Ask Belle: What to Buy with $250

Jan 7, 2016

Dear Belle,

My parents usually take us on a short trip for the holidays but this year, they just gave us money.  I’ve thought about how I want to spend it, but I was wondering if you have any suggestions for how to spend an extra $250?

Caitlyn

I’m a big believer in cost-per-wear: that an item is only a good value if you will use it and wear it regularly.  So to spend an unexpected windfall, I recommend that you spend a bit of time thinking about what you wear regularly, anything you think is missing from your wardrobe, and if there are any often-worn pieces that you want to replace with a more expensive, higher quality version.

Here are a few items that I would be looking at for myself based on what I wear most often and what I will continue to wear in the future.

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Dooney & Bourke Saffiano Zip Satchel ($228)

This bag has a classic dome shape, a sleek look, and comes in 17 colors.  I chose the grey because grey can be worn with any outfit, and it’s dark enough for winter without being too dark for summer.  Other bags to try in this price point include: The Michael Kors Selma satchel (own it, love it, the Kors Hamilton satchel-tote hybrid, and, for something more hip, the Rebecca Minkoff Micro-Reagan satchel.

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Loeffler Randall Jolie Pumps ($245)

I love a cool shoe.  I own these LR pumps in a different material, but they are surprisingly comfortable.  They also have a sleeker look than your average kitten heel.

Other shoes in this price range to consider include the Kate Spade Karolina pumps, the Cole Haan Bethany pumps, or a pair of gently loved Christian Louboutin’s from a re-seller.  The Colette pump from J.Crew is also worth a look (their shoes are the only thing I buy there).

When it comes to jewelry, women often wait for relatives or significant others to buy them the ‘good stuff.’  I like to buy myself a nice piece of jewelry when I accomplish something important.  That way, every time I wear it, I remember that I can take care of myself.

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Monica Vinader Riva Ring ($255)

This Monica Vinader ring is one of my favorites.  She also offers the same look in a small round. These 1/4 ct. square diamond earrings from Zales are a pretty option.  I also like these $100 vintage Chanel studs from WGACA.

Not into bling?  This ring from A Peace Treaty is gold with an ivory inlay, and it.is.so.cool.

These are my picks, because accessories always get a bit more wear than clothing.  So what would you spend a spare $250 on, ladies?

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  1. Cait says:

    I love the idea of buying yourself a really nice, classic piece of jewelry! After having a million cheap-o pairs of fake pearl stud earrings that always broke or the metal turned green after a week, I bought myself a nice pair of real ones and it has made such a difference! I feel great whenever I wear them and I know I’ll keep them and can wear them basically forever.

  2. Carly says:

    I bought myself a watch. Karl Lagerfeld has some nice ones in that range.

  3. Megan says:

    In this house at this time of the year, it’s would not be out of the question to spend that $250 on 10 pairs of SmartWool socks. However, I agree that high quality basics are the best choice. The ever-elusive neutral-colored crossbody bag that doesn’t look immature comes to mind. A pair of gloves that will match most of the coats in your closet is always a good investment if you live in a colder climate (my boyfriend seemed to really like his Hestras, but gloves seem to be a highly personal thing). And I recently purchased a pair of Aigle rain boots that earned their keep this fall.

  4. Denise says:

    I also agree with jewelry! I get a bonus each April and (after taking of my kid’s 529 plan funding) like to buy something nice for myself to reward my accomplishment. My vice is David Yurman. Find myself wearing the pieces during big negotiations for motivation

    • Molly says:

      Stella and Dot’s Christina Link necklace is a gorgeous Yurman lookalike. We had some embarrassment at Christmas when someone got the real thing and I got the S&D and they’re nearly indistinguishable – DY is slightly shorter and yellower and I like mine better. I feel embarrassed again after looking up the price of the DY one. S&D necklace on sale for $53 now! Look up Liz Smith in VA (not me) if you need a stylist to credit it to. 🙂

  5. thb says:

    Great Choice Denise and Cait – Cannot go wrong with jewelry.

