Cost-Per-Wear: Are You Spending Too Much Money On Fashion?

If you love shopping for fashion, but wonder if you are always making the best choices when it comes to spending your hard-earned money, you should consider your cost-per-wear. This is what I do to help me make good fashion decisions and stay on budget. So before you go on your next fashion shopping excursion, it is best to take a few moments to make a plan. First put together a shopping list of your must-haves and wants. Then, take a further look at your list and calculate your cost-per-wear before you make a purchase.

What is Cost-Per-Wear?

Cost-per-wear is a simple formula that will keep you on track when you make your shopping decisions. Take the total cost of an item and divide it by how many times you will wear it. When you use this formula you may be quite surprised to find out you are spending way too much on fashion. On the other hand, you may find that you can actually shop for higher priced, quality pieces and “go for it” when it comes to a special luxury item.

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Price of the Item/Number of Times Worn = Cost-Per-Wear

Cost-per-wear is personal, so you have to take your lifestyle into consideration. Do you dress casually most of the season or do you dress up? Years ago my lifestyle warranted me to buy a $200 swimsuit because I would wear it 100 times a year. So what was the cost per wear? That’s right, it would be $2 per wear. But now I put on a swim suit maybe 8 times a year therefore I think $25 per wear would be kind of pricey!

Be honest with yourself when you figure out how many times you will wear something. Always take the season into consideration. Light and bright summer items have their place, but in some parts of the country there are potentially only 3 months of summer, and a white handbag doesn’t have much longevity. On the flip side, if you find a pair of metallic shoes you totally love, the cost-per-wear concept may encourage you to wear them as much as possible, and all year round.

It’s Not Always About Price

When comparing a high price item to a similar low priced item, you may actually get more wear out of the more expensive piece. That’s because the quality, fabric, styling and fit may be better all around, so you will wear it more often. On the other hand, if you find a lower cost item that you will wear just as much as a high priced piece, than you will definitely get a much better or lower cost-per-wear. This often rings true when it comes to purchasing a dress, for example for a wedding reception or special event. Sometimes you only wear it once, and if you are lucky, only two or 3 more times.

How To Make Your Shopping List

First, I put together my list of fashion must-haves and wants.


These are basic pieces I need and believe I will wear many times:

A black blazer, a silky “going out blouse” and a pair of black loafers.


These are designer versions of the basic pieces that I love and want to own:

A black Veronica Beard double-breasted blazer, a Tom Ford silk blouse and black Roger Vivier loafers.

Fashion Cost-Per-Wear Calculations and Comparisons

Now it’s time to shop for my favorite pieces on the list and calculate! I’ll compare my “Must-Haves” (which are more basic and less expensive) with my “Wants” (which are the designer versions and more expensive). This is always exciting, because it is often surprising to learn which one will be the winner and save you money in the long run. Here are my side-by-side comparisons.

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Must-Haves vs Wants: The The Black Blazer

Veronica Beard Miller Dickey Jacket, $695

I adore this jacket and I would wear it 4 times per month for 10 months a year = 40 times per year.

$695 divided by 40 wears = $17.38 cost-per-wear

Mango Double Breasted Suit Blazer, $199.99

This jacket is less exciting without the silver buttons, but I may even wear it more because the buttons are black and flat, making it a little more casual. I would wear it 5 times per month for 10 months a year = 50 times per year.

$199.99 divided by 50 wears = $3.99 cost-per-wear

As you can see, it makes sense to get the Mango jacket since it costs less and I would actually wear it more!

blue silk shirt cost per wear comparison fountainof30


Must-Haves vs Wants: The Silk Blouse

Tom Ford Satin Button-Up Blouse, $1,350

This blouse is so chic in gorgeous cobalt blue, and has a classic 70s vibe! I would wear it all year long and for several years to come for going out to dinner, for work and special occasions. I would wear it 2 times a month for the next 2 years = 48 times.

$1,350 divided by 48 wears = $28.13 cost-per-wear

Lafayette 148 New York Silk French Cuff Shirt, $698

This is another beautifully constructed blouse, but the cut is a little more oversized, and the color a little less vibrant. I would wear this blouse less than the Tom Ford one. I’d say once a month in the next 2 years = 24 times.

$698 divided by 20 wears = $29.08 cost-per-wear

I would save money with the Tom Ford blouse because I would want to wear it so much! However, I would save even more money if I did not get either blouse. When I look at the cost per wear of almost $30, I may just want to get a satin blouse on Amazon for $29.99 and wear it 2 times! I would be ahead at $15 per wear.

black crystal bucke loafers compare cost per wear fountainof30

Must-Haves vs Wants: The Black Embellished Loafers

Roger Vivier Viv Rangers Crystal Buckle Loafer (Women), $1,625

I’m obsessed with Roger Vivier shoes and now that loafers are back on trend, I really want these crystal buckle loafers. I would wear them to death, probably 6 times per month for the next 10 months (all year except on really hot summer days) = 60 times.

$1,625 divided by 60 wears = $27.08 cost-per-wear

G.H. Bass Womens Whitney Crystal Super Lug Weejuns Loafer, $19

Bass makes quality loafers and offers a crystal embellished style! I would wear these just as much as the Roger Vivier’s and possibly more so because the Wejuns are all smooth leather, and do not have suede like the designer pair.

$199 divided by 60 wears = $3.25 cost-per-wear

Looks like I’m getting the Bass loafers!

I hope this cost-per-wear calculation will help you to make good decisions about spending money on fashion. Even if you still go for a high price purchase, perhaps you will remember to wear it more often!

Do you use the cost-per-wear formula when you shop for fashion?

Carol Calacci

You may also like to read 9 Of The Best Fall 2023 Fashion Trends For Women Over 50 and The Best Cocktail Dresses For Women Over 50 To Wear Right Now.

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