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Cost-per-wear: How to splurge the right way

Written by Kalisha Price


Posted on February 07 2020


We all have a wishlist of items we’ve had our eye on for a while now but can’t bring ourselves to make the purchase just yet. Either we are hunting down a better price, waiting for it to go on sale, looking for a knock-off (this is a safe place ;-), or searching for some justification that we reeaallly need it in our closets. We will tell ourselves, “If I wake up and think about this piece tomorrow, I’m going to get it.” Sounds familiar? 

Don’t we all wish we could have more to wear but spend less money?! Sounds almost impossible, right? No, it’s very possible with cost-per-wear and the tips I have below. This formula is going to teach you how to splurge the right way, get more bang for your buck, and give you all the justification you need when adding something new to your wardrobe. 

 What is CPW and how is it calculated?

Cost-per-wear (CPW) is simply the true value of an item directly based on how much you will wear it. 


cost-per-wear formula


The “cost per wear” formula is pretty simple and easy to remember. You simply divide the cost of the item by the number of times you think you will wear the item. A $365-dollar item worn every day for 1 year would have a cost per wear of $1 per wear. If used every day for 2 years, the cost per wear would be 50 cents.


How many times should you wear a piece of clothing?

Ever heard of the 30 Wear Rule? This rule is coined by Livia Firth,  producer of the fast-fashion documentary, The True Cost and sustainability consultant. This is a great way to ease yourself into the sustainable fashion world. 

Ask yourself these questions before making a purchase:

  • Will I wear this item at least 30 times?
  • How many ways can I wear this piece?
  • Is this a high-quality piece?
  • Will it withstand at least 30 washes?
  • Will I still want to wear this in 6 months?

      If you can’t wear or wash a piece at least 30 times, it will end up costing you more money to replace the item compared to making the investment on a more quality piece that was made to last. 

       blazer and jeans outfit

      How much should I spend on jeans?

      My friends used to think I was crazy to spend over $100 on a pair of jeans. But the amount of times they had to replace theirs ended up costing more than I spent on my jeans that I have yet to replace.  

      Let’s look at this from a CPW perspective. Say you bought a $50 pair of jeans and could only get 10 wears out of them before they start ripping at the seams. The CPW is $5. On the other hand, a pair of $200 jeans that were made to last, worn 100 times, has a CPW of $2.  If you factor in CPW, your designer jeans can end up costing you less than cheap jeans from H&M that has to be replaced multiple times a year. 


      Do more expensive clothes last longer?

      Quality clothing is essentially made better. High-end companies strategically source better materials and trims that have high durability. From the higher-end fabrics, quality zippers and closures, to the stitching (higher quality clothes have more stitches per inch to help hold the piece together better over the years), clothes you spend more money on are designed to last. 

      There are many benefits to the cost-per-wear formula.

      • It shifts your mindset to focus on quality and not quantity.
      • It’s a good way to prevent impulse buys with high sticker prices
      • The environmental benefit of reduced consumption 
      • It’s a cheaper lifestyle overall
      • You spend less time shopping 
      • You can shop without the guilt 
      • It gives you greater appreciation and enjoyment with the things you already have.

        Where to save? If you are trying to build a new wardrobe, I wouldn’t start with purchasing these items. Here a some quick examples:

      • Trendy items
      • Formal wear
      • Costume Jewelry
      • Clutches
      • T-shirts 
      • Workout clothes

      • Where to splurge? Make the investment on your basics and classic items first. These are the pieces that will be the foundation to your wardrobe. You want to build off of these pieces. 

      • Jeans
      • Black Trousers
      • Bras
      • Suits
      • Jackets and Coats
      • Blazers
      • Everyday bags
      • Work shoes

      • What to keep in mind when it come to CPW

        The first thing to always consider is quality and durability. I know we live in a fast-fashion world where it is becoming easier and easier to blow money on all the trendy pieces our hearts desire.  We quickly get bored with our clothes and want to replace them with new ones. But those impulse buys are draining your account and crowding your closet.  

        With the CPW mindset, you really have to love the piece you are buying. The more you love it and invest into it the more you will wear it and also take care of it. My cheap pieces from H & M I don’t care to fix when damaged, but my quality jeans that hug in all the right places are worth the repair. (plus it doesn’t make sense to get $50 jeans repaired for $30). 

        The second thing is to make sure you even like the item. Don’t buy into something just because it’s on the sales rack and has a low cost-per-wear. Always consider your personal style, values, and lifestyle. Know thyself and know thy style! Need help defining that, click here. You don’t want to love the price tag more than the garment itself. That’s a tweet! Lol 


        sale tag


        In my never-ending journey to simplify my life, my closet and my budget always seemed to suffer. I would always “splurge” on many inexpensive items thinking I was getting a bargain and more for a low cost. But in actuality, I was losing money. I was impulsively buying clothes just because the price tag was attractive. 

        This may sound crazy, but buying something on sale doesn’t always mean you are saving money. I learned this the hard way when many items were left hanging in my closet with those same attractive price tags still hanging on them.

        After adopting the simple-life lifestyle, I am making a conscious effort to make fewer and more intentional purchases, even if that means spending more money upfront to save money in the long run. 

        The point is simple. Do yourself and the world a favor and buy quality items that you are going to wear frequently vs. a lower quality item you have to keep replacing. Of course, there are those rare times you will find an amazing item on sale that you will wear over and over again. That’s a win, win!

        So the next time you’re considering buying a new piece, take the time to ask yourself how much will you wear it, how much you already have, and how long do you think the garment will hold up. Then go ahead and enjoy your new stuff or the extra cash in your account!!



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