Back in the corporate stone age – AKA the pre-laptop work era – people actually judged each other’s professional worth based on their briefcases. A beat-up heritage brand case might have signified that you were second-generation successful, while a brand-new, zip-up portfolio told the world you took your paperwork very seriously.
Those days are long gone, and it can be a bit more difficult to show the world you mean business. If you’re looking to up your professional wardrobe game, consider a few investment pieces that can be worn time and time again.
So, what are investment pieces? For the purposes of this article, let’s define investment pieces as items that give you significant value for your money- year after year after year. Or as Matthew Mounsey-Wood, Creative Director at GANT puts it, investment pieces can be judged “on their effortless wearability and are more often than not great quality, timelessly modern go-to pieces that you never tire of.”
Mounsey-Wood says “an investment piece should elevate your outfit and be something that you will love, season over season. Imagine a classic preppy look: a button-down shirt and chinos. If you invest in a classic button-down with a timeless silhouette, you can pair it with this seasons’ sneakers, or your favorite loafers, and it will wear just as well with both.” Mounsey-Wood calls these universal pieces. “It’s important to have investment pieces that are of quality construction, that are flattering, and that are versatile.”
Timeless vs. trend
You don’t have to rush to buy several investment pieces at the same time. If you’re comfortable with your own style, you already know what you’ll be wearing consistently. If you’re still testing out your fashion sense, invest in one piece at a time and see if it makes you feel confident and in control every time you wear it – even if you wear it for years. “An investment piece is something that is timeless and that you will have in your closet for years,” explains Brooke Cundiff, cofounder & Chief Merchandising Officer at CoEdition.
She also believes “A seasonal trend is not an item that you should not necessarily invest in (think: the latest sunglass trend; just because it is happening, doesn’t mean you have to do it). A classic handbag that you will own forever: yes. Statement sneakers: not so much. Try to think of something that is so classic and chic that 10-15 years from now you will still love it.”
“A truly good “investment piece” should be something you can wear as part of a regular day-to-day outfit. Your investment pieces should be the essential building blocks to all your looks,” said Whitney Casey, CEO and cofounder at Finery. That could be “A crisp white button-down, a tailored black blazer, nice fitting straight legged jeans without rips or washes on them, simple black booties with updated heel and toe, a clean white sneaker without logos and a sizable work bag to carry laptop, notebook etc in. You can then add trendy items that you don’t pay a lot for to all the and you then elevate the trend by anchoring it in an investment piece.”
Personality, not price tag
In case you’re wondering how much you have to spend to consider it an investment, Mounsey-Wood said “I think style is measured by personality, not price tags, so my advice is to not stare yourself blind on the price but rather follow your intuition and let that decide. If you really love a piece and will wear it many times, for many years, then the price matters much less than the use you’ll get out of it.” And while you’re at it, don’t wait for a sale. Mounsey-Wood said “You should buy things when you need them. You should buy things that you love and know you will want to wear for a long time.”
Modern investment pieces
- Gant recently launched machine washable suit separates in classic patterns that range in price from $270.00-$475.00 per separate.
- Casey recommends a company called Wardrobe.nyc founded by Vogue Fashion Director Christine Centenera which includes capsule collections with essential pieces for both work, play and work out.
- Investment pieces don’t have to be pricey. Sperry, best known for their boat shoes, recently launched their upscale Gold Cup collection. The line includes many styles that are hand-made in Maine out of more luxurious leathers or other components. The look is old-school preppy money without a matching price tag.