Cost-Per-Wear: Fashion Math & Investing in your wardrobe

charlotte olympia kitty flats proenza schouler ps11 satchel
acne studios canada scarf equipment silk blouse

Building on from my last post, I wanted to really hone in on, and place a focus on Cost Per Wear or CPW for short. If you’re the type that likes to place quality over quantity, or a looking to make that shift in your approach to your wardrobe, it’s likely that you’ve already stumbled across this concept.

Splurging on a little luxury, whether it’s an accessory, a great handbag, a killer pair of shoes or a classic coat, can be enough to make even some of the most seasoned shoppers balk. It’s a serious investment, and when you’re dropping that kind of cash on just one piece, you want to be sure that the splurge is worth it, which is where CPW comes in.

The last time I did any real math, I was at university studying Economics as a major and wading my way through advanced calculus. These days, the most advanced math you’ll typically find me doing is a little fashion arithmetic; calculating the cost-per-wear of my closet.

To put it simply, cost-per-wear (CPW) = Total cost of item / Number of days you’ve worn (or will wear) the Item.

It probably sounds dangerously like an excuse to justify those spendy purchases, but I’ve found that in actual practice, it’s become a useful tool in avoiding regretful purchases, and picking up those high quality key wardrobe staples that I’d been hesitating to pull the trigger on.

The Charlotte Olympia kitty flats that I bought more than three years ago? They’ve had at least a good 450 wears so far – and trust me, they look it – with their cost-per-wear falling a little under $1.50 per wear. Then there’s my completely thrashed Proenza Schouler PS11 satchel, that cost an absolute bomb, but I’ve gotten more than my money’s worth in daily use over the years. CPW is one of the first things that I consider when really investing in an expensive piece; my Acne Studios leather jacket for example, which I splurged on my first year living in Sydney is proof of the concept in practice; it’s the most I’ve ever spent on one piece of clothing, but I’ve worn it so often it’s basically paid for itself. Well, not quite, but I think you get where I’m going with this…

The point being, you can spend $50 on a skirt from ASOS and wear it twice (giving you a CPW of $25) or you could get a little spendy and pick up a classic a-line style from A.P.C for $200 and wear it twenty times for a CPW of $10. I know which skirt I would choose…

Investing in luxury

In my late teens and early twenties, I was hooked on fast fashion. Give me a cute top that didn’t break the bank and I was all yours (figuratively speaking, of course!). They were bargain buys which were giving me a quick fix, but even the most basic of t-shirts wouldn’t last more than a few cycles in the washing machine before getting a small hole, or completely losing its shape.

It wasn’t until I discovered Dead Fleurette that I started to think a little more about not only what I was consuming, but how I was consuming. I started to think about a more sustainable closet. One that was free of throwaway fashion which would only last a few wears or so, and the all too casually thrown around – and cliché – phrase, quality over quantity.

Since then, I’ve made a concerted effort to invest in quality, and scrap the urge to buy something that I just know won’t last the distance.

For me, it’s alllll about the basics; the key pieces that I’ll reach for day in and day out. They’re the workhorses of my wardrobe, and need to last me longer than just a couple washes (because who has time to be buying something new all the time anyway). Things like a simple black blazer, a great pair of skinny jeans, a nice pair of court shoes, a beautifully constructed everyday bag, a relaxed linen t-shirt, and a crisp white shirt for work and for play.

Knowing where to start is the tricky part, and weaning yourself off the high street probably even trickier still, but trust me when I say your wardrobe will thank you for it (and your wallet too!). I find fabric feel tends to play a huge part in my own decision, along with natural fibres, and even stitching.

Some of my favourites include Helmut Lang and Theory for suiting (you might balk at the price but my HL blazer is four years old and it is still going strong), Acne Studios and Isabel Marant for t-shirting, J Brand and Dr Denim for jeans, Equipment for silk blouses, and Lover for something special. At the more affordable end of the scale, I love Everlane and Grana, for their high quality and transparency – it never hurts to know just where your clothing is coming from.

So I guess what I want to know is, do you invest in high quality wardrobe essentials, or are you a 3-pack of Hanes t-shirts kind of girl?

Think pink

samuji pink coat

image source; pinterest

Convinced more than ever that a petal pink coat needs to get into my closet ASAP. Let’s leave thinking about the impracticalities for later…

5PFW Challenge 2016 Update

5PFW Challenge Country Road coatigan alexander wang stripe dress
5PFW Challenge RUBY vasilisa off the shoulder pink dress

Three months into my second 5PFW challenge, and I figured that I owed you all an update, particularly given some of the questions I received on my video on the subject. I’ve managed to pick up three items which make up part of my five, which has me feeling a little like I’m teetering on the edge of going over this ‘season’ (although I won’t beat myself up too much if I do!).

