I’d wager that 90% of my fancy-pants designer stuff was bought used or on DEEP discount. And although I re-sell some items once I feel I’ve moved beyond them (or admitted to myself that they were mistakes), I’m perfectly comfortable altering just about anything I own without regard to how it will affect resale value. Or perceived value. Or cachet.
Here’s a very concrete example:
Long ago, I bought this Botkier bag on eBay and I got a good deal, but it was still relatively spendy. The eBay seller photos made it look dark pink, almost magenta, which was just what I was looking for. So imagine my surprise when it arrived at my doorstep looking for all the world like it’d been marinating in Pepto Bismol.
Another feature that had wooed me were those long, dangly zipper pulls which give the impression of fringe without actually being fringe. They had gotten pretty filthy, as raw, exposed leather often does after frequent wear and use.
So what did I do? I went to the craft store, bought a magenta Sharpie, and spent 45 minutes carefully coloring the raw back edges of the zipper pulls. I’m sure that makes some of you want to yank your hair out in large handfuls, but ya know what? Doing so minimized the visible grime, made the overall impression of the bag be that of a slightly darker shade of pink, and made me happy. I carried it for a few years then ended up giving it to a friend when my style shifted to mainly neutrals, but while I still had it, I was really pleased with my DIY workaround.
And the underlying concept is that this object was mine. It belonged to me. I had saved up my money for it, and I’d bought it. I couldn’t return it,* at the time I was more interested in salvaging it than selling it, and I got to decide how best to make it work for me. Just because I’d spent more than $20 on it didn’t mean I had to leave it as-is. Just because it was fancy-pantsy didn’t mean it had to remain unaltered. I do trust designers to make good decisions and I generally seek garments and accessories that I feel are just right brand new. But I also feel like anything I buy is fair game for retooling and reconfiguration, should I see a way to make it more useful or versatile. I own my possessions, I won’t let them own me. (WendyB is fearless about reconfiguring her clothing and has had many designer items altered to her liking.)
The expensive items in our closets hold a lot of power. Many of them out-stay their welcome simply because they were so costly, and even if we never wear them they linger on, hanging from the closet bars in a cloud of guilt. But just because something was expensive doesn’t mean it’s perfect or necessary. And it definitely doesn’t mean that altering or tailoring it is forbidden. If a closet item is designer or spendy but not-quite-right, I’d encourage you to think about ways to make it right-er. Or ways to make your peace with letting it go altogether.
*This was a final sale transaction, and the seller had included many photos so I assume it was a monitor settings issue. If I hadn’t really loved the bag, unexpected traits and all, I might’ve fought for a refund. But in this instance, I preferred to create my own workarounds and they absolutely worked for me.
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Originally posted 2011-12-13 06:16:31.