Which products do you splurge vs save on? Thought I’d share a few thoughts along these lines…
+Olive oil — In general, I have found that buying the absolute best quality ingredients I can find makes a marked impact (improvement) on the flavor of our food. A couple of specific ingredients that make a notable difference in our daily dining:
PLUGRA/KERRYGOLD BUTTER — OR EVEN BETTER LOCAL BRANDS WE OCCASIONALLY BUY AT BUTCHER/SPECIALTY FOOD SHOPS (THE BUTTER QUALITY IS ESP NOTICEABLE IN BAKING)
BRONZE CUT DRIED PASTA — WE LOVE THE BRAND AFELTRA, CARRIED BY EATALY…IF THERE IS ONE THING YOU TAKE AWAY FROM THIS BLOG, LET IT BE THAT AFELTRA PASTA IS INFINITY TIMES BETTER THAN THE STANDARD BOXED STYLES YOU BUY AT THE GROCERY
HIGH QUALITY SPICES AND PEPPERCORNS — WE BUY FROM SPICE HOUSE IN CHICAGO (THEY SHIP AT REASONABLE PRICES) OR KALUSTYAN’S HERE IN MANHATTAN
+Shampoo — This is an interesting one. I either go way high or way low, toggling between Oribe’s Shampoo for Beautiful Color and Pantene Pro-V. I find that a lot of the brands in the middle — around the $25 mark — are just smeh. Not worth the incremental cost compared to my tried and true Pantene Pro V. A few times a year, usually when on promotion, I will splurge on Oribe, which I believe to be the absolute best shampoo on earth. I’ve tried several of Oribe’s lines and have loved them all (especially their volumizing shampoo), but right now use their Shampoo for Beautiful Color.
+Towels — 100% worth the splurge in my opinion. There is nothing more luxurious and satisfying than drying off in a thick, absorbent, fluffy towel. My favorites are Matouk and Yves Delorme. I actually learned about the latter when I stayed at the elegant and storied Carlyle Hotel on the UES a million years ago. I got out of the shower and almost swooned at the quality of the towels in the bathroom! I immediately looked into where they were from, and — after discovering they were Yves Delorme’s Etoile — ordered them on the spot. They are so soft and so absorbent. I did find that the colored style I initially purchased (a sage green) lost color rather quickly, even though I followed their laundering advice, so have stuck with white when re-purchasing.
+Bedding — I believe Boll & Branch are the best sheets I’ve ever owned. They are pricey, but not compared to some of the old school brands, like Matouk, which I’ve also owned. The sheets are very soft and seem to only get softer with time. I’m hooked.
+Makeup Removing Wipes — I love this product category in general. Easily one of the best innovations in skincare in my lifetime — do you remember the years before Neutrogena released their novel cleansing wipes?! Makeup cleansing towelettes simply did not exist! Anyway, I’m a sucker for this product in general and find them so handy for post work-out or 5 p.m. glow up or when I’m too lazy to properly scrub my face at the end of the day. I have tried dozens of brands, and I love trying them all, but at the end of the day, if I run out of a high-end brand, I’ll shrug and return to Almay Oil-Free Makeup Removing Pads and my Billie Wonder Wipes. I will never be without either of these well-priced products. I use the former daily to remove eye makeup. They are the perfect size, the perfect saturation (not too wet or too dry), and cheap! The Wonder Wipes are absolutely magical for removing makeup and leaving a lovely glow thanks to their infusion with Vitamin C serum.
+Fitness Gear — I have been highly impressed with the longevity of my Lululemon pieces. They wear absolutely beautifully. This is one of those cases where I feel the expense is justified, especially given how frequently I wear their leggings, bras, tanks, etc. I also find the fit and materials superior to most less expensive brands. That being said, I have also had really good luck with Gap’s fitness items, which you can often find at a considerable discount. I have a few items of theirs, including a shirt similar to this, that I’ve worn since…gosh, the beginning of my marriage? Can you believe that? I am also still impressed with the quality and fit of these Amazon leggings. Those are the two best inexpensive fitness items I’ve come across since getting into a regular fitness routine.
+Laundry Detergent — It’s drugstore Tide for me. I’m something of a nut about laundry, and I’ve tried loads (ha) of brands, but Tide is consistently the best at treating stains and, well, keeping whites white and darks dark. I splurge on several other laundering items (ahem, the best starch spray on the planet, which is literally 12 times as expensive as Niagara), but Tide is la creme in my opinion.
+Peter Pan Collar Onesies — This is ultra specific but if your children are in peter pan collared onesies as much as mine were, splurge on the Kissy Kissy. No one makes them better (and I tried them all, from H&M to Primary to Babidu to Rachel Riley), and they last forever. I used all of the ones I bought for mini for micro and will pass on to little nieces and nephews.
+Eye Cosmetics — I buy mostly prestige cosmetics here — I tend to find the colors more sophisticated and the formulas longer-lasting when I spend more on eye shadow in particular. (I especially love Laura Mercier’s eye palettes. I find her formula has a nice velvety finish that lasts for a long time, and the colors can’t be beat.) However, a big revelation for me was discovering Nyx eyeliner. I had previously been a devotee of Stila’s very similar formula but I find absolutely no difference in these two products — and Nyx is about 1/3 the price. My one gripe is the applicator is not quite as high-quality as Stila’s but — eh! For the price?! For mascara (my absolute favorite, can’t-live-without cosmetic product), I almost always go with prestige brands. I cannot rave enough about Giorgio Armani’s Eyes to Kill mascara if you look a full, glossy look as I do. It delivers major results but is not hard on the lashline — since I switched to Armani, my lashes are naturally much fuller and longer. The formula must be gentler than other brands! That said, I do think very highly of L’Oreal’s Voluminous Mascara. I have purchased this a few times in a pinch and it is a really good quality mascara for under $10.
+Denim — In college, my girlfriends and I were obsessed with denim. We spent a fortune on new jeans — this was back when Seven, James, True Religion (!), Paige, and Joe’s were big. I probably had a dozen pairs of designer jeans! I’ve weeded out a lot of them since, and now I toggle between J. Crew (mainly purchased on sale — just picked these up) and J. Brand almost exclusively. In other words, I think this is a category that totally depends on which brands fit you best. I have seen equally chic women swear by and look amazing in Gap denim, and others who are most at home in Khaite. For me, the brands that fit my body best are J. Brand, J. Crew, and Paige, though I haven’t been as into the Paige styles in the last five years. I believe (sob) I have it on good authority (sob sob) that J. Brand is going out of business, so I have been stockpiling pairs. They are having a ridiculous up-to-85%-off sale and you can also find them on sale all over the web…I love this pair of white denim of theirs for only $52!
+Hand Soap — A mix. We use Mrs. Meyers at the kitchen sink since we go through it with alacrity given how much we cook and, well, COVID, but I keep all of our bathrooms stocked with these fancier brands, which I find in general tend to be much less drying (and so elegantly perfumed).
Other totally random things I save on —
+I almost always save on fresh flowers by buying bodega blooms in the same colorway and then arranging myself. They can look wonderful and cost literally 1/4th of what it would cost to have a professional arrangement.
+Simple, inexpensive white plates show food beautifully. I really like them in the square format, especially for plating a row of appetizers!
+I buy white t-shirts in bulk from J. Crew. You can sometimes find them under $10/pop if you wait for promotions/stack codes. These fit wonderfully and there’s nothing more classic than a white tee, great jeans, and your favorite shoes.
What about you? Where do you splurge vs save and why? Any under-the-radar bargains that I need to test ASAP?!
P.P.S. Who else just bought new shades? Future’s looking BRIGHT!