Every January I write a post on quality items to spend your holiday cash or gift cards on. This is the time to think a little before blowing it all. As kids, my mom would say as soon as we got some cash in a card, it would burn a hole in our pockets. My brother would run off to Radio Shack to get some kind of circuit board kit and I would be off to Contempo Casuals at the mall. Anyone who is near my age and grew up in California will remember that trendy spot of colorful edgy clothes!
After I bought myself an angora sweater or a glittery blouse, I was always wishing I had saved for something better and one year I did. I drove myself up to the city -San Francisco, and marched into the Gucci store and bought myself a small oval bag for the prize sum of $400, which was a lot of money back then for a twenty something. This is the same exact bag- now being sold for $500 online and some want $1,000 for it!
I wore that bag until it gave out. It upgraded all my less expensive items and got so many compliments over the years. I felt chic and didn’t need other bags, just that one. Not sure where it ended up, but that taught me a lot about how a quality item would be a smarter investment than several less expensive purses. My grandmother always said buy nice shoes and bags and everything will look expensive. My mother and dad always believed in buying better things for the home as well.
I still get a Christmas card with money (thanks dad) and as I’ve gotten older I tell my sons to hold onto it and buy one nice thing. You can blow $100 on three okay things, or buy a good pair of shoes to elevate all you own. Now it’s more likely closer to $200, but you get my thought process here. If you’re so fortunate to have a little wad of cash from the holidays, think about buying things that have long-term payback. Think about things you wouldn’t normally get yourself.
This is a good mantra to keep in mind as we enter a new year- and when you’re shopping.
Good Things To Consider Spending Your Holiday Money On..
Number one to me is always a house item. How many of you still have rugs and lamps that have been bought when you first got married? When you got your first apartment? I rest my case. Rugs and lamps are the work horses of the home and yet how often do we upgrade or replace? They don’t usually break down and so we continue on with just okay items that could make a BIG difference in your space and quality of life!
Rugs are the biggest bang for your buck and a beautiful place to get rugs is Serena & Lily. This is not a cheap place, but it’s an excellent place. The rugs are beautiful and fantastic quality. My Stella Rug is wool and it has been excellent and shows little wear. I recently moved it to my main living space and I am still love how pretty it is as well as soft. Just this rug alone gave the whole space a luxe look.
I prefer wool rugs for long wear and maintenance, but I also have one of their Seaview runner in polypropylene in the kitchen, below left, and a one of their recycled denim rugs, right, in my den/office (similar here.)
Both have been wearing well! I also like their Carlsbad Rug, which is a soft blue in geometric pattern.
Pottery Barn also has excellent rugs and their wool ones have yet to wear out for me. I’m currently obsessing on this lovely Gena Rug which is hand loomed and think it is elegant for a bedroom!
Lamps are another fantastic investment! I finally replaced my Pottery Barn dark gold bedside lamps after having them 26 years. They still work and are now off doing duty with my sons. Talk about money well spent!
One of my goals in 2022 is to finally replace my bed and get some lamps that are as good as the ones I just passed to the kids. I’m kind of in love with these Dauphine Lamp that would be a lovely paired on a bedside. This lamp also comes in a lovely floor lamp if you have a space that needs some elegant illumination..
I also love this Tinsley lamp which could work in so many spaces – an entry table, bedroom or the family room. It’s cute and adds a nice whimsical touch to an area.
How great are these Faris Ceramic Lamps from Pottery Barn? They come in an ivory or black, in large or small sizes.
Another pretty option from PB for the bedside or in a living room is this cool Bennett Recycled Glass Lamp.
New towels are a good way to start the year. Get rid of your old nasty towels. I have bought these towels and they are wearing so well, I just got another set -and they are on sale now.
Sheets are also a good idea and linen sheets are worth the splurge. They are so comfortable and warm in the winter, I forget they are also a dream to sleep in, in the summer. I have two sets of these.
Probably my most favorite home purchase last year was this Celeste Coverlet from Crate & Barrel. It’s the most beautiful looking layer and it feels like a dream. I have this over the sheets and in the winter it’s our blanket under the duvet too. It provides a soft layer and smoothing this over the sheets in the morning and folding the comforter at the end makes the bed look effortlessly pretty.
