Cost Per Wear (CPW) is a concept that’s intrigued me for a while. Whilst I think it has many good uses in deciding whether or not to buy that bag/dress/pair of shoes, I do think that it can be used irresponsibly as an excuse to splurge on certain items. I’ve decided that after my wardrobe clearout (mentioned in 27 things) I’ll be making my new purchases using CPW as a guide.
So, what is Cost per wear?
It’s not that difficult, really, it’s all in the name. You buy an item of clothing/accessory for X amount, wear it Y number of times and Z is your ‘cost per wear’… The cost per wear formula is X/Y= Z, substituting your real figures will let you calculate cost per wear.
Item A is a dress from a high street chain store notable for their cheap, mass produced but in-style fashions. The dress is basic, not incredibly well made or cut, and will probably only suffice for one season’s worth of wear. The style itself is not classic, it won’t be able to fit into a wardrobe of fashion staples nor will it be an heirloom item. Infact, chances are this will go to a charity shop within a year.
Item A cost £12, it will be worn around 4 times. Cost per wear for this item is £3.
Item B is a leather jacket from a reputable retailer of mid to high range fasions. The lining is superbly cut and finished, as is the leather seam work. The item will age well, fit comfortably with a myriad of outfits and last years & years. Looked after, this item could possibly be handed down as an heirloom piece.
Item B cost £200, it will be worn on average 60 times a year for at least 5 years (before being stored or passed along). Cost per wear for this item is 67p*
Item C is a pair of tights from a high street retailer. They ladder whilst putting them on.
Item C cost £1, cost per wear isn’t calcuable as they were never worn. The entire £1 was wasted.
Bummer. The lesson here is to consider higher priced items, it’s sometimes a false economy to purchase the cheapest option. A pair of tights that were £3 may have been wearable 10+ times, taking CPW to 33p.
And finally item D. A simple black dress from a high street fashion shop. This retailer is known to produce items of high quality & well cut design. These items are made to weather the storm and pass from season to season. The style can be transformed to accomodate evening wear or day wear, and the cut will accomodate a little weight loss or gain. This is your classic LBD.
Item D costs £200, it will be worn on average of 10 times a year for at least 10 years. Cost per wear for this item is £2.
*keep in mind that outerwear will pretty much always incur a low CPW as they’re very rewearable.
Outerwear makes for a great example of Cost Per Wear. The duffle coat above costs £80, it’s a classic design that will transcend yearly catwalk fashion and, looked after, will resist wear & tear. Consider 90 days of winter wear, and within it’s first year the CPW is already below £1.
How can cost per wear influence everyday purchases & wardrobe choices?
The majority of people won’t be considering £200+ items of clothing on a everyday basis, however there are several instances where cost per wear can influence your regular buying activities.
Anything that can scupper an impulse buy and help reign in your spending is a good thing in my book, far too many purchases are made without due consideration, especially at sales time! If you’re not going to get the wear out of it then that £5 bargain really isn’t a bargain at all, it’s just another item of clothing that’ll get thrown to the bottom of the wardrobe to be charity shopped in a year or so.
CPW is all about making smart choices when you shop, this can be from spending a little more on a pair of better tights or stockings, to simply buying that cheaper dress alternative if you know it’s only a one-time-deal. CPW should help you consider your buying choices beyond the ‘ohh’s’ and ‘ahhh’s’ of on-hanger lust. When you pick something up in a store and start doing your CPW sum you will be forced to ask yourself the following questions:
- What will I wear this with?
- How often will I wear this?
- Is this item good quality? how long will it last?
- What will I really be paying for this item?
- Is there an alternative that will give me a lower CPW?
- Would I wear a higher quality version of this item more?
- Would this lower the CPW or increase it still?
These questions alone will certainly make you think twice before heading to the checkout. Cost per wear is a great method of streamlining your wardrobe to flexible, long lasting and investment items of clothing.
Things to watch out for…
Don’t let CPW become an excuse for the extra splurges on designer goods. For CPW to work you need to be honest about how often you will wear the item in your hands. Lying to yourself that you’ll most definitely wear this bright fuchsia betsey johnson skirt every day for the next 5 years will of course result in a super low CPW, but is this really being honest?
Don’t get too caugt up in the CPW of everything you buy. We all need treats.
I know, I know, I’ve been banging on about CPW being super good for your wardrobe and wallet, but sometimes you just have to go with what your heart desires. Better just occasionally than all the time like before, though, right?
Some things that make for excellent CPW considerations
Leather jackets – whilst costly for a decently made one, these can turn into ideal heirloom pieces.
Little Black Dress – Every girl needs one! (I don’t have one yet, I’m weighing up my CPW’s)
Biker Boots – Last year I bought some biker boots in the Office sale for a nominal sum. I wore them throughout winter and their CPW is already well below 50p. When I saw they were reduced again, down to something ridiculous like £7, I snapped up another pair that currently lives in the bottom of my wardrobe ready for when the first pair die. Consider Doc Martens & similar brands, these are made to withstand more than usual shoes, and whilst they cost £100+ they will last.
Designer bags – The only thing I’d say though is be completely, 100% sure that you’ll use this bag. Is it big enough? Will it fit all your crap in? Is it too big? When you’re 100% sure that this bag is for life then it’s time to invest! Bag’s make for great CPW. However, would you be better with several cheaper bags? think about it.