The Real Cost of Crappy Clothes
As featured on womenco.com!
Girls: Tell me the truth. What do you do Friday after work when you know you have a jam packed weekend ahead? What do you do after a recent breakup or terrible week? I hope you have a better answer than I do, because I go shopping (and occasionally dye my hair too, but that’s another story).
Anyways, yes-I go shopping. The girl who writes about putting money into your 401(k), building an emergency fund, buying a home and paying off your credit card debt.
There’s just something about a quick $20 fix that holds me over and distracts me from reality. I don’t feel guilty at the moment because of course I justify that a $20 top is way cheaper than buying one from a nicer store which could cost almost $100. For $100 bucks I could buy 5 new things AND new earrings from a store like Forever 21! Right?
Well, last night I started cleaning out my clothes in preparation for my upcoming move. As I went through my stuff, I realized that I hate half of my clothes and could care less if I ever see them again. Where are all these clothes I hate from? Cheap stores that shall remain nameless.
They have not held up to my washing machine, the colors fade, the stitching comes out, and after a few months they look dated and cheap. Dare I use the term “disposable clothing” in a time of economic despair?
Then I think about the skirt suit I am wearing today. It is from White House Black Market and I’ve had it for well over a year and I wear it all the time. It has great thick woven fabric that makes it look like a Chanel suit, a skinny white belt and a great fitting jacket. Every time I wear it, it feels like a new suit and I feel great. I wouldn’t even THINK about throwing it away or replacing it.
So now my brain is curious. What is cheaper: buying a $300 outfit and wearing it for 2 years, or buying a $60 outfit and wearing it 3 times?
Let’s say I wear my WHBM suit an average of 3 times per month over the period of 2 years. That is 72 wears. The cost per use of this fabulous suit is $300/72= $4.17.
Now let’s look at the cheap outfit. Let’s say you wear a $20 top, with a $30 cropped jacket over it and $10 worth of cheap jewelry (which will undoubtedly break or change colors immediately). Let’s say I wear the outfit a total of 3 times before it breaks/fades/goes out of style. $60/3=$20 per use. Fine, maybe I’m being a snob. Even if you wear it 4 times, the cost is still $15 per use, which is still more than triple that of my $300 outfit. Plus we should add the “cost” of feeling like the outfit is lame by the 3rd time you wear it.
So, I guess the financially savvy conclusion is to choose quality over quantity when buying clothes. Which means next time I’m having a bad week or want to look fabulous for a night out I will need to find a new “quick fix” other than shopping to satisfy my need for something different.