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…

6 Comments

  1. Closet Fashionista May 2, 2016 / 1:13 am

    Yep, I do love cost per wear! Although I’m still bad with some of my expensive pieces, some of them are a bit too out of the ordinary to wear ALL the time, BUT they will last years/decades longer than my other pieces so over time I’ll get the CPW down.
    http://closet-fashionista.com/

    • jamie-lee May 7, 2016 / 7:43 pm

      Haha you have a pretty big wardrobe though! I tend to spend more money on the classic pieces and I wear the same things day in day out most of the time! 🙂

  2. Shari from GoodFoodWeek May 7, 2016 / 3:53 pm

    I love the idea of a cost per wear wardrobe. Mum and I would always joke about the cost per wear of expensive dresses that I used to purchase to go out in. Now I don’t go out very often {with a 3 year old, an 18 month old, and being almost 20 weeks pregnant with my third}, but I find that a tailored, more expensive piece will always suit my body better and make me feel better when wearing it. It might be more expensive, but I sure will be happier to wear it more often.

    • jamie-lee May 7, 2016 / 7:34 pm

      I completely agree! I was saying to my girlfriend today that I feel like I’ve become a bit of a fabric snob – I want what I’m wearing to feel beautiful against my skin (I think also being prone to getting eczema is a factor) and typically the softer or nicer feeling fabrics tend to be those which are a little bit more expensive. But, like you, I’ll reach for them so much more often because they feel good on and I love wearing them! x

  3. Celeste May 21, 2016 / 1:35 am

    I totally agree with you about quality over quantity, but what I’d like to find is a good CPW calculator that can help me determine what a good CPW is based on my income, the size of my wardrobe, etc. It’s easy enough to compare skirt to skirt, but how to determine whether I need a new skirt at all? Or is there an easy rule of thumb? For example, it should always be under $5/wear regardless of income level, etc. unless it’s your wedding dress.

    • jamie-lee May 27, 2016 / 8:18 am

      I haven’t seen anything like that online, but I think for a more expensive piece, getting CPW less than $5 ($1 is even better!) is always a good sign 🙂

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