We turned to Nordstrom Canada styling sales director Lisa Tant and stylist and personal shopper Talia Brown for the best tips on how to shop for investment pieces for your wardrobe.
Fast fashion retailers can make it easy to choose inexpensive clothing options, instead of splurging on style and substance. But with increased conversation surrounding sustainable fashion, it’s become crucial to consider investing in pieces that will stand the test of time. Plus, who doesn't want to treat themselves with an investment purchase every once in a while?
Despite what you may think, breaking-the-bank and purchasing designer goods isn't a mandatory prerequisite for making fashion investments—but research is. Nordstrom Canada styling sales director Lisa Tant and stylist and personal shopper Talia Brown share their picks for the best indulge-worthy fashion pieces and ways to guarantee you'll be happy with your purchase.
Tip #1: Consider classics
When making a big purchase, pick items that aren't restricted to one season or trend. “My whole wardrobe is built on investment pieces that are then styled creatively with current-season accents,” explains Tant. Think of the pieces that are always in style like a perfectly-fit blazer, a simple winter coat or a pair of black ankle boots. If this is your first fashion investment, Brown warns that you’re best sticking to timeless options to avoid regretting your purchase next season. When investing, start with your wardrobe staples to make sure you pick items that you are going to wear often and love for a long time.
Tip #2: Reflect on your personal taste and lifestyle
Brown asks you to think about whether your style is bohemian, edgy, or traditional. “I think buying a classic black coat, shoes, or purse makes sense, but some people would rather have those items in metallic or hot pink because they want it to be the statement,” she says. If you know that a plain black coat isn't a piece you'll love, then don't feel restricted to the neutral pick.
It's also important to consider your lifestyle. If you would never wear a blazer to work and stick to more casual outfits, maybe a cashmere sweater is a better investment than a suit. “I look at the customer’s lifestyle first and what makes sense for their daily activities,” says Tant. Choosing the right type of investment varies from person to person.
Tip #3: Look to other sources for inspiration
Utilize resources, like social media, to help narrow down your search and visualize the type of piece you desire most. “Look at your favourite celebrities, look at fashion magazines, make a mood board,” recommends Brown. According to Tant, “Instagram is a great place to start,” because it allows you to easily turn to others for ideas. Spending money on an investment piece isn't an everyday occurance for most people—make sure you give yourself a chance to really consider the styles and pieces that you love to see.
Tip #4: Try Vintage
If you're someone that balks at designer prices, going vintage is a smart move. "A new Chanel piece can be around $4500, but a vintage Chanel you may be able to get for half the price," says Brown. "And yet, everybody is going to notice it and love it just as much as a new Chanel." This is where vintage and consignment stores come in very handy. Plus, pre-loved pieces tend to have a one-of-a-kind feel, making your investment a little more special.
Tip #5: Don’t forget the “feel and look test”
“Top quality fabric is paramount," says Tant, "second, consider fit.” When picking up an investment piece for your wardrobe you want to make sure that you don't only look good in it—you feel good too. This means emotionally you feel good in it, but also considering things like is it scratchy? Do you feel restricted? Are you comfortable?
Brown proposes the importance of, what she dubs, the “feel and look test”. For Brown, it’s crucial to personally handle and try on the product prior to purchasing it. “I think a mistake that a lot of people make now, with ordering online being so easy, is that you order something and you want it to be a certain way, but then you get it and it doesn’t really feel the way you wanted it to,” Brown says. Another reason to buy in-store? Online shopping may lead to international taxes and shipping costs which will add to the bottom line of your purchase. Not to mention that Tant recommends considering any tailoring you'll want to invest in to give your piece a made-to-fit quality. With your purchase, you want to avoid as many additional or unexpected costs as possible.
Tip #6: Make sure the product is good quality
A high price doesn’t necessarily mean high quality. How do you determine if something is high-grade? Brown recommends looking at the nature of the stitching, examining the fabric to ensure it appears and feels durable, reading the label, researching where the piece was made and reading online reviews. Shopping at high-end boutiques can also be helpful, “as the sales associates know everything about the products and are there to serve you,” Brown shares.
Tip #7: Save money wherever possible
Once you’ve finalized your choice, it’s worthwhile researching the best time to buy. “Look to see if there’s a discount card, a friends & family day, or if it’s close to a holiday," says Brown. "If you can save, then obviously save money." It's also worthwhile to look at department stores that carry the designer brands you love. Plus, you're more likely to run into a sale at a department store, or you can shop at retail spaces that have discounted prices. Nordstrom often has sales where even luxe designer wear is less expensive, and their sister store, Nordstrom Rack, features lower prices every day.
The top 5 investment pieces
1. A Great Coat
Winters are long in Canada, so the first thing everyone sees for most of the year is your coat. Tant specifies a knee-length topper for evenings like a tailored winter coat or a trench coat as a surefire investment hit. Brown's suggested brands include Sentaler, Soia & Kyo and Mackage (fun fact: they're all Canadian!).
2. An Everyday Bag
A purse can match everything, be worn every day and you put everything inside—It's a must-have for Brown.
3. A Wear-Everywhere Suit
Tant believes investing in a properly tailored suit—a blazer with matching pants or slim pencil skirt—is a good go-to option for most people's lifestyles.
4. A Versatile Dress
Brown admits most will say denim is their investment pick, but she would rather a dress, so this is where personal preference comes into play.
5. A Signature Fragrance
Every woman has a scent, so Brown thinks you might as well make it a good one! Read about some of our own signature perfumes, here.