The Flaws In The Cost-Per-Wear and Investment-Pieces Theories





  Cost-per-wear is really nice in theory: it is cheaper to buy a more expensive item that you wear many times than a cheap item that you wear only once. You can take the price of the item, divide it by the number of wears you get out of it, to find its cost-per-wear price. Ideally, you buy "investment pieces" that cost more but are the workhorses in your wardrobe.

However this theory assumes two things:
1. That the more expensive item will be more durable than the cheap item.
2. That you will wear the expensive item more often.

   In practice that doesn't work out quite like that. In my experience I have found out that:

* Some of the items that I have gotten most wear out of were for free or for pennies: either second-hand or at a swap party.
* It is not always easy to guess beforehand how much wear we will get out of the item. I am a careful shopper, but sometimes an item that seems perfect at first ends up not working. An item might look or fit different after a wash. My figure might change. I might put on weight, or lose weight, or start working out and build muscles. And I cannot predict in which direction my style will go in the near future. In short, you can't know the cost-per-wear of an item till you have actually worn it. So I'd be terrified to drop a bigger amount on a clothing item, because chances are I won't want to wear it that much after all.
* Nothing in white stays looking pristine for long enough to justify paying a lot for it.
* Quality doesn't follow the price curve. In fact, the 15€ and the 50€ T-shirts might be made in the same factory and not differ in quality. Michelle Phan did a post (which I can't find any more) on that years back, comparing basic polo shirts from different brands and found out that the best quality was reached already at the 30$ mark and anything more expensive was not better. If you want long-lasting clothes, forget the price and do some research online to find which brands are known for durable products. For example Land's End stuff is indestructible. Panache bras are much more wash-resistant than many other brands. Falke hosiery is seriously durable.
* As this blogger points out, cost-per-wear can be used to justify unnecessary purchases.
* Classic pieces don't stay unchanged. Even things like a LBD or a classic blazer do change over the years, so one from a couple of decades back will usually look dated.
* Cost-per-wear is not related to love-per-wear. I own a couple of things that I wear very rarely, yet they make me very happy and I always get complimented in them.

   So my wardrobe-expanding tactics are: 

   I pay attention to fabric and stitching: I never buy flimsy fabrics or synthetic sweaters.  I buy second-hand as often as possible. The cost-per-wear of my clothes is actually quite efficient, because even if I wore that dress only twice it still costs nothing if I got it at a clothes swap party. I have narrowed down my colour palette to tones that flatter my face. And I try to learn as much as I can about what works for my body type. I always have my shopping list with me. If I need something that should last long and work (winter jacket, boots), I do my research beforehand and choose a sturdy brand and model.  I look for and stick to brands that I know are reliable.

   What are your shopping tactics? Do you think that the cost-per-wear theory makes sense?
   




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