Sunday, October 12, 2008
The Price Tag
All of you recessionistas, trying to score stylish clothes at bargain prices, we are going to talk about the most dreaded part of shopping...
At the risk of sounding like Sophia on Golden Girls, picture this:
You are browsing in a store without any particular goals in mind and happen upon The. Best. Jacket. Ever. Now that you think if it, you've been needing a transitional jacket for the season, to wear when the temps drop but it isn't truly COLD yet. And this one is the perfect shade of gray/red/chartreuse that will go with literally everything in your closet. You pull it off the hanger, try it on, and it fits like a dream.
Then the day of reckoning must come- you must view...THE PRICE TAG. $300.
Your reaction: It is $300?! I can't believe this store actually carries stuff that expensive. And I've never paid $300 for any item of clothing before, why and EARTH would I start now?
Let's discuss WHY, ladies and gents. Or at least why you could and should consider it.
Price Per Wear
Price per wear is something you may have heard a lot of stylists and others in the industry talk about. It may sound like an excuse for buying ridiculously priced clothes. It is actually a good way to decide whether you should pay for any article of clothing at pretty much any price point above Old Navy.
The jacket you just found is $300. You are planning to wear it every day from now until it gets really cold and you have to switch to your pea coat. The means if today is October 15 and the temperatures will be super cold by December 1, you have about 45 days to wear it.
$300 divided by 45 days is $6.67 per day. Shut up, I can do math.
This is where you have to be honest with yourself. Will you REALLY wear it every day? Does it REALLY go with everything? Is the weather REALLY going to be perfect for this jacket until December 1?
If answering yes to these questions still doesn't help, ask yourself whether you'll be able to wear it another season. Will you be able to wear in the spring or next fall? If so, your price per wear just dropped dramatically.
If you can wear it in the spring, let's say another 60 days, then...$300 divided by 105 days is $2.85. And that's a price per wear that I can live with.
So, now that you know how this is done, a few observations:
1. Be honest with yourself or your calculation is meaningless.
I have tricked myself into thinking that I will wear something more that I actually will in order to justify a purchase. Don't do it! Be honest about how useful and versatile something is. Black evening jacket- check and check. Hot pink floor length gown- unless you are a transvestite, probably not so much.
2. If you can't afford it then it doesn't matter.
If you are going to go into debt or not eat because of a purchase, you can't afford it. So even if the price per wear is 40 cents, that $2000 trench is not a wise purchase.
3. Don't let the initial price tag scare you.
This might seem obvious given all of the above, but it is worth repeating. If you find a fabulous dress for $300 and you can wear it 3 times (i.e., you have 2 weddings and an engagement party this year), then your cost per wear is $100. Considering that most dresses you'd buy for these occasions are at least $100, that is a fantastic price per wear for something awesome. And now that you've found the dress for all three parties, you can focus on the fun part: accessories.
4. Price Point Shoppers- listen up.
You know who you are. You won't spend more than X on a jacket and Y on a dress. This is short-sighted. The $300 jacket might be more than you've ever spent on anything before, but just how great ARE the jackets you bought for $40 at H&M in the past? And did you REALLY wear that printed sundress you found for $20 all summer, like you said, or did you wear it once and shove it into the back of the closet? That's $20 per wear people, and that is not a bargain for a short cotton shift.
This where honesty kicks in again. Sometimes more expensive pieces have a much lower price per wear than cheaper ones. This cannot be ignored when you shop, especially when you are bargain hunting. The price tag is one factor to consider, but your price per wear is the other.