Ways to Keep Cost Per Wear Low

I began the week discussing cost per wear (CPW)…particularly in regards to my Eileen Fisher clothing.  But, cost per wear is important for our entire wardrobe and there are tricks to keeping it lower beyond the price of the garments.

First of all, take inventory about every six months of your wardrobe.  What pieces do you wear often…what pieces are you not wearing as often and then assess why or why not in each circumstance.  It should not be a surprise if there are garments you have worn minimal times, the cost per wear is going to be much higher and needs consideration before you purchase something similar again.

I have my five adjectives that I want to communicate with my clothing.  If the garment does not communicate all five of those adjectives, then I do not purchase it.  That helps me define my personal style and keeps my wardrobe consistent, like a family.

I am wearing this outfit today to demonstrate two brands I wear often…Chicos (the top) and Soft Surroundings (the capri pants).  I have some Chicos garments which have been in my wardrobe for 30 years and I still wear them.  Soft Surroundings has been in my closet for at least 15 years.  The CPW of these pieces is very low.  But, of course, I have occasionally been off the mark…especially with the ups and downs of my weight.  I take note of what works and what doesn’t and move along those that do not work.  So often, I have been able to go past a garment in a store and leave it there because I know it will not be worn as often.   When I do try on clothing, I always look at a three way mirror if available.  Sometimes I will not purchase because of how different angles look!!  A three way mirror can be a girl’s best friend.

My biggest mistakes have happened when I thought I was saving money and purchased a clearance item without taking time to scrutinize it.  I mean really look at the messaging, the fit, and the way it works with my lifestyle and rest of my wardrobe.  If I just go for it because it is on sale and not spend time with it…often a mistake will be made.

I also think about how many different things I can pair a piece with.  You can see here this top has black, gray, white and purple in it…goes with many different items.

I will caution you yet again to not shop online or in a store when you are in a hurry.  Take the time to evaluate and ask the right questions so your cost per wear will be low and spending justified no matter what the price is.

I hope this helps!  Have a glorious Wednesday and…………………………………………………………………



  1. I can’t tell you how often I’ve made the mistake of buying something pretty much just because it fit and was on sale. I justify it still sometimes, on the grounds that I work full time and need quantity. But the fact is, with well curated basics and plenty of accessories, I have far more clothing than I need. I’m working harder at it (using one of my style words: Aware, which means not only in tune with the occasion, but also the world, and some of the environmental implications of what I’m buying). I did a cost per wear experiment this spring (using stickers on the hangers), and some of my most expensive pieces were the cheapest to own. I try to keep my clearance shopping now to just a piece or two of a trend I really want to try, knowing full well it won’t become a wardrobe staple. Great post! I love how you always get me thinking.

  2. Hi Pam,

    Great suggestions! I will also add that you can buy the wrong pieces during a “retail therapy” shopping excursion. I know when I need a lift I sometimes buy something out of my comfort zone and it is often a mistake!


  3. New reader here – can I ask what the five adjectives are that you want to communicate with your clothes? I enjoy your blog very much. Thanks!

  4. I want to communicate that I am
    Thanks for asking! I ask myself every day in the mirror if my style sends those five adjectives. If not, then I change it until it does! That is how I create Pam-Style!!

  5. I have an Anthropologie tee I have worn so often, the store should now be paying me! The CPW on that thing hit zero a long time ago. It goes on every trip.

  6. Adding maintenance to the cost. As an unintentional slob (first to spill coffee, sit on a dirty chair, etc.) having an item that I can wash is important also. Not only is it the cost, but dry cleaning becomes one more errand to do after work.

  7. Beautiful outfit and excellent suggestions. The Foundational Five concept has changed how I shop. Also, shopping with a list of wardrobe gaps helps me. Often I fall in love with a fabric or a particular garment and have to admit it doesn’t fit my lifestyle. Best tip ever to not shop when you are in a hurry!

  8. Yes… most of my garments are wash and wear. The special pieces I try to be very careful with. I hear you!

  9. I need a wardrobe that will multitask like me! Thanks Karen…your support always means a lot.

  10. Karen,

    What was the exercise or process you went through to help you identify your five adjectives to communicate your style?

  11. Hi Denise! First of all, I knew my preference is for classic styles, so ‘”classic” was easy. Then I thought of someone whose style really speaks to me, and why. For me, it’s Grace Kelly. She was classy, chic, always polished, yet it came across as effortless on her part. From that, I came up with “polished,” “effortless” (for me this means I don’t want to look like I’m trying too hard), “chic”, and “modern.” When trying things on, I’m asking myself if an item is a classic style that will work for some years to come, does it contribute to looking polished, chic, does it look natural and not forced, is it current and appropriate for my age. My adjectives have changed slightly at times, so I try to evaluate at least once a year in case that happens. When I was working in formal offices throughout my career, the adjectives went something like, “professional,” “approachable”, “classic”, “chic”, “contemporary.” During that time I had different ones for work and then my “off” time! Pam is a master at this. This was one of the first things I took away from reading her blog. It has saved me a lot of money and makes getting dressed easier! I hope this helps!

  12. Another amazing necklace! You caught my eye with a faux coral piece ages ago, and you keep on doing it. I would have to say that this is your style signature. You carry them off with such ease. They’re like an exclamation point with whatever you are styling.

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