Thursday, March 18, 2010



By Michèle Benza

We have a tradition in our family. We go to a movie every day during the holiday season from December 25th right through to New Year’s Day. It’s a fun tradition that I always look forward to.

Last December, one of my favorite movies was “Up in the Air.” George Clooney plays the main character, an executive, who travels around the country to fire people. He has no life to speak of. He carries all he needs in one wheel-away suitcase.

This movie provided an ah-ha moment for me. What if I were to empty my dressing room and throw all my clothes–accessories, coats et al– on my bed and contemplate their value? The first thing question that came to mind was, ‘do I really need all these clothes?’ Looking at the pile, I could not help but wonder how much money I’d spent for each item. Was it worth it? Was it a good investment? I started to add the numbers in my mind. Oh boy! How many hours had I worked to pay for all that? Scary? You bet!

I decided to create a spreadsheet and to calculate an approximate cost-per-wear (CPW) for each item. It gave me a good idea of how skilled I am at investing in clothes.

For those of you who are not familiar with CPW, it’s a concept that rationalizes the expense of a garment by dividing each time you wear it into the original cost. Cost-per-wear means spending money on a piece of clothing that you will wear continually, making it a good investment. The more you wear it, the better the returns on your initial purchase. It does not matter whether the item is an expensive pair of Christian Louboutin shoes or an H&M skirt or, whether you spent $2,000 or $100 on an item, just as long as you get your money’s worth.

According to some of my colleagues, the ideal CPW should be $2. I disagree with that number. Achieving that goal poses a real challenge for those who have ‘a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear’ don’t you think?

In my opinion, the CPW should certainly not exceed your hourly income. By the way, this applies for your lunches too. Have you ever calculated how much you have to work just to buy your daily lunch?

The worst CPW comes with items that result from impulse shopping. It's been a long time since I've shopped during a moment of weakness without any plan in mind. But believe me, I can attest that the very worst CPW results from those spontaneous purchases.

I am pleased to report that my average CPW on my entire wardrobe is less than $5.00.

Now, I challenge you to examine YOUR pile of clothes. Which items were your best investments?

A la prochaine

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