  6. Addie says:

    I recently started wearing yellow gold jewelry a lot more and I’d like a ring to go with other pieces I own but something about my skin chemistry destroys cheap costume jewelry very quickly, especially when they’re “gold.” So I need real gold if I want it to last, that’s what I’d spend an extra $250 on.

  7. Mrs. Jones says:

    I would get the Lo & Sons Pearl bag.

  8. Nony says:

    This is a non-apparel suggestion, but I would immediately spend $250 on pantry organization. Why those bins and canisters are so expensive is beyond me.

  9. Hash she says:

    @Nony

    Get thee to the nearest dollar store if you are looking to organize your pantry!

  10. Jill says:

    A couple of years ago my mom went with just cash for the holidays, and I bought a nice little necklace from Tiffany & Co. (Go with silver, and your money can actually get you something lovely.) I wear that necklace all the time, and I always think about my mom.

  11. Bunny says:

    This is such a good conundrum to have! I don’t get bonuses but I usually try to do something fun and something practical with my tax refund — three years ago I used it to buy my wedding dress so it was both! This year it’s going to be new tires and plane tickets to Arizona.

  12. Molly says:

    Just got a $250 Christmas check, too…. Bought a Roomba. $349 at Costco but will make up the delta by cutting back on Handy cleanings. AS-yet-unnamed Roomba is terrific. 🙂

    • Kay says:

      Yes! I need to invest in one of those because cleaning my floors is my most-hated-for-unexplained-reasons chore.

  13. Shari says:

    I had a similar windfall. Bought a J Crew Lady Day coat. I’ve wanted one for a long time..

  14. JNic says:

    Agree with Belle’s advice about filling a gap or upgrading what you already love. Also agree with the person above that said the Pearl bag. A nice pair M Gemi flats or Frye riding boots, or another silk Equipment work blouse would all be high on my list.

    I want to get on the expensive jewelry train, but I worry that I would live in fear of breaking or losing expensive items. One of those weird signs of adulthood that still make me nervous…

  15. SN says:

    Put a little of your own money in and buy an Hermes scarf. It will last forever and go with everything.

  16. Kay says:

    I wear rings everyday, so I would get a piece of fine jewelry I can wear with anything. While I love that Monica Vinader ring (and Monica Vinader in general), I would be wary of investing that much money in a gold-plated ring. Gold plate on a ring or bracelet is likely going to chip quickly as you knock your hands into things.

    I’d go with:

    https://vraiandoro.com/products/round-diamond-stacker-pair#.Vo8Y-GxIjIU

    or

    https://www.arielgordonjewelry.com/collections/rings/products/dual-birthstone-ring?variant=715817259

    I own two of the Ariel Gordon rings and wear them stacked everyday. 🙂

  17. Jenn S. says:

    For me, I’d probably invest in either a pair of boots or a couple pairs of jeans. I agree that accessories are an excellent option because they get more wear, but I just bought a bag (Surprise – Halogen’s bags are lovely! I bought the one Belle mentioned in this October post https://caphillstyle.com/capitol/2015/10/12/ask-belle-uniqlo-cardigan-two-ways.html), and I’m really minimalist when it comes to jewelry.

    That said, I’d love to get a string of pearls and/or pearl studs at some point, but the boots and jeans are higher up on my list of priorities.

  18. betty says:

    Am I the only to suggest saving instead of spending? You won’t miss it because you weren’t expecting it 🙂 Maybe save 1/2 and spend 1/2? I’m panicked about retirement and it’s one of my resolutions for 2016 (save more!), so it was the first thing that came to mind when I read this. I live vicariously through other’s spending, however, so loved all the suggestions!

  19. JH says:

    My mother offered my sister and I a similarly large Christmas gift last year. Instead of buying something for the closet I upgrade the closet itself. New system, ceded lined, and hangers that won’t crease your clothes.

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