Do you calculate Cost per Wear when shopping?

by Paris B on · 31 comments

in Discussions,Fashion

cost wear Do you calculate Cost per Wear when shopping?

Cost per Wear.

This is a simple theory that helps you justify a purchase or just to decide if its worth keeping in your closet, or perhaps just to make you wear that item more often. The math is easy:-

Cost of item ÷ Times you wear it or use it

To justify a purchase, first decide how many times you are likely to wear or use the item. This mathematical equation applies mostly to clothes and accessories. So, if you find an item that costs you RM100 and you plan on wearing it a minimum of 4 times, that brings the cost per wear down to RM25. Wear it more often and the cost drops even further. In time, it’d have paid for itself.

In my closet are items of clothing and accessories that are a mixed bag of seriously cheap and crazy expensive. It would be easy to assume that something cheap would be “worth it” and therefore worth buying more of it.

However, I’ve found that some of my more inexpensive items have fallen apart after a few wears. So a dress that might have cost me RM50 but fell apart after 3 wears would in fact cost more than a dress that cost me RM150 but which I can still wear after 10 wearings. Similarly, I have novelty items of clothing that are inexpensive but which I hardly wear due to various reasons so the cost per wear remains higher than something more expensive but which is of a classic cut so I can wear it more often.

If you think I’m advocating buying expensive products, think again. I also have a dress that cost me A LOT of money and which I only wore 3 times because it is just too formal. The cost per wear is still in the 3 digits icon razz Do you calculate Cost per Wear when shopping?

On the other hand, I have a dress I picked up at a second hand shop overseas for roughly RM5. The cost per wear is now measured in fractions of a sen because I’ve worn it so much and it still looks good!

I have the same story with shoes. I bought a pair of Esprit shoes for RM100 and I wear them almost everyday. The cost per wear is now in the cents and falling fast. By contrast I purchased a pair of Stuart Weitzman wedges for about RM115 at a sale. Cost per wear = RM115 worn once icon razz Do you calculate Cost per Wear when shopping?

Now I try to be more savvy in how I make my purchases. I try to anticipate just how often I will wear something and then divide the cost by the minimum wears I expect to get out of it. If I find it reasonable, I get it. If not, I pass.

So, much as I loved the LV Sunset Boulevard clutch, I knew the cost per wear would never justify itself to me. I’m not the sort to walk the red carpet hobnobbing with the rich and famous all the time. Ditto when I shop for shoes and clothes. An exception might be my knee high boots which was and remains an irrational purchase icon razz Do you calculate Cost per Wear when shopping?

Do you do the same thing I do? Do you calculate Cost per Wear and do you have items in your closet that have already paid for themselves? What about dud buys that you thought were cheap but which you hardly use?

Share your story icon smile Do you calculate Cost per Wear when shopping?

Paris B

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[ 30 comments… read them below or join the discussion ]

Jessica March 21, 2010 at 9:51 am

Happy Sunday! Good question and me thinks that most people use that theory when purchasing expensive items. I saw this BEAUTIFUL dress from Marks & Spencer that costs a whole lot lesser after discount but couldn’t think of events to go for in that dress. Regretfully, I had to let it go… To me, I only calculate cost per wear when I’m about to purchase expensive stuff :)

Have an awesome Sunday..i know I’ll be having one coz I’m gonna watch a certain gorgeous Italian crooner crooning..hehee.


ParisB March 21, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Happy Sunday to you! Sounds like you’ll be having a lovely evening ;) I know what you mean about finding something that looks so good especially after a hefty discount yet you can’t justify buying it because you will hardly wear it. I’ve let so many pretty dresses go for this reason. Incidentally, I bear this thought about cost per wear in mind for all prices these days, not just expensive items because “expensive” is relative eh? :)


Jessica March 22, 2010 at 12:14 am

I had an awesome evening…!
True, the term ‘expensive’ is relative it’ll be upon one’s discretion no?


