Blue Jean Baby

Blue jean baby, L.A. lady

—Elton John

When I sat down to write this post, I almost didn’t use the Tiny Dancer lyrics above as an intro. Instead, I wanted to use the opening line from the Jason Isbell song Codeine, “If there’s one thing I can’t stand…” because when it comes to shopping for jeans, I CAN’T STAND doing that. So why I spontaneously ended up at Saks Fifth Avenue on a random weekday afternoon to try on denim, I have no explanation, except for the fact that most of my current options are soon needing to be retired. I was borderline desperate.

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Jeans: PAIGE | Jacket: Burberry Zip-Up Jacket – Sold Out, Similar, Similar

Desperation quickly turned into confusion because I had virtually no idea what size I needed (it can vary across three European sizes in the high 20s). And don’t even get me started on mid-rise versus low-rise versus high-rise versus cropped versus skinny versus boyfriend versus ankle versus brand… you get the picture. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet found a better way to shop for jeans than to grab a shit-ton (yes, that’s an actual quantity) of styles and brands in at least three different sizes and then lock myself in a fitting room until the attendant becomes worried.

Even after all that, I only came away with one pair of jeans that day. But I have worn this one pair more than I’ve worn jumpsuits in the past two weeks (and for me, that’s like a vegetarian eating a burger every other meal). So sure, I’ll tell you what I bought, but I have no idea if that will help you (spoiler: they’re PAIGE Hoxton Ultra Skinny – Mona) since trying on stuff seems to be the only option.

Now that I’m off my fairly pointless tangent, I can get to the original purpose of this post — mixing high with low, expensive with inexpensive, investment with temporary pieces. I’m not going to pretend that this jeans, t-shirt and bootie look is anything unique or fashion-forward, but it is pretty darn classic and easy to recreate when you’re low on outfit inspiration but want to look like you have it somewhat together. And while certain pieces are expensive, it’s because you can wear them this way and a zillion other ways for years… 1) because they’re timeless and 2) because they’re well-constructed. Seriously, I’ve had this same Burberry jacket since probably 2009.

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When I bought it, I was a young, fledgling accountant, and the fiscally conservative side of me disapproved of the purchase. However, the young 20-something who wanted to look cute in a quilted designer jacket somehow won out. It’s one time I’m glad she did because the secure stitching, the heavy zipper, the way the jacket perfectly conforms to my body have me still wearing it close to a decade later. I can’t say that for the majority of other items I purchased during that period.

It’s also not true of all expensive clothing items. But if I were going to invest in something, I would invest in a good quality jacket or a pair of jeans that make my butt appear way better than it actually is… things that you can wear day in and day out without people starting to think you’re Mr. Rogers and you only have one cardigan.

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Meanwhile, you can mix them — and counterbalance your pricey purchases — with things like cheap white tees and even booties that you bought at Forever 21 for your Penny Lane Halloween costume and still rock a year later. (Now you know why I had to use the Tiny Dancer lyrics for the intro… and now you also know why they’re a bit scuffed in the photo.)

Tell me. When building out your wardrobe, what do you splurge on, and why? Is it the construction or the timelessness? Is it both? Or is it even (gasp!) the label?

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