Given I am a Lover girl through and through, as soon as the new collection launched I knew I had to get a piece of it. I made a beeline for the ‘drifter mini skirt’ in navy; it has a universally flattering a-line silhouette, and I just adore the rivet and ‘rope’ detailing on the waistband. This is such a great transitional piece as it works well with tights and a big cosy jumper, but also looks cute with a little crop top for warmer days.

My second purchase was a seemingly impractical one; a pink off the shoulder dress from RUBY (I love this one from Nicholas, too). Given that we were heading straight into autumn, I was sure if a) I’d even have an opportunity to wear it, and b) if it would even be a piece I would be able to get a lot of wear out of – not too many offices are relaxed enough that you can get away with a little off the shoulder action. Turns out, I was wrong on both counts. The last couple months have been unseasonably warm, and thankfully it’s been something that I can get away with wearing to work. It’s fast become a favourite and I love that it looks great both on its own, or with a big cosy cardigan thrown casually over the shoulders.

Finally, the cooler evenings have definitely been playing on my mind as of late. I’ve been dreaming of the Acne Studios raya coatigan for some time now, but decided to go with a slightly more affordable option from Country Road. This has just the right amount of slouch, and if there’s one common theme in my closet, it’s that I’m a huge fan of the coatigan.

I also want to take a minute to talk a little about the basics that I’ve picked up too. These seem to be the purchases that fly under the radar, but I think that they’re just as important to mention as the spendier additions as they add to the overall aesthetic of your wardrobe. I also felt it was important to mention these from the perspective that I think that there can be an impetus to buy basics freely, and being upfront and honest about what I’ve picked up helps to keep that impulse in check.

Least surprising of the basics I picked up was a sheered long-sleeved stripe top from T by Alexander Wang. I managed to nab this for a steal from The Real Real and I quickly added it to my autumn capsule when it arrived. I’ve had this on my wishlist for a good three years or so now, and figured it was finally worth pulling the trigger. It’s super slouchy and I love the way it helps to loosen up a more dressy outfit, and the contrasting cuffs and hem is an interesting little detail.

The one essential I purchased that truthfully, is completely borderline, is a grey wool wrap skirt I picked up from RUBY. I owned the RUBY pixie skirt a few years back, and it was just one of my everyday go-to essentials (albeit a whole size too big…), so it felt only natural to label this as an essential – and price wise, it falls under the lower limit of what I’d usually spend on a skirt.

Finally, I have a couple of new linen t-shirts from Brandy Melville, and a few everyday basics from Everlane winging their way to me from the US; I kept it simple and went for pieces that I know I’ll get a lot of wear out of, so keep an eye out as I’ll be updating you all with what I picked up very soon.

I’ve been trying – mostly – to keep it safe this time around; last year, I found that I was leaning more towards shopping spontaneously and unfortunately this meant that a few months later, I was not longer quite so in love with what I’d bought.

For those of you curious about the mechanics of how this challenge works, the aim is not to purchase five key pieces every six months if you don’t want or need to. It’s not a goal to aspire to but rather a loose guide to how the French themselves might shop. At the end of the six months, everything you bought stays in your closet, and perhaps you might part with some old season pieces which are no longer your style, or the odd item which is starting to wear out (which is where the concept of buying new basics is supposed to come into play).

I recently shared a link on my Twitter about whether we can really shop like the French, which I think might shed a little bit of light on how their shopping habits are typically portrayed. Whether it’s an urban legend or not… well, that’s up to you to decide.

The essential pencil skirt

karen walker slanting frill top lover lace pencil skirt

Karen Walker slanting frill top (similar), Lover the Label lace pencil skirt

Over the last couple of months I have been slowly making my way through my list of wardrobe essentials, and today I’m talking about a classic; the pencil skirt. While it’s fair to probably say that pencil skirts are generally reserved for the office, I’ve found mine to be a key piece that I reach for over the weekend too – it’s the perfect piece for dressing up an otherwise casual look.

It was one of the first things that I added to my wardrobe at 17 when I got a summer job working in administration, and I have to say, I haven’t looked back since.

My favourite has to be this Lover number; it’s a major workhorse in my closet, and one of the few pieces I loved enough to buy in two colours – black and white. As a girl with a very narrow waist (in proportion to my hips, that is), I’ve often found that finding the – perfect – one can be a journey. In the past, I’ve had skirts taken in at the waist to get the perfect fit, and will typically go for anything in a stretchy cotton, jersey or wool as a first port of call as those fabrics tend to be a lot more forgiving.

If you’d like to take a peek at how I like to style my pencil skirts three ways, then you can hop on over to my YouTube and check it out here.