Nobody WANTS To Buy Cheap Boots

An NYT Hot Take Implies We Opt For Budget Versions Because We Don’t Know Better

Kinky Boots

This NYT story by Carl Richards, the Sketch Guy — blithely titled “Spend The Money for The Good Boots, And Wear Them Forever” — has one small but fatal flaw: it assumes people want to buy the bad boots, or the bad ski pants, or whatever. That we do so because we don’t know better.

Paradoxically, you can actually spend less by spending more. … For those of you who have been buying the cheap pants for years, consider this an invitation to throw them away for the last time, and to start saving money by buying better pants once.

This take: it is almost too hot. It has scorched my fingertips.

The idea that people simply need “an invitation” to buy the $300 version of something (which will last) as opposed to do the $30 version (which won’t). That it should come as a surprise that better-made items cost more for a reason, and thus we should all feel free now to buy furniture from ABC Carpet and Home instead of IKEA.

Bollocks. We don’t shop at IKEA because we’re stupid, we shop at IKEA because we have to: because we have only so much ready cash and there are demands on it from all sides; or because we’re renting and it doesn’t make sense to invest yet in Pieces That Will Last; or because sometimes good enough really is, or has to be, good enough. Because priorities, basically.

It’s also funny, because busybodies love to carp about how low-income people “waste” money on buying the $300 version of something. Is this advice only for middle-class people? (That link, btw, goes to an excellent Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom essay about appearance and presentation, and how investing in the $300 version can become the difference between your being taken seriously by the establishment and being dismissed out of hand.)

If Mr. Richards can prioritize spending $80 on flip flops, God bless. I wish I could justify shelling out $300 for a replacement pair of my much-loved, long-lamented La Canadiennes right now, and I simply can’t; instead, I will probably get another Good Enough pair to tide me over for a year and hope I’m in easier financial circumstances next time.

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