Cost Per Wear and Investment Dressing

I’ve always been an advocate for investment dressing. I love to add fun on-trend items to keep my look current but the backbone of my wardrobe is made up of items I’ve invested in for the long haul. Does investment dressing sound expensive to you? It needn’t be.

An investment purchase is an item that you know will serve you long-term. It goes with most/many items in your wardrobe and wearing it makes you feel confident and fabulous.

Jennifer from A Well Styled Life wearing her investment dressing pants from Eileen Fisher

These Eileen Fisher ponte knit pants are in constant rotation in my wardrobe. I wear them multiple times a month and they always go in my suitcase for travel. I’ve owned them for over 5  years which means my cost per wear is very low.

Let’s say you buy a pair of sparkly party shoes for $69 and wear them 20 times. Those shoes cost you $3.45 per wearing. Now consider the super comfortable, high-quality black shoes you pay $200 for and wear 1-2 times a week for 5 years. Those shoes cost you $0.77 – $0.38 per wear. The black shoes are an investment that paid off in longevity and cost per wear.

Quality handbags, shoes, coats, cashmere and accessories are smart places to invest in for your wardrobe. My feet are of particular concern for me so over the years I have invested in very comfortable, quality shoes and boots that I’ve worn over and over.

Every woman’s budget differs and you should base your purchases on your own financial situation. My budget has changed since my husband retired but I still consider the long term wearability of an item to decide if it’s a smart buy or not.

What sort of things do you invest in for your wardrobe?

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  1. Kathy McLaughli says:

    I have a different take on this post. Let me first say that I truly admire your timeless style, Jennifer, and many times I have considered the idea of investment dressing. Where I live, however, dressing is extremely casual, and, since I’m retired I shy away from spending large amounts of money on a single item of clothing. What’s more, I enjoy looking at current trends and adding a few pieces here and there that work for me. Frankly, I would rather bored if I wore many of the same pieces year after year. For example, I look forward to changing up my handbags during the seasons. I have a couple of bags that were more expensive that I hang onto, but it’s fun to buy fresh and inexpensive looks. I like to try and copy fashion that I’m drawn to by finding less expensive alternatives. You might say that I’m a Nordstrom’s kind of woman living on a Kohls/Target budget. My friends all admire my style and think I have good taste in shoes, clothing and accessories. My latest adventure is joining Stitch Fix; I’ll be getting my first shipment in a couple of weeks and I’m very excited about it.

    1. I’ll be curious to hear how you like stick fix, Kathy! Adding trending items is great fun, and helps keep us looking current. You point out perfectly why we’re all unique and each woman’s style is so personal.

  2. Excellent article on investment dressing. I do buy good quality footwear. Comfy feet are worth every cent invested. I would not call the sandals or purse with the Pom Pom long term purchases. They will not be on trend in a year or two. I do buy cashmere but always on sale. I hand wash in cool water, lay flat on a towel to absorb most of the water, then hang on a fat hangar with the sleeves flipped overso they don’t grow (so to speak). I love the feel and find them cosy, warm and very stylish. I don’t spend a fortune on pants, as I can usually find good quality for less than $200. Every season I buy a trend or two for fun but never spend much on them, as they are gone when the trend moves on.

    1. I agree with you completely about the pom-poms, Joanna. They were not supposed to show in this post! I hand wash my cashmere too. The dry cleaner never got them clean enough for me.

  3. I agree with the cost per wearing concept in general, but regarding cashmere, the possibility of shrinking after washing and moths puts me off spending $200+ for a sweater. Being cold from Oct to April, I find polar fleece is a necessity, not very chic. I have been cold in cashmere. Polar fleece is more carefree than cashmere. Does anybody know which wool or synthetic is the warmest? Something like the “R-value” we have for rating house insulation? Is there chic polar fleece?

    1. Cashmere is tricky and the moths occasionally make an attack on mine! Believe it or not, I simply take a fine needle and thread to carefully sew the hole closed from the back, much the way I used to help my Mum darn the holes in my Dads socks! Now I’m really dating myself!
      Polar fleece is incredibly soft and I love the few pieces I have in it. I don’t know what’s warmest but assume it could be an individual thing.

  4. Completely agree about the quality and longevity of EF clothes and shoes. I’m still enjoying the classic pieces I’ve bought over the years and rarely part with any of them. Great travel pieces, too. Like you, our budget has changed recently with retirement, but investing in good pieces pays off.

    I have a few pair of the AGL flats in my closet (most bought at the yearly Anniversary Sale at Nordstrom) and they’re amazingly durable and versatile. That said, I can no longer wear them when I have much walking to do. They’re cute, but not supportive enough for my aging feet. But they will last longer than I do. Ha!

    1. I’m with you on the AGL’s. I used to be able to wear them for shopping trips and long days on my feet. These days it’s shorter term but I love them none the less.

  5. Exactly how I’ve shopped all my life! Excellent post!

    1. Glad you liked it, Peg!

  6. I guess bloggers make big bucks! Sorry but I can but won’t spend $ 200 on pants and then hundreds on sweaters. The average person doesn’t spend that much on clothing. Just saying….

    1. As I mentioned in my post Donna, all women have different budgets and shop accordingly. The average woman spends what works for her and many routinely spend $200 for a pair of investment pants. That’s one reason Eileen Fisher is such a popular brand. Their quality lasts for many years.

  7. Lianne MacGregor says:

    Thanks for this post. I’d appreciate reading about how you care for your clothes in general, investment pieces in particular. I find expensive sweaters still pill and I’m reluctant to spend real money on shoes (especially summer shoes) because I seem to be particularly hard on them.

    1. Hi Lianne! I hand wash my cashmere sweaters, lat flat to dry, then iron them. Yes..I iron them! While they’re on the ironing board I go over them with a sweater shaver and remove all the inevitable pills that crop up with normal wear. Investment garments usually cost more than others and are worth the care. My handbags are stored in individual cloth bags, standing on end in an armoire. My shoes are stored in their original boxes and usually stuffed with the tissue they come with. This sounds like the stuff of a blog post…thanks for the idea!

      1. Jennifer, I’m curious about using the shaver on your cashmere. Doesn’t it remove that fine fluff too?

      2. No it doesn’t. It’s an electric shaver specially made for sweaters. It has a protective cover and only removes the pills. The fuzz stays put. Mine is from Target but you can get them everywhere.

      3. Thank you!

  8. I finally bought a pair of crepe EF pants! I love them, they are made well and fit nicely. Having said that, I got a really nice pair of pants last winter at Dillards on sale for $23 and I wear them a lot here in Florida in winter. They are such a bargain and I am very happy with the fit. I ten to not stray far from what looks good on – the standard styles I like a lot. Sometimes I will make a “mistake” and buy something I normally don’t wear such as a peasant shirt! Then it just hangs in the closet and I never wear it again. I donate a lot of my mistakes to charity.

    1. Those mistakes are how we learn, Linda. Hopefully, we make them on inexpensive items 🙂 I have inexpensive clothes I adore and have worn for years. Investment items need not cost a lot!

  9. I’m a big fan of investment dressing. I hate fast fashion as it’s the most expensive way to dress. I buy good pieces and take good care of them: the strategy has served me well. xo

    1. Smart lady and you always look fabulous, Jen! xoxo

  10. It took me a long time to appreciate the cost per wear factor…but I do now. I also own EF pants…and love them. The fit and quality of fabrics make them worth it!

    1. EF are fantastic investment pieces. They’re even better when we find them on sale!!

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