Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Quality or Quantity? The Mathematics of Investment Shopping

New, 4 comments

Racked has affiliate partnerships, which do not influence editorial content, though we may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. We also occasionally accept products for research and reviewing purposes. See our ethics policy here.

Illustrations: Kelsey Scherer for Racked
Illustrations: Kelsey Scherer for Racked

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

If your closet is overflowing with stuff but you feel like you never have anything to wear, perhaps this is the year you learn how to buy less and invest more. The concept of "investment dressing" is simple: channel the funds you'd spend on fast fashion into quality purchases. The application, however, is personal.

For example, the New York City girl who drives her shoes into the ground with miles of walking might be better served by a bunch of footwear options and one really warm coat, while her sister in Los Angeles could stand to do the opposite. Someone with a buttoned-up office job would get a lot of use out of one, good cashmere crewneck, but a student may find more use from a range of knit options on hand.

To ease your path to quality versus quantity closet harmony (and make those resale efforts less frequent), we've done some basic fashion math for you, taking the cost of investment buys and dividing them by their fast fashion equivalent. See how wardrobe styles like bags, jeans, and outerwear stack up in five handy infographics below.

At an average price of $99.90, you could buy six pairs of Zara shoes this year, or you could invest in a pair of classic Manolo Blahnik BBs, the gold standard of pointed pumps. This swap really depends on your lifestyle and the current state of your shoe wardrobe. If you need to replenish your personal footwear inventory, or you live a life where you drive shoes into the ground with a ton of walking, a "more is more" mindset might work for you. If you've got all the ankle boots and sandals and party heels a girl could dream of, maybe this year you invest in a pair of versatile heels.

If you're ready to take the plunge into raw denim, you really can't beat APC's Petit New Standard jeans as a starting point. At $185, a pair of these investment jeans is equivalent to taking home just over three pairs of BDG jeans from Urban Outfitters this year.

You could buy six or seven ASOS coats at $160 a pop, or put all of that money towards a wool Burberry Brit toggle coat ($995, and pre-loaded with ear coverage in the form of a hood). This is really between you, your local climate, and general approach to winter, though you could apply the concept to a classic trench or the perfect leather jacket.

On the topic of warmth, how's that sweater drawer? If it's time to pick up a good cashmere sweater, you can get a basic crewneck style from White + Warren for $198, the same cost as about eight $24.95 H&M knits.

Chanel bags aren't getting any cheaper—right now the classic, quilted flap bag in the medium size will run you $4,900, which is equivalent to a little more than 175 Forever 21 bags at an average price of $27.90. If you use it five days a week for a year, the cost per wear is $18.85. You'll probably have—and use—this thing for a lifetime, driving that daily average lower and lower. The $4,900 is really just a matter of your current financial state and, uh, how much you value designer handbags.

Want more shopping hacks (+ inspiration on what to buy)? Follow our Pinterest board:

Follow Racked's board Shopping Essentials on Pinterest.