Thursday, August 14, 2014

Building your wardrobe foundation ( part 2)

A.B.K. shoes - Handmade, but not cheap. I would love to own one of these beauties...

You have your colour palette. You know what you need. Now where to get it?
The primary characteristic of a good foundation item is its quality. However it seems to me that in this era of programmed obsolescence and fast fashion, it is getting harder and harder to find quality items at affordable prices. Even brand classified as luxurious seems to have decrease the quality of their products.

I have a very stylish mother and a lot of the things I own were passed down from her. My mother used to have a Longchamp Le Pliage bag she heavily used for several years. She gave it to me when I moved out for university. I have used it heavily myself through my studies. It broke down last year after more than 15 years of usage, so I bought a new one! I felt right away the difference in the fabric when I was in the store looking at the bags. I chose a classic version. It broke down after a few months of rather normal usage. 
I've noticed the same things with many vintage items I own: the newer versions of these items weren't able to stand the test of time and wear. To get an item of the same quality as a 15-year-old one, you have to pay hundreds of dollars for something that cost maybe $50 back then, which makes it difficult for a girl on a budget to build a decent foundation, but there are ways for us to build that foundation without breaking the bank.

1. Shop vintage

As I said earlier, clothes were better maid back then when good craftsmanship was valued and the norm. When it comes to sweaters, basic skirts and dresses I like to browse through vintage stores. You can find great quality gems at a sometimes ridiculous prices.

2. Browse in designer consignment stores

I love designer consignment stores. I have found many gems in near perfect conditions in them too. For those you who don't like going shopping outside (like me), there are also a lot of options online nowadays.  You may have the impression that these stores host attires that your mother would have worn in the late 80s, but you'll be surprised to find items from very recent collections too. And usually they sell at a very wallet-friendly price.

Beware though, designer doesn't necessarily equals quality... This is especially true for recent, emerging designers who don't have a long history in the business and have established their fame due to hype (from bloggers...)

3. Select items mainly made from natural fibers

Wool, cotton, linen, silk, leather...
There are not necessarily easy to take care of in there purest states, but items with a high percentage of natural textile fibers hold up better with time and usage. Plus they look more luxurious without necessarily being more expensive and tend to age beautifully.

4. Consider handmade items

Etsy is a gold mine of handmade (and vintage) items! More and more people are valuing good craftsmanship and looking for well handmade items and sellers have understood that. Since businesses selling handmade items are usually small-scaled, you can be certain that their work is of better quality. Buy from established businesses though...Not all the apprentice seamstresses are good seamstresses on Etsy....

5. Get their iconic item

Most brands got known for specific items that made them famous before expending their business...It is the item they do best. Their bread and butter. So buying that specific item from them is usually a good bet that you are getting the best from them. 

Ex: Cotton striped shirts from Saint James, brogues from Dieppa Restrepo, winter coat from Mackage, cloaks from Lindsey Thornburg, trenches from Burberry, etc. 

It is easier said than done, but I hope that those small tips will help you look for the right items in the right places!

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