Cost Per Wear: Calculate Before You Buy!

November 25, 2013 • Advice, Fashion Blog, Shopping


Here at Second City Style we’re all about “Attainable Luxury” and not breaking the bank for fashions you love and desire to own. It has been a while since we discussed “cost per wear” which is sound advice to keep in mind when you shop. Be sure to take a second look at your purchases when sales can lead you to lose your senses. Sometimes our desire for a great deal can get us off track from what we really need. Then you end up with something you may not use or wear very much. Stop and think, “Will I wear it? And how many times?” On the flip side, there may be items you think are too expensive for your budget, but if you calculate your “cost per wear” you will see that you should invest in those pieces. Yes, everyone can have a few luxury items! Considering cost per wear (CPW) can guide you to smart fashion investments and save you money in the long run.

Is a sale really a deal? Do we run a bit astray right before the holidays? I took a look at J.Crew’s sale for what I thought were practical selections for the holidays because they can be worn beyond the parties. I thought this dress looked like a great deal, but I found out I would probably wear the pants more by using the cost per wear equation: Divide the price of the item by the number of times you think you may wear the piece within a year.  Yes the cost per wear will go down more if you can wear the item for more than one year (like a classic Burberry Rain coat), but it’s safest to look at one year at a time!

Pictured above:

J.Crew Collection Metallic Marigold Print Dress, Now $199

Wear 6 times = $33.17 CPW

J.Crew Collection Café Capri in Metallic Marigold Print, Now $169.99

Wear 10 times = $16.99 CPW



Here are 2 luxury designer pieces. Yes the DSQUARED2 dress shown above is gorgeous and you may wear it for several years. But how many times, really? And the Isabel Marant coat that you thought was out of your price range? That may just be the most practical piece to purchase because you will wear it to death! At least in Chicago, I know we wear heavy coats for at least 7 months out of the year! My projection of wearing it 100 times is on the conservative side! So compared to the dress, the coat is the wiser investment.

DSQUARED2 Asymmetrical Shoulder Cross Front Dress, $1,450

Wear 3 times = $483.34 CPW

Isabel Marant Ego Coat With Calf Hair Trim, $1,575

Wear 100 times = $15.75 CPW


Sales are the best time to buy a trendy piece and you probably will wear it a lot for one season. Take a look at what you think is a great deal on a sweater and what is really a great deal on a sweater. You just may decide to skip the trend altogether and save it for that coat!

Theory Cinda Cashmere Raglan-Sleeved Sweater, Now $159

Wear 20 times = $7.95 CPW

Saks Fifth Avenue Collection Cashmere V-Neck Sweater, Now $159.60

Wear 60 times = $2.66 CPW


In the case of shoes vs. handbags, I love shoes much more, but deep inside knew the answer to what I would wear more. Not to mention what gets beat up more! The “cost per wear” analysis proves the handbag to be the wiser investment. (At least in this case! If the shoe were a bootie and the bag an evening clutch, the tables would be turned!) 

Pierre Hardy Printed Calf Hair and Suede Pumps, $895

Wear 20 times = $44.75 CPW

Balenciaga Arena Classic Getaway, $895

Wear 100 times = $8.95 CPW

You can see these calculations are personal. Figure out what your cost per wear is before you make your next fashion purchase!

– Carol Calacci

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