Cost Per Wear: How It Can Help You Save Money


When it comes to clothing, shoes, and accessory purchases, I'm a firm believer in cost per wear, which I also refer to as "getting my money's worth."

It doesn't matter if it's a low-cost or expensive and high-quality purchase. Money spent is still money spent, and I want to be sure that it's worth it.

That wasn't always the case for me though.

I used to be the girl who bought what she liked if she liked it. I rarely ever factored in if or when I would ever wear it or if it would fit my lifestyle. However, I took a thorough assessment of my closet as I approached minimalist fashion.

Then I began to understand cost per wear(CPW), which became a game-changer for me. If you try it, you'll get the chance to avoid impulse buys and think about the total cost instead.

So let's talk about what it is and why it can save you tons of money!

What is cost per wear?

Cost per wear is equal to the cost of the item divided by the number of times you wear it. Doing this calculation helps me take inventory of my closet in terms of what was a smart purchase and what wasn't. As a result, it helps me make better purchases and avoid overspending.

There are also some other important things to consider with cost per wear. For example, if the item's quality and material are very good, it might last for a lifetime. And if it's an item that's going to age and need to be replaced every few years, consider this in your calculations.

How do you calculate cost per wear?

When it comes to calculating cost per wear, it's pretty simple and straightforward. Here's the math before we get to the cost-per-wear calculator.

Let's say you want to purchase a pair of shoes that cost $100. You take that cost and divide it by the number of times you think you'll wear it. They could be workout sneakers that you see yourself wearing at least twice a week.

That's twice a week times 52 weeks in a year; you estimate 104 wears over the next 12 months.

$100(cost of shoes) divided by $104 (number of wears) will give you a cost per wear of $0.96 per wear if you stick to your plan!

To further illustrate, let's say you own another pair of shoes that cost you $150. You also own a designer handbag that costs you $1,000. At first glance, it seems like the shoes are the cheaper buy when you just consider the price of an item.

However, if you've only worn the shoes twice your cost per wear is $75. If you wear your handbag every day for a month, your cost per wear is ~$33.

So in reality, your handbag purchase is actually the cheaper and more sensible purchase with low cpw! It could be considered an investment piece and has better value long-term.

If you feel intimidated by doing the math, try this cost-per-wear calculator from Glamour. A cost-per-wear calculator can quickly give you the answers to how much something costs, but it's good to know how to do the math in your head, too.

Does this mean I'm stuck wearing the same things all the time?

Feeling a little self-conscious about wearing the same thing repeatedly? The great thing about fashion is that things can be worn in so many ways, and you can still look good while sticking to your own budget.

You obviously don't want to wear the same outfit to work every day or to back-to-back events. That being said, there are several ways you can still repeat your items by remixing your clothes.

Having a capsule wardrobe is a great way to do this. It allows you to stay out of the fast fashion game while still staying on-trend and creating a timeless style.

Remixing allows you to utilize your existing wardrobe to create a variety of different outfits and looks. You’ll be surprised how many different looks you can whip up if you spend some time each week doing some outfit planning. Make it a fun project by creating a Pinterest account where you create outfit inspirations based on similar things in your own closet.

After spending your hard-earned money on your purchases, you should most definitely make good use of them! Plus, you'll be happy to know that truly wealthy people purchase quality items and wear them well.

And another bonus is that considering the cost per wear calculations first can help you to become a slow fashion consumer, and even help the planet.

This is especially true if any of your clothing gets a second life through reselling or giving clothes to charity. Dawn Manske of Made for Freedom explains the huge impact that recycled clothing has on our world here.

Understanding cost per wear can be an eye-opener

Just like everyone else, I've been guilty of owning things I haven't worn yet or don't wear often enough. However, I'm definitely more aware of how I spend my money now. I've used the cost-per-wear formula over the last few years.

Before I make a purchase, I assess my existing wardrobe and determine how well my potential new purchase will fit it. I also factor in whether I'll get enough use out of my item to make it worth the cost of purchase. This applies whether it's a designer dress or a t-shirt. And remember you can use a cost-per-wear calculator, too.

It's made all the difference with shopping for news items to add to my closet. I highly recommend trying this cost-per-wear approach yourself! You may find you buy fewer impulse purchases and perhaps even higher quality clothes.

To stay current on all the ways you can save money, plus other important finance info, check out our podcast, Clever Girls Know.

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