Why You Should Spend $150 On Jeans

playing mini golf in Texas wearing my $150 jeans

Before we were married my soon-to-be-husband and I had an argument when I purchased a pair of jeans that were $150. This isn’t a revolutionary argument in the world of mates. In fact, it is pretty cliched.

At the time I was irritated at his uncharacteristic outburst about my purchase. And ashamed because I knew he was right: I shouldn’t have bought the jeans. Not because they were so expensive but because at the time I a) didn’t have a job and b) we had a wedding to pay for and c) did I mention I was unemployed at the time?

On a side note my husband has a great acceptance for the cost of electronics, particularly from Apple, fine dining and jewelery but not so much on the clothing front. He bought me a winter coat one year from Banana Republic for my birthday. We shopped for it together and he got very quiet when looking at the $200 price tag. $200 for a coat? Crazy. But $2000 for a laptop is de rigueur.

$150 for jeans was ridiculous in his mind and doubly ridiculous because I didn’t have a job. Weren’t there $50 jeans at Walmart?

Yes, there are $50 jeans out there. And no, I do not want to wear them. I bought some American Eagle jeans to see me through my post-baby days. I wore them a lot and they quickly went nappy and fuzzy in the thigh area. They were a dark rinse and never stopped leaving dye marks on my nails. They stretched out quickly and I had to wear them with a belt after a few hours. I was happy to send them to donation once they were too big. I would rather just own one pair of jeans I feel great in, that fit and are of good quality, than three pairs of jeans I feel fugly in.

Quite a few friends read this blog and in my daily life I get interesting reactions to it. People are embarrassed to talk about shopping in front of me, or spending, or acquiring things. And I realize at first glance it may appear that I’m not interested in those things anymore. But I am. Probably more so now.

While I have tossed the items we don’t use or wear I am quite interested in only acquiring quality items in the future. I recently purchased two sweaters. I could’ve spent $30 on each of them, bought acrylic and itched my way through one winter before they fell apart. Instead I went with natural fibers that will hold up and spent an average of $80 on each of them. That was $80 after discount because they were on sale but I didn’t find this out until I went to the cash register. I would have bought them at the regular price which is a mantra I am trying to live by.  A good deal is no deal if you end up never wearing it.

I came across this post at Get Rich Slowly the other day that reiterated this. As J.D. Roth writes, cheap things you never use are no bargain. There is value in spending money on what you actually use. Like J.D., I feel that the $176 I pay each month for Crossfit is value because I go to the workouts and I love them. I feel like I am in the best shape I have been in since I was seeing a personal trainer three times a week. My son’s $14 a month membership at the YMCA is not a good value because he naps during class times so we miss them. I am going to cancel the membership this week. If his nap time changes, as I am sure it will, I’ll consider renewing the membership.

How do you value shop and not get swayed by sale signs?

Here’s my other problem with bargain shopping in stores: I lose my focus. If I go into a store I am more likely to buy things I wasn’t intending to buy or feel pressured into buying things that aren’t quite right. That’s why I do most of my shopping online these days. I like using things like google shopping app to compare prices from different retailers and review customer feedback. I find it far easier to find things that work for me and my price point online than in stores.

My other trick is that I often order clothing in multiple sizes and styles, try it on at home, and then return whatever isn’t perfect. So many online retailers offer free returns these days so it doesn’t cost me anything to order, try on and then return. When I try clothing on at home I can also test it out with my existing wardrobe and find out if it is going to be a value buy for me. Win, win, win.

Value for items can be hard to understand before you actually own them. We initially bought a $40 baby monitor and quickly found out why it was $40. It was difficult to differentiate the static from any noise my son would make. My husband then went out and bought a $200 baby monitor. It was, as expected, quite fancy and I could play my iPod on it. I told him to return it because $200 was too much. So what monitor did we settle on? None. We live in an 1100 square foot condo. Our son’s room is right next to ours. If he is cooing and making nice noises we don’t really hear it. If he is upset we hear him just fine without a monitor.

Sometimes it makes sense to spend more and sometimes it makes sense to spend nothing.

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  • Hi Rachel :)
    Funny that yesterday (or was it the day before?) I felt the need to post on katy’s blog and today, yours was ‘just right’.
    I kind of lurk around, but have really been enjoying how both of you write- and the differing perspectives.
    I have tried to be a ‘quality’ person (although some days I fail)…my books lie on the floor until I can find a solid bookcase I like rather than buying one I hate. I still cross my fingers that I’ll find the perfect one at value village!
    It’s funny what you said about people being uncomfortable. I really get that(but the other side). They think I just buy nice expensive stuff… But can’t see that I don’t have a lot.

