A Love Letter to My First Fashion Investment Piece

I’ve spent my career in fashion, an industry led by women who are often perfectly suited in luxury clothing and accessories. Intimidating? Yes.
My initial 4-5 years or so I prided myself on successfully navigating the contemporary stores and finding pieces that my colleagues would often question “That’s ZARA?!”. While I knew how to elevate my accessibly-priced wardrobe, I dreamed of having my own designer collection such as a pair of Louboutin Pigalle pumps, a classic Chanel quilted handbag, or a Balmain blazer. Fashion always brought me joy and a sense of empowerment, and I was eager to invest in pieces that could offer a lifetime of those feelings.

Fast fashion had become commonplace to me, but I was ready to start investing (responsibly). I made my first investment piece purchase when I was 25 years old and working at Helmut Lang on the Department Store Wholesale team. Every Friday, we would visit every flagship store in New York City, to observe consumer behavior and ensure that the Helmut Lang floors were perfectly merchandised. We’d find time to include two guilty pleasures during these trips: 1) Bloomingdale’s Forty Carrots frozen yogurt and 2) the Barney’s Designer shoe floor. As you can imagine, the latter expedited my journey to secure my first ever pair of designer shoes.

At the time, Rockstud Valentino shoes were the “it” accessory and I narrowed my favorite to the Slingback 100MM Pump in black with nude trim. The purchase was made fairly impulsively but I recall two driving factors: I knew I could wear them both to work and at social events and, more importantly, a friend of mine working at Saks was offering me a limited-time F&F discount. To be honest, I was probably also influenced by Arielle, who wore them often at the time!

I’m a strong proponent of the “cost per wear” exercise and if I can forecast that I will get incessant use out of an expensive fashion item, then I deem it worthy of the splurge! Plus, you only live once, buy the shoes! Right? At a certain age, particularly in the workforce and in professional settings, I do believe wearing Designer creates a sense of legitimacy. Or perhaps it’s the same feeling of empowerment that fashion has always brought me, raised to a new level. My Rockstud Valentinos made me feel confident and sophisticated. The rest is history as Valentino successfully got me into their funnel: I proceeded to buy 2 more pairs of Rockstuds in the coming years. I’d love to reminisce about those purchases, but perhaps for the next story!

While I still pride myself on being an expert navigator of the contemporary market, I can easily justify the right Designer purchase. If you can find multiple use cases for the item for years to come, then it’s likely worth it. Ultimately it will also help you take a “less is more” shopping approach! Below, I rounded up a few personal recommendations if you’re looking to invest in your wardrobe.

*Team SN's picks are selected based on products we truly love. Note: this article does contain affiliate links, and we will receive a commission if you purchase a product linked here.