Why Cost Per Wear is so Important
You’ve likely heard of Cost Per Wear in the past, but have you ever stopped to really think about it, or apply it to your own shopping habits? Cost Per Wear is a time-old budgeting technique used by consumers and personal shoppers alike. We talk about the concept quite in depth within our new Personal Styling course, but would like to discuss it in this post as well. Let’s get to it and talk about just what makes CPW so important.
Cost per wear (CPW) is a concept used to plan and justify a purchase. It’s a good starting point for deciding whether something is or isn’t worth the purchase, but it should not be used as the ultimate decision maker. To calculate cost per wear, take the total cost of an item and divide it by the number of times your client plans to wear it. For example, if a pair of shoes costs $100 and your client plans to wear them 50 times, they cost $2 per wear. The $2 figure is the target for the ideal cost per wear but, as you can imagine, may be a challenge for certain “shop-a-holics”.
The concept sounds simple, but there are a few things you’ll need to think about before calculating an item’s CPW. First, you need to take into consideration the actual total cost of the item – not just the number on the price tag. Take into consideration the sales tax, the interest the purchase will accrue if a credit card is being used, the cost of any alterations that might be needed, and regular maintenance such as treatment sprays or dry cleaning. These sorts of additional costs can take a silk shirt you found on sale for $10 and make it cost much, much more over the course of its lifetime.
Second, you’ll want to be realistic when planning how often you’ll actually wear an item. It’s easy to tell yourself, “I’ll use it every day!” when you experience love at first sight for a new luxury bag or pair of designer shoes. But, will you actually do this? The answer is almost always “no”. Consider a trendy pair of neon orange heels. The shoe might have been all the rage when you bought them, but trends come and go in a matter of weeks and you likely won’t want to wear the shoes when they’re considered to be old news. Plus, you’ll probably find it difficult to match the shoes to many outfits, further limiting how many times you’ll honestly wear them. If that pair of shoes cost $80 and you ended up wearing them four times, you essentially paid $20 per wear – ten times more than the recommended CPW amount.
Third, you need to take risks into account. Although you’ll of course try your best to avoid scuffing a new pair of patent leather boots or spilling coffee on a gorgeous white silk blouse, accidents are a part of life and can happen to anyone at any time. If an item is likely to become stained or scuffed, it’s best not to take the risk and to avoid spending too much of your budget on the item. Finding easy-to-clean items that are also easy to care for is often difficult, but is better than choosing something costly that can easily be ruined. Simply speaking, items that are more likely to have a short life should have less money spent on them than items that are sure to last a while.
After creating a budget for your wardrobe, taking cost per wear into consideration will help you make better purchasing decisions. It’s also an easy purchase planning technique you can pass along to your friends and family.