Fashion & Beauty

Name Your Price for a Clothing Refresh

January 17, 2017



LAST JANUARY, MyLittleBird posted a story on a Wall Street Journal article that revealed the high price of beauty these days as recounted by three women in their 40s. We encouraged our readers to tell us how much they spend in a year on “maintenance” (haircuts, blow-dries, mani-pedis, hair color, also injectables). Responses tallied from $235 to about $7,000 and included one helluva hilarious list from LittleBird Stephanie Cavanaugh.

In a similar vein, in a London Times story last week, Times fashion director Anna Murphy polled her friends and colleagues (lawyers, real estate agents, civil servants, writers) on what they’d spend on an item of clothing for a “sartorial refresh” this time of year. Be it shoes, bags, jackets or pants, Murphy found that almost without exception, their “sweet spot” was between $300 and $450.

Which got us wondering about our own spending on clothes. Would you be outraged at the thought of shelling out more than $700 for a perfectly cut pair of pants from, say, Celine or The Row, or would you see it as a smart investment; is $250 for a Theory silk shirt reasonable or ridiculous? What’s your limit for a new handbag—what brand? Coach, LongchampZara?  What about loafers—$375 from Ann Mashburn, $175 from online-only Everlane?

As I mentioned last week, my most recent purchase was a $400 ultra-warm sweater jacket from Iro. It was a wardrobe pick-me-up but was also very valuable in the weeks ahead when the Fahrenheit fell to single digits.

So, we’d love to hear what you feel comfortable spending for shoes, boots, or that handbag or jacket you have your eye on. Please reply in comments or send us an email to Thank you!

—Janet Kelly

11 thoughts on “Name Your Price for a Clothing Refresh

  1. linda kastan says:

    You know that I don’t think about shopping like everyone else does — well, most everyone else. First, no mid-winter perking up for my wardrobe. I dress mainly in black, it will always be black and winter is the best time for that non-color color. I already have enough contrasting color pieces in my closet, be they white, blue, beige, or even fuchsia and chartreuse (I love chartreuse!). My shopping in winter slows down. Sales are perfect places not for picking up something I know I am going to wear, but rather something out of my comfort zone or just plain fun. I can stroll down Madison Ave. and check out stores for sales items that meet those criteria (also including something I fall in love with), but a bright color doesn’t play a part.
    I buy make-up in winter and summer, and if I am going to bring color into my winter look, it will generally be through a change in makeup.

  2. Barbara Goldman says:

    After these past several emotionally trying months, some “retail therapy” was needed! So, did some damage for shoes and slacks online, but each item turned out not to be as great as they looked on line. So, made several returns, which in turn brought me into the physical store! More damage done in person!

  3. Dasha Karelina says:

    Having surveyed my fall/winter wardrobe options recently only to discover that they are 99 percent black or in the same two shades of gray, I turned to Etsy for a splash of color. First, I ordered a poppy red linen blouse with lavish embroidery on the sleeves from a seamstress in Ukraine. It took a month to arrive but it was worth the wait: gorgeous, beautifully cut from heavyweight linen and it goes with all of my black pants, jeans and can be paired with shorts in the summer. My second purchase was a colorful traditional Pavlovo Posad wool shawl from Russia, to complement all those black coats and sweaters in my closet. It will easily work with spring and summer outfits as well.

  4. Christine Singer says:

    What price comfort and I don’t mean the elastic waistband kind. I mean soft, unstructured, probably gray, well-made (unlike a brand we all want to love but that comes apart at the seams all the time — cutting corners on seam allowances is the mark of a cheap manufacturing chain) — clothing that goes on with no fuss, looks stylish enough for any lunch in NY (sorry DC) but relaxed enough for the walk through Central Park with your lunch companion afterwards. $500 to $1,000 for the outfit, acquired over a bit of time. And lasts five years at least.

  5. Christine Ledbetter says:

    I splurged on L.K.Bennett boots with silver studs because I had to have them. Also, they were a little bit on sale.

  6. Bonnie Casper says:

    A cashmere sweater or sweater dress. Between $200 and $300 on sale.

  7. Carol Lichty says:

    I spend more on shoes (thanks, Janet, for recommending Sole Society) than anything else. I like nice handbags too. Have some Coach and Hobo (out of Annapolis) that I love and will have forever!

  8. Jodie Klein says:

    My big coup this season was a pair of Top Shop embroidered booties for $69. Every time I wear them I get compliments, and they add a freshness to every outfit.

  9. Stephanie Cavanaugh says:

    Clothes Encounters on Capitol Hill is my haunt -latest coup: $25 for a $750 Johnstons of Elgin Scottish cashmere turtleneck. I might add, it was also a favorite of late, great gossip columnist Diana McLellan. Once gave her a birthday gift certificate for the $2 basket, odds and ends of things that haven’t sold. (For example, an absolutely glorious silk-lined, bronze-sequined skirt that’s as light as a handkerchief, from the Italian brand Genny.) Anyway, Diana used to check the basket at least once a week, picking up a scarf or a funky hat or something… so when her birthday rolled around I convinced the owner to sell me a $2 gift certificate — which they did specially for Diana, who was one of their favorite shoppers.

  10. Nancy Gold says:

    I spend much too much on clothes and shoes, and bags, and make-up. The biggest thing I spend money on is black pants, in all iterations, though generally on sale. There’s a great boutique near me with wonderful European under-the radar designers, and I wait for their 70% off sale. I have tons of black pants, and I love and wear all of them.I can spend anywhere from $100 to $300, depending on how much I like them. Designers like Sarah Palini, Ivan Grundahl, Trippen. Smaller brands at this place, which is called Erdon.

  11. bonnie schloss says:

    My price is low. Clothing is better when it’s on sale and shopping for a bargain is my therapy. Just spent $160 at Desigual’s (my favorite store) 70% off 2 sweaters 1 dress 3 long sleeve shirts. Money left to spend on crafts in Colombia.

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