What does cost per wear mean and how can it help to shop responsibly?
The cost per wear (CPW) metric is most helpful in answering the question of whether a piece of clothing is (or was) really worth its price. It’s a quantifiable approach to the famous phrase: it’s worth prioritizing value for money. And don’t be afraid of the math part, it’s not that complicated! What’s more, CPW also correlates with environmental consciousness.
The cost per wear metric helps us to calculate how much a single wearing of a particular piece of clothing truly costs us. For example, it really makes a difference whether we only wear a 100 dollar garment twice (resulting in a cost of 50 dollars per wear), or if it becomes a part of our go-to outfit, maintains its quality, and we wear it 50 times (resulting in a total cost of 2 dollars per wear).
It’s clear that this is a simple division task, and there’s no need to overthink it. However, after the simple math example, a little bit more complex task follows: let’s predict how well we can utilize the mentioned fashion item in the long run!
Of course, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have a few unique, treasured items for special occasions. It just sets us in a mood for bringing a good dose of mindfulness with us when we go shopping or open our favorite webshop.
Instead of stressing like hell
Whether a specific piece of clothing is worth its price can, needless to say, be influenced by a lot of spontaneous factors. For instance, when we run late for work and our stockings rip, we usually run to the nearest store and grab whatever is available. Or when our child has outgrown their previous winter coat and the unexpectedly horrible weather arrives, this situation leaves no time to search for the best value for money option. Or when we’ve been longing for an extravagant accessory, and finally, we decide to buy it, even though we know it will only be worn on rare occasions...
We could tell you thousands of these kinds of everyday situations, but our point is that: we use the CPW metric as a guideline, not as another stress factor that shatters our relationship with fashion and self-expression through outfits!
This metric is also amazing in the sense that it helps us avoid jumping into the low-priced (and likely lower quality) offerings too often. Just because something is cheap doesn’t mean we should definitely buy it. After all, a top that costs 10 dollars may become unwearable after four washes, or we might realize at home that it’s not even our style/color/fit, and we only bought it spontaneously because we thought we were getting the deal of our life.
CPW can be beneficial not only for lower-priced clothing but also when shopping for a higher-value item. Let’s say we’ve always wanted a designer bag that is made with excellent quality, considered a timeless piece, matches our personality, and can seamlessly fit into our wardrobe...
Let’s assume this designer bag costs 1000 dollars, but due to the criteria listed above, it could perfectly serve us for 5, 10, or even 15 years. I don’t think I’m revealing a secret by saying that the 20 dollar bag from a fast fashion brand is likely to have a much, much higher CPW ratio.
Naturally, it would be misleading to present a 1000 dollar investment in a bag as if it were socially average, but it is undoubtedly a thought-provoking narrative.
How about the emotional side of this story?
So the attention lies at the lifespan of products, their utility, and our (emotional) relationship with them. We can judge the right quality based on factors like materials, stitching, craftsmanship, as well as zippers and buttons. From these and proper use, careful washing, we can fairly well determine the lifespan of a particular item.
It’s a good idea to ask ourselves if we can wear this particular item in different seasons (possibly layered), with which shoes/accessories we can match it, and whether we need special undergarments or lingerie for it...
Last but not least, let’s look at our emotions related to this specific item! Does wearing it bring joy and happiness to my life? Do I feel confident and true to myself? Ask yourself these and similar questions!
When our estimations are not so accurate...
It’s possible to inaccurately calculate CPW, but there’s no need to panic. Instead of letting the item hide in the back of the closet, fresh it up with something! You can do this through alterations, making smaller or bigger changes. It’s also not the worst idea to sell, give away, or donate the item in question!
There’s more to it than the financial benefit
The cost per wear metric and conscious shopping go hand in hand, and in one way or another, they can also help you move towards environmental consciousness. How? By limiting impulse purchases, extending the lifespan of our existing items, and focusing on quality rather than quantity. All of this has an impact not only on your wallet but also on the environment.