Despite economic uncertainty, buying a luxury item for a loved one may still be the best investment this holiday season.

Jennifer Silk, a Vancouver-based stylist and personal shopper, says tough economic times may actually be more of a reason to purchase classic items that will last longer.

“You could blow money on 10 items and you won’t use them in two months, whereas you blow the same amount of money on one item and ... people will be able to use that item 10 years down the road,” she said.

Lisa Freeman, editor-in-chief of Consumer Reports’ New York-based Shop­Smart magazine, agrees.

“You can’t just think about the one-time expense,” she said. “Let’s say (you want) a basic black dress, and you’re deciding whether to go to Wal-Mart or really spend some money at a nicer store. If you amortize the cost over all of those wearings, it’s obviously going to be better if you invest in some good-quality thing that’s not going to fall apart and stand the test of time in terms of style.

“If you don’t have as much money to spend ... it really does pay to buy better stuff, but less of it.”

Freeman added, however, that luxury items do not necessarily have to be expensive. Warehouse retail chains such as Costco regularly sell designer items for less, as do websites such as and

“If you decide you don’t want to buy online, it’s still a great research tool to get an idea of what’s out there and what the prices are,” she said. “Use the prices you find online as negotiating tools. Go to the local jewelry stores ... and say, ‘I saw something comparable online. Can you match that price?’”

Silk says some of the most requested gifts among women are clothing and jewelry — items best bought keeping in mind classic styles and neutral colours. For men, she recommends suits, trench coats and briefcases.

Mina Almai, a 25-year-old Vancouverite, says a Coach handbag is the best gift she’s ever received because it is “classy and timeless.”

“It’s definitely quality over quantity,” she said. “Not to mention timeless pieces are always in style.”

Neil Hamilton, a 28-year-old Torontonian, says his most prized gift was a high-end stereo system that got almost a decade’s worth of use.

“When you get something a little more luxurious, you get the extended use and the memory of who purchased it stays with you longer,” he said.

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