Everyone loves a good deal. Finding shoes for $20 or a fabulous winter coat for $50 can make you feel like a veritable discount design ninja. And when you’re comparing two items side-by-side, it can sometimes be hard to tell why one costs twice the price of the other.
But as satisfying as it is to score cheap fashion, the truth is that there are differences—sometimes big ones—in the way that items are constructed at different price points. A “splurge” doesn’t have to come from the priciest boutique or the most cutting-edge designer, though. It can be an item bought at a department store like Macy’s as opposed to from a big-box retailer like Walmart or a discount chain like Old Navy.
In general, it’s okay to pinch pennies when you’re buying basic knits like t-shirts, underpants, accessories, or anything so trendy that it’ll be passé in a season or two. Just make sure that when you’re shopping for these four items, you’re willing to invest a bit more. It’s worth it.
Cheap shoes are more likely to be held together with glue, not stitching. They’re more likely to be made of non-breathable synthetic materials, which don’t wear as well or look as nice. And they’re less likely to have any features that provide comfort. Since shoes take a lot of abuse (and since pinchy, uncomfortable ones are so hard to ignore), they’re worth investing in a bit, especially for heels. Shoes that are made well from quality leather will last longer, feel better, and look better. Feel free to go the inexpensive route for flip-flops, trendy sandals, or simple flats, but for most shoes, you will get more when you pay more. (Cole Haan Air Juliana, $99.99 at Piperlime.com)