By "saving money" I mean spending intentionally for best value, by the way, not completely not spending.
In my opinion, to achieve great style, I have to choose where I spend money (invest) and where I save (skimp) over time for the best long-term outcome. I am interested in style, not fashion, in the end.
What's worth investing in?
- A good haircut. Ergo, a hairstylist you trust and whose work makes you feel goooooooood is worth the money. Make sure it looks good for seven weeks, and you'll need 7-8 cuts annually.
- Effective, brightening haircolor. Ergo, a good colorist who won't ruin the texture of your hair while adding bright, appropriate shading. And can you keep the ratio of color: cut to a 1:2 visit sequence? If not, go for it, but talk to your colorist.
- Skin care. Good quality, reputable skin care including serum, moisturizers, eye creams and foundations. Not cosmetics, but daily/nightly targeted skin care. Worth every penny for long-term products that will protect and replenish your skin's condition.
- Sunscreen! Given the numbers about skin cancer, sunscreen needs to be worn every day, no matter what, and you need a complete spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen of SPF 30. This also improves the condition of your skin overall and certainly of your face.
- Vitamins and high-quality/organic fruits and vegetables. What you put in shows, now and long-term, in your muscles, skin, nails, hair, and eyes. Seriously: buy the good stuff. Organic fruits and vegetables have higher nutrient value, free-range/grain-fed meat can be eaten in smaller quantities for tastier dishes, while good vitamins, minerals and greens enhance it all.
- Shoe inserts for high heels: every pair! Get good ones: the benefits, short and long-term to your feet, ankles, knees and hips are mah-ve-lous. Replace as necessary.
- Similarly, take your new shoes to the cobbler and get rubber heel caps and half-soles put on. This will preserve your new shoes and make them safer to walk on.
- Bras. Invest in well-made bras fitted by an experienced saleswoman (not the teenagers at Victoria's Secret). No one product makes such a difference in your shape, confidence and comfort. Buy 2 new every six months.
- Shaper lingerie: hey, if the size 2 women on the red carpet wear 'em, so can you. Spanx or other brands, get hold of quality shaper lingerie to wear under your clothes where you need it: under trousers, under skirts, under dresses, under blouses and t-shirts. If you tend to go up and down a size or two monthly, shapers will help you eliminate jiggle and bulge (my two least favorite words!).
- Scarves. The accessory that does it all. Color, texture, spot/highlights. Around the handles of your purse, around your neck, around your head, around your waist: crazy-easy style.
I try not to spend money on cosmetics or elements that won't last very long on my skin or things I can do myself. For example:
- Lipstick or lip gloss. While there are a ton of department store/high-end brands that are very seductive to me in terms of packaging or claims (hello, Chanel!), I find that good old drugstore brands are actually excellent, considring that lipstick/gloss needs to be reapplied every couple hours. No matter what. Revlon, for example, has several varieties tht provide more than enough colors. (And after all, how many different pinks do you need, meaning that you will wear at least once/weekly?) Ditto Maybelline, who is really making an effort in this area. I buy and use the lip gloss from Sally Hansen: great texture and comes in four shades of neutral (clear, blush, mocha, and rosy, I think) none of which have more than a hint of color.
- Nail polish: I will buy Essie and consider it a great savings over, again, the seductions of Chanel. The variety of colors and the 5 to 7-day last makes this a bargain. Even better bargain? Sally Hansen and Revlon, which has not quite so many shades as Essie, are my go-to drugstore brands.
- Make-up brushes, manicure tools, sponges, and so forth: I buy Sally Hansen, Revlon or Sonia Kashuk (Target). Great quality without the high-end price. Tweezers from Tweezerman (Ulta).
- Blush: I buy cheap. Yes, Nars gets lots and lots of applause, but seriously? I'm reapplying blush as often as lipstick. Cream or powder, drugstore brands are fine. And again, how many shades do you need?
- Eyeshadow: L'Oreal, Ulta, and Maybelline offer fine-milled eyeshadows in a variety of shades. (And how many shades do you really wear, per week? C'mon)
- Eyeliner pencils: Buy NYX. Cheap cheap cheap but non-irritating and great variety of smooth-drawing colors. Everything from kohl black to glittery pale blue. And about $5 each.
- Mascara. Unless you have sensitive eyes, buy Maybelline's Great Lash and be done. NO ONE can tell which brand of mascara you wear -- NO ONE. Great Lash is the go-to for every makeup artist in the world.
- Mani-pedis: do it at home. You can clean, condition, trim your own nails and give yourself both a manicure and a pedicure on a lazy Saturday afternoon or a quiet Sunday night. A Zen task for serenity. Turn salon mani-pedis into a reward for something great, because after all it is the treatment, not the nail-painting skill you crave, right?
- Pantyhose and Tights: Buy cheap, especially if you snag regularly. These are not meant to last or bear the weight of a designer pricetag, and we all know it. My only caveat: buy the right size and don't compromise smaller or larger. That only results in saggy knees and ankles, or feeling like a particularly well-packed sausage all day. Do buy good quality lingerie bags if you wash them in the washer on gentle, or good quality handwash soap: that will make them last longer.
- Body or Hand lotion, butter, or moisturizers: I favor old standards in this area, and I get great results. Why spend on really expensive lotion? I can also experiment through a variety of textures and scents and not feel guilty about giving away a bottle I don't particularly like. (I used to love The Body Shop's Papaya Body Butter--huge recommendation!--but they discontinued that scent and I don't like any of the others, so...)
Your choice. Choose one area where you'll buy designer and spend big as an investment in an overall great look, and let the others go by. Literally, bye-bye. Invest in classics and ne wary of spending big for this season's color/shape/junk, because "this season" will be gone and you'll be paying the credit card bills. This includes:
- accessories like scarves, belts, and bling (see above re: scarves, however)
- eyeglasses or contacts, and sunglasses (including inexpensive readers)
Here's a little thing for you, in the subject. Become a curator, an observant buyer and an investor.