It gets bandied around so often that the phrase “investment piece” has come to mean almost anything that we’re willing to spend a little extra money on, but the truth is, a really smart investment buy can be one of the building blocks in creating the perfect capsule wardrobe.
Let’s face it, nobody wants to spend valuable time agonising over what to wear in the morning, and the right edit of well-curated pieces can be worn time and time again without feeling same-y, so if you’re looking for the key to a hard-working wardrobe, there are a few points to consider.
We already know that designer fashion and luxury buys look good, but some may even increase in value while also working out to have a low cost-per-wear (though some brands and products fare better than others). A smart sartorial investment might do both, but it may also just be a well-designed staple that looks as fresh 20 years down the line as it did when you first bought it, so, no matter the label, a good designer purchase is one that will change your wardrobe for the better.
At Who What Wear we’re staunch advocates for high-low dressing, and always pair accessible high-street pieces with strong, outfit-elevating, designer staples, and in a bid to shop smarter and more sustainably, a slow approach to buying less but better, feels more important than ever. So, by searching out the best designer investment pieces we’re looking for exceptional quality and well-crafted pieces that will withstand the test of time, not flash-in-the-pan trends that will fall out of fashion as quickly as they came in.
With timeless design in mind, I’ve set about finding you the luxury pieces that are well worth the investment. Think anti-trend, forever buys that aren’t tied to a buzzy aesthetic. Just the kind of classic, wardrobe essentials like a good quality coat, a comfortable pair of flats or a head-turning handbag that you’ll be happy to wear on rotation.
In my opinion, the best investments are quality fabrics, versatile basics and statement accessories that will seamlessly weave into your current wardrobe. So what makes the cut for best of the best? Well, In this list you’ll find old favourites like the Max Mara teddy coat, the new classics from Toteme, understated offerings like The Row’s perfect flat shoe, and statement, pulse-quickening pieces like Dior’s saddle bag.
So, keep scrolling for the best coats, jeans, dresses, bags, shoes and jewellery to add to your wardrobe now, but wear for years to come. These are some seriously stylish designer items that don’t come with buyers remorse.
Starting as we mean to go on (that is, with a crowd-pleasing favourite), you can’t say “Max Mara” without thinking about a tonal teddy coat. Come winter, a cosy coat like this comes into it’s own, and while everyones rushes to buy a new winter coat each year, you can rest happy in the knowledge that your teddy will look just as good as it did the year before, and the year before that…
It’s hard to believe that the first Burberry trench coat was designed in 1912 and we’re still wearing the same trend today. Sure, the original camel colourway goes with everything, but the midnight blue looks especially sleek.
It might not have hundreds of years of heritage behind it like some of the other brands on the list, but we consider Totême to be one of the new classics. The brands signature coat is a testament to it’s chic and refined aesthetic, and the soft cashmere blend coat is a perennial style that you’ll still love in 10 years time.
There’s a reason why influencers, editors and industry insiders all favour The Row. Its well-tailored, minimalist look is ideal for those looking for an “It” piece that won’t age, and although they might come with a hefty price tag, you cannot go wrong with the perfect white t-shirt, the best quality cashmere knit and a smart wool-blend coat. True wardrobe staples.
You’ll need a coat to prepare you for the worst winter weather too, and Acne’s quilted puffer is the definition of fashion meets function. Puffer coats might be having a moment as of late, but staying cosy will never go out of style.
You will have seen Agolde jeans many times in the last few years (even if you didn’t know it), but after the overwhelming success of the 90s Pinch fit, Agolde has quietly climbed the ranks to become one of the biggest names in denim.
You can always rely on Ganni to channel contemporary Scandi style with a fashionable edge, and it’s denim offerings are no exception. There are the usual fits (high-waisted, cropped and wide-leg) and the expected washes (stone, acid, indigo and black), but there are also new barrel legs, twisted seams and plenty of print to breathe new life into a tried and tested formula.
If Kate Moss’ recent turn on the Bottega runway in a flannel shirt and baggy jeans taught us anything, it was just how versatile jeans truly are. In the F/W ’22 show Bottega celebrated 90s minimalism, and S/S ’23 was a return to stripped down, laid back grunge, but what do the two have in common? Distressed blue denim of course. We’re excited to see what the rest of F/W ’23 has in store.
