Cost Per Use – Maximize Your Clothing Dollar

Every purchase we make in life can be boiled down to one very simple concept:  how much it costs us to use it, and this is especially true for our wardrobe.

The Cost of “Living”

Go out to a bar and have drinks.  Polish off that Manhattan and you gotta pay up for another one if you want to keep rolling.  One use and one use only.  Right?  You drink that drink and get your shine on and that’s it.  You want to do it again – that’ll be $15 sir.  Food is the same.  You can only eat that particular Ribeye one time.  Was it worth the $35 you paid for it?  That’s up to you and only you.
Now how about your car – if you’re unfortunate enough to live in a place where you need one of the costliest expenses you will every incur, or, you’re just a car nut and glutton for punishment.  If you pay cash and drive that thing for years and years, just divide the price you paid – we’ll skip insurance and gas and maintenance for now – by the number of months you had/drove/wrecked the car, and you have a cost per use on a monthly basis.
Example:  I pay $9000 cash for a used Nissan and drive if for four years.
9000/48 = 187.50 per month — not bad, right?  Sell it and get some of your cash back and the number goes down further.
How about extending that another 2 years?
9000/72 = 125.00 per month — easy and I think you get the picture.

Now let’s talk about clothes.  Your wardrobe.  

The stuff hanging in your closet that allows you to be presentable to the world can work for you, or it can work against you – in the budget department.  And world meaning colleagues, women (GFs, wives, significant others), other dudes, loan officers, the 16 year old at McDonald’s whose first day happens to be today, small children, and puppies/kittens, etc.

Classic Fashion vs Trendy Fashion

Classic Fashion

Blue shirts.  Navy jackets.  Khaki pants.  Jeans.  Boat shoes.  Rep stripe ties.  Grey suits.
These are all classics and because they are so, will last forever in terms of fashion acceptance.  Of course there are degrees of fashion within each but let’s keep it simple for now – we’ll cover some of the other parts of this in another post.
The point to get here is very low cost per use.  Each of those items listed above can be worn over and over and over and…  A good blue oxford shirt can last you years and be worn hundreds of times.
Here our equation is a bit different.  Instead of a per month cost, we want a per use cost.  Wear this shirt an average of once per week for 3 years and you’ve worn it approximately 156 times.  Divide that by your cost and voila!  You have your cost per use.
A good pair of shoes can last you even longer because your feet stay roughly the same size for all of your adult life.  And while our arms and legs stay the same length give or take a centimeter or two, we can’t say that about our waist line can we?  
Dude, if you’re in your 50s and can still wear your jeans from your 20s – you are a superstar to the nth degree and we all want to know how you did it.

Trendy Fashion

Ripped up jeans.  Wearing your fucking baseball cap backwards.*  Wearing flip-flops everywhere you go until there’s 6” of snow on the ground.  Scratch that because I was in Wisconsin a couple years ago, it was snowing and raining and slush was 3” high all over and I saw a guy in a restaurant wearing flip-flops.  (*If you’re over twelve and still do this, please stop.)
Purple shirts.  Jeans down your ass.  Floral print sport coats.  No show socks – although this one has been around for a while.  
Trendy fashion comes and goes quickly so your cost per use is usually very low.  Some things you can really only wear for one season, maybe two so your $500 lime green skinny jeans, with a crotch liner made with silk from worms that only live on a tropical island in the Banda Sea are going to cost you $250 per wear if you’re lucky.  Not money well spent.  Not an investment, just a waste.
So, think about this before you spend any more money on clothes.  Your wardrobe is an investment to you.  You’re investing in your style and in people’s perception of you.  Don’t think I’m crazy with that.  I’m sure you’ve read that first impressions count, right?  This what it means.  
You walk into that meeting with a sharp outfit, groomed hair, clean teeth and fresh breath, and you greet everyone with a smile and firm handshake with eye contact, and people instantly feel comfortable with you there.  They’ll get that you mean business and will take care of their needs.
And while I’m well aware that there are billionaires out there who walk into meetings with jeans and a t-shirt, if you’re not him, don’t do it.
Go get ’em fellow SWG,

Menswear designer, artist, author, digital usability strategist, coach. I'm one of those guys who've done a lot in life and now I want to share it. I've traveled and worked across the globe and still have a lot left to accomplish.