Cost-per-wear, and its happier alternative.

Cost-per-wear, and its happier alternative.

I’m a big believer in cost-per-wear. My mom taught me that the more often you’re able to wear something, the more you can justify paying for it.

This is why I’m willing to invest $100 in a fabulous pair of shoes, even though it hurts in the short run. They’re well-made, they’re comfortable, they match everything. I wear them 5 days a week for years. That CPW is tiny in the long run.

CPW can change your mind about what’s really a “deal.” If that $7 fast fashion tshirt is holey after two washes, it’s not a great value—especially not compared to your spendier ones that last for years.

I love CPW, and I always think about it before making a purchase. It appeals to my inner maximizer. (I’ve spent the last 5 years trying to beat her into submission, but she’s still most definitely pleased by the idea of paying $.15 per wear on her favorite shoes.)

Don’t think you get a free pass if you’re not into fashion! The concept applies to more than clothes: it’s the same reason I’m okay with owning a $280 Le Creuset dutch oven. (I’m especially okay with it because my parents gave it to me as an awesome Christmas gift, but I still cringed at the price tag. I am thrifty, people!)

But I’ve used that pot four times a week, six months a year, for five years. It’s well-made and built to last. If there comes a time when I don’t use it anymore, I’ll pass it down to my kids. It’s heirloom quality: I’ll be able to do that. My cost per use is tiny.

when cost-per-wear and love-per-wear converge: 2 1/2 years ago Stitch Fix sent me a sweater ($44) and scarf ($24) that I still wear all the time

I love the cost-per-wear idea so much that I forget about the big exception: love per wear. 

Some purchases have a terrible cost-per-wear, but make me very happy. I read about this recently on the Men’s Style Lab blog (where they also share more caveats about cost-per-wear).

I love this shirt, but I don’t wear it often. I have some great heels that I don’t wear much, but I love them when I do. I have more scarves than I need: my CPW is higher than it could be because I wear a different one every day. But they make me very happy.

The Men’s Style Lab blog says to break the CPW rules (as long as it doesn’t break your wallet) if a purchase makes you feel amazing, even if you don’t wear it very often. These items are investments, too—in your confidence and happiness.

The maximizer in me loves CPW, but I also want to open my closet and see clothes I love.

Love per wear: it’s a real thing.

Do you rely on CPW? What’s your favorite garment with a great love-per-wear ratio?

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75 comments

  1. Catherine says:

    I’m a minimalist so I do buy $200 jeans but I only have 2 pairs which last me about 18mo until they shred. I try to find the perfect fit rather by brand since cuts vary even within the expensive lines. Casual tops I tend to go cheaper as I have small children but pants, jackets and shoes tend to be on the spendier side but I rarely go shopping unless there is a need. Keeping out of stores or online saves a lot of money too:)

  2. Becca says:

    Honestly, I just can’t find enough consistency to rely on CPW!

    I bought a pair of Louboutins a few years ago in a colour suitable for both my wedding day and numerous occasions afterwards, but the red sole scraped away, revealing cardboard-y material, and the heels broke in no time – and they were uncomfortable too! I bought them thinking “okay, so some of the cost is for the name, but the name can’t have acquired such importance without them being good quality, surely?” Oh how wrong I was!

    At the same time, my £15 ballet pumps from New Look took five times as many steps to wear out to the same extent.

    I’m so terrified of buying expensive things because I just can’t assess quality unless I’ve tried a product out for a while.

    Oh, and the Le Creuset? I have equal numbers of the real deal and supermarket own brand cast iron cookware, and haven’t yet found a difference in quality.

  3. Hannah Beth Reid says:

    I am warming up to the CPW and love per wear. It goes against my garage sale shopping ways, but I am seeing the benefits. I have a semi-dressy dress I bought for my husband’s graduation 4 years ago and while it certainly isn’t in everyday rotation, when I need something nice, it almost always fits the bill. Because of the style, it has fit me at my skinniest and when a few months pregnant (without looking ridiculous), it has a pattern which hides stains from little people, and doesn’t wrinkle. And I love the color! Thanks for introducing me to this concept!

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