Since it’s start in the 2010s, LA based Mother Denim have built a name for themselves by specialising in super soft, casual denim inspired by 1970’s California cool, and garnering a legion of loyal fans in the process. Remember those pictures of Megan Markle at the Invictus games? Or Miranda Kerr in double denim? Both in Mother. Which just goes to prove, whatever your budget, these are a reliable place to start shopping for your best fitting jeans yet.
Perhaps not technically what you might think of as “designer”, but if you’re looking for reliable jeans, the founding father of denim is as good a place as any to begin. Levis are the blueprint for every denim designer to follow, making them experts in fit and form. Prices never exceed £150 for 501s (and only increase slight for a limited edition collaboration), but overall, there is a reason that Levi’s are synonymous with jeans, and I’ve had the same pair in my wardrobe for nearly 10 years. There’s just not beating that bum-lifting pocket placement.
We’ve long been fans of Self-Portrait dresses here at Who What Wear UK. Not only are they beautifully crafted, game-changing wardrobe pieces that take all the stress out of wedding-guest dressing, but they also come with a semi-affordable price tag too. With a style of dress for every possible occasion, Self-Portrait is now a celeb and editor go-to for romantic silhouettes, ultra-feminine palettes and prints, and impressive attention to detail that makes each piece look as though it cost four figures. What’s not to love?
Sorry wallflowers, but Taller Marmo just changed the dress game with some very bold dresses that blow the competition out of the water. If you’re in need of a dress that makes an entrance, you just found it, as Taller create feathered, fringed, statement gowns that are made to come alive on a dancefloor, and if you ask me, that makes them worth every penny.
Often the key to nailing timeless style is simplicity, and for Matteau, its just part of their DNA. Designed to seamlessly go from the city to the beach, these chic, dresses are all we want to wear as soon as the sun comes out, and should be a mainstay in your suitcase for the foreseeable.
The beauty of a flattering dress is that no matter the colour, print or style, looking and feeling your best is paramount, something that Norma Kamali understands all too well. With clever ruching and draping, Norma can turn a piece of fabric into an elegant gown, and although her designs haven’t changed much since the 1970s, they still feel as current now as they did then. Just ask Carrie Bradshaw.
Of all of the big kids on the block, Jimmy Choo is likely to be the first you think of when it comes to all-out glamour. They’re colourful, playful and unapologetically stylish, and thankfully for us, most styles come in different heel heights (so there’s no need to suffer in silence in a towering stiletto).
You know a brand has serious fashion credentials when it has a roster of celebrity fans like Anna Wintour, Rihanna, Victoria Beckham and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley under their belt. But what makes Manolo so popular? Well, it could be the eclectic mix of classic pumps, fashion forward flats and statement sandals that manage to elevate even the most simple outfit.
After following in the fashionable footsteps of fellow designer Manolo Blahnik, Amina Muaddi travelled to Italy’s famous shoe-making district, Riviera del Brenta to learn her trade, and after a stint with French couturier Alexandre Vauthier, the result is the eponymous label that we know and love today. Although still relatively “new,” it’s clear in Muaddi’s huge success that the tips that she learned along the way have resulted in an unmistakable style that is uniquely Muaddi’s–sparkling, Cinderella shoes for modern women who find the joy in dressing up.
Unlike most shoe brands, Christian Louboutin’s sleek heels have just as much a demand for them secondhand as they do bought brand new. Undoubtedly a testament to the collectability and “shoefie” nature of the red bottomed shoes, you might not be planning on selling yours just yet, but you can rest in the knowledge that if you do change your mind, you’ll be get a fair price for them.
I’m going to go ahead and say that these Prada loafers were the first to kick start a trend that is still going strong, 3 years later. Until the logo loafers came onto the scene, we were quite happily wearing simple ballet pumps as our flat shoe of choice, then this polished, no-nonsense preppy shoe kicked it into touch, and suddenly we were left wondering what we wore before chunky loafers and jeans.
