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

Spring shopping is in the air! There are new fashion trends, colors, shapes and looks you might be dying to add to your spring and summer wardrobe. But before you go on a shopping spree and blow your budget, it is best to take a few moments to make a plan. Write a list of your must-haves and wants. Then, take a further look at your list and highly consider your cost-per-wear.

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 clothes and accessories. On the other hand, you may find that you can actually shop for higher priced pieces and “go for it” when it comes to a special luxury item.

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, class, it would be $2 per wear. But now I put on a swim suit maybe 8 times a year so $25 per wear would be kind of pricey!


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Be honest with yourself when you figure out how many times you will wear something. 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 slides you totally love, the cost-per-wear concept may encourage you to wear them as much as possible, all summer long.

How To Make Your Shopping List

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


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

Black slide sandals, a designer cross body wallet and a jump suit.


These are new spring trends I want to add to my wardrobe.

Gucci embellished mules, a straw bag and a snake print dress.

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 a my “Must-Haves” with my “Wants.” 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.

Must-Haves vs Wants: The Shoes

cost per wear calculation shoes

5 months May through September x 15 times per month= 75 wears
$450 divided by 75 wears = $6 per wear

Gucci Madelyn Crystal G Mule, $890

8 months April through November x 8 times per month= 64 wears
$890 divided by 64 wears = $13.91 cost per wear

Comparing these shoes I learned I would wear the simple black sandal more times even though I can only wear them in 5 months. So I’m not getting the Gucci mules.

Must-Haves vs Wants: The Handbag

cost per wear handbags


Saint Laurent Kate Monogram YSL Small Metallic-Striped Crossbody Bag, $1,990

12 months  x 6 times per month= 72 wears
$1990 divided by 72 wears = $27.83 cost per wear

Botkier Lennox Crossbody Bag, $298

3 months June through August  x 3 times per month= 9 wears
$298 divided by 9 wears = $33.12 cost per wear

In this comparison, I can see how the expensive YSL bag actually has a lower cost-per-wear, since I will wear it all year. I won’t carry the straw bag very much at all-only in the summer month-s so it is not a good investment for me. The less expensive bag actually will cost me more per wear!

Must-Haves vs Wants: The Jumpsuit and The Dress


Vince Camuto Tie Front Wide Leg Jumpsuit, $99

8 months March through October x 4 times per month= 32 wears
$99 divided by 32 wears = $3.09 cost per wear

Diane von Furstenberg Carli Ruffled Snake-print Silk-jersey and Georgette Wrap Dress, $600

9 months March through November x 3 times per month= 27 wears
$600 divided by 27 wears = $22.23 cost per wear

The black jumpsuit is the obvious winner, and I can wear it under a jacket in cooler months. I adore the DVF dress, and do believe the snake-print is a classic but I can see it is almost as expensive to wear as the Saint Laurent bag (which I really want).

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!

Watch Lauren’s Video about Cost Per Wear: How To Justify Buying Designer Items


You may also like to read  The Best Swim And Resort Wear For Women Over 40 and How to Wear The Newest Pleats Trend When You Are Over 40.

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