ParisB March 22, 2010 at 11:02 am

Definitely :) What used to be “Expensive” when I was a student now is “affordable” which is kinda great – glad you had an enjoyable evening! :D


geekchic March 21, 2010 at 10:38 am

Oh honey that’s how I justify plonking down so much for bags! :P


ParisB March 21, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Haha… same here – “Will I be able to wear this when I’m 80?”


rinnah March 21, 2010 at 11:24 am

Oh yes! I do that all the time… take my bags for example… I usually get a normal “branded” bag when its on sale (favorite brand is Balenciaga) and my bags have lasted me well over 2 plus years – even with daily abuse they still look new. Yet my mom can’t understand how I justify spending on a 3 digit bag in the first place and instead will get a cheaper bag that wears out in 3 – 4 months, which means she has to get a new one. Thus, she changes 4 – 6 bags in the same period of time that I am using my “expensive” bag, and in the long run she actually spends twice as much as I do on bags! No amount of reasoning by me, even with the proof that I have yet to wear out my bags, will sway my mom. :P


ParisB March 21, 2010 at 4:37 pm

LOL maybe your mom wants variety ;) but this is the other thing – buying something cheaper and then having to change or buy new ones more often because the cheaper item wears out faster. Happens to me and shoes too :)


Gette March 21, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I never thought of it that way before. I’m buying an awful lot of clothes now because they’re so cheap on blogshops, but most tend to start showing wear and tear after two or three uses.


ParisB March 21, 2010 at 4:38 pm

And this is the reason I haven’t ventured into the blogshop realm. I find it hard to buy something without first feeling for quality, even if its “cheap”


Nikki March 21, 2010 at 12:16 pm

I never thought of that too, I shop depending on my mood and budget, and I never bought any CRAZY expensive stuffs, well just expensive maybe? But it’s justifiable if I do know the clothing will last, like it’s not just a fashion thing or fad… :) Happy Sunday!


ParisB March 21, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Happy Sunday Nikki! I do have my shopping moods too but I started thinking about this more because I wanted my money to go further, when I was having a tougher spell financially. Happily the money purse is a lot looser now but I’m still keeping a tight rein on it :)


yuki March 21, 2010 at 1:16 pm

eh? Never thought of that too! I usually buy stuff during sales~~ I only do that with masks… hehe…


ParisB March 21, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Ah but even during sales, what’s “cheaper” isn’t necessarily going to cost less once you work out the cost/wear ;) I usually shop during sales too – rarely do I buy anything full priced if I can help it!


LyNn March 21, 2010 at 1:21 pm

haha i calculate cost per ml only for cosmetic stuff :P


ParisB March 21, 2010 at 4:40 pm

And this is something that I don’t bother with LOL


Hanny March 21, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Hmmm, I only buy my clothes during the Mega-sales period at the year end for Chinese New Year, which will last me the whole year, hehehehe. So I’m pretty safe, something I learnt from my mom. Luckily I’m not a sucker for bags, but for shoes yes, I would buy cheap shoes and replace them when they’re worse for wear… hehehehe.


ParisB March 21, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Same – I shop during sales all the time too. Rarely do I pay full price unless I can justify it via cost/wear or if its a necessity or if it never goes on sales (like some brands) Even during sale times, I calculate cost per wear coz just because something’s cheaper doesn’t mean I’ll wear it more often :P It does mean it is easier to buy and easier to justify buying though. I however don’t buy cheap shoes because my feet hate them so I buy “expensive” shoes at “cheap” prices during sales :)


Tine March 21, 2010 at 3:27 pm

I didn’t before but I’m doing a lot more of it the past 6 months. I bought a lot of crap before especially jeans cos they were cheap. But I hardly wore them so cost per wear is high. I don’t shop as much I did nowadays so I make sure I get the quality shizz that I know I’ll have more wear out of them.

