For my final post of 2014, I thought I’d give my readers the benefit of my being an Über-Consumer and share with you ten pricey items I’ve never, ever regretted buying. Not for an instant.
The term “expensive” is undeniably subjective, but each of these items has a high price point within their category. For me, the ten items here were each expensive at the time of purchase in that their level of quality was not necessary for my lifestyle, but an indulgence. They were purchases that had to be truly considered as opposed to impulse buys.
Of all the times I’ve spent more than I’d have liked for top-of-the-line, these particular items fulfilled their promise and beyond, saving me money or stress in the long run. You may notice that I have avoided listing prices of any kind. If you are interested in the prices, you can click on the links provided in the post. That said, let me share with you the ten that have given me both joy and excellent functionality for several decades.
1. All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware
I have owned a full set for over 20 years now. And I cook almost daily. They have every size and style of cookware or cooking utensils one might need. All-Clad pots and pans have always heated up quickly, cooked evenly, accurately, cleaned up beautifully and never, ever dented, rusted, broken or disappointed. Easy to handle; not too heavy; nicely designed and aesthetically pleasing; no awkward ergonomics. If you’ve really into cooking, go for the All-Clad Stainless 14-Piece Cookware Set (shown above) If that’s more than you need, the All-Clad Stainless Steel 10-Piece Cookware Set (shown below) should suit you just fine. They also make brushed stainless and other variations.
I have tried other respected cookware brands and despite that fact that many of them perform beautifully, I found cast iron too heavy, non-stick coatings too easily scratched and copper, too hard to keep nice-looking. After all, I hang my pots and pans above my kitchen sink where I have to see them.
All-Clad Stainless Cookware
2. Herman Miller Aeron Chair
I’ve had my Aeron chair since 1996. It’s both one of the world’s most popular office chairs and a great-looking* task chair. It comes with options: three sizes, multiple frame colors, high polish chrome legs and various pellicle fabric colors. When adjusted properly (which takes some doing), it will keep you comfortable, avoid back injury or stress, and let you work for hours on end (believe me, this I know.) This chair has achieved “Classic Design” status and looks good with any desk in any room.
NOTE: the Aeron chair has casters designed for hard flooring OR carpet, not both. And you will find – as I did after 17 years of on and off use – that the casters crumble and will need to be replaced. You can buy Herman Miller replacement parts online. Not cheap, I know. It’s still worth it.
*designed by Bill Stumpf for Herman Miller
The Herman Miller Aeron Chair
3. Prada Leather Wallet
above: This Prada Vitello Phoenix Continental Zip Wallet comes as close to mine, shown above, as is available now.
Hard to believe, but I’ve only owned 2 wallets in over 23 years. And both were worth the cost. The first was a dark brown textured pigskin Gucci wallet they ceased making decades ago (this one comes close). When it finally frayed and the stitching came loose, I replaced it with the zippered textured leather Prada wallet shown above. I still use it. The zipper works perfectly and the compartments, despite the constant changing of contents, haven’t stretched. I’ve tossed it into various purses, have had keys scrape against it, filled it with loose change, thrown it around in the car and carried it as a clutch everywhere. And I still love it. Sure you can skimp and buy a cheaper or trendy wallet, but you’ll have to replace that frequently, if not annually, and that adds up.
TIP: When it comes to small leather goods that have to endure abuse (like my own wallets), I choose the ‘textured’ leather over the smooth calf; patented or glossy leather so it will not scratch or mar easily. Don’t spill drinks on it. Don’t drop it in the pool. Use any quality leather care conditioner occasionally and it’ll last for decades.
4. Cartier Watches
Like many people, I love watches. I’ve owned several kinds of wristwatches ranging from Swatch to Jacques Lemans to Gucci. Nothing has kept time like my two most expensive watches – both Cartier. One is a 21 year old Stainless Steel square face Panthere, (shown above). The other is an equally old SS/18k round face Panthere (shown below). Neither style is available anymore, but new and some very similar ones have replaced those.
