Now is a time of year when many people, including myself and my clients, think about acquiring a few new pieces of clothing to expand or update their wardrobe for the coming season — yet few know what to buy. You may know what I’m going to tell them — simple basics, enduring classics, investment pieces. A classy new and unique design item that adds a surprise element and makes you feel great may also qualify. My advice is challenged by today’s preoccupation with casual or cheap quality “fast fashion” and “trash fashion,” never inviting you to discover and develop your own personal style. For those ready to learn and know what pieces of clothing count as investment pieces and how can we know what makes them so, keep reading.
For decades, coats and suits, handbags and shoes have been touted as investment pieces. What’s made them so is the fact that they are singular pieces worn most often, getting more use, wear, and tear than other pieces of clothing. A shirt or sweater tends to be rotated, whereas a coat may be worn daily throughout a season and the handbag is carried daily.
I’m going to change up and expand the list of investment pieces. In today’s world, global warming is lessening the need for a coat. In fact, coat manufacturers are hurting, some already out of business. Add to that, we move from our heated home, to a heated car, to a heated office or store. We really don’t need a coat in many locations. If that’s the case, I suggest you invest in a good jacket or blazer that really will take you anywhere, any time. Your jacket could be part of a suit worn as separates, while both skirt or pants and jacket are coordinated with the same accessories for versatility and economy. In addition to the jacket, I must add a pullover shirt, a button-front shirt, and for men, pants, and for women, a skirt and pants. With a coordinated jacket, you realize we’ve got a beginning cluster put together. These pieces serve as base layer clothes over which you can layer a myriad of other wardrobe pieces including vests, sweaters, dusters, ties, and scarves. You want to invest in the best quality on the rack at the price you can afford.
Recognize An Investment Piece
That brings us to how we can know or recognize investment pieces. They are the pieces that give us the most bang for our buck–that give us more wearings for the dollar amount we paid. We use the “cost-per-wearing” formula.
Total cost of the item ÷ Number of times worn = Cost-per-wearing
Take time to evaluate the cost of clothes in your closet for a year. For example:
$47 Distressed jeans ÷ 30 wearings you estimate = $1.57 per wearing
$49 Navy blue pants worn twice a week ÷ 104 wearing’s = 47¢ per wearing
Consider also, the cost of clothing you might consider buying. For example: You have two jackets to choose from. One is a lively plaid you love, but the plaid conflicts with other patterned pieces of clothing you own. The second is a navy blue you also like, but that you can wear with most of your wardrobe.
$49 Plaid Jacket ÷ 25 wearings you anticipate = $1.96 per wearing
$130 Jacket ÷ 200 wearings you anticipate = 65¢ per wearing
This formula just considers the cost-per-wearing over a year’s time. Think how those numbers would change if you wore the pieces over three, four, or five years. Do the math and it becomes clear which purchases are the wiser investment pieces. The cost-per-wearing formula works for clothes and accessories. If you want to add on a trend or fast-fashion item, carry out the same exercise, taking into account the likely wear-life of the piece, to recognize where the value lies.
Yes, I know our underwear and pajamas actually get the most wearings, but assuming they fit and because they are not worn in the open, they tend not to communicate to the public. I want the investment pieces you wear to purposely communicate who you are–your values and personality traits, roles and goals projected from the inside out.
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