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September 4th, 2008 No Comments

Like I mentioned yesterday, the streets of New York are overflowing with young ladies in print dresses. Usually the fit of these dresses are quite good- but the prints, unfortunately, are often very unfortunate.

It had reached a point where I really started to believe that maybe a young lady couldn’t buy a great print without spending a lot of money.

However yesterday I saw this young woman leaving the Mac store on 14th with her new purchases. The fit of the dress is obviously great, but I was really struck by the beauty and sophistication of the print. My faith in Summer dresses was renewed when she told me she bought the dress at a flea market for $20.

This is one of those times when I ponder the question of quality vs. appearance.

I’m guessing that for $20 the dress is not silk. I didn’t inspect it super closely but the stitching is probably fine. I’m trying to imagine what you could do to the dress technically to justify a higher price, because visually it looks perfect.

For example, if the dress had a higher stitches-per-inch ratio would that make any difference to you?

If the dress was all silk would you happily pay more? It is easy and chic to say yes – but lets be honest, a dress like this is not an investment piece. If you can get two Summers out of it then it has served you well.

So I guess the question is: “Is quality always worth paying for if the item functions fine the way it is?” (I think ‘functions’ is the key word there).

It strikes me that The Sartorialist has to ask this question.  Of course you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get clothes that look good.  Thank you Forever 21, H&M, and Zara.  However, it seems to me, with the economy the way it is, why is it that prices are skyrocketing?  I can tell you, as an indie label designer, the cost of the raw materials inflates every year, and this is the added “value” that gets tacked onto the price tag.  But as salaries don’t increase at the same rate (or at all really), how are we supposed to afford new clothes that do possess some sort of quality?

A reader wrote to me the other day asking where she could purchase a quality structured tote for around $150.  Honestly I have no idea.  If you buy something made of leather you’re going to pay more than $250 WHOLESALE!  I suggested Loehmann’s, so I hope she can find something she loves there.

Ugh.  Shopping is no fun when you have a guilty knot in your stomach every time you get home with a pretty new piece.  The cheaper stuff can still be fun, but there’s something about slipping on clothes with character that fit like a glove that make you feel delicious – that my friends, is what you pay for.