We don’t want to start a sociological debate here, but how many times have we seen someone’s status judged based on what they were wearing? This can go a lot of different ways, but most of them are badly. Projecting a style beyond your means is damaging, not just with sending the wrong impression to other people, but more importantly, it can have a negative impact on your lifestyle. Let’s face it, fashion is expensive, no matter if you are investing in high-line pieces designed to last a lifetime, or opting to adopt a hot little trend via your neighborhood H&M. Besides fitting your lifestyle in the sense of being conducive to your day-to-day activities, your wardrobe should also be a good fit in a financial sense.
The Great Quality Debate
The titans of style have had their horns locked in the quality debate since the dawn of Fast Fashion (If you’re not familiar with this term, you can learn more about it, here). In one corner, the long-term investment camp. In the other, proponents of the personal style pu-pu platter. The former states that a substantial one-time cost will pay for itself in the long-run by not needing to be repaired or replaced as often as a less expensive counterpart. There is a lot of rational sense to this argument, as long as you aren’t the type to want to switch up your style frequently.
This is where the “a little of this, a little of that” camp comes into play. The argument here is, why spend a lot of money on something that you’ll fall out of love with next season?
While both arguments have their place, it is entirely possible to have one foot firmly planted in each camp.
Most financial advisors state that 5% of your overall income should be budgeted for clothing.
One of the most tried and true methods of measurement for this is the cost-per-wear analysis which states that the true cost of an item is not reflected on it’s price tag, but in how much use you will get out of it. This line of thought is typically applied to big-ticket items like computers and cars. Ever hear a Mac user debate with a die-hard PC fan? It’s likely you’ll hear “lifetime cost” come into argument play more than once. The same line of reasoning can be applied to a handbag or an overcoat.
EXAMPLE: Let’s say that you are deciding between two coats to top off your perfect Saturday night ensemble. On one hand (hanger) we have a classic overcoat from a reputable brand clocking in at a whopping $495. That’s a lot of cake to drop on a single piece of clothing. On the other, you have a super hot of the moment cropped faux leather moto (we are really going to be dating ourselves with this article, aren’t we?) from a mass retailer for just $49.95. Both would look equally good with your outfit, so which one is the better buy?
The overcoat, assuming it’s of a high-quality, would likely last you at least 5 years (longer, with proper care) and goes with just about everything. Depending on your climate, you could probably get at least 3 months’ of wear with it, per year. Ninety days times 5 years is 450 or, $1.10 CPW (cost per wear).
That adorable cropped moto, however, will only work properly with a certain selection of outfits, when the weather is just right. And at a lower quality, it likely won’t make it past year one. Let’s say you get about 10 wears out of it, your CPW nets out at: $4.95 or almost 5x that of the more expensive coat. In the long run, it would seem that it makes better financial sense to save for high-quality items that we know we will wear again and again. In the meantime, however, there is nothing wrong with mixing in a few inexpensive trendy items to keep things interesting.
At the end of the day, a good personal style is one that fits you, in all facets of your life. It should be an extension of your lifestyle, a reflection of your personality, a projection of your goals and a good fit with your budget. If it checks all of those boxes and makes you happy, then shop on People of Industrie, shop on.