You may have heard the old story of a craftsman who challenged his customer by saying, “you can have the work done fast, or cheap, or good. If you want fast and cheap, it won’t be good. If you want cheap and good, then be prepared to wait a long time. If you want fast and good, it won’t be cheap.”
So you can only expect two out of the three. And how does that translate into clothing purchases?
Well, if you follow ‘fast fashion’, the super-trendy stuff, it’s cheap and quickly made, quickly on the market, changing styles often. Fast fashions are usually fairly inexpensive, because they are meant to be discarded after a short time. So fast and cheap, but not good.
If you really love one of these fast fashion garments, prepare to be disappointed, because they are rarely made well enough to withstand dozens of wearings. I have had this happen to me, and I hated losing something I adore, partly because I am convinced that eventually it will come back in style. I also hate when the only way I can join a trend is to purchase cheaply, because the well-made or designer trendy stuff is so expensive that by the time I have saved enough money to buy it, the item is out of fashion already.
The customer who is interested in ‘classic’ styles is often willing to invest more money to get quality that lasts and looks good for years. Take a look at some of the more fashionable British Royal Family members. (Although Kate, Meghan and Harry are also masters at making more moderately priced garments look like a million bucks. Or is that pounds?) So now we have not fast, not cheap, but definitely good. Hmmmm……
But what about those of us who want something good quality that won’t break our budget? Maybe something trendy, yet still high quality? Sometimes investing a little time is all it takes to discover a source for high quality garments at lower prices. That’s the joy of thrifting. Or of discovering a little-known manufacturer whose standards are higher than average, while their prices remain within reach. And that can, if we are lucky, provide us with fast, cheap, and good.
There’s also the fashionista habit of mixing ‘high-low’, which refers to a couple of very different practices, or approaches, to fashion. These approaches work the fast, cheap, or good aspects in different combinations.
One high-low approach is mixing high-end (expensive, high quality) garments with low-end items, such as an expensive jacket with an inexpensive tank top or t-shirt. Many people use this approach to stretch their budget, since the expensive garment gives the inexpensive item a ‘halo’ of higher quality.
Another high-low practice is to mix high fashion or trendy items with classics, such as when you pair your designer leather motorcycle jacket with a classic pencil skirt. The idea is that you gain street cred with your on-trend outfit, or impress people with your access to high-end designer wear, without breaking the bank.
Do the high-low approaches work? I am definitely a believer in mixing it up this way. I feel like it stretches me fashion-wise, giving my look a creativity and edge I would otherwise not be able to achieve. In the fashion and entertainment industries, high-low is the quickest way to signal others that you are unique and creative.
I am not a fan of head-to-toe designer looks, or head-to-toe mainstream either. I hate seeing people who look like they just put on exactly what was shown on the store mannequin. But that’s just my opinion. I love when people have a look that is unique to them; when they don’t fade into the background by looking just like other people. I totally admire those people who can look wildly different from everyone else and are confident in their look.
A high-low approach to personal style can give a person a wildly different look, or just tweak a classic look enough to project personality and confidence.
And especially if you shop thrift stores for the high-end items, it can allow you to have it all, fast, cheap and good!