Mama Matsuo Musing #7: The Long Term Investment

Did you think I forgot about Mama Matsuo? Psh. How could I? Especially after a week-long jaunt in Japan with my dearest mum, my head is full of all kinds of mom-wisdom. (Gems like "sit up straight", "pull your shoulders back" and "put on some lipstick" never get old.) And this is what brings me to our next installment of musings...

Mama Matsuo Musing #7: Quality. Not Quantity.

Surprised? Probably not. It's a concept you graduate to once you've figure out the "fashion sandwich." (See Mama Matsuo Musing #1 for reference.)

So, yes, I'm slowly moving from power-shopping to investing. Where once I might have purchased an item in the blink of an eye (or flash of a credit card in this case), I now ponder an item's relevancy, timelessness, construction, fabric, and whether it's something I'm willing to stay thin for when I get older. Aside from my gross sweater addiction, I've been pairing down my closet to contain the essential items.

My trip to Japan was fashionably significant in this particular respect...

One afternoon, my mother and I broke away from the boys to go peruse the Takashimaya department store for nothing in particular, which is when I happened upon the Burberry section. I've always loved trench coats. They have a certain old world charm to them. Utilitarian in design and construction, but so stunningly chic. And every time I visited a Burberry in the States, they never carried a trench my size. (Note: I'm not flaunting this fact. An XS in the US is big on me and I found it incredibly frustrating.)

Of course, when I'm in Japan, everything fits. So, of course, I took the opportunity to search for their classic trench and to try it on.

Needless to say, it was fantastic...fantastic in that Breakfast-at-Tiffany's-Downpour-Scene-meets-Anouk-Amiée's-Classy-Coolness kind of way...but, of course, I stood there in deep contemplation. Questions rolling through my head:

Is this really worth it? Will I really wear this? Will I treat it as well as I should? Is it too boxy? Should I get a smaller size? Is the length right? Do I really love it? Am I being swept up in the brand name? Am I really into this beige plaid? Does khaki go with my skin tone?

And Mama Matsuo could see my contemplation and consideration. I stared at the belt, the buttons, felt the lining, tugged at the hem, flipped up the collar. I spun and spun and stopped and stared and resumed my original position.

My next sentence was "I'm going to think about it."

To which my mother shot me a stern look and said, "Oh, just buy the damn thing."

The obvious answer. Because this, my friends, is an investment piece. If taken care of properly, I will wear this trench coat until the day I die and, if I'm really good, keep it in such good condition that I can hand it over to a daughter or daughter-in-law or grand-daughter and they can say cool things like, "this was my grandma's coat. She was a classy lady."

Here's the investment piece rundown...

Don't You Wanna Be a Classy Lady/Gentleman?

Newsflash: Everyone (in some capacity) wants to be (now or eventually) a classy lady or gentleman. An investment piece paves a section of road to your ultimate classiness mansion where you will live in classy infamy or fame (whichever you so choose). If you're already classy, then consider an investment piece another piece of classy sustenance (a classy powershake of sorts) to enhance the flexing of your already-owned classiness muscles.

In this case, a trench coat can be worn with almost anything to up your classy credentials.

Ladies, it's figure-enhancing (whether the belt is tied in the back or you go full-belted on blustery days),  a great way to pull an otherwise mismatched outfit together (mixed prints are so in these days - put a trench coat on to make it seem less like you fell into a pile of fabric at Michael's), perfect for transitional months (and if you have a liner, even better when it gets a little colder out), and great in the rain. (Be sure to get the water resistant coating reapplied by your local dry cleaner after you bring it in for dry cleaning twice or thrice - it's probably wearing away by that point.)

Men, a well-fitted trench coat will melt the sartorial hearts of most women. Paired with scruff and a forlorn gaze (when alone...NOT directed at your possible attention when speaking to people. Don't be rude.) and slightly ruffled exterior will guarantee you, at the very least, a phone number. I can't promise a first or second date. That's up to you. Pair with anything from a suit to jeans & (PLAIN, WHITE) t-shirts. Sailor stripes? Extra 20 points.

