How a $149 impulse buy turned out to be the best investment I've ever made in my career

Man and woman at desks officeIlia Yefimovich/Stringer/Getty ImagesI’m convinced that my impulse splurge was the secret to my professional success.

I’d like to think that anything I’ve achieved professionally is attributable to my drive and exceptional journalistic talent.

But the truth is, it was all luck. Specifically, lucky boots.

I wore said boots — a pair of Nine West black leather knee-highs — on a job interview early on in my career and I’m convinced that they were key to my success.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting my interviewers were superficial enough to hire someone based on her fashion choices. But wearing those boots gave me the confidence to strut — literally and figuratively — into that conference room, to stay poised and professional even in spite of my anxiety.

And to think I almost didn’t buy them.

One chilly night a few months earlier, I’d ducked into DSW while waiting for a friend, partly to get out of the cold and partly to see if they might have a relatively cheap pair of snow boots to replace the ones I’d had since freshman year of college.

I’d only walked halfway down one aisle when I caught sight of the Nine West pair, on sale for $US149. Sure, they were gorgeous and sure, the low heel made them versatile enough to pair with pretty much any outfit.

Still, $US149? I generally don’t budget for clothes and accessories — instead I wait for Chanukah and my birthday, when my mum gives me a generous gift card to Banana Republic or Bloomingdale’s. The last “impulse” clothing purchase I’d made was a $US9.99 pack of striped socks from The Gap — and even that had made me feel guilty.

And besides, I told myself as I grabbed a size-seven pair from the shelf, they probably won’t even fit.

Except they did. Perfectly. Twisting left and right before the mirror, I couldn’t help but admire how chic — how utterly sophisticated — I looked.

Five minutes later, I was standing outside the store, giant shopping bag in hand and my heart beating wildly as though I’d just stolen something. It was by far the largest sum I’d ever spent impulsively, and though I expected to feel guilty, the reality was I felt awesome. On the way to meet my friend, I started a mental list of all the places I could wear the boots — a holiday party that Saturday, a birthday brunch the following Sunday.

Shana LebowitzThese are the boots, which are still in good shape.

By the time I was called in for the interview, I’d worn the boots about a dozen times, each time feeling like a more mature, more powerful version of myself. The morning of my interview, I remember being surprised at how calm I felt sitting across from the editors, as though the boots had imbued me with some magical sense of self-assurance.

When the weather turned warmer, I considered stashing the boots in a box along with the rest of my winter shoes. Instead I decided to keep them next to my dresser, where I could see them while I got dressed in the morning. They were a daily reminder of how an unplanned splurge turned out to be one of the best investments I’d ever made in myself and in my career.

OK, so I can’t say that the boots weren’t the only reason I got the job. And I definitely can’t say that I gave up budgeting and started splurging on a regular basis.

But I can say that the confidence those boots inspired in me — on the day of my interview and on every other day I wore them — was well worth $US149.

Read about the best money successful people ever spent in Business Insider’s Success Series.

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