The Space Between My Peers: Calculating Cost Per Wear

The Space Between My Peers

From the bottom of the fashion food chain ...

Location: The Great Northwest

I'm a home-schooling, bible-believing SAHM with an annual clothing budget of about $500 American. The Space Between My Peers reveals my secret passion: analysis of the art and science of what to wear.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Calculating Cost Per Wear

At some point, most "What to Wear" type books introduce the topic of cost per wear. I'm sure the celebrities, models, and personal shoppers who write these books mean to be encouraging, but I'm wondering what reality they live in. It sure isn't mine. Consider an example:

A jacket you want is $350. You figure out that you'll wear it 5 times a month. Multiply the 5 by 12 months (it usually evens out, since you may wear it more some months thant others) which equals 60. Now, divide 350 by 60. $5.80.

That's what your new jacket will cost per wearing in the first year. Consider, too, that it will be even less expensive as the years pass.

First off, if I had 5% of my family's income to spend on clothing and bought the $350 jacket, the rest of my family would all be naked and I would be wearing nothing but the jacket. Not very practical in the mountains of the Great Northwest.

Second problem, if I purchased the $350 jacket, is that I would be stuck with it for a really long time. Since I prefer to wear more current items, I would tire of the jacket long before it earned its keep.

Breaking down my total spending plan a few years ago, I calculated that I need to achieve a cost per wear of about $1 for dresses, $.25 for separates, and $.10 for everything else (shoes, coats, undergarments, etc). I leverage my occasional oops by frequenting $1 day at Value Village. Here's what I got today:

  • A pair of cotton & linen khaki capris. I will wear them once or twice a week this summer and then sell them or throw them away. Estimated cost per wear = $.05.

  • A knee-length black sleeveless dress. While it wasn't $1, it is a quality garment. Occasionally necessary, dresses are not the easiest for me to find. I will have to wear it 20 times, or 4 times per year for 5 years, but it beats crisis shopping.

  • Instead of using cost per wear to justify expensive purchases, I discipline myself in the heat of the buying decision. Is it really worth it?


    Anonymous Susan in Texas said...

    Hi Rebecca,

    I don't think it's very practical for us to go naked here in the great southwest either! Granted, our extremities wouldn't freeze off, but there are other things that could happen that would certainly be more dangerous should I buy the $350 jacket and let the rest of my family go naked :-)...well, perhaps if anyone needs to go naked in our family, it's not me, so I'll buy the jacket and let the others go naked

    Have a good day!


    P.S. Shall I tell Katie that her $65.00 thermals (from the bargain rack, I might add) for snowboarding are not a good buy or let her figure that out for herself?

    3:34 AM  
    Blogger Rebecca said...

    My answer, a thinly veiled diplomatic maneuver: Clearly, due to specific function, some items are more costly than others. That said, I bought my Grandma a full set of silk skivvies (what I wear everyday) for Christmas for $45 (LLBean online, free shipping).

    Susan, I'm confident that you've trained Katie well enough that she will figure it out. Would I be correct in picking Katie as the spender and Dillon as the saver?

    8:09 AM  
    Anonymous Susan said...

    You are so very correct. Dillon puts his money in the bank and keeps it "loosely." If he wants something or needs something, he buys it, but he somehow needs and wants much less than other people, it seems. He is very unselfish and loans Katie money whenever she asks. Money doesn't have a grip on him and so, he has money. He does always carry at least $40 - 60 cash on his person at all times so we call him "Herman," as that was my dad's name and just how he was too.


    3:41 PM  
    Anonymous Dani said...

    I was wondering what your opinion was about cost per wearing when it came to things for special occasions, like prom dresses? I spent $199 on my prom dress this year (as a sophmore going to another school's prom) but I'm also wearing it twice for 4-H clothing selection, I promised my best friend (who goes to a different school) she could wear it next year for her junior prom, and if our proms are on seperate days I will also be wearing it to my junior prom, since only one of my friends has gotten to see me in it. How do you reccomend I go about figuring my cost per wearing for this dress?
    Thank you so much!

    12:55 PM  

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