Shopping Category Killers

shopping-category-killersHave you ever bought an item so perfect that you just don’t need to shop for anything similar any more?  As in, the whole shopping category is just no longer one of your concerns? Did you KNOW it would be a shopping category killer when you bought it (i.e., the clouds parted, trumpets rang out, etc.) — or was it just something you fell in love with more and more as you had it?

In my own wardrobe, for example, I’ve seen it happen mainly with accessories:

  •  My dangly diamond earrings and right-hand diamond ring:  every time I see something similar I think, nah, if I’m looking for something sparkly and fun, why would I wear anything but my dangly diamond earrings and right-hand diamond ring? (I discussed both in my post on the best splurges I’ve made on products.)
  • A heavy black wool wrap from Henri Bendel:  this one I didn’t even like that much when I bought it, because super lightweight pashminas were very in at the time.  I needed it for something specific, though, and it was on sale for around $150, so I bought it.  I’ve proceeded to bring it to pretty much every wedding, every fall/spring evening out, and on every vacation I’ve taken since. I’ve bought other scarves and wraps in other colors, but my Bendel’s one has stood the test of time.
  • My Cartier watch — I’ll admit, I have bought other watches since the Cartier, but they never get worn.

I suppose there are other items here also where I’ve been so happy with the purchase that, when the item inevitably wears out, I just buy a new version instead of researching the area again.  Spanx Higher Power tights… Fantasie bras (4510 for the win!), Weitzman Poco heels…

Readers, what purchases have been YOUR category killers?  Do you have any regrets on the initial purchase?  Were you surprised it became a category killer for you, or did you buy it hoping it would be the last X you’d ever buy?  (For example — I love my dangly diamond earrings and right-hand diamond ring, but they were both a whim purchase, spurred in part by a sale — if memory serves the earrings were around $1000.  I’ve worn them so much and will continue to do so that I kind of wish I’d splurged a bit more! But the need for “more” isn’t so great that I need to buy new earrings (if that makes sense). On the flip side — were you disappointed in any purchase that you had hoped would be a category killer? 

Psst: in the past we’ve talked about shopping habits like spreadsheets and “crop rotations,” as well as the best places to shop online.


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  1. My puppy (she’s 3…but always a puppy to me). She’s so perfect I can’t look at other pets the same way…I think my dog is the most perfect precious thing and everyone else wishes they were her.

    Probably not what Kat was thinking…

    • Of course she is. I feel the same way about my puppy :)

    • My kitties are the exact same. No animals are as precious and adorable and cuddly. I’m never without fluffy unconditional love

  2. My Burberry trench coat. I bought it this summer with my very first bonus. It’s gorgeous, amazing, and can be dressed up and down equally well. I have zero interest in looking for any other trench type jacket.

    • Agreed. My Burberry trench is so beautiful!

    • +1 – My Burberry trench and my Burberry wool coat are two of the best decisions I think I’ve ever made, clothing wise. Especially being in Boston, they get lots of use!

  3. Anonymous :

    My Munro booties. When they wear out I just buy new ones.

  4. Tumi luggage. I know it’s not a forever item because it will wear out and luggage will continue to evolve but as a road warrior I am so, so glad I splurged and bought the good stuff. It has more than paid for itself in not breaking and being convenient and lightweight. When it finally does go I will thank it for its service and go right back and buy another.

    Also, the Tumi q-tote has kicked my handbag habit.

    Other than that, I have been wearing the same 36″ strand of fine Akoya pearls since 1993, which was a huge splurge for me at the time, only a few years into my career, but it was to celebrate a milestone and I’ve never regretted buying them.

    • Anonymous :

      Yes, I have some Tumi luggage and love it! So well made and light. Worth it!!! Just bought the Tumi q tote for travel too.

    • Anonymous :

      Exactly. Just came on here to post about my TUMI tote. I never even think about another work bag.

      • Same. My Tumi tote was a game-changer and when this one bites the dust (in many years), I’ll buy another one without hesitation.

