When Buying Something Expensive Can Be Worth It…

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This post is for all the frugalistas out there.  I was clearing out my closet the other day when I came across my favourite pair of jeans.  They're Hudsons (you know, the jeans Jessica Alba, Katherine Heigl, and Kate Hudson wear). Of course I took a minute to admire them- so much so I took a picture of them lol…  I bought them about three years ago in the states, and I'll admit, they were over $100.  $150 to be exact.  Back then, I vowed to myself to never ever buy $100+ pair of jeans.    When I look back though, I wear these jeans a LOT.  Probably about 80% of the time.  They always fit nicely, they make my small butt look decent (the secret is the pocket placement, girls), and they don't give me a muffin top (which is a look that is getting harder and harder avoid achieving these days, believe me).  They haven't even torn yet (knock on wood).

I have a philosophy when it comes to clothes shopping.  If something makes you look good, I mean- really good, and you know you're going to wear it a lot, and it's a key staple, then you should buy it.  I often think of money spent on clothes as “cost per use”.  So the first time I wore those jeans, they were $150.  The second time, they cost $75/day.  The third time, they cost $37.50… you get the point.  I know it's not mathematical or scientific by any means, but I feel that the more I wear something, the more “worth it” it becomes.  You'll know it's worth the money you spent on it when you've used it so many times that you've lost count.

I used (er.. sometimes still am) to be a hardcore warehouse sale shopper.  Sometimes I would buy something because it was a good deal.  I would get a pair of brand name jean shorts that normally cost $89 for only $16.  Trying it on in the change room, I would tell myself “hmm it looks alright…it's a bit high waisted for me, but it's such a good deal!  I'm sure I'll get good use out of it”.  Then I would wear it once and realize how terrible those jean shorts look and then they would sit in my closet for a good year.  I would try my best to love them, but it usually never works out.

Those $16 pair of jean shorts, that $10 top, that $25 dress.  They all add up and accumulate in a neglected pile in your closet.  However, if something's on sale and  you absolutely love it and  you can see yourself wearing it all the time and putting good use with it (e.g. if it was a key wardrobe staple, something that you need, etc), that's even better!

I'm just saying that sometimes things that are regular priced and a bit more expensive can be justified (at times).  Especially if you often have a hard time fitting jeans that make you feel good about yourself.  Now I'm not advocating for you to all buy a dozen pair of $100+ jeans.  One or two pairs is enough I think.  Nor am I advocating for you all to go on and shop til you drop at Christian Louboutin (where shoes are over $1000+), there is a reasonable limit, wouldn't you say? 😉

PS… I went to Macy's recently and saw some Hudson jeans again.  I was very tempted to buy another pair in a different wash, but resisted the temptation and am proud of myself for doing so. 🙂  I did go so far as to try them on though!

Readers, do you own a pair of $100+ jeans? Do you have a few key pieces that you believe are okay to spend a bit of extra money on? Do you have the same “calculations” I use to justify a piece of clothing (or am I just weird)?

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Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

57 Comments

  1. FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com on February 16, 2011 at 7:35 am

    I’m about to give up and just buy a pair of premium jeans when mine finally bite the dust (I’ve been patching them for forever)



  2. young on February 16, 2011 at 8:02 am

    @FB- Hey FB! You should do it! They actually do last a long time. Let me know which premium denim brand you end up getting-there are so many brands nowadays!



  3. Fox on February 16, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Yeah I agree, some things are worth money spending for. My self for example, I believe good jeans and shoes are worth it.

    Diesel jeans fit me the best and love the style, hence why I dont mind dropping $120-$180/pair. Shoes as well, runners or dress, typically $120+, but they do last me 3-4 yrs.



  4. Dr Dean on February 16, 2011 at 8:31 am

    I agree totally. I have boots 30 years old, but still are comfortable.

    The secret is truly being sure they are comfortable, fit right, and are not so “fashion forward” that they will be out of style soon.



  5. Liquid on February 16, 2011 at 8:36 am

    “I’m like every other woman: a closet full of clothes, but nothing to wear: So I wear jeans.” – Cameron Diaz



  6. JT McGee on February 16, 2011 at 9:21 am

    I’m of the opinion that there are plenty of times it makes sense to spend more money for something you can really enjoy/get plenty of use out of.

    On clothes, though, there’s not a chance of me spending $100 on a pair. Shoes, though? Maybe.

    I like my shoes, and it seems that any investment I make in them pays off big time. Nothing like a good pair of comfortable, good looking shoes. 😀



  7. question_everything on February 16, 2011 at 9:44 am

    I am wondering who is out of touch with reality here??

