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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Another Hermes scarf...maybe?

As my devoted readers may recall, I fulfilled one of my low-level fantasies last year: I found a Hermes scarf at a thrift store. I like it.

Then, I was reading the blog of one of my readers--Viviennefiles (check it out if you haven't)--and glanced over at her blogroll, where I discovered a blog called aestheticalterations. Well, I'm all in favor of aesthetic alterations, so, my interest piqued, I took a peek.

Very interesting! Here is a woman who, with (I am presuming) an average income, manages to buy the occasional Hermes scarf, accessory, and even handbag. It can be done. This to me is the epitome of frugality: conscious spending so you can get what you want. What you want, of course, is up to you.

Most of us in the middle-income bracket assume we can't have certain things. I met the wife of a cardiologist (average income in my area $500,000-$700,000) who said she had never been to Europe because she couldn't afford it. Meanwhile, she was wearing many, many thousands of dollars of jewelry on her arms, neck, and ears. She had made her choice.

Since I was having so much fun with my scarf, I decided I wanted another. They cost $400. Can I save $400? Yes. I'm pretty sure it can be done. Could I spend $400 on a scarf? I have my doubts.

So I have decided to defer the decision. I will save $400. Then, in a year, if I still want one, I will think about it.

I even bought a little piggy bank at the thrift store.

Which one should I pick?


Jane W. said...

You can do it! Catherine's blog has motivated me to save for Hermes as well, and I purchased long-desired scarf on eBay.

Shelley said...

Well, I'll look forward to your spending $400 on a scarf and then telling us if you felt it was worth it to you. It's a choice, as you say.

I can imagine myself paying $400 for perhaps a leather jacket that fits me perfectly and will last the rest of my life. Since I don't shop for clothing in retail stores that much, it might be a long time before I find such a thing (so it wouldn't have to last as long, eh?)

The blog you mention is one I'm familiar with but there are so many negative jibes about my home state that it took the pleasure away for me, as interesting as the rest of it is. I'm not precious about Oklahoma - I know its many faults. I figure she made the choice to live there - another choice - and she should either make peace with that or move. Perhaps it's just me being overly sensitive.

Would I be right in thinking that's a really big piggy bank you have there? :=>

Marcela said...

I agree: "conscious spending so you can get what you want". I also doubt I would spend 400$ in a scarf...then again, I always wanted an Hermes scarf as well...
I just managed to save for something I REALLY wanted by using this method (a KitchenAid Stand Mixer). I told the story in my blog, if you are interested:

FB @ said...

I wish I loved scarves. They seem so chic and elegant...

For me, it's a good pair of classic heels I'm after right now. Saving up for it.

Duchesse said...

If you want to do it, you can! If planning another trip to France, there is an Hermes boutique in the duty-free part of Charles de Gaulle, so you would save quite a bit. Also see online shops like (Trusted seller!) (Note that some cost MORE than a new one b/c they are rare.)

You might enjoy checking out Hermes' web site to investigate patterns and colours.

Shelley, I have Hermes scarves that are 23 years old, in perfect shape- so I'll put them up against a leather jacket any day.

As for the woman with the jewelry, that could be me (except for her income!) When I hear how people drop thousands on a junket that would bore me to tears, I would rather have my jewelry.

I like to travel but view it as a discretionary purchase, not something I need.

Shelley said...

Duchesse - Yes, it did occur to me that a scarf would last a very long time. I'm just not prepared to pay for a *name*. "Needs" vs. "wants"...a subject my mind returns to a lot. I struggle with this time of year and it helps to remember all the things I have to be grateful for.

Duchesse said...

Shelley: Sometimes the "name" has been earned. In this case, one is hard pressed to find the refinement of design and silk printing at Hermes' level anywhere else for less. (Some Italian scarves are of similar quality but cost as much.) In some cases, you do get what you pay for. I have many other unbranded pieces but they are not silk prints.

Shelley said...

I'll concede the discussion on the basis that I've never to my knowledge seen a real live Hermes scarf. I suspect I'm too much of a Philistine to properly appreciate one but will try to suspend judgement until I can speak from experience. Next time we find ourselves in Paris, I shall definitely plan to check this out.

Frugal Scholar said...

@janeW--Thanks for the encouragement.
@Shelley--I might not do it, in the end. What I really want is to find another one at a thrift store. NOT LIKELY.

