Photography by Fernando Ceballos, @nando710x
Buying on a budget does not always mean buying discounted clothing. While I will not deny myself from a good sale, I still fall prey to impulse buys. I justify why I should purchase that item based on the simple cost per wear formula. Cost per wear is nothing new or groundbreaking, but I do find value in thinking things through a bit before swiping my credit card. When you begin to think in terms of cost per wear, your dollar will stretch and you may ultimately save money in the long run.
Like most New York women, Zara is my favorite place to shop for affordable, stylish clothing and designer dupes – a haven for impulsiveness. Take my favorite white leather mule shoes – I spotted these online and immediately wanted to hit BUY. I usually don’t buy shoes full price, so I had to think about it…
- Versatility: Do I already have outfits (casual, professional, dressy) to pair with the shoes?
- Seasonality: Will these shoes transition easily from spring to summer to fall?
- Frequency: How often will I actually wear these?
Frequency got lots of points so CLICK and they were mine. Here is my process:
1.The economics: The money will be spent upfront, so you have to afford it now. I am a firm believer that all payable debt should be paid off ASAP so I completely avoid credit card debt by sticking to a bi-weekly budget. If I’ve exhausted that budget, it’s a no can do for me.
2. Be honest with yourself: Odds are, you may overestimate frequency of use as a result of that flood of emotion you may feel when finding something you truly love. Consider versatility and seasonality as well, as this could help you estimate the number of wears.
3. Do the math: Cost per wear is a very simple formula and you won’t even need a calculator.
Cost per wear = Item cost / Estimated number of wears
The formula does involve estimation, but the more accurate you can be the more likely you can estimate this cost. Cost per wear does not need to be limited to big ticket purchases – I even evaluate my Forever21 purchases (no shame there!). Say we’re considering two bags:
I may wear the Forever 21 bag 10 times over 2 months, after which one of the fixtures or the strap may break. My cost per wear was $2 but I now need to buy a new bag, a total of $40 spent. The Rebecca Minkoff bag, however, is a higher quality item that may not break as easily so now I might wear it 60 times over 2 years at a cost per wear of about $2.50. (Added bonus is whenever you want to replace it, you can resell it and make back some extra cash!)
Obviously, I would be getting a deal for a Rebecca Minkoff lookalike bag at Forever21 but it may not stand the test of time. No hate at all for Forever21, I just find that their items require more replacement.
4. Evaluate: Ask yourself two questions here:
Can I find something similar elsewhere? If yes, do a quick Google search. The luxury of having smartphones nowadays means that you are in control of where you choose to shop.
Is it really worth it? If yes, go for it!
The next time you go shopping, think things through a bit. You’ll find that when you start to think critically and rationally when shopping, you’ll purchase more high quality investment pieces that’ll really build a cohesive wardrobe… and sometimes save money!