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What is “The Cost Per Wear?”

December 18, 2019

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This is an intriguing topic that I rarely see addressed in fashion magazines: namely, do females ever think about the NUMBER of times they’ll wear a garment or use an accessory versus the COST of the item? We’re not talking about bridesmaid’s dresses here – where many say, “I don’t think I’ll ever wear this again.” I’m talking about regular stuff for morning, afternoon or evening.

For example, I bought a Jones New York blouse that I’ve worn forever because the fabric is great, it looks good on me, I get compliments off and on when I wear it and, finally, it was relatively inexpensive. On the other hand, I bought a pricey suit for a job interview that I wore exactly once. I was sure when I bought it that I’d wear it often – never did – months later it went in a plastic bag to the Salvation Army (I got the job).

In view of the above I was very taken with an article in Harper’s Bazaar, September 2019 penned by Katherine Ormerod who came up with some interesting fashion math. Actress Reese Witherspoon was seen carrying a Celine Medium C bag priced at $3,300 for a recent trip to New York to promote a movie. The same bag was seen a number of times so Ormerod came up with this equation: Four wears per week x 52 weeks = $16 per wear. This bag sounds like a steal.

Reese Witherspoon and the famous Celine

INVEST IN A CHIC STAPLE

According to Roopal Patel, the fashion director at Saks, “an iconic classic-style handbag from a heritage house will withstand trends.” Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director at Net-a-Porter, agrees. “An investment piece is something you would never give away. It can be worn for decades and passed down for generations."

“I DON’T GIVE A DANG ABOUT NO TABOO”

Those words were uttered by actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish about the now famous $4,000 white halter gown she wore on Saturday Night Live. She has worn her Alexander McQueen number to five public outings (including a 2017 red-carpet premiere and the 2018 Academy Awards) so in two years (or factored over a decade) this dazzler = $160 cost-per-wear.

NOW LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT THE DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE

Ormerod writes, “Kate is a serial outfit recycler, with a particular talent for styling flourishes to keep her past-season duds looking brand-new. Consider her tartan coatdress, also tailored by Alexander McQueen.

The Duchess of Cambridge and her McQueen coatdress – très chic

First worn back in 2012 for a visit to her prep school, it took center stage on Christmas Day in 2013 paired with a Gina Foster hat before being teamed with an emerald green scarf. She is following Princess Anne who has been keeping outfits in rotation for more than three decades.” Here’s the equation for Kate and her tartan coat which was $7,200 and has had three wears in seven years to = $480 cost-per-wear.

THE #30WEARS RULE FROM A FASHION PIONEER

Livia Firth advises, “When you find something you want to buy, no matter which brand, ask yourself, “Will I wear it a minimum of 30 times?” If the answer is yes, then go ahead and buy it. But you will be surprised how many times the answer is no.”

REMEMBER: THIS IS NOT ABOUT PINCHING PENNIES IT’S ABOUT EXTRACTING VALUE FROM EVERY DOLLAR SPENT ON THROUGHFUL PURCHASES.

Here’s recycling on steroids. In the New York Post of March 27th I spotted this update on the famous Versace “safety pin” gown that was worn by actress Elizabeth Hurley 25 years ago. Truth to tell, I think that both Hurley and the dress look even better now.

On the left: the original – on the right: 25 years later and even more sensational

Shaun Nelson-Henrick


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