Some of my favorite articles of clothing that I own are also my least expensive ones. During a recent trip to London, I stopped in at Topman, a trendy, inexpensive store in the same vein as H&M and Zara, and bought a pair of dark, slim fit jeans that I wear more often than any other pair of jeans that I own.
I believe that mixing and matching pieces from different price ranges is not only economical, but also eminently intelligent. Though there are still marked differences between a discount, off the rack suit and a bespoke one, fashion-forward stores such as Uniqlo minimize the nuances between high-end and more economical, everyday pieces. For example, there really aren’t many hugely distinct differences between the pair of $695 Dolce and Gabbana jeans and the pair of $80 Uniqlo jeans besides the amount of marketing that went into them. Granted, the Dolce and Gabbana jeans may have been more intricately fabricated, but with the constant change in trends, how long do you expect to be able to wear them?
While in general my theory is that you should buy only items about which you are passionate rather than buying a bunch of things that you will end up never wearing, I believe that if you can get the same (or very similar) item for less, then why not? It’s one thing when you are faced with the choice between an expensive, well cut suit and a buying a few lackluster ones, but an entirely different thing when you can buy essentially the same thing for less money. My minimalism ideology comes from the “20/80” clothing rule, which states that you wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time. Even though I have tried to filter out unnecessary items in my wardrobe, this is still definitely true in my life; when I go to get dressed in the morning, I usually find myself continually pulling out the same pair of pants or shirt.
People who are ‘label slaves’ care more about who makes their clothes rather than their fit or style. This can leave them looking ridiculous to the point of foolishness, wearing an ensemble of disjointed, ugly pieces. They hide behind these labels, believing that it grants them some sort of immunity from criticism in having paid more for their clothes. I witnessed that this was generally more prevalent in France where “Eurotrash” is actually a style (the small Louis Vuitton monogram manbags were the most glaring manifestation.)
I, on the other hand, prefer to buy the items that look the best on me, regardless of price or make. It is not uncommon for me to pair $300 shoes with my $60 Topman jeans or a $300 Prada belt with a $40 shirt from Uniqlo. This takes not only more shopping confidence, but also requires a more adept sense of style and maturity to be able to put things together. Anyone can look good if given tens of thousands of dollars for a new wardrobe and with the aide of a stylist. The true test is being able to successfully build outfits from a wide range of stores and prices.
Thus, my recommendation is to buy the things you love and not to worry about what it says on the label because it’s not the brand on which you’ll be judged, it’s how good it looks on you.