Coats are another smart use of your money and that if bought well, should last many years of wear. Coats give you instant style and I think a wardrobe needs a decent trench, a good wool coat, and a puffer to start. Look at my last post for some good long puffers to keep you cozy and stylish in the colder months.
A well made black wool coat is something that will feel great every time you put it on and a good one won’t be too heavy and have nice details like this Rails Bristol Wool Coat. I especially love the back details.
J.Crew has been a great go-to for coats as they use special mills in Italy to craft beautiful and long-wearing wools and my J.Crew Cocoon Coat is still excellent shape after almost 10 years! They have had this coat since 2006 and this year it’s in different colors, but same great styling.
They also have another version with a higher collar and buttons in a forest green and black. Love!
And if you’re ready for a truly beautiful piece this reversible coat by Armani gives a wardrobe so much versatility.
As I mentioned above a good quality pair of shoes is always something I think about when I want to splurge a little and tall boots are something I bought a few years ago and am still loving so much. I bought a flat, lug sole riding type boot and they create chic outfits paired with leggings and sweaters, jeans and blouses, and casual dresses. For the cost my pair has had hundreds of wears and has many years still left in them. If you don’t own a nice pair, they are something to consider.
One thing I’ve bought myself is a better jewelry when I have extra dollars. It’s smart to invest in some good pieces when you can, that will last you years. Ippolita is an Italian American designer who I wrote about on a blog post here. I adore her beautiful pieces that are made to fit the female body and are like art pieces you can collect.
She says 99% of her sales are from women buying the jewelry for themselves! That says a lot. So if it’s time to give yourself a lovely piece of jewelry her silver pieces are an affordable way to began like I did with the Jet Set Earrings. Last year I also bought myself this simple bangle I pair with my watch. I also love her lollipop necklaces like this one below. Her whole collection gold and stones as well as silver here.
A wonderful cashmere or wool sweater is something you can appreciate for years. AllSaints makes lovely ones and I’ve managed to add one of their sweaters to my wardrobe almost every year. My favorite is many years old and is nearly identical to this asymmetrical one and is a mix of wool and yak and doesn’t pill. I also love this Arvid Cable Knit Sweater in grey. Many of their excellent sweaters are marked down too. The whole collection here.
Brochu Walker is another brand with gorgeous sweaters and I’ve had the short sleeve off the shoulder sweater and the long sleeve, the cardigans with the built in collars and hem on my wish list for a while. Who wouldn’t agree these are gorgeous and could give you so many fun wardrobe options!
Lastly, a good bag, as my grandmother told me, can last you decades. Styles change, but I find the older bags I have spent some money on, still look good and are even cooler than new. That said, if you are in the market for a quality bag that isn’t thousands, I like London based Demille, . They make excellent hand crafted bags in Spain and have a charity called, A Bag, A Life, which funds lifesaving vaccines and medical treatment for children in SOS Villages.
It’s no wonder so many people feel proud to carry these bags which I think are fairly priced for a luxury bag and helping the world at the same time. I would prefer to see these kinds of bags become the ‘it’ thing to carry versus the extremely expensive designer bags.
Other ideas for spending your holiday cash..
- A photo shoot of your family by a professional done outdoors. So many great ones you can find locally now on places like Instagram.
- A piece of unique art by a local artist or one you’ve been following. I think original art is one of the best ways to give your home a personal look and feel.
- Use your money to by a series of classes – cooking ( Sur La Table is always a good one), a new language, dance or painting. Do something challenging you haven’t tried before.
I hope this was a fun post and though I know a lot of these items are expensive, what I want tis for people to think about is buying less, buying better and like Europeans, think of purchases as investments to last a long time. Sticker shock is something Americans have an issue with. They have no problem coming out of a department store with $200 worth of clothes, but will balk at a pair of shoes costing the same. The result is a lot of inexpensive items that don’t last and end being donated or in landfills. The new year is a great time to reset our spending habits and shop less and shop better when we do.
If you can’t even go there with these higher cost things, second hand is what everyone is doing now and the best way to shop for these better pieces. I will share my sources for great second hand finds and chat about shopping your closet on our upcoming Signature Style on January 18th so stay tuned!
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