    $100 pair of jeans? sure if you have a clothing budget of $800 a month X 12 for a year…. I have read around many pages in this website and I have not seen one real post about how to make a budget, how to expense out a monthly living allowance, nor anything that looks like people living in the real world.

    Vancouverites are pretty superficial, and have swallowed the buy now pay later attitude. The one up-manship here is pretty sad, how many here run with the life style of “negative equity vehicles”? or home HELOCS to supplement incomes?

    How many plant a garden to save money?

    And how many rent vs. own?

    If having $100+ jeans in your closet and having the budget that affords them, more power to you and your household; however, if others in here can’t live by 25% of income to supply life and variable expenses and still have $100 jeans, you might be in for a serious wake up call one day.



  8. Little House on February 16, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I really don’t like shopping and have kind of gotten stuck in a rut, I shop only at a few stores that I used to shop at years ago but now that I’m older the clothes don’t fit the same! Since I just don’t have the patience to shop around, I simply buy something that’s on sale and fits somewhat okay. I need to get better at this whole shopping thing. 😉



  9. Financial Uproar on February 16, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I’m so glad I’m a boy and I don’t care whether jeans look good or not. All I care about is comfort.

    I do spend extra for $100 running shoes, because the $29.99 Walmart ones fall apart in about 20 minutes. Plus, I gotta look cool while I play soccer!



  10. MoneyCone on February 16, 2011 at 10:43 am

    I’ll add eyeglasses to it. The cheap ones don’t last very long and I have to get them tightened every once a while.

    I don’t know how the branded ones do it, but they are comfortable and last a long time.

    Now don’t *overpay* for your branded glasses! 🙂



  11. Jordan on February 16, 2011 at 11:06 am

    My last pair of expensive jeans ripped at the crotch after only a few months.. I was not a happy camper.

    When it comes to jeans… I stand by the Bluenotes “Walker” boot cut. For $20-40 each, you can wear them everyday for a year and still look great.

    Your jean shorts analogy hit home.. I have dozens and dozens of tshirts, or bar button shirts that were worn once before I realized I hated a specific characteristic of them.

    Live and learn.



  12. krantcents on February 16, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I totally agree! There are certain things I am willing to spend a lot on, because I will own them forever. My shoes are very expensive, but they are comfortable and I will keep them 20+ years.



  13. Jimnet on February 16, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I think, for me, I spend a little more for my clothes and shoes, only because I get so much more out of the investment. I work in a very conversative office – so I need to have a great collection of good clothes. I got sick of paying for cheaper clothes, only to have them fall out of shape or colour in a few weeks. It’s embarrassing having others tell you that we are having a big client come into the office this afternoon *hint hint

    Shoes are another big one for me. I need to have professional shoes always. I do have a pair that I keep in the office, but at the same time, I walk everywhere, which means good shoes are a must!



  14. question_everything on February 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Hey if you need to spend the cash for work reasons then fly at it, however, keep in mind that your budget needs to reflect where your priorities lay. To go bankrupt to keep the cotton on the ass doesn’t make happy times either. I just like to question what makes the world spin…. In life I have found over the past 40 years that many younger people swallow what is fed to them, and smile while they are doing it.

    when the tides go out you get to see who is swimming naked.



  15. me_myself_and_I on February 16, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    “I have read around many pages in this website and I have not seen one real post about how to make a budget, how to expense out a monthly living allowance, nor anything that looks like people living in the real world.”

    May I recommend doing more then diving right to the comment section of the first page that showed up on your screen? I’d recommend some links, but as you’ve been around for over four decades, I’m sure you know how to search for articles right?

    “Vancouverites are pretty superficial, and have swallowed the buy now pay later attitude. The one up-manship here is pretty sad, how many here run with the life style of



  16. question_everything on February 16, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    me_myself_and_I

    Glad to see i got someones goat….

    I have never owned a property in my life… i have never worked over 45K a year in my life and I have over 120K in cash in the bank from saving and living frugal and with a budget. as I said Question everything. And I don’t live DT Van, but in greater Van. and growing a garden is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

    may you all in here use your gray matter.



  17. Andy on February 16, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Go for quality clothing. I get Diesel jeans when I find them on sale. I’m far from impulse buying after taking into consideration of quality. While being thrifty is great but you gotta live and enjoy some of the money you save. Everyone has different spending priorities so spend on something you find worthwhile.

