My mother is a firm believer in buying high-quality fashion items and taking good care of them to make them last long. She is a quintessential “investment-type”. She does not buy anything from the “fast-fashion” brands such as Forever 21 and Zara, and that isn’t just because she is older. Her sweaters are mostly cashmere, her shoes Italian leather. She also rarely strays from her signature style –a pencil skirt with a boatneck top or a slim-fitted pant with a U-neck– and neutral colours –beige, navy, black, and white–. The way she adds colour to her looks is via accessories, namely pashminas.
Now, I have not entirely followed suit to her method, and instead will spend hours sifting through the piles and racks of clothing at Forever 21 and H&M. I also tend to pick out “statement” pieces, such as a mid-length skirt with a baroque rose print from Zara or a boy scout uniform shirt bought on a whim at a thrift store in New York. I adore classic silhouettes and idolize the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, but I have found that I like to take those classic, flattering silhouettes and use non-classic patterns and bolder colours to add some personality, per se. Now, I am very short (4’11” to be precise), so I always like to be in heels. Even with sneakers, I feel the need to add a height insole. With heels my legs look longer and I have to admit that I am impartial to the clickety-clackety sound that my heels make when I walk.
However, I realised (stereotypically) in the shower that I will be turning 21 this June, and probably should start investing in jewellery that I admire and believe that I will be able to wear for a long time. As for clothing, I am not sure that I am ready to ditch the problem patterns, large floral prints, and primary colour bodysuits yet. I’ll ditch them once I enter my 30s. I think. But as for jewellery, I’m starting to harbour a desire to buy better things.
I got my very first pair of Tiffany’s earrings when I graduated from high school. My grandmother, mother, and I went to the Tiffany’s in Ginza, Tokyo, and my grandmother got me the Elsa Peretti Eternal Circle earrings in Sterling Silver. In that perfectly lit store I was astonished by the sheer calibre of the clerks. They were incredibly knowledgeable and polite, and the beautiful diamonds glittered at all angles, catching every light there was in the room. It was my first piece of “investment jewellery”, and I was beyond mesmerised. It was a giant leap from the Forever 21 studs and hoops I was used to wearing.
And so today I took myself to the Tiffany’s in New York, Fifth Avenue. I had gotten my second investment earrings last year when I got the Return to Tiffany mini heart tag earrings in Sterling Silver. This was an indirect present from my uncle, who gave me the money to buy the earrings as a gift for getting into college. This time I was alone, and the money was going to come from my own pocket, money that I had worked long and hard for over the course of 2 summers. I decided that I wanted a simple, timeless ring in either rose gold or sterling silver, and walked into the lavishly decorated store. A few teenagers were clutching their street-bought danishes and coffees outside one of the windows, relishing in their cliched “breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Once I got into the store I was asked whether I needed assistance and was then directed to the 3rd floor. I tried on the Tiffany T wire ring in rose gold, and oh god it was marvelous. It gleamed and neatly embellished my frail fingers, and I very nearly dashed off with it. I asked the tired-looking clerk how much it was, and he replied “$750”. My heart sank. I could realistically afford it, but could I justify such a large purchase? Not today. I thanked the clerk, roamed around the floor while alert clerks watched me, and left once I could not bear the buzz of tourists discussing their purchases and the clerks’ apparent disapproval of me as a non-purchasing customer. Tiffany’s, as it seemed to me, had lost it’s elegant charm.
I may end up making that investment, I may not. But I must say, I am more than a little bit disappointed. All I wanted was a ring! (and some respect).