Every other watch I’ve owned, despite changing the battery when needed, either started to ‘lose’ time or has not worn well. The crystal scratched or cracked, the deployment buckle broke, the crown broke, they got damp inside or the band needed to be replaced too often. While it’s true that Cartier watches require maintenance by Cartier every three years (they clean the interior, change the battery and polish the watch for a hefty little fee), it’s the only watch you’ll ever need. Ever. And that’s a worthwhile investment.
BONUS: Many watch stores online sell authentic, barely worn Cartier watches complete with warranty, like the one shown above. BUMMER: If you are not buying directly from Cartier, you are taking a risk because there are many fakes posing as authentic out there (this does not include the number of “Replicas” like this one that even provide similar boxes and papers). Be sure to get complete paperwork including an individual serial number on paper that coordinates with the one engraved on the back and/or side of the watch. TIP: If you’re buying off of ebay from a seller who is guaranteeing authenticity (and check their feedback!), make sure it’s returnable if you take it to a Cartier store and they tell you it’s not authentic. However; the only way to guarantee authenticity is to purchase it directly from Cartier.
Top Ways to Tell if Your Cartier Watch is Real or Fake (only the replicas have gotten so good, this almost no longer applies)
One ebayer’s very detailed description as how to spot a fake Cartier and its movement
5. Tumi luggage
I’ve owned three pieces of Tumi black ballistic nylon luggage for over 20 years. I’ve traveled frequently for work and pleasure. My Tumi luggage still looks and functions like the day I bought it. One is a soft multi-compartment carry-on shoulder bag, the other two are from their Alpha 2 collection – expandable hard sided zippered wheelies with collapsible handles. They were expensive but they are hardcore and are designed to make the most of their exterior space – which they do well. They can handle being tossed around by airline luggage handlers, being squished into car trunks or sat upon -or in- by dogs (this is something my jack russell used to do when I was packing for a trip). A smart investment, you’ll never need to buy another piece of luggage as long as you live.
6. Dyson Upright Vacuum
Years of various Hoover wind tunnels and a Eureka here and there, nothing has compared to the sheer joy I still get from using my old Dyson vacuum. It’s an older model, the DC 14, so old it’s before the ‘ball.’ I’ve owned it now, with a dog that sheds like crazy, since 2005 and it still works fabulously. I can’t say I’ve tried The Shark, which many claim to be an excellent vacuum, but I’ve tried other pricey brands such as Miele and Bissell and I love my Dyson. NOTE: I do change the filter and clean the vacuum frequently. I also have to cut my long hair that gets wrapped around the roller, slowing it down or stopping it, about every six uses. They now have one with a Tangle-free Turbine tool which won’t get hair tangled in the rollers, and I think I may have to buy it.
I have found that Amazon still has the best prices on Dyson Vaccuums
7. Australia Luxe Sheepskin and Shearling Boots
No, they’re not Uggs. But as my nightly footwear, these have lasted me longer, and seem to wear better for me than those by their neighborly competitor. I’ve had the Cosy Tall Boot in black (shown above) since soon after they first launched in 2007. The sole is comfortable and wears well, the sheepskin still looks great and the shearling inside has hardly worn away. They are cozy as slippers when worn indoors and comfortable and durable enough to take the dog on long winter walks and keep my feet warm. They have many styles with embellishments and buckles, wedge heels, and more if you’re looking for something more than ‘Home and Walking The Dog’ boots.
Nordstrom Rack has the best prices on them I’ve seen. They are also available at Revolve, or for a better price here at Gilt. Gilt has a nice selection of them but is invite only. Use this link for access.