@FB--I'm a lot older than you are. I only started wearing scarves a few years ago.

@Duchesse--Do you-perchance-remember the cost at the Hermes shops at CDG? As I recall, airports have tiny tiny outposts.

@Shelley encore--I am a bit intimidated by the shops.

@Duchesse--Liked the scarf you wore in your post.

Marcela said...

Frugal: I just passed by CDG, and the cost of an Hermès' Le Carré was 250 euros (350 euros at the shop in downtown Paris).

Marcela said...

You should also check online. The 70 cms ones are 230 euros on their website, the 90 cms ones 292

Vivienne said...

The biggest problem with buying a scarf in duty free is the selection - they NEVER have as many scarves as the normal stores! I'm a big fan of buying scarves 2nd hand - there's a really robust secondary market for Hermes, and some of them are in absolutely pristine condition.

Revanche said...

I will hope that you run into another one at a thrift shop to save you the $400. Maybe unlikely but not impossible, and you do have the strangest luck!

And this made me smile as it reminds me of a retired friend, beloved dear, who whispered to me indignantly the other night, "X wants my Hermes scarves! She offered to buy them from me! As IF!"

Retiree is nearly 70 and tres chic in the most simple fashions and was in the way of wearing St Johns and Hermes etc. full price back in her power career days but these days she's in the crisp basics camp. And she very much frowns upon X and her extravagant designer bag ways, started in her 20s, so I suspect *I'm* much more likely to come across those Hermes scarves before X ever sees them.

They are lovely but I've never touched them. I think there's something a little gauche about trying to attain something right off someone else's neck, personally. ;)

Anonymous said...

I just happened to come across this article (and when I saw my name, my heart beat so fast! oh my goodness!) today while taking a break from work. Yes, it's Christmas Eve, I'm in Paris, my partner is napping, and I'm *working*. Well, right now, I'm taking a break. Anyway, you presume right--I have an average income, and it's all about saving explicitly for Hermès items. And since I can't afford all that I would like to have (not nearly!), it makes me choose very carefully. I'm also absolutely not adverse to second-hand items! That's been key. It's nice to get a brand-new scarf or piece of jewelry, but it's a rare extravagance for me. Plus, I like the colors and patterns of older styles (thank goodness!).

I should emphasize--I don't lead a typical middle-class life. We use one car, we don't have children, I don't want to buy a house (I've done it once--never again), the tools of my artistic trade are already acquired (photography equipment is far more expensive than Hermès), we don't buy furniture/etc., and I can't stomach eating less than decent food at restaurants and bars. I really think the first three make a huge difference in how fast I can save for anything.

I can't wait to see how your journey to a new scarf winds up. What color? What pattern? Oh--this is very exciting, and I wish the best for you!

jill815 said...

I am a huge fan of Catherine's blog, Aesthetic Alterations, and I am totally with her, Hermes items are worth it. Don't buy any of that other cheap crap out there, save for the good stuff. I buy so much less junk now that I save for nicer things. Also, I have to tell you, I bought my first 70cm Hermes silk scarf this year and it was worth every penny (and they are less expensive than the 90cm scarves). The silk feels like heaven, the design is classic, the colors gorgeous, and I will be leaving this beauty to my daughter one day. You should buy your next scarf direct from Hermes, not online, but at one of the boutiques, and it should be of a design and series of colors that you cannot get out of your head. Keep us posted! XO, Jill

Mel said...

If you had asked me 12 months ago if I would spend £320 on a scarf I would have laughed in your face. However, my Mother has always dreamed of owning one so this Christmas I decided to treat her to a Hermes scarf. I went to the store to help her choose and now I understand why people pay so much for a scarf. There is so much more to it than just another scarf. Its the quality of the silk, its the design (and designers), the time and effort to decide on the design, its the fact they are all hand printed, not to mention the fantastic customer service you receive....we spent hours in the store with an assistant helping us choose the right scarf and showing us some knotting techniques plus it is something you can pass down to generations to come and still be "in style" no matter how much time has passed.......I loved everything about that special "shopping day" and am now looking at buying one for myself.

Mel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frugal Scholar said...

@Mel--Sorry about the delay. You may be right. They are so beautiful. Even my oblivious husband can see the difference. Which one did you buy your mom? What a great present.