    Diesel jeans do seem to last longer 😉



  18. young on February 16, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    @Andy- Diesel jeans do look pretty sexy on guys. Yeah, it definitely can’t be an impulse buy, something so expensive- after consideration of the quality and how many times you will be able to wear it, then one can make the decision. Especially something that’s such a staple (jeans), you can’t go wrong. On the other hand, I would not spend that amount of money on a dress that you only wear once or twice, that’s for sure.



  19. young on February 16, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    @question_everything- Are you here to “get someone’s goat”? Please provide constructive thoughts instead of blanket statements like “may you all in here use your gray matter”. My turn as I have a question for you: is the 120K in the bank the only asset you have? Or do you have retirement funds or investments? Because in my opinion, after working 40 years as you claim, 120K in the bank isn’t very much to retire on.



  20. young on February 17, 2011 at 12:01 am

    @question_everything- I am not advocating that people go bankrupt “to keep the cotton on the ass”, question_everything. Definitely live within your means. I am not advocating that everyone should get five pairs of $100 + jeans 🙂



  21. young on February 17, 2011 at 12:02 am

    @Jimnet- Oh really? Do they hint at the clothes? When others tell you there’s a big client coming into the office, you think they are hinting that you should “dress up”? I guess it’s different these days, many people dress quite casually at the office too. But it’s always nice to dress to impress… or perhaps I’ve been watching too much “What Not to Wear”.



  22. young on February 17, 2011 at 12:04 am

    @krantcents- I’m happy you agree 🙂 For my shoes, I’m more of a quantity over quality girl… perhaps it’s because heels are never comfortable. 🙁



  23. young on February 17, 2011 at 12:05 am

    @Jordan- I used to have Bluenotes jeans 🙂 I think guys (this might be an assumption, so sorry guys!) have it easier for jeans- most jeans will look good on you because they are baggier. For us girls, it’s a whole other ball game. It’s harder to find jeans that fit and flatter, we come in such different body shapes!



  24. young on February 17, 2011 at 12:06 am

    @MoneyCone- That’s true. I got some for free from Clearly Contacts (they were supposedly Gucci) but I never wear them because they don’t fit very well. The win-win scenario here would be to get your branded glasses covered by your extended health benefits. Yay!



  25. young on February 17, 2011 at 12:08 am

    @Financial Uproar- Yeah you are so lucky! Boys dont’ have to worry about muffin top because their pants are halfway down their butts anyways 🙂 Running shoes go for $100 these days anyways.. I’ve seen some for over $200.



  26. young on February 17, 2011 at 12:09 am

    @Fox- +2 for Diesel jeans! Hmm BF always wanted a pair of Diesel jeans too.



  27. young on February 17, 2011 at 12:10 am

    @Little House- I know what you mean. I hate the malls! (And I used to work at one!) There’s no time to shop around. I’m starting to become a “get in, get out” kind of shopper too. You getting better at the shopping thing might be detrimental for the wallet, so it’s perhaps a good thing not to, I suppose 🙂



  28. young on February 17, 2011 at 12:13 am

    @question_everything- Who has a clothing budget for $800 a month? Who on earth buys a pair of jeans once a month? If you read in the post, the jeans were bought 3 years ago. That’s the last time I bought jeans. Three years ago.

    I do agree with you that Vancouver has become somewhat of a materialistic city, but I am disheartened that you are assuming that I am materialistic. I am not sure where you are getting this assumption from. I am unsure whether you are referring to “everyone in Vancouver” in general when you type “you”.



  29. young on February 17, 2011 at 12:15 am

    @JT McGee- Shoes and jeans, it seems that’s the consensus here 🙂 I suppose it makes sense to invest in polishing the shoes too (if they are dress shoes).



  30. young on February 17, 2011 at 12:15 am

    @Liquid- amen to that sister! 🙂 That is so true. I just wear my jeans. No point wearing anything else.



  31. young on February 17, 2011 at 12:18 am

    @Dr. Dean- Your boots are the same age as your marriage! 🙂 “The secret is truly being sure they are comfortable, fit right, and are not so



  32. SavingMentor on February 17, 2011 at 6:49 am

    Hmm … I wonder how many pairs of jeans people have here and how often you do laundry?

    I must be different. I have at least 6-8 pairs of jeans and I try to wash them every 3 wears unless they get something on them. I usually only do laundry once per month or but it is a crap ton of laundry (3-6 loads).

    Many of my pants are also more than 5 years old and I have some that are as much as 10 years old. I don’t think any were more than $100 (maybe a one or two at the reg price, but not what I paid).