If however, there was any shoe that would challenge the chunky loafers dominance, it would be a flat from The Row. Just when we thought we wouldn’t seen the return of the ballet shoe, it came back around and more elegant than ever, particularly after a minimalist make-over courtesy of the Olsen twins. From the streets of Paris to the London underground, the appeal of the ballet flat is universal, so everyone, of age, style or size can appreciate the comfort of this easy pair of everyday shoes.
Proof that they are more than just rockstud sandals, Valentino Garavani’s flats are shoe for the ages. A case in point, the pointed toe pumps–a ballet-shoe-mees-mary-jane, crafted from glossy patent-leather and with a chic almond toes. All of the classic Valentino hallmarks are there, most notably the single ‘Roman Stud’, but it is the brands nod’s to historic Italian architecture that makes them feel like a work of art.
Gucci may have changed hands after the departure of Alessandro Michelle, but one of the pieces that survived his tenure and will most likely continue long after, is the horsebit loafer. Wear with socks in spring, bare-legged in summer, and of course with tights in autumn and winter–this simple but effective all- rounder is what you get when you mix a basic black shoe with an Italian eye for style.
Let me guess, if I were to ask you to imagine a designer bag, is the Chanel flap bag one of the first to come to mind? Thought so. It is the very definition of the word iconic. Given Coco’s penchant for looking in the mirror and taking one accessory off before leaving the house, it’s ironic that Chanel’s most coveted pieces would be bags, shoes and jewellery, but there is a new generation of Chanel bags (like the new Hobo tote), that channel the timelessness of their predecessors while still feeling bang up to date. Whether you’re buying vintage and preloved, or brand new in store, Chanel bags will always hold their value, and in fact, prices of the classic flap bag doubled between 2012 and 2022.
Sex and the City has a lot to do with the success of some of the brands on the list, but none more so than the Fendi Baguette. Prior to 1998, a baguette was still just French bread to most shoppers, but after a fashionable feature on one of TV biggest shows, the Fendi baguette was, and still is, one of the most sought after styles on the market. With another series of And Just Like That greenlit and a guaranteed Fendi cameo, expect demand to skyrocket once again. And, it just so happens to help that a new collection of SJP approved bags in covetable candy colours has just been released.
An unexpected cat among the pigeons is Loewe, and after a string of successful It bags (the raffia tote, the puzzle, the flamenco, the hammock and the cubi), we can always count on JW Anderson to ruffle a few feathers. Bold, punchy design combined with luxe fabrics and easy wearbility has made Loewe one of our favourite accessories designers of all time, and that’s no mean feat when considering the legacy of some of the established fashion houses.
2022 was big year for “big” bags. In the top 10 bestsellers were the Prada Cleo, the Bottega Jodie, the Balenciaga Le Cagole, the Gucci Jackie and the Saint Laurent Le 5 à 7 Shoulder Bag, but when it comes to the best performers of all time, the Saddle bag always sits in the top 10. From its instantly recognisable shape to the sheer amount of colourways and prints we’ve seen over the years, the saddle bag always manages to reinvent itself for the time, keeping its look young and fresh. Be warned, there are plenty of copies on the market, but for the lucky owners of an authentic bag, you’ve got yourself a wise investment that will only look better with age.
Birkin or Kelly.. Birkin or Kelly.. Birkin or Kelly.. It’s a difficult toss up between the two, the Kelly is of course Hermés slightly older and more purse friendly option, but the Birkin is the bag so good it once had a 6 year waiting list. If you google where to buy a Birkin now, the chances are you’ll be directed to a resale site, where it’s easier to get your hands on a bag than in the store, so for those looking to invest in a bag of this cost–be sure to do your research. If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is, so I recommend trying authenticated auction houses over private sellers.
If Daniel Lee’s tenure at Bottega Veneta gave us anything, it was some seriously good accessories. Yes, the chunky soled ankle boot caused a phenomenon that is still trickling down the high street today, but it was the bags in particular that stirred up a whole new fan base. From the Jodie to the pouch clutch, woven leather is cool again. and despite Lee’s departure in 2021, his legacy is still felt in the new era of equally desirable shoulder bags, totes and crossbodies that the brand is still releasing today.