What is Cost Per Wear and How to Apply it

By now, yall know I am a repeat offender; I wear pieces in my closet over and over again. One of the reasons: As I have gotten older, I prefer quality over quantity. With that being said, there is a debacle or debate around clothing and the topic CPW (cost per wear).

A lot of people swear by it, and some say it’s a waste of time. Let’s explore it and see if it will help you make your next purchase when it comes to clothing.  

What is cost per wear?

Simply put it is the amount of times you wear something in your closet.


CPW= purchase price + maintenance cost / number of times worn

Let’s get into some actual examples.

A Pair of shoes:

So, for instance, let’s say you pay $100 for a pair of those trendy shoes you have been eyeing, and then scuff them or they begin to fall apart. For wearing the shoes once you, you have paid $100 for those shoes. You may get another wear out of them, you have now paid $50 for the shoes and chances are you will not be able to wear them next season.

On the flip side, let’s say you paid $450 for a classic pair of black pumps. They are all leather: upper, lower, and the sole. Lets says you wear them twice, you have now paid $225 for these shoes, according to the cost per wear formula.

Take those same pair of shoes; you have worn them 100 times in the past year, you have now paid $4.50 for those shoes. Depending on how well you take care of your shoes, they will last you a very long time.

Take them to the cobbler, they charge $10-15 to re-do taps.  

A Sweater.

A staple in my closet, J Crew Tippi Sweater.

Usually, they run anywhere from $79.50 to $98; the printed ones are typically $98. Now take the same sweater from H and M or Forever 21. They range from about $19.99 to $25.00. Let’s say you wear the classic crew-neck sweater from Forever 21 once you wash it and begins to unravel you have paid $25 for that sweater, which is also your cost per wear.

Take the J Crew Tippi sweater at $98, and let’s say you wear it all fall and winter totaling 25 times. You have paid $3.92 for this sweater, as opposed to paying $25 for wearing the Forever 21 sweater once and $12.50 for maybe being able to wear it twice.

J Crew $98

Expert tip: Tippi sweaters need to be hand washed or dry cleaned, I hand wash mine. Keep in mind; if you are not going to take clothing to the dry cleaners or hand wash them yourself, do not buy them! They will sit in your closet.

A Dress

Take a classic sweater dress from Asos for $50, and sweater dress from Club Monaco for $250. More than likely, the dress from Asos will start to pill after about 4 washes. So, $50/4 wears, you have paid $12.50 for this dress.

Take the dress from Club Monaco at $250 that you will be able to wear all fall and winter. Let’s say you wore it 30 times; you have paid $8 for the Club Monaco dress.

A Pair of Jeans/Pants.

Not my area of expertise, but I know when I see a good pair of fitting pants. One of the reasons a good pair of pants cost so much is because of the fit.

Let’s take the jeans everyone is raving about. Fashion Nova. Starting at $29.99 and maxing out about $49.99.

Take jeans from Levi’s, which can run up to $200. Levi’s has been around for a long time; they know a thing or two about quality.

You wear your Fashion Nova jeans once a week, so for a month, you have worn them a total of 4 times. $39.99/4 wears = $9.99.

Let’s say you wear your Levi’s jeans once a week as well, totaling 4 times in one month. $150/ 4 wears= $37.50. Now let’s say your Fashion Nova jeans after one month, are not wearable, you have paid $9.99 for those jeans. The Levi’s that you purchase will probably last you a couple of years. For this demonstration, we will add another month. So, month 2 comes around; you have now worn the Levi’s jeans 8 times. $150/8 wears = $18.75. So, for two months, you have paid $18.75 for the Levi’s jeans. Follow this same formula, and you will see that after a year, you have actually paid more the Fashion Nova jeans, which means they were not a good investment.  

Cost Per Wear Thoughts:

I know you are probably saying Mya, I can’t spend $300 every time I shop. I hear you! Go back to what I always say: save on trend and spend on classic. Or, consider what pieces you are thinking about buying and think about how well they go with the clothes you already have in your closet. We’ve all had that purchase that we don’t wear. Balance is key.

There is nothing wrong with being trendy or buying on-trend clothing, but if you do not have any staples in your closet you will always be buying clothes to stay on trend, and you will not have a foundation for your wardrobe; which leads to the dreaded ” I have nothing to wear.”

We all do it, impulse buys or spot something that we just have to have and don’t pay the price tag any mind, skip to the cash register, buy it, skip home, figure out how many things we can wear it with what’s in our closet, and then the next day we throw it on…OR…maybe…that’s just me.

Now that you know what it is and how to apply it, do you think you will abide by it? Or will you continue to buy what and how you want?

Some people find it a waste of time and some people find it useful.

With class and grace,

Mya – Karren

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