When the economy is bad, we tend to think that we need to buy the cheapest clothes we can find. We decide we'll upgrade our wardrobes when we're flush with cash again. But that thinking costs more in the end. You can stretch your money farther by investing in well made clothes. That's right my friends, it's time to talk about Cost Per Wear.
Cost Per Wear
Let's say you buy a pair of black tights at the drug store for $3. You know that you're going to get 2, maybe 3 wears out of them before they run. Which is a Cost Per Wear of $1. That sounds....OK. But a $15 pair of black tights that has some Spandex in them will last for years. Of course, it's not always tights season, so let's say you wear those tights once a week for 5 months, from late Autumn through early Spring. Roughly, that's 22 weeks/22 wearings. So the Cost Per Wear is 68 cents. If you were wearing cheaper drug store tights, you'd need several pairs to make it through 22 wearings - 7 pairs to be precise, maybe even 8. That costs $21, which makes the nice $15 tights the better value.
Cost vs. Quality
This is where we tend to get confused. Women tell me that they refuse to spend more than X on a pair of pants because they'll only last a few months. And yes, if you're looking at 2 pairs of pants that are equal in quality, then the less expensive pair will give you a lower Cost Per Wear. But...not all clothing is the same quality.
There are Vikki Vi customers who have been wearing the same pants for 20 years. I'm not saying that they keep buying the same style and color. I'm saying the exact same pair of pants that they bought in the year 2000. If you wash and store Vikki Vi Classics properly they won't fade, sag, or pill. I'll spare you the exact math because it's obvious that long lasting pants have a low Cost Per Wear.
The problem is that when you're used to poor quality clothing, you don't know how to spot the well made stuff. You can't just go by the price tag - we've all had our hearts broken by pricy dresses that fell apart in the wash. Sadly, this seems to be more prevalent with plus size clothing.
How to Spot Well-Made Clothing
If you're shopping in person, you can look at the seams and feel the fabric. Browse through stores at different levels of fancyness to teach yourself what looks and feels well made. And remember that the expensive stuff may not always be the best quality.
It may actually be easier to spot the good stuff online because you can look at customer reviews and Google a brand to see what people think of them. If it's easy to find information about sizing and fabrics, that's a sign that they care about quality.
When you need to make your clothes last as long as possible, you should stick with classic styles. Think of Anne of Green Gables treating herself to an outlandish green hat right before war rationing started. It was the only hat she wore for 4 years and she hated it by the end. But you never get sick of classic styles because you can use them in different looks.
I'm not saying that prints and bright colors aren't investment clothing. What I am saying is that when it comes to investment clothing, stick to prints and colors you'll still love 5 years from now.
Why This Matters
We tend to give up small pleasures when times are tough. We skip the fancy coffee shop, go longer between manicures and haircuts, and stop buying the good ice cream. Facing all that while wearing ill fitting clothing that's going to give out any day now is just too much. Well-made clothing feels good against your skin, drapes beautifully, and it made to last. It feels good to wear investment clothing. And it's an important reminder that you deserve the good stuff.