    I do wonder sometimes why people care so much about what others are doing- everyone has their ‘thing’…. I’m happy that you’re sharing your adventures though! :)

    • Hi Kirsten,
      Glad you are enjoying the blog. It’s enjoyable to write.
      I hear you on the quality over quantity. Props to you for holding out for what you are looking for and not just buying something that will do for now. It’s hard to have that kind of patience.
      Hope you are well. We must have a reunion coming up…

  • Sometimes the cheap clothes fit the best. My 20 dollar jeans (though bought on sale) are in my top 3 jeans. My 120 dollar jeans is rolling around my legs, so the seam is almost on my knee. I still wear them a lot though, because the fit on my hips is good. What I want to say is price does not always equal quality.

    • This is true. Good things are not always expensive. And expensive things are not always good.
      I guess I am trying to find that balance of wanting a small wardrobe of clothing that I wear and feel good in but not wanting to spend hours finding it. I’m also a challenge to fit (6ft tall and a size 12). The jeans that fit me well and have longer inseams tend to be expensive.

  • Ah yes, the jeans argument with the spouse. I’m familiar.

    Another argument I’m familiar with is buying cheap vs. buying quality (and paying more.) I come from the “buy cheap” side: my dad equipped my first apartment almost entirely with garage sale items. At 21 and not close to settling down yet, a $.25 cookie jar was a cheap buy, but a good one. The dog food that my dad bought later that year at a garage sale? Sketchy, but the dog was fine. A good buy. The 3, $10 mattresses he also bought at that same garage sale? They were funky (not good funky.) Not a good buy.

    I’m learning to spend more but keep things longer. Sure, my friends may get sick of seeing me in the only 5 sweaters I own (Monday sweater, Tuesday sweater, etc.), but tough. I like them, they fit me well, and I will wear them out. The trick, of course, is to spend more, but buy less. I’m still working on this one too.

    • Isn’t it funny how we think people notice if we wear repeat clothing in the same week? When I was pregnant I worried that everyone noticed I was wearing the same three dresses, two skirts and one pair of pants. They didn’t. People are much too concerned about their own appearance to take notice that you have five sweaters.
      I too am working on the buy less but buy quality. It’s hard. I am thinking of enlisting professional help in the wardrobe department. I find department stores overwhelming and stressful. Can’t someone else do all the leg work and find me the perfect 12 piece wardrobe?
      Go forth and conquer, Lindsay.

  • My mom, a nurse working in a clinic, is going back to wearing a uniform of her own making after years and several thousands of dollars of building quite an extensive work wardrobe. She wears navy trousers and a white shirt every day. She ads variety with some funky jewelry and a scarf now and then and in the winter she adds a jacket or blazer. It saves her a ton of time and money on dry cleaning and no one notices or cares because she always looks professional.

    That is really what men do anyway. Someone who wears a suit or even just slacks and a dress shirt– do we really know or care if they have more than 1 or 2. No, as long as it is clean and fits well, men could just be laundering and re-pressing it nightly for all the thought we give it (as long as I am not the one responsible for nightly ironing that is).

  • I agree that quality trumps quantity and savings every time – and for me one of the important parts of minimalism is that you save money by not buying all the generic crap and that enables you to have a few super nice things that can really be appreciated and enjoyed.

    I try to have the best of both worlds when possible, by shopping for quality goods that are used and/or vintage. In many cases, vintage or antique furniture has a charm all its own and is usually better made than comparatively priced than new particle board junk. When I found myself needing to find a new apartment and furnish it from my savings (it was sudden!) I shopped vintage shops for 90% of my furniture. My entertainment stand, couch, coffee table, side cabinet, night stand and dining table are all vintage finds and on the whole lot of that list I spent about $300 – and half of that was on the dining table. All of them are good solid pieces, and still in great shape and will last me a good long while (or at least they would if I wasn’t planning on selling everything and moving cross country with only what will fit in my car!)

    • I completely agree: for us minimalism is about quality, not quantity. We feel good about investing in things that will last and that we get a lot of use out of.
      Like your furniture info. We will be in the market for new stuff in the next few years. Vintage may be the way to go for price and quality. I.am.so.tired of Ikea.

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