A Sunglasses Epiphany


I mentioned in this post that I’ve been ruthlessly weeding my closet and trying to build it back up with things I really love so that it’s not such a chore for me to get dressed.

(If you ever wondered if you are living with First World Problems, a good rule of thumb might be that if getting dressed from a closet full of clothes is a chore, the answer is absolutely “yes”).

I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly I want to be wearing on a daily basis and what sorts of things I ought to be buying. How much should I spend? Do I go cheap or expensive? How many items do I need? Should I do a capsule wardrobe? Etc, etc, etc.

Then I went to run an errand with my girls a few weeks ago and couldn’t find my sunglasses.

I have this really nice pair of sunglasses that I wear every single day. I got them as a fluke when I happened to mention on Twitter last summer that I’d made an eye appointment to get new contacts before we went to Europe and I tagged VSP because that’s who I have vision insurance through.

They responded and said something like “Thanks! Send us your address and we’ll mail you a little gift.”

And then this pair of super fantastic Valentino sunglasses showed up on my doorstep a few days later. And like most things I didn’t pick myself, I loved it. I never would have bought them for myself since Valentino sunglasses run in the $200-$300 range.

Anyway, so I own a really nice pair of sunglasses and unlike every cheap pair of sunglasses I’ve owned throughout my life, the lenses haven’t scratched, they haven’t gotten bent, and every time I see them in a photo I think, “These sunglasses are fab.”

Sunglasses 1-001

And when I couldn’t find them (I found them later that afternoon. . . in my sunglasses case. Who would think to look there?), I grabbed one of my old cheap pairs and cursed them all the way to the library because they were so cloudy and scratched, they hurt my ears, and they slipped around constantly.

Suddenly I thought, “I don’t need ten pairs of sunglasses! I’m better off having one perfect pair and never having to think which pair to wear or trying to buy and organize multiple sunglasses.”

This was seriously a revelation to me. I’ve always steered way to the (way) cheap side of fashion and then been unhappy when everything I own doesn’t QUITE fit right or my shoes hurt or everything pills or frays in about three washes. I guess, at almost thirty, I’m reaching the stage of life where I’m realizing that a lot of the time cheap things are cheap for a reason (and I’m sad about it).

Shortly after this, I ordered my third or fourth pair of black jeans from Twice (I’d returned the first couple of pairs because they weren’t quite right and I forced myself not to think “well, they are so cheap, I’ll just keep them”) and when this White House Black Market pair arrived (which were 80% off, happy times), they were perfect.

And because it was the RIGHT pair, rather than an almost the right pair, I haven’t spent a single second looking for black pants again. I only need one pair, as long as it’s exactly what I’m looking for.

Every single time I’ve worn them, which has been about five times in the last two weeks, I’m so so happy with them.

In the past, I’ve always picked things based pretty much 100% on price, but then since it’s never exactly right or it lasts all of five minutes, I continue looking for the same thing over and over again. And despite having a shelf full of pants, I don’t actually have any pants (or shoes or shirts) that I actually want to wear.

Right now I’m on the hunt for a single perfect pair of sandals for summer.

I don’t need ten pairs of sandals. I just want one pair I can wear every single day.

And because I’m only looking for one pair, I feel like it’s okay to spend a little more on them, rather than buying four pairs of cheap sandals that wear out quickly, don’t really flatter my (weird) feet, and never are what I want to wear when I’m getting dressed.

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  • Reply Meg ~ Chasing Pink Fireflies May 5, 2015 at 11:42 am

    My dad always told me to choose quality over quantity for that very reason – comfort and durability. When I have gone against that rule I always find myself getting frustrated when something shrinks like crazy (or shrinks in an uneven way), starts unraveling or falls apart quickly. So I ultimately spend more than if I'd just paid for a good item the first time around! Although there are definitely items that go against this for me – trendy things or items that really have to be replaced frequently like cotton short/ long sleeved t-shirts.

  • Reply Stephanie May 5, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    I am capsule wardrobe all the way. I spend a little more on each piece but they last a long time so it's totally worth it and I love everything I have – no feelings of "meh" about any one piece.

