I Started Asking Myself This One Question While Shopping and It Completely Revamped My Style

You might want to start asking it, too.

Samantha Sutton
Photo: samanthasutton/Instagram

You know when you spot an outfit you love on Instagram, only to Google its price tag and find that it’s way beyond your budget? That’s basically what happened the day I came across my dream coat. It was made of mohair and had a plaid print, with different shades of brown and navy all mixed together in a very eye-catching way. It also cost somewhere around $1,000, which was probably fine for the famous blogger who was wearing it, but for me, an underpaid freelance writer at the time, it automatically meant I’d have to pass.

And yet, I still couldn’t stop thinking about it, days after the initial sighting. Part of me wondered if I should simply save up and make it an investment piece, but I just couldn’t justify spending my hard-earned paychecks on one single coat (no matter how gorgeous). So, I ended up doing the next-best thing: an Etsy deep-dive. I spent hours on the site, searching through pages and pages of vintage items until I came across something similar.

The dupe — which, technically, was created first — happened to be even better than the one I had originally spotted, in my opinion. It was still mohair and plaid, but it was jewel toned instead of neutral, which is more my style. Plus, it rang in at just $71 — a fraction of the $1,000 I nearly spent.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but this purchase would change the way I shop forever. My new-to-me vintage alternative received a ton of compliments (hello, it's cute!), and it was nice knowing that I now owned something a bit special. Seriously — what are the odds of me bumping into a person wearing the exact same old coat? The fact that it was secondhand and therefore the more sustainable option was an added bonus.

I suddenly felt inspired to start asking myself this question while shopping: Would I be able to find something similar and more affordable at a vintage store or on Etsy?

In many instances, the answer is yes, and these days, some of my favorite shirts, sweaters, dresses, and pairs of jeans are actually vintage alternatives to new items I saw and went searching for. Plus, with so many thowback trends happening at the moment, shopping for specifics has been a lot less stressful. There are a ton of older, unique cardigans and polka-dot pieces out there, just waiting to find new homes and get a second life.

Of course, I still buy new stuff from time to time — I'm only human and I work in fashion — but I do it less often. I'm not the only one who prefers this route, either. A bunch of celebrity style icons have proven to love an old Chanel swimsuit or Louis Vuitton bag.

Who knew lusting after a beyond-my-budget coat would end up being the best thing to happen to my style?

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