What you spend your money on

I just bought a pair of tights, dark brown fishnet; the best there is, reflecting all over again that there are only two kinds of women when it comes to tights, tights as distinct from stockings – another discussion: I digress.

There are women who find the cheapest they can get away with, use, abuse and discard them.

And then there are women who know what they want in terms of colour, fit and texture, and are prepared to pay for it because (barring accidents) those hose will be around for a long time.

I am in the second group.  Some of my tights are up for endurance awards.  And yes, I am a card carrying snob about quality most of the time.  Discard fashion does not do it for me.  Environmentally it makes me sick.

If I can find something cheaply (three cheers for Muji), I am very happy to do so but I don’t expect to and I would rather do without than compromise.

“It’ll do” isn’t my favorite phrase.  If a thing doesn’t work from the off, it never will.  I grew up immediately post WW2 when there wasn’t much of anything.  My mother remarked more than once that her definition of luxury was buying something and then not having to wear or use it.  So I am her luxuriously uncompromising daughter.

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Once upon a time we might claim “You get what you pay for” but sadly this mantra is no longer as reliably true as it once was.

Rows and rows and racks and racks of garments and accessories are all made in the same factories, whether for H&M or Harrods.  The Financial Times fashion writer Vanessa Friedman has described this process and with it, the narrowing of the range of colours.

There is great price snobbery.  The luxury brands have survived the present financial turmoil by being what they are and implying through their powerfully suggestive promotion, that if you can afford them, you too can be bulletproof.  But I have watched ranges climb from pricey to impossible and quality declined exponentially.

However, at the other end of the scale, I also bought a tube of hand cream for £1.42 which price suggests to me that it is unlikely that I shall ever see it again.  It is probably the end of an in-house range that didn’t sell well because it didn’t trade on current emphases like “organic” and “herbal” was not celebrity endorsed or merchandised competitively.

The tube is monochrome, the emollient is described as “conditioning”: like the old barrier creams, you can use it to cleanse after chores (celebrities don’t do those) and rinse off, or you can use it to protect.  I am three days in and I am delighted.  Though, heaven knows, if anybody had suggested I went looking for the cheapest hand cream, I would probably have laughed derisorily because I have too often bought cheap and thrown away – hand and body creams that didn’t absorb, mascara that clotted, soap that smelt disagreeable when wet, tights that sagged, a t-shirt that didn’t wash – so sometimes cheap isn’t saving.  On the contrary, it’s a false economy, dead money.  And I have long come up against the same thing in commercial chemistry as I have in medicines.

What works for the majority is sold heavily – by which I mean, sold to us and bought by us.

Just your hard luck if these things don’t work for you.

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Earlier this year, my trusted and true proprietary brand headache/flu remedy was suddenly no longer available except in “super” form – that’s another of those buzz words.

But I don’t want or need extra caffeine and I have tried the suped up edition which is not as digestible (my original reason for using the brand) as the straight forward version.  I sought out the sales assistant.  The product has been superseded, it was being withdrawn.

The best facial cleanser I ever had was Boots own.  Gone, gone, and never said goodbye.

More and more units, less and less choice.

I feel the victim of petty planned obsolescence and I am not alone.

But there aren’t enough of us to do anything but shop around and share our triumphs with our friends, who do the same thing in return.

And it isn’t new.

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At the beginning of modern mass marketing my mother said “As soon as you get used to something really good, to eat or wear or use, some so-and-so takes it away from you.”

The consumer society is nibbling at our toes.

One response to “What you spend your money on

  1. Thanks for a true article. I dislike the throw away society we live in. Some people buy everything in cheap stores and are clones of each other. After a few months, they throw the goods away and start again. I prefer to shop around and save up for quality things that last.

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