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Posted 01 August 2023

Cost Per Wear: What You Need to Know

Have you ever found a piece of clothing that was exactly what you wanted, only to cringe at the price tag? Then the classic internal debate about worth, trendiness, and how often you will really wear it takes place. After 10 minutes, you decide the cost is too high and begrudgingly place the item back on the rack. 

With a two-part article series, we’re going to cover budgeting with a new mindset to help you confidently purchase clothing items that seem out of reach. Up first: Learning to calculate your cost per wear. 

Cost per wear (CPW) isn’t exactly new. Many people think about how often an item will be worn during their purchasing process. This strategy involves taking the total cost of your purchase (including sales tax), objectively considering how many times you are likely to wear the item, then dividing your total cost by your estimated number of wears to determine what you would be paying every time you wear that item. Here’s what that looks like: 

Total cost of the item / number of times you will wear it = cost per wear 

Now that you know how to calculate it, here are five tips to consider while shopping and determining your CPW.  

Material Considerations 

The material an item is made from helps to determine not only the cost, but how long the item will last. Natural fibers like wool, cashmere, denim, and cotton tend to have a higher price point but last longer than synthetic materials.  

Item Longevity 

When shopping with the CPW in mind, consider if the item will look just as good three years from now and if the material and fit will improve or even remain constant with time. As mentioned previously, natural materials tend to last longer allowing for a reduced CPW. Remember that fabulous pair of jeans that now shapes to your body for the perfect fit? What about that leather jacket you found at the thrift store that fits like a glove and has lasted decades? These are just a few examples of the importance of materials when considering CPW. 

Consider Your Climate 

It’s important to take your climate into consideration as well as you calculate CPW. Here in Michigan, we experience four seasons. From October to March, it’s likely that you’ll be wearing a winter jacket at some point. Check out this calculation that assumes you wear a $200 winter jacket 25 days per month for six months:  

25 x 6 = 150 days of wear for year one 

$200 / 150 = $1.33 cost per wear (CPW)  

300 days of wear at year two 

$200 / 300 = $0.67 CPW 

450 days per wear at year three 

$200 / 450 = $0.44 

It’s easy to see how purchasing slightly more expensive pieces can be worth their value when looking at the longevity factor.  

Brutal Honesty Required  

Effective shopping using CPW budgeting requires you to be brutally honest with yourself when it comes to your shopping habits. Taking time to consider if you need or want something, if you are going to wear it more than a few times, if you are just following a trend, and if it can be worn with other items will save your bank account from draining and your closet from overflowing in the long run.  

Capsule Wardrobe 

The best part about CPW budgeting is that it’s the foundation to creating a capsule wardrobe, which helps to minimize unnecessary purchases, reduce waste, and curate your closet so every item can be paired with each other.  

Final Thoughts 

Remember, budgeting allows you to plan — not only for emergencies but for what you want, which can include pricier clothing options that last. Using cost per wear budgeting can help you determine the longevity of your items while setting yourself up for success in other areas, such as closet organization which will be covered in the follow-up article, “Capsule Wardrobes: How They Help Your Finances.”



©2023 Reseda Group LLC, used under license.