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Harriet Mays Powell is fashion director at New York Magazine and a former editor at Tatler. Her work has also appeared in Glamour and Elle magazines.

Fashion should be enjoyed and passed on, says Harriet Mays Powell.

Question: Is fashion a long-term investment?

Mays Powell:    Not really.  I think, a little bit like jewelry and cars.  You know, the minute you buy them, their value depreciates.  Clearly, if you…  your grandmother wore Cristobal Balenciaga and you have some of those in your closet, I would hold on to them because they’ve got real museum quality to them.  But, I think, a lot of what women have in their closets, if you don’t like it, try and sell it.  There are great resell shops around the country which you can certainly research online to find out what to do.  And that’s what I do a lot of too.  I think it’s really nice to recycle.  And it makes that feeling of spending gratuitously on fashion through season after season that there’s a certain amount of putting back into the system and taking out again, so you’re kind of recycling of a sort.  I think the Europeans…  I think, French women have a really…  a time where they have a really smart way to buy fashion.  American women don’t really do that unfortunately.  The French will buy one or two beautiful things this season, expensive, fantastic, and that’s it.  She’ll wear that suit, that dress, that…  she will just wear that really…  for 6 to 8 months.  And she will not buy lots of little things, she’ll buy a couple of really great good things.  And I think that kind of idea shows a lot of confidence and conviction, a.) Knowing that you haven’t bought a mistake, that that’s really something you’re going to want to wear in, you know, for 8 months a lot.  But that’s, I think, is a smart way to invest, is to really buy a few good things, things that are kind of classic, possibly a little bit more basic that you can add new jewelry to, change slightly.  And then, embellish that with less expensive things.  You know, the runway is become an overnight sensation for people to make and manufacturers that do inexpensive clothing.  All those huge retail outlets, H&M, [IB] and, you know, a lot of them are doing fashion very, very, very quickly, very very well and very inexpensively.  I remember getting a jacket, a couple of years ago, and talking to a very big retail in New York and he said, “Harriet, that’s a Marc Jacobs jacket.”  I said, “Nope.”  He said, “Chanel?”  And I went, “Nope” and he went “Haaa…  the Z word.”  And I said, “Yup, Zora.”  And it was a great jacket, it didn’t cost very much relative to fashion collections.  I wore it for two weeks in the collections, gave it to a friend who just had a baby and wanted to have a little tweed, fun, sparkly cheer in her life.  So, you know, it went to a good cause, I enjoyed it and that’s a fun way to have.  I think the trend of the season is to not necessarily break the bank with that and you can buy inexpensively.  Another great thing to do, I think, is to buy…  You know, accessories are such a great easy way, new pair of shoes, a great new bag.  Those are really fun ways to update a wardrobe.  Make a black dress sing.  Take a pair of navy pants, change the proportion, change the silhouette, just by getting a kind of fun, fantastic shoe or a great crazy new, you know, Marc Jacobs handbag for Spring.  So those are ways and little tricks that you can update a wardrobe without having to throw everything out, [IB] with the baby or the [IB] out with the baby or the [IB] whatever.