Or so I keep justifying to myself cos they were expensive :P


ParisB March 21, 2010 at 4:43 pm

I know exactly what you mean. Just because something is cheap makes it so easy to buy them because its so light on the pocket right? Yet if we never wear them, it’ll never be worth whatever little money we pay. I’ve slacked off on shopping these days too. Perhaps I’m just getting pickier ;)


Connie March 22, 2010 at 12:26 am

I don’t calculate. It’ll simply be an excuse for me to buy something that I can’t normally afford :P know this for a fact eg. my 4-inch gladiator shoes. I’ve noticed that the clothes that I wear most often are the cheap ones.
I have one black dress with the tiny flowers (wore it to the Shu lashes event, remember?) that I’ve been wearing since I was 14 and so often. Timeless, unique, can be casual or dressy, fits me at any size and still in very good condition. Bought at RM99


ParisB March 22, 2010 at 11:05 am

Yep! Some cheap stuff can last which is great for the wallet. I remember that dress and no, I’d never have guessed you were wearing it since you were 14! It still looks great which means its only worth cents every time you wear it now :)


KittyCat March 22, 2010 at 12:49 am

Ugh, I’m afraid I’m one of those who go crazy at sales – I’m always in “love at first sight”, if you know what I mean. Needless to say, my closet was crammed with crap which gets cleared out the weeks before Christmas.

Over the years (due to Hubby’s propaganda because he has to haul out those bags of crap), I’ve started prompting myself with these questions, “How many times will I wear it?”, “Will I REALLY wear something I’ll need to a) iron b) layer c) be super careful or d) dry clean?”

I still make some bad buys but I think I’m getting better esp in spotting quality material – I have some really pitiful sweat pants that beg to be buried but they are so, so, so comfortable I’ll only junk them if I find new ones. And I found them at Reject Shop :-)

One of the best buys is definitely that Coach handbag I got last year – I love the design, the look and the use I’m getting out of it, I fear I’m becoming a fan…

But seriously, I can’t find another (cheaper) bag that offers the same features! Life’s tough, isn’t it? LOL


ParisB March 22, 2010 at 11:07 am

Haha Using this method, I’ve actually managed to curb a lot of impulsive buying which is great for the wallet in the long run :) I have some old stuff I wear around the house too but I can’t bear to throw them away because they are super comfy! What’s it with old T-shirts and shorts that are just so comfy eh? :)


Kaoru March 22, 2010 at 4:32 am

I do this with clothes, shoes, and makeup. For clothing and shoes I also try to go for quality. Yes, I have some cheaply made clothing, mostly shirts, but my justification for those is that I would rather pay $5 (on sale) for a trend shirt to layer with my classics and know it will only last me a season than pay for an expensive piece and have it in my closet still when I’m 80. Just because something is cheap doesn’t mean that it wasn’t made well, and the same goes the other way. I’ve had jeans that I bought from Target last me 10 years, and another pair that was a name brand last me 3 months.


ParisB March 22, 2010 at 11:08 am

Yep! I buy cheap for “trendy” thing and better quality (usually pricier) for classics. But as with everything, much depends on how it is made – some cheap stuff can last forever! They just age LOL


Jenn March 22, 2010 at 9:00 am

Great writeup once again Paris!!

I’ve never thought of cost per wear before!! What i do is i usually try to think of at least 5 different outfits i can match a clothing item with before purchasing it… unless it’s a dress or ridiculously cheap!! haha!! :D

And i agree with you… cheap might actually cost more per wear if it falls apart after one or two wears! Though i don’t own anything expensive, but i am a firm believer of you pay for what you get… in my case, some items are just tens of ringgits difference, but they last so much longer! :D


ParisB March 22, 2010 at 11:12 am

Haha I wish I was imaginative enough to think of 5 different outfits! But that’s a good guide – you’d get at least 5 wears ;)


stellarvixen March 22, 2010 at 11:48 am

interesting savvy writeout on shopping habits…
thanks to you i’ll now do the cost per wear! by the frequency haha!

however clothes that are purchased for certain occasions…are inevitable..hence its cost are definitely much higher boo!!

i’ll normally recall what i have and try not to repeat my clothing & accessories articles! stay awhile from similar clothings i’d say :P unless its an minor obessions lol eg: stars theme for me…last year kakaa


plue March 22, 2010 at 6:58 pm

i don’t really calculate, but if it’s a piece of clothing/shoes/bags which i know i’ll be using it very very often, i don’t mind paying the price. but not to the point where i calculate it like how you do! i am just too lazy!

but i suppose it’s a good way to save money to spend on more useful things or things you know you’ll use them often, but i think splurging once a while is great fun too! :P

that’s what shopping’s all about no? :D


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