With cold weather approaching and warm-weather getaways inching closer, my mind is on two totally different products—snow gear and swim apparel, both of which I’ll be needing sooner rather than later.

Now,  I love a great TJ Maxx or Loehmann’s find as much as anyone, but I am so done with bargain shopping for these essentials. I finally saw the light last winter. My son was out in the yard tumbling around in the snow (and I was snagging some much-deserved reading time) when he repeatedly came knocking at the door asking me to remove snow that seeped into his boots. Frustrated, I looked for the root of the problem. Were the boots too big? The pants too small? Nope—they were simply too cheap.

Determined to reclaim my quality time, I ordered new snow gear from Lands End (www.landsend.com), a company with a reputation for durable outdoor clothes. And my investment paid off. I got snowpants (Kids’ Reinforced Knee Insulated Squall Pants, $39.50) equipped with elastic that truly held firm, an inner lining that was long enough even to protect ankles and legs that were snug enough to withstand snow angels and snowball fights. Herein lies the magic: My son played outside for—wait for it—two full hours! And I whizzed through a few hearty chapters of Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes.


So impressed was I by this insight that you get what you pay for that I proceeded to order swimwear (a necessity even in the winter, thanks to those lifesaving hotel pools)—a Scrunchback Tankini for my daughter (now $25) and a Short-sleeve Solid Rash Guard Shirt for my son ($19.95)—from Lands End. That too paid dividends. I spent less time hand washing and air drying my kids’ swimwear –the suits, rash guards and cover-ups all held up to the regular wash cycle and (yay!) the dryer without a speck of wear or shrinkage—and more time curling up on a lounge chair thumbing through Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style. Money well spent.