,I’ll always try to buy the best in the category I could afford
    It has changed during the years-I don’t have anything Chanel or Hermes (except silk scarves),but I am faithful to some brands ( Max Mara,Boss,Burberry,Tods,Lancel,Longchamp,Furla,Equipment,Eric Bompard,Mephisto,Paul Green….. our A’marie,Estare Culto,Linea for my beautiful new navy dress….and my hand made sandals and boots by my shoemaker)
    If I fall in love with something now and than…… well,who knows :-)?

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      Your wardrobe is an inspiration to us all dear Dotoressa. I very rarely buy super expensive items, which hardly ever have a good CPW anyway. I do confess to have always wanted an Hermes scarf and adore the idea of wearing one, looking soigné but I know it doesn’t work in my own wardrobe/circumstances. Do you wear yours much? good CPW/PPW?

      1. dottoressa

        Thank you 🙂
        Your post are inspiration to me
        I have it for couple of years and wear it pretty often,mostly as basic bias fold or ascot knot,with simple outfits (v-neck pullovers,t-shirts,jeans) or dresses
        As for CPW- I should wear it every day for a year and this would really be boring,but I had it over 30 times (and would wear it more)-so,I’ll say 🙂 it was PPW earning its CPW
        Some twenty years ago,I’ve wear silk scarves a lot (always casual-you have to try and get used to it ) ,than ,for couple of years I didn’t (little sticky hands :-),pretty wild cat :-)-not a lady like Lady B-),I’ve wear only thicker scarves on coats and jackets. Now,I’m back and wear everything I have (and my silk scarves are stil good)

      1. dottoressa

        I agree. I’ve bought my first Furla bag in a little shop in Trieste more than thirty years ago and stil remember the quality.

  4. Pret a Porter P

    I don’t think about CPW specifically. I shop more based on my of course wallet, lifestyle, weather (tropical climate), aesthetic/mood/etc…. I mix low and high. I firmly believe quality and crap can be found @ all price points. Designer goods are virtually never investments for me b/c by the time I’m done with them they are utterly destroyed and I don’t have the patience to baby/maintain them. Yet I have Zara pants that have worn like iron after many yearssss of constant and I mean constant wear and abuse. I simply do not have a delicate “couture” lifestyle—hence a (preowned) Chanel jacket was an expensive mistake for me.

    For things that I want to be “better” quality: merino sweaters, jackets/outerwear, jeans, bags, shoes I go for either pre-owned or contemporary brands. For things I know I’m hard on / don’t care as much about: tees, tops, house clothes, I go for inexpensive options. And then there are soul-stirring splurges like Baccarat jewelry—or any jewelry for that matter—, Rick Owens, and sunglasses. Maybe in a tropical climate my sunglasses make a good CPW. But as I’ve gotten older I care less about designer goods and I’m just not willing to spend XYZ on “luxury goods” like I used to.

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      good tips and you are so right shopping for the right weather/lifestyle is such an underrated principle. 🙂 I hope you managed to resell you chanel to someone who liked the look.

  5. Susan

    I find even the high quality “investment’ lines of clothing sometimes produce pieces that I (personally) would not be caught dead in. The cut, color, fabric is not what appeals to me. I do feel I know what looks good on me and this is what I purchase. CPW does not factor in to my purchase decision. That said, I do continue to wear/use items that are timeless and 20 years old. I would classify my wardrobe as more timeless than trending.

  6. Archana Paladugu

    Investment dressing to me is different from breaking the bank dressing. I can filter out the fuss that is associated with the unattainable goods.

    Any item of clothing that is well made and spends its life cycle in my closet is an investment for me. Investment space wise ( my home is a sacred space for me ), time wise ( I would have hunted it down) or money wise ( which could have been spent 100 other ways). I paid the money and it should work for me by providing value. It can me a Celine dress that I fell in love with. Or the vintage denim dress that I thrifted for 9$. I expect my money to work for me, not the other way round.

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      I love quality but it can be found in many price points and unexpected places, I included a couple of OXFAM i.e. second hand charity buys in my best PPW and CPW wardrobe.

  7. SA.

    Some of my best CPW and comparable PPW are Equipment silk blouses. I only have two pairs of jeans right now in rotation. They cost a lot when I bought them. But, having just two makes the CPW better. I don’t ever see myself having more than 3 to 4 pairs of jeans.

    I don’t think a luxury handbag and full priced luxury purchase can ever have a good CPW. But in a way that is a good thing for me! It just reminds me to use my bag more and think hard before buying another one 🙂

  8. Natalie

    Is there any way of achieving this kind of elegance on minimum wage, which is where I fall in, unfortunately?

    1. Heidi

      I had to comment on this – yes, by purchasing second hand through ebay, one of the online resellers (vestiere etc) or a local consignment store. Only buy from a seller with lots of photos, a good rating, and accurate description (should include measurements, fabric content, condition description). I have found that purchasing from American sellers (Americans don’t wear their clothes so much it would seem before getting rid of them) and designer only brands you can get some great pieces, accessories etc. Buying out of season is also a great way to pick up a bargain (coats or cashmere in Summer, Sundresses in Winter)

      1. Archana Paladugu

        I second this. Second hand shopping. I was a grad school student for 6 years. It was my peak 20s and I wanted to experiment / wear nice clothes. eBay enabled it for me.

    2. Pret a Porter P

      Absolutely. It just takes more time and creativity. When I look back on pictures from 10 years ago, I was better dressed and more put together as a broke college student than when I was hoarding ill-fitting designer clothes. I actually have 10+ yrs old things from F21, Express, etc… And to be honest it may not be the most “eco-friendly” way to do things buying at retail; however 2nd hand has become a lot less taboo than it was back then. Find a core color palette that suits you, look at styles you like (magazines, tumblr, IG, pininterst, etc…) and see what they have in common, and factor in your lifestyle and you can start to shape what kinds of clothes you are looking for and where to find them.

  9. silkpathdiary

    A very interesting and valid closet consideration. For me, I used to indulge in more the PPW principle which is fine if that’s one’s life and style but mine was and is more the CPW so have tried to consciously focus on that in recent years – without completely sacrificing the Pleasure because I really do believe it’s possible to combine. I realised that since I’m a lover and wearer of vintage clothes, it’s given me a head start in the CPW department lol and also since my luxe items are also vintage or at least preowned, I’ve ‘accidently’ incorporated the PPW in terms of expensive/investment items. Now, going forward I suppose my rule is no more or very very few PPW simply because I really do not have nearly enough occasion to wear them.
    I think your Manolos are gorgeous and well worth the purchase every time you slip them on – please do keep them!


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