    I do agree that spending a bit more can make sense though. I think there are good jeans out there under $100 if you look. I have two pairs of $20 Old Navy jeans that I actually like a lot … but they are the first pair of jeans I’ve ever owned to develop a hole in about a year’s time. I guess I underpaid with them. I still don’t regret the purchase though.

    YT, you really wear one pair of jeans 80% of the time? For some reason I’m not comfortable wearing the same thing even 2 days in a row normally.

    I really don’t spend a lot of money on clothes … it just accumulates over time because I don’t wear my clothes out often and I will wear the same thing for many years and be fine with it.

    When I do shop, I tend to shop all at once either combining a good coupon/sale or at an outlet mall in the states.

    The other thing I sometimes do is browse the men’s section when my wife is shopping and only buy if I find something marked down a lot that is also good quality and I like a lot. I otherwise would never take the time to do that, but she likes to shop and take me along.



  33. Dmarie on February 17, 2011 at 7:04 am

    I agree completely with your concept. In fact, my idea of frugal is to spend very little on the things that don’t matter to me so I have MORE $$$ to spend on the things that do!



  34. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter on February 17, 2011 at 9:21 am

    I often buy high quality dress clothes. I have to wear them a lot for work and if they burn out within a month then I have just wasted my money. I can easily spend $50-60 on a pair of dress pants.



  35. Janice on February 17, 2011 at 7:41 am

    I’ve got 3 pairs of jeans in my wear cycle: 1 dark blue casual (American Eagle) – $59 reg price, 1 med blue casual/dressy (Citizens) – $179 (w/$100 gift card), and 1 grey skinny pair (Paige) – $135, on sale from $215. I’ve owned them all for at least 3 years, and wear them a TON. I don’t think I’ll need another pair for at least 2 more years, so I count myself in a good place with my denim collection.

    My friend works at a denim store, and she gave me the advice of washing them inside out, and adding a dash of vinegar to the wash – makes the colour last longer!



  36. Finanzas Personales on February 17, 2011 at 9:17 am

    That’s a very good approach. I agree with it and think it’s worth buying expensive things every once in a while. Of course, there are some musts here: must fit great, must be really usuful or needed, must be a brand with proved quality (since you don’t want it to collapse in the first use), etc.
    I usually prefer to pay expensive (or regularly priced products) when buying my tennis equipment. I think looking and feeling good on the court is very important (there’s a psychological effect on your rival) and having the right equipment goes a long way too.



  37. Melissa on February 17, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Over the summer I bought a pair of AG jeans, regular price was about $220 CDN, marked down to $99. they were the most flattering and comfortable jeans I’d seen yet. Yet I stood in the shop and dithered over whether to buy them. $100 for jeans? I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. Six months later – after many wearings and washings – they’re still looking new. Definitely a smart purchase.



  38. Cassie on February 17, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    I agree on the Diesel jeans. My favourite pair, which are Diesel, I bought 3.5 years ago and spent a pretty penny on them. I have loved and worn to death (they have holes now), and I’m hesitant to give them the heave ho because they just got better with age. I’ve tried others, but the fit always goes weird after a while.

    I’d rather spend $200 on one pair that looks great for 3 years, rather than $40 on multiple pairs that look off after a few months. Keeps more stuff out of landfills too.



  39. Squirrelers on February 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    I totally agree that quality clothes can last and be a really good investment. This doesn’t necessarily mean expensive, thought that often turns out to be the case. Example: high quality mens shoes I bought for work ($150) lasted years, whereas average quality (much less, $60 maybe) wore out in a year.

    The cost per use is often lower on better things, but it’s the upfront cost that deters us. If we look past that, when it comes to things that are staples and will stay within fashion norms – we can come out ahead in the long run.



  40. Sandy @ yesiamcheap on February 18, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    My favorite pair of jeans are 5 years old and cost me $50 back then. They’re just about to poke open at the inner thigh and I’m afraid that I’ll have to retire them. Sigh.

    My favorite leather jacket though is from 1995 and I paid $200 back then. It was a fortune for me since I was still in high school and being paid $7 an hour at a part-time job. But I still have it. 🙂



  41. Money Reasons on February 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Sounds spot on to me 🙂

    The cheapest dress that’s never worn is by default the most expensive dress…

    I like your logic, makes perfect sense!

    I bought a bike at walmart because it was cheap, but looked expensive (people event old me that it was an expensive bike), but the ride is so horrible and heavy that I hate it! If I had it to do over, I would have bought a better brand that was lighter!