It's Khaki

Everyone looks badass in khaki.
Haven't you ever seen any movies about old British archeologists or detectives?
Khaki is always in. Period. I will have to fight you if you disagree.
I also feel this way about olive drab and accessories in soft, black & rich brown leather. 
(Note: Nami secretly dreams of being an archeologist.)

Oh, Hey! Yeah, I Like When Things Don't Fall Apart

Investment pieces are pieces that are well constructed. If it's not, don't consider it an investment piece.
However, despite being well constructed, you also have to take the responsibility on of caring for your item properly. If you're not willing to do this, you may not be ready for an investment piece.

Think dry cleaning, handwashing with Woolite, drip drying, garment bags...
If this is giving you anxiety, start with a handbag or something along those lines. They're a little sturdier and forgiving, but for goodness sake, make sure to put it in its dust bag when you store it and, if it's a structured bag, repack it with packing material to maintain its sexy shape.

Be sure to clean and, if necessary, polish shoes to maintain. Get to know your local cobbler and tailor. They'll become your allies when protecting your investments.

Good gravy, I sound like my mother. (Wait a second! That's the point, isn't it?)

Age-Appropriate vs. Timelessness: An Epic Battle

I caught myself trying on an A.MAZ.ING little tube dress the other day with a cheetah print. Needless to say, Husband Charles was a fan...and despite its well-constructed nature, I had to take a step back and think about it.

I'm no spring chicken, it's true...though I'm not that old either. I just turned 32 and, if put in the right situation, I'm often mistaken for a 20-something (Asian genes! Can't beat 'em!) Lately though, I've been really holding back on purchases and thinking about what I'll be able to wear now, but not later.

I've already made Husband Charles promise me that he'll say something if I start dressing like a tart in my old age. He assures me that I wouldn't do that to myself. Only time will tell.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that an investment piece will look good no matter what your age and depending on your outfit, can be worn a boatload of different of ways. They're adaptable and will stand the test of long as you take care of them. (Translation: don't be a lazy jerk to your nice stuff.) Which brings me to...

Trends May Come And Go, But This Piece Is Forever

Dear Everyone,

The trench coat was created during the first World War and worn by French & British troops. Burberry is one of the inventors. Thomas Burberry invented gabardine (which is one of the classic trench coat fabrics)! He submitted his first design for an army officer's raincoat to the UK War Office in 1901.


Has anyone checked the date lately?
Yep, trench coats? Over 100 years old. Take that, seasonal trends!
Much like diamonds (also investment pieces...though they're investment pieces on another level), trench coats are forever. Many other investment pieces will fall into this category.
The category of foreverness.

(For more on trench coat history, check out a great wiki page here.)

In Short...

No matter where in life you are, next time you decide you need some retail therapy, consider what you're buying. I'm, by no means, telling you to never make a fun, on-trend purchase every again. What I am telling you is that a number of solid investment pieces can change everything and pull together a chaotic wardrobe.

Also, classiness. Did I mention classiness?

Hope you find the investment pieces of your dreams in the future or are already enjoying the sartorial joys of owning quality goods! Do you have a favorite investment piece? xo!


  1. Great Post, Nami! I couldn't agree more with mama Matsuo and I think most guys don't invest enough in "classic" pieces and buy cheap clothes that last until the 1st wash just to save money (I know I used to do that). BTW I am still waiting for the menswear post ;-)

    1. Thanks, Alex! :)
      The whole "investment piece" concept is something we all learn in time.
      I can't even tell you how many low-quality of-the-moment things I've bought in the past and regretted after they fell apart after a wash or two.

      As for the menswear posts, I already accosted Husband Charles last night about playing dress up with him soon.
      He's resigned to do whatever it takes to make me happy. :) (He wins the "awesome husband" award.)

      Stay tuned!
      Hope you're doing well!