Expert-Approved Rules to Follow When Deciding if Your Fashion Purchase Is an ‘Investment’

Fashion investment

When it comes to fashion, the term “investment piece” is thrown around a lot. But unless you’re a super-seasoned shopper, it’s not always obvious if a new piece or pair of shoes is worth your hard-earned cash – especially when you’re buying online.

Add to that the fact that you could be buying pre-loved, rare or vintage items, and the whole process can become overwhelming fast.

But the good news is that heaps of people buy and sell fashion on eBay every day, meaning pre-loved items find new homes, clutter is cleared, extra spending money is made, and less clothing, shoes and accessories end up in landfill. Success simply comes down to knowing what constitutes an investment in the first place.

We chatted to TikTok star Queenie Tan about how to identify good (and bad) fashion investments, as well as her advice for buying, selling or flipping investment pieces in future.

Queenie Tan / @investwithqueenie

What’s an investment, anyway?

“An investment is something we purchase because we think that it will have a positive return in the future,” Queenie told POPSUGAR Australia.

And by “return”, she doesn’t just mean the cash you could make if you plan on re-selling a fashion item in future (though that is important) – it also pays to consider the value for money or cost-per-wear you’re getting (or not getting) when you buy fashion.

“When I buy fashion, I look for value for money and a low cost-per-wear or use,” Queen said.

“A bad investment or item would be something I buy [but] never wear or get any use out of. I prefer to purchase items which I will use often and have a low cost-per-wear.”

Dropping $1000 on a dress you only plan on wearing to one wedding, for example, isn’t a great investment because every wear effectively costs you a grand.

On the flipside, a good investment could cost you as just much, but would be something you can wear to the wedding, on holidays and to work functions.

“Buying something which is expensive but [that] I wear all the time is worth it, rather than buying something cheap…[that] I never wear and goes out of style quickly.”

What if I end up with a dud?

“If it isn’t something you use or wear, then consider selling it. Just because you don’t wear it or use it, doesn’t mean someone else won’t!” Queenie said, adding that re-selling fashion items helps to reduce the amount that ends up in landfill.

So, how can I flip an investment piece for cash?

“We all go through life stages [where] what we once loved and wore may no longer serve a purpose. In that case, if it’s been looked after, give it another life by selling it on marketplaces like eBay,” Queenie said, adding that the potential re-sale value of the item you’re buying should also be a consideration when it comes to your up-front investment.

“Even if something is expensive, I’m happy to purchase it as long as it adds value to my life, I know I will get a lot of use out of it in the future, and I can re-sell it,” Queenie said, adding that re-sale value isn’t guaranteed.

“Generally speaking, high-value pieces from known brands tend to sell well on platforms like eBay,” she said.

“I do try to keep the items I buy for a really long time and wear [them] out as much as I can. When I flip or resell, I [keep them] in good condition, keep the tags and packaging and, if it’s a luxury item, all the authentication cards.”

The brand, style, condition, and available quantity all influence how much you could get – or not get – for fashion items if you choose to sell them in future. Enjoy your pieces now, for sure, but also take care of them if you’d like to recoup some of the cost down the line.

If it turns out your purchases don’t reap as high a return as you’d hoped or you consider good vibes as valuable as real currency, consider donating them to charitable organisations that will put them to good use.

But what if I just really want it?

None of that is to say the emotional investment you make in bigger-ticket items is invalid, or that you shouldn’t buy things based purely on the fact that you like them. If you buy something you’ll only wear once but cherish for the rest of your life, that’s okay, too!

If you can afford it, be honest with yourself about why you’re making the purchase and resist the urge to justify a financial investment on emotional terms, and vice-versa.

Turn your things into sweet, sweet cash money by selling them on eBay. It’s super simple to sell and ship – you don’t need a printer, or even need to go to the post office with eBay’s effortless shipping options. Find out more here. Everyone’s a winner, when you sell on eBay.

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