One of the most intriguing ideas to me as I venture into making more ethical purchases is looking into an items lifetime cost per wear.
My former consumer-self was a clearance rack scouring, bargain hunting, hobby shopper. My new consumer-self is aware of the perils of fast fashion and is more willing to invest money in clothes that are the best for my wardrobe, for the people who make them, and for our planet. I believe that taking into consideration an item’s lifetime cost per wear is the best of my two selves colliding.
Cost per wear is taking the cost of the item and dividing it by the number of times worn and is a great way to look at your investment pieces.
Past vs Present
I’m still a budget shopper. I am a teacher, married to another teacher, raising four kids, so I don’t have an endless shopping budget. However, in the past few years I have shifted how I choose to spend that budget.
In the past, it was all quantity. More, more, more was better. A $6.48 top? Heck yeah! A $11.99 sweater? You know it! Only $9.88 for shoes? Wait until everyone hears about this!
And I had SO much, that many of those items were worn once. Or (covers eyes) never. I have been known to donate items with tags still on them (and I know I’m not alone, because I’ve also benefitted by thrifting someone else’s NWT items).
Once I discovered the island of calm that is my small wardrobe in the chaos of my life, I switched gears. It wasn’t as scary to start spending more on items because I knew they’d get worn again and again. Because they had to. In a small wardrobe, favorite items are bound to be repeated because there are no other options. And I don’t mind a bit.
And my biggest splurge to date is this Jamie and the Jones T Sweater.
At $228 it’s without a doubt an investment. I purchased mine in October with a 15% discount code, which put it under $200, but boy I remember freaking the heck out as I hit submit on that order. I had some pretty strict standards about how amazing this sweater had better be for the cost of 10-15 of my old sweaters.
And then it arrived.
And it was...the greatest thing ever. Seriously.
It smelled good (which is weird, but it totally did). It was soft and cozy. The cut and texture completely elevated the sweater. And I felt AMAZING wearing it...like I looked way more stylish than I actually am. And all of that happened just by throwing it on over jeans. Plus, it was designed and made in Nashville, so it’s a small business I am proud to be supporting.
My most expensive and most worn item
My T Sweater arrived December 24. (weird that I remember that, right?) Over the course of 5 months I wore the sweater 19 times. At my cost of $193 that puts my cost per wear at $10.15. $10.15!! That’s less than an average cheap-y sweater that I used to wear maybe once per season before getting sick of it because I never really loved it. Not to mention, I’m not done wearing it, so that cost is going to continue to decrease as far as I can see. The new me has learned that a few well-planned purchases per season end up costing about the same in the end, and I end up with a closet of clothes I’m excited to wear.
Someone asked me on Instagram if this sweater was really worth the cost and I said, “absolutely”. Every single week I looked forward to wearing this sweater. When I had a blah morning, this was my go-to because I knew no matter what bottoms I threw it on with, I’d feel great. And every time I put it on, I did a little math calculation in my head and watched that cost per wear fall, which became like my new ‘bargain shopper’s high’.
How to fit investment pieces into your budget:
- Shop less. I know, I know…that’s easier said than done, but it really is the easiest way. I can make Target and Old Navy runs every weekend and easily spend $10-40 on random stuff. Or I can stop those runs and buy one really nice item every few months.
- Balance the cost with less expensive items by shopping secondhand. Another way to be a conscious consumer is to shop secondhand and extend the life of an already made item. Not only does it save items from the landfill, but they’re usually inexpensive and can help balance the investment purchases.
- Sell unworn items and put that money toward a big purchase. One of my favorite things to do is to sell items (on Poshmark or sent to Thred Up) that I no longer love or need and use that money toward something I really want.
I had drafted this post a while back and it got lost in the end-of-school-year shuffle, but I dug it out because Jamie and the Jones has just restocked their Mid Weight T Sweater (which is totally worth this 30×30 interruption). I have posted my T sweater regularly throughout the winter and spring, but it’s always been sold out, so I was excited to see it’s back and in a lighter weight fabric that is ideal for summer evenings and warm fall days. Mine is slightly heavier weight and I was honestly bummed to see my favorite sweater packed up for summer (and probably quite a bit of fall) because it’s just too warm, so I’m thinking this Mid Weight Sweater may be even more versatile and wearable year round. There is a full comparison over on their site, if you’d like more information.
Tell me…what’s your biggest investment piece? How has it worked out for you? How do you decide what/when to invest?
This is not a sponsored post and I have purchased both of my Jamie and the Jones items, but they did ask if I’d share the re-release of the T Sweater since they know I’m a super fan and I happily agreed. They did offer to send me an item as a ‘thank you’ for sharing, which is a cherry (a really big cherry) on top.