The Fashionable Formula

Lately, more often than usual, I have found myself shopping.  With the hot temperatures heating up the Midwest, I find myself in desperate need of lighter clothes for work, travel, and play.  Not to mention new clothing for special occasions like graduation parties, weddings, and showers galore! All of these events and outfit changes can take a toll on my back account.

Even though not all of the shopping is specifically for me, I seem to notice my income isn’t going mostly to savings like it usually is.  My sister, Tonya, and nephew, Sven, are in town for a few weeks visiting from Seattle.  Since Sven is my first nephew and this visit being the first time I get to see him, I’m in a constant spoil-him-rotten mindset, wanting to purchase the cutest onesies and outfits for him to wear.

While spoiling the best looking nephew ever is fun (I might be just a bit biased), I’m also spending quality sister time with Tonya, shopping for an upcoming wedding we are attending in Colorado.  Since I’m lover of all different kinds of dresses from mini to maxi, I find myself coming across a different dress or two that I like in each store, which I inevitably purchase.

Normally, I am bargain hunter, never wishing to pay over a certain price for an item depending on quality and use; however, there are a few times that I am forced to step out of my comfort zone and debate whether a garment is worth the splurge.  I like to consider myself on a restricted budget, allocating the bulk of my income to more important areas such as savings.

Unless you are the Queen of England or Julia Roberts, you are most likely on a budget, and being on a budget requires a bit of creativity.  Purchasing classic, staple goods becomes more of a priority and mix and matching different pieces of your wardrobe is a must.  The question of budget then doesn’t necessarily come down to the price listed on the price tag, but to the cost per wear (CPW).  Simply memorize this formula: Price of item ÷ how many times you wear it = CPW.

CPW diehard, Ashley Olsen - often spotted in the same stylish pieces

CPW is the ultimate justification of a purchase that is priced just beyond your comfort zone. The idea that you are paying for an item’s use over time mentally turns the price tag into a rental fee. Therefore, you can refuse to feel guilty about those $200 shoes you purchased that you wear almost year round because their CPW is not down to mere pennies per use. Spending more money on a bag that will last a lifetime is a common rationale for many that luxury items like these are classic pieces and will never go out of style.

Focusing on the “value” of goods is a smart way to budget shop.  To do this, knowing good quality is a must.  Make sure you don’t see the obvious flaws of cheap clothing like bad stitching, stains, or weaving errors but also consider aspects such as the type of material it is made from and care instructions.  One thing I do with every piece of clothing I purchase is consider how it will look after putting it through the wash cycle even once or twice because there is nothing worse than buying a top, wearing it, then being disappointed when it comes out of the dryer looking as though it had been worn and in your closet for seasons.  Also, make sure the item has a proper fit.  Spending an entire paycheck on a business suit can be a good idea as long as it appears as though it was made for you and the quality is there.  Finding something as meticulous as the perfect suit might take some time, but make sure your money is spent well. And reconsider dropping close to $1,000 (a now small approximation) on a wedding dress and instead do some fun dress hunting with your bridal party.  One of the best items to splurge on is a good haircut because with a good cut, styling, drying, and product use are all minimized and you wear your hair everyday!

As for my dozens of sundresses hanging in my closet, some unfortunately have retained a high CPW while others, well, I’m pretty sure the companies should be paying me to wear them now. Happy budgeting!


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