    • Wildkitten :

      Wow! You guys have me convinced to go Tumi for my next handbag and luggage purchases!

    • Haha…I “solved” this issue by getting Briggs & Riley – wonderful quality, lifetime warranty

  5. I am so disappointed in my aquaitalia boots. I have to wear thick socks and still get blisters. They are not worth even 10% of what I paid for them.

    • Anonymous :

      So sorry you’ve had that experience with Aquatalia! I have the tall Rhumba and a pair of booties and I was just looking at the Nordstrom site for more. Best purchase for me last year for sure.

  6. Keilexandra :

    For me it’s my daily watch, a Citizen Eco-Drive with tiny diamonds, which was an expensive birthday present at the time but not much at all in watch-and-jewelry world (I think it was under $400). I searched high and low for a slim stainless-steel (due to allergies) watch with 12 number markings (because I actually use my watch to tell time) that didn’t look like it belonged on my grandmother’s wrist. The style is totally classic and I don’t know what I’m going to do when the solar battery finally wears out (going on its 6th year now).

    • Ditto this. I am on my second Eco-drive. First one lasted almost 10 years. No battery changes. Before eco-drive I would literally buy a new $20 watch at Marshall’s rather than bother to have the battery changed. I have one other watch, but it gets worn maybe 2x/yr.
      I go through phases with other jewelry items, but the diamond studs and solitaire necklace that I bought over the last few years are my daily go-to. They were gifts to myself and I wear one or the other 6 days out of 7. Cost per wear is probably down to less than $3.

  7. Teva Olowahu flip flops. My only summer casual shoes for the last five years. Can walk 8 miles in them and they’re totally plain black so you can wear them with whatever. Not for dressing up, obviously, but for every other summer purpose they’re perfect.

    • How do these shoes fare in the rain? I’m tired of feeling like I’m going to walk out of my flip flops whenever it’s wet outside.

      • Not great for really really rainy — if they get soaked, yes, your feet slip in them. But they dry pretty quick so they’re good for the beach, etc.

        • Min Donner :

          Chacos flip flops do better in wet conditions than any other flip flops I’ve had due to the texture. They also have relatively good arch support and have been my go to flips for 10 years now.

  8. For causal shoes, my black vans. I am on my 4th pair. They fit well and I like how they look with many different outfits.

    • Wildkitten :

      Which design? I love my Vans slip ons but I haven’t figured out how (or if?) to wear socks with them.

  9. purplesneakers :

    My Casio watch – I wanted a watch with numbers on the dial (can’t read the little lines/dots on most women’s watches) and most men’s watches are way too bulky for my tiny wrists. This one is perfect- simple, stylish, and a damn good deal for less than $100.

    My Nike flipflops. I’ll never go back to the cheap ones.

    My Inkwell Press organiser inserts. The paper quality blows everything else out of the water.

  10. Killer Kitten Heels :

    My MZ Wallace bag – it is THE going to court/going to meetings/work travel bag for me. I’ve had it for ages now, and haven’t looked at another tote bag for work since (even though before I was of the “cast of 10 rotating work bags and I still casually browse Marshalls and the outlets just in case a new work bag catches my eye” variety).

  11. My sperry flip flop sandals. So comfortable for any amount of walking, and the leather detailing allows them to work in both very casual and less casual settings. I’m on my second pair, and they’re the only basic sandals I’ve needed for 6 years.

  12. Anonymous :

    Agree on the Stuart Weitzman Poco heels… They are pretty much the only shoe I buy!

  13. I bought a classic stainless steel Coach watch when I was 18 for $300- it was a big purchase at the time! I’m 30 now and wear it almost ever day, just like my Louis Vuitton Tivoli GM. I haven’t felt the need to buy another bag (other than the plain black tote I got from T.J. Maxx) since February of 2011.

  14. My Lo & Sons Brookline tote. I just bought my second because the first was looking pretty ratty — but it served me well for four years through many business trips to dirty, dusty places. I’m convinced there’s no better bag for hauling a laptop and other daily essentials.

  15. Wildkitten :

    This was a really great great question Kat.