  • Reply Christina Harms May 5, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Check out the Clarks brand for sandals. I've owned two pairs and LOVED both (my dog chewed up the first pair and I cried). I only have my one pair of Clarks and a pair of flip flops, and that's all I need. I think a lot of people are having this quality versus quantity revelation lately and I'm glad!

  • Reply Landen May 5, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Yep. We discovered this about a year ago, and it has totally changed the way that I shop and wear stuff. If I don't love it, I don't keep it. This doesn't happen ALL the time, but for the most part, it has worked really well! (some things are hard to get rid of, for sentimental reasons…). Also, I have VSP and wish they would send me $300 glasses! You really are the luckiest person ever!

  • Reply Paige Flamm May 5, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    I love this post! You and Landen have both inspired me to do this with my closet! I purged everything a few weeks ago and only have about 5 shirts in my closet right now, but I really love those 5 shirts, and while I should probably get a few more, I don't want to get anything unless I love it! We went shopping at TJ Maxx last week and I picked up 5 shirts, but then found something I didn't love about all of them and put them all back… The most restraint I've ever exercised at one time.

  • Reply Meghan Arnold May 5, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    I've been slowly coming around to this idea. Stuff seriously piles up when I go out looking for deals, instead of shopping for what I know looks good on me and what I'll keep wearing. It's such a hard habit to break. I did find a brand of skinny jeans that work fantastically for me and are simultaneously cheap. I will wallow in that victory forever. I'll also drop the cash on sandals and flats, because there is way too much crappy, disintegrate-y footwear out there. The expensive ones become the better value if you have to replace the cheap ones four or five times over the course of the former's lifetime.

    In short, you're totally onto something here. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Kait Waters May 5, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Just something to think on as well- spending a bit more on clothes often helps you avoid purchasing items of clothing that were manufactured in sweat shops. Some people care about that, some don't; I do consider it when purchasing new items. Designer doesn't always equal ethical (for example Burberry only has two small factories in England, the rest are in other countries notorious for cheap labor). That said, you can spend a bit more on brands like Shabby Apple, Land's End, or the "made in the USA" section of Nordstrom and feel GOOD about your purchase; plus have that purchase last much longer.

  • Reply Amy Johnson May 5, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Yes! I've been having the same revelation over and over again this year, too! Maybe there's something about turning 30? I'm also on the hunt for a great pair of sandals, so I'd love to see which ones you're thinking about!

    • Reply Amy Johnson May 5, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      That said, I love my $2 pair of flip flops from Old Navy, so cheap doesn't always equal discomfort.

  • Reply Kristin @ Going Country May 5, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    But then what happens when your children break your $200 sunglasses? As mine would do, because breaking things is like their hobby. I think I've gone through three pairs of sunglasses in the past two months. Which is why my current pair were $12.

    Also, I am currently buying clothing at the thrift store, because I have nothing that fits my weird in-between, four-months-post-partum body for summer, but I refuse to buy a lot of expensive new stuff for a size I definitely do not intend to be next year.

    Cheap has its place, is what I'm saying, though I agree with the general premise.

    • Reply Janssen May 5, 2015 at 7:31 pm

      Happily, my sunglasses have managed to survive almost a year (crossing my fingers they continue to be safe).

      And I agree about not buying expensive stuff – our budget is super small because my husband is in school, but I've been buying nicer things from places like Twice where I can get high-quality for a low price instead of my usual low-quality for a low price.

      And I don't think that cheap necessarily HAS to mean poor quality. My favorite pair of jeans cost me about $10 (they were on sale, but the full price was still only about $20). But I'm trying to avoid buying things solely BECAUSE they are cheap.

  • Reply Loribeth Tanner May 5, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    I am right there with you!!! Also, those sunglasses are perfect!

  • Reply Mjt May 5, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Love sam edelman for sandals, havaianas for flipflops. I got mine at nordstrom but rack carries them too every now and then. They are theme park friendly (my measure for what is comfy)! They last forever!

  • Reply Kayla FrecklesinApril May 5, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    I've had this revelation approximately 18 times over the past 5ish years and STILL end up buying a lot of cheap not-quite-right crap. WHAT IS MY PROBLEM.

