Why i'm becoming obsessed with cost per wear

When it comes to clothing, Cost Per Wear is far from a new concept. Some of us have been using Cost Per Wear to justify purchases to our other halves (and ourselves) for a long time. Personally, It's not something I have usually considered before a purchase, but often do when I wear something over and over again and smile at how the item eventually worked out at pennies per wear. That said, not every item in my wardrobe has been such a savvy purchase. 

Ever since Gok Wan was telling us all 'How To Look Good Naked', I've had the 80/20 rule in my head. 'We wear 20 percent of our wardrobe, 80 percent of the time'. I knew it was likely to be true, but this did not stop me amassing a mountain of clothes over the last few years.

Now my wardrobe is actually 2 double wardrobes, a massive chest of drawers, the drawers in my bedside cabinets, a shelving unit, some stuff in storage in the garage and still overflowing (yes ridiculous I know), and I wear only a fraction of it, it struck me how using cost per wear BEFORE purchasing an item might have been a better strategy.

It has to be said that one of the reasons my 'wardrobe' is overflowing so much is my reluctance to let go of anything, you know 'just in case', but on reflection I have often bought an item that was 'similar' to one I really wanted rather than the item I had fallen in love with as it was cheaper. Now this in itself isn't necessarily a bad strategy, I'm a big advocate of saving money, but what has happened for me in the past is that I wear the cheaper item once or twice, get bored as I'm still lusting after the item I REALLY wanted and it gets downgraded to the back of the wardrobe. Here's how cost per wear could have benefited me in that scenario. Lets say Jacket A costs £200, but because I love it I wear it roughly 3 times a week for a year working out at under £2 per wear. Jacket B is a similar style but perhaps not as good quality or fit, but costs only £50 - a fraction of the cost. I wear it twice a week for six weeks, then decide the fit isnt all that flattering (probably something I knew when purchasing) and I decide I don't like it. That jacket cost me around £4.20 per wear. 

Here's another example - one that actually happened. I needed some plain black jumpers for work and for some reason (I can't recall why now) I bought a few jumpers at £8 a pop from a well know bargain clothing store. At the same time, I bought two better quality wool jumpers in a classic crew style for around £50 each. 

The £8 jumpers admittedly did look pretty good at first, they weren't the best fit in the world but to the average eye most people probably wouldn't spot that. It's worth saying though that I wouldn't have chosen to wear them outside of work - but hey that's a lot of peoples workwear. However, after a few wears and washes (maybe 6 wears and 3 washes each) they looked like they were about 3 years old! Plus I worked somewhere quite cold and they weren't even very warm. Cost per wear works out at around £1.35, and have since been sent to the charity shop.

The crew neck jumpers? They are still in my wardrobe over a year later and are worn regularly. They are a much more flattering and comfortable fit, and in case you are wondering, they are super warm! Cost per wear is difficult to estimate but I wore them solidly for work for weeks, then after changing jobs maybe once a week since then - between the two jumpers I've worn them well over 100 times, bring cost per wear to under £1. You might even be able to spot one of those black jumpers in the photo taken inside my wardrobe.

That's before we even place value on how an item makes you feel. Even if it makes us somewhat materialistic, certain clothing makes us feel GREAT. No matter if its the fabric, the cut, or being honest - the label, there is a huge value to feeling good. Personally, I think all our items should make us feel great, and it's something I'm working towards as I tackle my overflowing wardrobe. 

Here's where cost per wear doesn't work all that well - On Trend Pieces. Those ruffle leg ankle grazer Trousers that everyone's rocking all over Instagram? Whilst I'm not a big advocate due it's environmental impact amongst other reasons, on trend pieces is where fast fashion wins. Let's say you buy some high end high street or designer trousers as worn by a celebrity on Instagram at £200. They look great but are too much for the office, so it's weekend nights only. You don't want to wear them every weekend (can't repeat outfits you know), so it's every other weekend, and your selfie is on FIRE! Six to eight weeks later that trend is sooo over and you wouldn't want to be seen even painting in them - they've just cost you around £50 per wear. High Street version, ok so the fit and fabric isn't as perfect but they're only £30, coming in at £7.50 per wear. Still not the cheapest, but your selfie was great and you have £170 still in your pocket.

For me moving forward, cost per wear is going to be much more of a consideration when purchasing, ensuring I buy less but ONLY items I LOVE in classic styles. Even if it isn't the cheapest option available, if it's something I know I will wear again and again and feel great in it, the cost per wear will probably work out a lot better than buying multiple cheaper versions that I eventually donate.

I'll be sure to document those new outfits I love on the blog soon!