The Cost Per Wear Ratio: TBF’s Guide to NOT Going Broke This Fall

Not all bargains are created equal—some are really spending traps in disguise. Calculating the cost per wear of an item before purchasing the piece will easily uncover the true value of an item. The cost per wear formula:

Cost Per Wear Ratio

Total cost of the item/ estimated number of days you’ll wear it = the cost per wear


For example, if you spend $500 on a great winter coat, wear it for about 100-150 per year over the next five years, it’ll cost you about $.67 to a $1.00 every time you wear the coat. The more you wear the coat, the lower the cost per wear. On the other hand, the trendy top you bought for $20 at your local Old Navy, that you wear only three times before throwing it out, costs you around $6.50 everytime you wear it, making it almost SIX times as expensive as the coat.

So what’s the moral of this shopping trick? Value, not low prices should be your focus when budget shopping. Remember a bargain is only a bargain if you actually wear it.

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  1. stef says


    I don’t think it is right to compare the cost of a coat that you wear everyday to a shirt that you wear occasionally.  If you want to compare the value of 2 items, they should be the same type of item.  Ex: a trendy coat that you wear for one season vs. a classic style that you wear for many years, or a cheap shirt that wears out quickly vs. a more expensive shirt that last through many washings.

  2. Courtney says

    You don’t always have to pay more for an item to get the most use out of it, either. For instance one of my favorite items is a White/House Black market blazer I got at a thrift store the cpw is now less than a penny and I have only had it a few months. I think it is not always practical in this economy to say you have to pay big money up front for your basics.

  3. Sarah says

    I agree with Courtney’s comment that it may not be prectical in this economy to pay big money up front for basics. I also agree with Kathleen that sometimes when you buy a low price new item it can be more expensive because it may be made with cheap quality. I personally hate if something from Target last a few washings. I also hate fabric that is not made from natural fibers. I prefer cotton clothes with loads of detialing in things like dresses, ie no empire waist, yes to darts, lining, a fitted bodice, matching belt and sleeves since I am always cold. Now why do these dresses cost over $100 bucks at Anthro when I used to get them 15 years ago at the Salvation Army for like $2? A cotton dress is a day dress. Not a work dress. Not an evening dress. Etc. Quality seems so outragiously pricey when the item is new. Good luck finding something not made in China by slave labor. Not even at Fred Segal’s. So it is really tricky to shop carefully now a days to get a good price per wear.

    • TBF says

      Thanks Sarah-

      Kathryn is saying that you should spend more money- just to look at what your buying- whether it is expensive or inexpensive- from a different perspective.

  4. Sarah says

    Please forgive all my mispellings-AGAIN. I paid attention to the details of the spelling in my post as much as Target does to the quality/details in their clothes. I hope that does not make me a hypocrit. Is that how you spell hypocrit?

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