Fashion Milestones

Sophie Shaw
A first investment piece, whether it be a piece of jewelry, a handbag or a pair of shoes, is a fashion milestone worth more than the price tag alone.

Each person experiences a series of fashion rsts during his or her life. At age 20, I’ve acquired quite a few — my rst pair of heels, rst bra, rst tube of lipstick — to name several. These pieces of clothing, accessories or makeup are physical representations of memories and milestones. Tied to them are cherished moments and emotions of nostalgia, gratitude and sometimes even regret. They built character and re ected speci c periods of personal development. By remembering one’s fashion firsts, you can find what played key roles in the evolution of someone’s style.

Heel height was a big deal to me as a 5-feet 1-inch 13-year-old. Of course, I thought the higher the heel the better — however, my mother had a different, better-informed opinion. We compromised for a modest pair of black patent leather Steve Madden pumps that were about two inches high. They were shiny and felt special. I only wore them several times for the holidays, but having them in my closet made me feel like I had reached a certain level of maturity. The confidence boost they gave is the same that I feel when slipping on my favorite heels today.

Another fashion rst that has stuck with me is my first investment piece that I bought on a visit to New York City the summer after eighth grade. At the time, that meant spending more than $200 on an article of clothing or piece of jewelry. I had saved my allowance money and was waiting until I stumbled upon the perfect, topical and quite unnecessary thing to spend my savings on. I happened to nd it in a small jewelry store on Madison Avenue — a large faux turquoise stone ring set in a gilded gold band. It went over my head that I would be shelling out $230 for a piece of costume jewelry.

The purchase of that ring signified several important lessons, though. First, it was an independent purchase, something I bought for myself without the help of my parents. (In retrospect, however, I realize that the source of my income at the time was my parents.) Second, it was an investment piece. Investment pieces are so called for a reason — they will grow in value over time, whether it’s monetary or emotional. For me, it was the latter. The ring is still in my jewelry box and is one of my most cherished pieces. It represents a visit to New York that helped solidify my ambitions to go to school and make a life here. Purchasing that ring was a goal that I met, which led to bigger and better goals for my future.

These fashion rsts can lead to others, as well as play a part in big-picture life events. They can also give meaning to the pieces that follow them. After my rst pair of heels, I added a rst pair of stilettos to my bucket list, then I aimed for a rst pair of Christian Louboutins. And now, a $200 purchase no longer feels like an investment piece. I’ve graduated onto a larger scale. There’s a rst for everything, especially when exploring fashion.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 5 print edition. Email Sophie Shaw at [email protected]

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