    I bought Hunter wellies that I thought would be a category killer but are a total disappointment. They’re stiff and uncomfortable like all other rainboots I’ve had.

    • I hated my hunter boots too- but the game killer was eventually a leather lined pair of le chameau boots– they were quite an investment but they are very warm, very durable, are very stylish, and have an excellent warranty.

      • these, in black:

  16. My Rolex watch. I often think about getting another watch like a Cartier because of their timeless beauty but I just can’t justify the need for that purchase, especially considering how often I just reach for my phone to check out the time.

  17. 1. Franck Mueller Long Island watch
    2. Viajiyu made to order wedges
    3. Gold necklace from Florence
    4. BV hobo
    5. LV wallet

    • I totally almost picked up a BV hobo 2 weeks ago but didn’t and now I totally have non-buyer’s remorse. How much do you use it and what do you like about it?

  18. My inlaws gave me a Coach wallet last year for my birthday. I probably would not have picked out the same pattern/color, but I love it! I was starting to think about getting a new wallet at the time and this one has been perfect. I hope it lasts forever. I hate shopping.

  19. My Bosco partner brief in the piccolo size. They sell the regular size on their website all the time (it’s legal size and perfect for my husband who is 6’4″ but a little too big for me. The piccoo size is letter size, and dare I say, feminine sized. It’s beautiful leather, and the perfect briefcase for Court, with that old-school lawyer bag feel. No shoulder strap (but I wouldn’t use it if it came with one). Plenty of space for files and everything I need. They often do limited runs of this size that you can find at Nordstrom, but I’ve scored most of mine for a fraction of the price on Ebay. I’ll never look at another professional bag again. The only time I purchase one to buy another! Call me girly, but I like having a few to swap out to match my outfit, so I have them in black croc, cream croc, pine green croc, patent navy blue, patent khaki and hot pink!

  20. Sonicare electric toothbrush
    Tumi luggage
    Apple iPhone

  21. I’m very picky about my handbags. Regardless of what’s in fashion, I will always have the following criteria:

    (1) Small-medium… don’t like the look/inconvenience of giant bags
    (2) Holds more than it appears (i.e. good organization… lots of pockets/dividers/etc.)
    (3) Crossbody… so I can be hands-free at all times
    (4) Wide strap for comfort
    (5) Neutral (these days: pewter, taupe, or camel), since I don’t believe in switching purses to match my outfit
    (6) Durable, since it’s a daily item… which means real leather, always

    It can take months to find a new one that fills all these requirements. Somehow, even expensive designer bags usually miss the mark. On the rare occasion I’ve purchased a bag that doesn’t meet all the critieria, I’ve regretted it intensely and bought a different one within the month.

    Amazingly, the last bag I bought was perfect. It’s the GREAT AMERICAN LEATHERWORKS EAST/WEST CROSSBODY. Fortunately, Google indicates that the company still exists and still sells a simliar bag, through Penney’s and others. I’ll go ahead and call it a category killer, because I’ll probably buy a new version of the exact same bag when this one wears out. Which will probably be another year or so.

  22. My new New Balance running shoes. I’ve been on this week long shopping spree to become business casually dressed for a temp job. I have pumps, flats, skirts, dresses and Express’s Columnist Barely Boot pants.(Yay!Thankyou) But I had to cave and buy these amazing shoes. I hate dress clothes and these were my reward.

  23. I have a serious question. I see that the Weitzman Poco heels are $350+. Are these THAT much better than a similar $50-$80 show from DSW? I’ve tried on expensive shoes before just to see what it felt like, but it’s not like they’re molded with arch support, etc. They seem identical to DSW shoes! (esp if you’re saying that they wear out within a lifetime to require replacements!)

  24. Coach leather “diaper bag” in blue that I bought as a soft briefcase in 2009 after passing my boards! I needed a large bag to carry a laptop, stethoscope and other papers. The saleslady suggested it when I couldn’t find a briefcase that fit everything. I was skeptical about the color but every time I try to replace it nothing compares to the size and pockets.