In every woman’s head, lives a number. The maximum amount that she’s willing to pay for a handbag, a pair of shoes or a dress. This number is a complex calculation derived by subtracting debits from credits and accounting for intangibles like number of wears possible, the quality of the garment and pure, unadulterated lust. But when a woman on a shopping trip looks at the price of an item, the synapses fire at rapid speed, weighing the item’s price against the magic number.
For me, even if I had a checking account balance in the nine-figure range, I’m not sure that I could ever spend more than $1,500 on any single item of clothing. Sure, I love the designer clothing that I cyber-stalk on Net-a-Porter, but the idea of paying that kind of money for something made out of cloth makes me uncomfortable.
At my current salary, and given my obsession with fashion, my numbers are reasonable but roomy. For a purse, $500. Though I will happily buy deeply-discounted Rebecca Minkoff bags on Gilt Groupe anytime she wants to purge her warehouse. Same goes for Mulberry.
For a dress, I’m happiest with a frock in the $150 to $200 range. But if the perfect dress appears, as it has upon occasion, I’m willing to spend up to $500. I happily emptied my piggy bank two Christmases ago so that I could purchase a gorgeous Chanel turtleneck dress with gold buttons running down the back.
As for the shoes, this is where women tend to be the most flexible. After all, unlike clothing, shoes can be repaired, resoled and reheeled almost indefinitely. My neighbor, Clara, has been wearing the same pair of Louboutins since the 1980s, though they’re on their 17th red sole. But even with this knowledge–and having come of age in an SATC-obsessed world where Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik were worshipped like gods–I still can’t pay more than $300 for a pair of shoes.
Everyone has an upper boundary, an amount that just feels like too much. And what one person might considered wasteful consumerism another will see as a bargain. I’ll never forget the day Oprah extolled the virtues of Tory Burch’s affordable tunics for several minutes before the price was revealed to be almost $300. The looks on the faces of her audience members were priceless.
So what is your number, how much do you consider to be too much to spend on an item even if you love it? And do you judge women who buy things that cost significantly more than you consider reasonable?