  42. question_everything on February 19, 2011 at 12:31 am

    “Or do you have retirement funds or investments? Because in my opinion, after working 40 years as you claim, 120K in the bank isn



  43. question_everything on February 19, 2011 at 12:47 am

    Oooops that was a typo. it was supposed to be 1925 and 2011



  44. Andrew on February 19, 2011 at 11:27 am

    This is reasonable. I am very frugal but spend according to how much it will be used. I have bought a suit at Harry Rosen and also buy stuff at the dollar store. My wife bought a set of fine cutlery and I said the price $100 more is less makes no different as long as she doesn’t change her mind next year.



  45. Yakezie on February 19, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    When it comes to clothing, I try and think like a boutique and build few high quality, choice items. I hate having lots of low quality stuff. I’d rather pay up too.



  46. young on February 20, 2011 at 11:45 am

    @Yakezie- Yeah, I think as I get older I feel the same way. I have this closet full of cheap clothes that I don’t really wear and I realize I only wear a few key pieces. Time for some spring cleaning, that’s for sure.



  47. young on February 20, 2011 at 11:49 am

    @Andrew- Hey Andrew, thanks for commenting. Everytime I go into Harry Rosen (though just window shopping) I am so impressed by the customer service there. Everything in moderation is key eh? Dollerama has opened up in a ritzy part of town here in Vancouver and business appears to be booming!



  48. young on February 20, 2011 at 11:59 am

    @Money Reasons- Yeah, I find that material things that are technical, like bikes and other big purchases, its important to go for quality over a lower more attractive price. I was almost tempted to buy a bike at Canadian Tire (which is like a smaller scale Canadian Walmart) but realized they don’t specialize in selling bicycles, and it’s the same price as a local bike shop… so I went to the experts instead and was able to negotiate and lower the price anyway.



  49. young on February 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    @Sandy- You could always try to get a tailor to sew it back up 🙂 Unless the material is thinning out. Leather is timeless- it pays to pay a bit higher for something like that, that gets better with age.



  50. young on February 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    @Squirrelers- Excellent way of summarizing it, Squirrelers. It’s the upfront cost that deters us, but we need to look at the cost per use instead… and spend more (if necessary) on things that we will be using often instead of replacing it regularly with cheaper goods.



  51. young on February 20, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    @Melissa- Wow, what a good deal! I heard AG jeans are good, I think I tried them but they weren’t for me…I think they fit like Seven jeans, right? I definitely think that when things are on sale, it helps justify the more expensive purchase.



  52. young on February 20, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    @Miss T- Dress pants for $50-60 sounds very reasonable. It’s really easy to judge the quality of clothes. Some ‘cheaper’ brands do have good quality work clothes too (like H&M- their stuff seems well made…). I like how you’re employing the cost per use mentality too 🙂



  53. young on February 20, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    @Cassie- Yes, you said it, sister! It’s all about being economical and being cognizant of the environment too.



  54. young on February 20, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    @Dmarie- Exactly! I’m glad it’s a general consensus 🙂 I’m happy to go to the dollar store for gift bags or wrapping paper..even christmas cards. That stuff doesn’t matter.



  55. young on February 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    @Janice- Thanks for visiting and commenting, Janice. That sounds like a very well rounded denim collection- casual, casual/dressy, and skinnys! I used to be very averse to skinny jeans, but now I like them. Thanks for the tip about the vinegar- I’ll definitely try that next time.



  56. young on February 20, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    @SavingMentor- LoL NOooo I don’t wear one pair of jeans 80% of the time. I’m sorry I need to clarify, I wear one pair of jeans 80% of the time when I’m not at work (e.g. on weekends, so like I might wear them on Saturday or Sunday), and I wear those pair of jeans 80% of the time (as opposed to my other jeans). Yeah $20 for Old Navy is cheap! Usually it’s like $40-$50 isn’t it? (Or just maybe in Canada it is lol, since we overpay for everything). I love the outlet malls in the states too, that’s where I do most of my shopping when/if I do shop. I don’t go to the malls anymore, they stress me out. You’re a good husband for going shopping with your wife! My boyfriend (and many boyfriends of my friends) don’t seem to have the patience to shop together for clothes 😉



  57. Brandon To on August 13, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    There’s also the peace in mind that knowing that the more expensive items in your closet will last. I purchased a few pairs of Diesel jeans for $60 a pair (discounted at Winners) and I know that the $60 I’ve spent on these will outlast an feel better than the equivalent 2-3 pairs I could have purchased using that money. I have since worn those jeans every chance I get.



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