Australia Luxe Collective
8. Keihl’s Creme de Corps Moisturizing Body Lotion
Since I first tried this about 15 years ago, I’ve never used another lotion (unless I had to under those dry-and-dire-away-from-home moments). If you spend a few bucks on Jergens or Nivea, you may think it crazy to drop $48 dollars on a 16.9oz bottle of moisturizing lotion, but Kiehl’s Creme de Corps is worth every penny to me. It’s the perfect recipe: no discernible scent, non-greasy, absorbing and luxurious feeling. It doesn’t clog pores, ruin clothes or need to be reapplied. And it leaves your skin feeling like silk. Available in various sizes and formulations.
BONUS: They frequently issue “Artist” versions of special labels and annual holiday versions that give to charity, like those shown above.
Kiehl’s Creme de Corps collection
9. Down & Feather Company’s Snuggle Soft 100% Hungarian Goose Down Baffle Box Feather Beds
It is said that one spends approximately a third of their life in bed. So, I’d suggest you make it a good one third. Sure, you can plop down tens of thousands of dollars on crazy expensive custom mattresses like Hasten’s horse hair beds Kluft or Duxiana or you can make your present bed feel a whole lot more luxurious by adding a serious high quality 100% goose down feather bed (also known as a mattress topper) to it.
NOT a goose featherbed, a goose DOWN featherbed (big difference and big difference in price). Nope, not a duck and goose down combination, not a feather and down combination, not a goose down wrapped fiber bed and not a channel design, but an honest to god high fill count 100% goose down baffle box one. I wouldn’t do this unless you have a fairly good medium-to-extra firm bed to begin with (a good Serta or Sealy will do) because these are very pricey.
The 100% Hungarian goose down baffle box construction mattress toppers from the Down & Feather Company are wrapped in 300 thread count Egyptian cotton and finished with a double row stitch around the entire perimeter for added strength and durability. Available in various fill weights of 600, 700 or 800, with a baffle box design (baffling are fabric strips that prevent the filling from shifting and creating empty, deflated spaces and keep the featherbed better and evenly insulated) so the down won’t get all bunched up in one corner or at one end. Similar products can be found at The Down Store and Scandia Down. These will completely changes the feel of one’s bed, without losing the benefits of a firm mattress. And you’ll feel like royalty.
NOTE: if you’re gonna spend serious coin on a mattress topper, be sure to get a protective cover for it (like these). It will last longer and wear better.
Down & Feather Company’s Hungarian Goose Down Mattress Toppers.
10. The 3 series BMW
I no longer have it, but I owned this car for 16 years and loved every minute of it. I bought it for myself in 1996 ago after much research. It was the first year the 328 joined the three series. I got the exact model I wanted – the exterior color, the interior leather, all the bells and whistles. I still remember talking floor mats, 6 disc changers, electric sunroof/moonroof and special “premium” packages with the dealers. That car thrilled me. I drove it across the country twice (with a dog in it to boot), every day to and from work and on multiple drives from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I had it with me when I lived in warm and sunny Los Angeles and the three years I lived in cold and icy Michigan. That car was one of the best investments I ever made. It always drove beautifully, looked timeless and other than the annual maintenance (which I did without fail and always at the dealership), never cost me toooo much. I now drive a larger, slightly more grown-up looking car. And while I love the appearance and the drive, I must confess that it’s been in the shop multiple times since I bought it.
Things that factor into this post, but are probably boring for you to read:
I personally own or have owned each of these and am speaking from personal experience. Therefore, this is my personal opinion and meant to be taken as such.
All of the items were paid for with my own hard-earned money and were bought from either the manufacturer or an authorized reseller, guaranteeing their authenticity.
I am not receiving gifts, payment or favors of any kind for writing or publishing this post.
I am not extravagant. I research my purchases, read reviews, find the best price and buy only what I can afford without incurring any debt. I shop wisely, utilizing available promotions, discounts and sales.
Lastly, I do treat things with respect – meaning I maintain them properly (which some require) and that does make a difference
So, if you’ve been on the fence about purchasing any of these items, I’m here to tell you that they’re worth it. And so are you.