Years ago, I found this pair of jeans that I really liked. The design was trendy, it’s stylish, and the wash on the jeans was just amazing – it was a love at first sight.
The style of the jeans was my favourite low-rise. It fitted me just fine, but it wasn’t perfect. It’s slightly loose at the waistline.
Being a less knowledgable and also an impulsive shopper back then, a dangling 30% discount tag and a fancy design was enough for me to churn out RM200 from my wallet. So as expected, I surrendered at the cashier.
I wore the new jeans X immediately the next day. And for the coming days, seeing me was like seeing the jeans. Let’s name this jeans Jeans X.
As the time went by, the lurking consequence of overlooked detail started to show up:
From time to time, I would mindlessly pull my jeans to make sure it sits on my waist. My jeans’ waistline kept on slipping.
I thought that the slipping was normal, assuming it was the problem of my body. Mass-produced clothes are typically designed based on standard mannequins, well I’m just a normal person with a normal body. So I left this issue at the back of my mind. (Maybe that explains why some people can accept wearing low-rise jeans that shows their intergluteal cleft? Hmm…)
A few months later, while I was out in the mall again, I picked up another pair of jeans. This time, the jeans was from Levi’s. I heard that it was great. So I found a low rise, I loved it, and I paid RM260.
What happened next in the coming weeks was a new discovery. While switching between Jeans X and Levi’s for about 2 weeks, I realised that I didn’t really have to pull my jeans when I was in Levi’s. I think it almost never happened.
Moment of truth: Levi’s actually fits me better.
Noticing this difference between them, Jeans X slowly became my less favourite jeans. In the end, Jeans X stayed in my closet for the longest time I could remember, and Levi’s became my all-time favourite. I wore it until I eventually replaced it with a new pair of jeans 2 years later.
Value vs Price
In my on-going project of wardrobe rebuilding 101, I can’t help but to admit how my experience mentioned above has contributed to the piles of unworn pieces in my closet.
Looking at Jeans X and the rest of the “less favourite” clothes, I asked myself:
Just how much value I got out of all these purchases?
With the money I’ve paid, how much “worth” I actually got?
As I started questioning the worth of each and every piece of acquired fashion items, I stumbled upon the concept of Cost Per Wear.
While it may not be a solution to any problem like how a quadratic equation solves a math question, it certainly gives me a different perspective in finding out the ROI of my expenses. It becomes even more interesting when the subject is fashion and luxuries. (Read: The actual price of luxury.)
Cost Per Wear
Cost Per Wear is a theory of calculation commonly used by fashion shoppers in justifying the price of purchases. In general, here’s how Cost Per Wear works:
It literally means how much it costs every time you wear the garment.
Given my case above, assuming:
- I wore Jeans X everyday within the 2 months,
- I never wear Jeans X again in the future, and
- I wore the Levi’s jeans 2 times a week for 2 years (Let’s just ignore the maintenance part):
|Price||RM 200||RM 260|
|Total # of Wearing||7 x 4 Weeks x 2 Months
= 56 Times
|2 x 4 Weeks x 12 Months x 2 Years
= 192 Times
|Cost Per Wear||RM 3.57||RM 1.35|
From the calculation, Cost Per Wear for Jeans X is relatively higher at RM 3.57, compared to Levi’s RM 1.35.
Logically, a lower Cost Per Wear makes a garment worth investing in, making it a highly-valued purchase. In the case of Jeans X, even when it was bought at a discounted price, it seems like it costed me more during the whole lifespan in comparison.
Cost Per Wear of a garment is affected by many factors. Anything that can affect the likeliness of you wearing the garment will impact the numbers. For example, you might stop wearing something because:
- Your taste or style has changed
- The weather has changed, or change of season
- The trend is fading
Cost Per Wear for Shopping
Just as how I used it to estimate the value of the purchases I’ve made, you can use Cost Per Wear in planning your future purchases.
Before you put money on any piece of garment, consider doing a little calculation of Cost Per Wear to know if you’re actually getting great value out of it. When you’re applying the formulae, you’re actually “reminding” yourself on how useful the new purchase will be. It provides an extra “filtering” layer in your decision-making.
As a lesson learned, now I tend to be more careful in deciding on the pieces that will go into my closet, taking into the consideration of how I’ll be wearing them, and how often I’ll be needing them in my lifestyle. Lifestyle is particularly important in this equation as it defines your range of Cost Per Wear. For example, your acceptable range of Cost Per Wear for a pair of jeans may be RM10, while the guy next to you may be RM500.
Of course, perfect fit, great cut and quality is important. No more Jeans X. ☺
Truth be told, Cost Per Wear is somehow a hypothetical formulae, and not everybody is buying this concept. Nonetheless, I hope it provides you some useful insights in planning your shopping and building a more comprehensive wardrobe with less.
What do you think? Does it make sense to you? I’d love to hear from you.