The Cost-Per-Wear Fashion Formula

My Diesel leather bomber jacket

My Diesel leather bomber jacket: Photo, Alexandra

A few years ago, I had my eye on this Diesel black leather bomber jacket. I had wanted to own a leather jacket for a while because of its versatility and modernity, but I hadn’t found the right one (I wanted it short but not cropped and fitted but not too tight). This jacket was perfect for my needs and I knew I would wear it often (dressed up or down) and at least three out of four seasons. It cost $350 and although the price was steep I figured out that it made sense to buy it – with what I call fashion math – the cost-per-wear theory.

Math is not really my thing. I wish I didn’t buy into the theory as a younger girl/woman that I “just couldn’t get math,” but the truth is that somewhere I did buy into it – and it stuck. Except when it comes to shopping and the cost-per-wear theory: before you invest in something, think about the cost and how often you will wear it. The formula is this: Cost-Per-Wear (CPW) = Total cost of the item / Number of days you’ll wear it. This formula isn’t a hard and fast thing but it does get you to start thinking about your clothes as investment pieces to your wardrobe and what really matters to you.

In a way, cost-per-wear isn’t so much a formula as it is a philosophy: buy fewer things but try to buy only the things you love and will wear. They say that we only wear 20% of what’s in our closets but if we practice mindful purchasing, perhaps we can increase that to 50%. The more expensive items may actually be saving you money – if you are indeed wearing them. Those $200 shoes you have already worn 20 times may cost you less than the expendable tee you purchased for $20 and wore once. Taking a closet inventory of what you are actually wearing and thinking about what you want to buy is a good place to start. My leather jacket has been a workhorse in my wardrobe and has already earned its keep, providing me a great return on my investment. Maybe math is my thing after all!


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