    I did just order a $100 swimsuit though, so…we'll see how goes.

  • Reply diana May 5, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    I completely understand this yet it's hard to get used to buying high quality (expensive) over the cheap stuff. I try to find the "one perfect" in a lot of aspects of my life. Like I want just one perfect brownie recipe, one perfect chocolate chip cookie, one perfect mascara, etc. I don't like a lot of options!

  • Reply Lauren May 5, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    I feel you. I love this idea, but in the past it's meant that shopping takes foreeeeever. My budget is still the same, so I'd have to score amazing deals on stuff in the clearance section of nice stores. Finding ThredUp has been a revelation for me. Now I can go and buy a $200 brand of jeans for $35 gently used. And instead of filling my closet with jeans I don't love, I have a few pairs that I am head over heels for (the fit really is so much better for me). It also feels more ethical/eco friendly to shop there first before buying new.

  • Reply Heather Holland May 5, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    I think it's all about deciding which items you need to splurge on/get good quality and which items are okay to get cheaper. My philosophy with clothes is that I get nicer basics that I will wear more frequently, like jeans, jackets, basic tops, etc. and cheaper items that are maybe just a trend, like jewelry for example. I don't mind getting cheaper tops too because if I have more options I won't wear the same ones all the time and therefore they won't wear out as quickly.

    Like I said, this is just what I've started doing and it has been working for me for awhile but everyone's different!

    Heather //

  • Reply Whit May 6, 2015 at 12:02 am


    And, sandals- I have done lots of research (aka shopping) on this topic because I live in AZ, and if you need comfortable sandals, may I recommend my three fave brands? Clarke, Kork-ease, and… Birkenstock, So trendy for such a good reason. Clark's occassionally has great sales, and you can find both Kork-ease and Birkenstock at Nordstrom Rack.

  • Reply Kayla May 6, 2015 at 3:34 am

    I am learning this same lesson right now as I am trying to "grow up" my wardrobe because I will be a full-time teacher in the fall. My selection needs some serious updating and I think making sure I get better quality things that I LOVE will be key.

  • Reply Melissa May 6, 2015 at 5:02 am

    My sister and I have been talking about this a lot lately. I did a capsule wardrobe for Lent and I still haven't put the other clothes back in my closet. I too steer to the cheap side, but when I look at what has lasted the longest it is almost always the investment pieces. However, I do not see myself investing in $200 sunglasses anytime soon.

  • Reply Julia Manfredi-Hobbs May 6, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    I can totally related to you on this subject! I tend to buy inexpensive items, but over the years I have learned my lesson. Since I can't afford to be spending TONS on money on clothes/shoes/accessories, I tend to buy second-hand items of high-end and great-quality brands and/or designers, or buy them when they are on clearance. Or I make my own clothes (most of the time) and pay extra attention to details. 🙂

  • Reply Feisty Harriet May 11, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    Ten years ago I figured this out a little bit…I started calculating "cost per wear" or "cost per year" for my clothing and it was a major factor when purchasing anything. When I was 21 I found a pair of gorgeous metallic gold espadrilles that I paid full price for, $125 bucks (gulp!). I wore them all that summer to try and justify the cost to myself, like, twice a week every week. The more I wore them the more I loved them. And here I am, 13 years later (!!!) and have worn them all summer EVERY SUMMER for 13 years and super sad that they finally are too shaggy to wear. Dothe math: that's less than $10 per year for fantastic summer sandals.

    I have paid $20 for a pair of shoes I've worn for a few months and then stopped wearing because they hurt my feet/made my feet smell/fell apart/whatever, and somehow thought I was getting a deal because, you know, $20 bucks. But at $20 for 3 months of wear, those shoes are $80 per year.

    Cost per wear, man, it will change EVERYTHING.

  • Reply Raiding My Sister’s Closet: Wardrobe Workhorse – Everyday Reading April 17, 2017 at 11:41 am

    […] few years ago, I wrote a little love letter to my sunglasses. They were a really nice Valentino pair and I loved them so much. Every time I put them on, I felt […]

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