When Is It Okay To Buy A $250 T-Shirt?

Exactly one week ago today, I spent $167 (that’s including tax) on a sweatshirt. This was no ordinary sweatshirt, mind you; this was a feathery soft, heathery grey, fashionably cut top from Rodarte, which as far as I’m concerned, just so happened to be made out of sweatshirt cotton.

I purchased it from the Opening Ceremony outpost in the Ace Hotel. I recommended it to LemonDrop’s discerning readers. I’ve worn it almost daily. But I still feel the need to excuse and explain the purchase because, well, $167 on a sweatshirt is absurd.

But, then again: it’s Rodarte. It says Rodarte on the tag, and it says Rodarte on both the front and the back. (“J’aime Rodarte” / “Je deteste Rodarte” — in case you were wondering.) And it will, in all likelihood, be the only piece of Rodarte I’ll ever own.

So I justified it. I made the case that this was a piece of fashion art. Something that would age well, that I could hand down to my as-of-yet still fictional daughter that would make her think, “Wow, my mom was cool.”

Yesterday, I told my sister about the purchase — via Gchat, obviously, so excuse the grammar — and she responded, verbatim: “Mind you I spent $220 on a Alex McQueen t-shirt so I could own something of his [winky face emoticon.]”

And I realized that while it still felt silly to spend hundreds of dollars on something that could be bought at American Apparel for $26, or from Hanes at 3 for $10, it was okay because a rarefied and verified designer had designed it.

But is an Alexander McQueen t-shirt really that much better of a t-shirt? Does the fact that it says Rodarte on it make a bunch of cheap cotton really worth $167? And, more importantly, doesn’t the fact that I think it does make me kind of an asshole?

As I’m writing this, I also can’t believe I’m grappling with the morality of designer cotton — fashion is deep, people — but the bottom line is that I love the sweatshirt. I’ll wear it until there’s no longer any doubt in my mind as to its worth. And I’ll feel damn cool while doing so.

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