Designing a Professional Wardrobe: The Cost-Per-Wear Factor

Designing a Professional Wardrobe: The Cost-Per-Wear Factor

Working with leaders and high achievers in my professional
development firm, I find that many top executives want to invest in quality vs.
quantity. This is especially true of top level executives who have little or no
time to spend shopping to design a fashionable working wardrobe.

The cost-per-wear concept is a great tool to understand and
calculate because it makes you feel more comfortable investing in higher
quality pieces, versus low quality short-lived faddish trends. 

You do want to make it a rule to purchase classic-trend
pieces, because those remain in style for longer periods of time. My advice is
to not spend a great deal of money on the faddish items that will only be
fashionable for one season. If you have to have that one fad purchase, then
look for it at a discounted price so you can enjoy it for a few months and then
toss it away without wasting money.

When using the cost-per-wear calculation system, here is how
to determine the investment cost:

  • Example: 
    you purchase a versatile, sport coat priced at $500 (If this is a high quality sport coat that is versatile and
    goes with many other items in your wardrobe – and you absolutely love it – you
    will probably wear it regularly)
  • To calculate the cost let’s assume you wear this
    basic sport coat 4 times a month for 5 years.
  • Now take 4 times a month X 12 months = 48 times
    you wear the coat annually.
  • 48 times you wear the item X 5 years = 240 times
    you wear it on average over a 5 year life span.
  • You then take the original purchase price of
    $500 divided by 240 total times worn = $2.08
  •  This calculation gives you a total cost per wear
    of only $2.08!

What a great investment that is compared to those bargains
that you find in stores but then have to try to justify because they weren’t
such savvy purchases. Often times clearance bargains are the ones we don’t love
or wear as often, so we actually don’t get the investment out of our basic core
items that we should. In other words lower quality items have a much higher
cost per wear.

My advice? Next time you go shopping stop to consider if you
really love that item, feel great wearing it, and how many other items in your
wardrobe will effectively coordinate with it.

working in retail management for years I’ve learned that a bargain is never
really a bargain unless you love it and actually wear it often. So think in
terms of value versus price when you are investing in your professional

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Sarah Hathorn is a professional image
consultant, certified personal brand strategist, speaker, and author.

Her company, Illustra Image Consulting, works
with high-achieving future leaders and large businesses by enhancing their
corporate and personal brand image to take their businesses and careers to the
next level.

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Copyright 2010, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

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