The following items have long been viewed as investment pieces: Handbags, winter coats, classic shoes. Why? Because those three items get more use, wear, and abuse than other items. Even a favorite pair of jeans is unlikely to be worn every single day for the duration of a winter, and no dress or sweater will ever be worn as hard as a pair of shoes. Bras are occasionally added to this short list by style experts who recognize the importance of a good foundation, but everything else is up for grabs. You can invest in whatever you'd like, of course, but if you're seeking expert advice, it's generally bags, coats, and shoes.

And I've been thinking: If we based our level of investment on use patterns, wouldn't we also want to plunk down the big bucks for pajamas? Gym clothes? Panties? PJs get worn and washed constantly, receiving more wear-time and abuse than many coats and bags. And what could be more important than bodily comfort during sleep? Many of the new-fangled workout gear vendors seem grossly overpriced, but is $90 really an outrageous price for a pair of comfy, flattering, wicking pants that will get worn several times per week for years on end? And panties! My gosh, if we're investing in bras, why not knickers, too? There's nothing quite as excrutiating as having your privates pinched or squeezed, and if top-quality panties eliminated discomfort and doubt, wouldn't they be worth the dough?

It seems that the idea of an "investment piece" is linked to visibility and status as well as quality and use. After all, few people see our pajamas and even fewer our undies. We CAN invest in them, but those investments will only ever benefit our own bodies. Great bags, coats, and shoes help to construct our public sartorial personas, which adds value. At least, that seems to be how style experts are viewing things.

I am all for buying top-notch bags, coats, and shoes. It is good, sound advice that has endured because it makes sense, pretty much across the board. But I think that investing in items that get loads and loads of use, contribute to bodily comfort, and make us FEEL great is worthwhile, too. And that includes clothes that have little public exposure and virtually no glamorous appeal.

What do you think? Does it make more sense to invest in durable goods that are worn in public, or are private clothes investment pieces, too? Anyone already spending big on workout duds, PJs, panties, or other items? What are YOUR criteria for an "investment piece"?

Image courtesy Gap.

Sally McGraw is the author of Already Pretty, a daily blog about the intersection of style and body image. 

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