On May 8 of last year, I bought something I had been thinking about buying for a while, Becca aka @blondebrokeandbougie on Instagram and Tiktok, sells a Google Sheet outfit tracker. And I have been using it every day since then (I think I’ve forgotten a couple outfits, and there were a few days where I wore pyjamas all day, and I don’t track those) and it has been illuminating. Also, I have to swear that this is not sponsored, I’ve just really come to appreciate this ridiculous little spreadsheet.
For me, cost-per-wear is how I prefer to evaluate the effectiveness, maybe that’s not the right word, but the value? of my clothing, shoe, and accessory purchases. It’s a simple measure, basically taking your purchase price and dividing it by the number of times that you wear the item. I sometimes wonder if it might be a slightly flawed because of course you wear your fancier items, your dresses and heels, far less frequently than your work clothes or athletic clothing, unless you have the kind of job where you get dressed up all the time or get to go to a ton of fancy events. So it takes a lot more time to bring down the cost per wear of these items, and they tend to be more expensive than a lot of your other items.
The other thing I like about the cost per wear tracking is that it just tracks the number of times you wear each item. Which given that the average person wears an item of clothing only 7 times before it is discarded (Project Cece) is incredibly important to know and be mindful of.
When I started tracking last May my overall average cost-per-wear was hovering around $30, I think maybe 31 or 32, I now wish I had taken a screenshot to remember it by. Since then I have brought my cost per wear down to an overall of $17.96, but where I think it gets interesting is in the breakdown.
There is a disclaimer that when you start using this you have very skewed data. You put in the original purchase price for everything you already own, and if you don’t know it and can’t find it then you put in a 0. There is also no way to account for how many times you have already worn the item before, so for example, I have had this one pair of Lululemon leggings since 2016 and worn them probably hundreds of times. But there was no way for me to include that in this, so it looked like I was starting with a pair of new leggings at a purchase price of like $98, rather than a pair of leggings that probably already had a cost of wear of fifty cents. I have had a lot of clothes for several years, even more accessories for many, many years, some since I was a child, so all of that wear history does not count.
I am a dress girl, I love wearing dresses, however they are not always appropriate for the weather and living in a small town I often get self-conscious about being perceived as being “too fancy”. It’s something I’m working on, not caring what others think of what I wear.
As you can see, dresses and rompers is my most expensive category:
What I also find interesting is that I have a tendency to wear my most affordable clothing the most. For example, six out of the top ten most worn dresses and rompers are from fast fashion brands: Joe Fresh, Reitman’s, Old Navy, and Eloquii Elements (Wal-Mart). I don’t know if that is because they feel less fancy or if it’s because they are less expensive so they feel less precious, like you can wear them more.
One of the other tabs has tables that highlight your highest cost-per-wear items (CPW), four out of the ten highlighted as the highest cost-per-wear are dresses, and then there are two more dresses in the next ten. So I need to wear the dresses I currently own at the moment (despite the fact that I bought a new dress last night, but I already have at least two occasions in mind to wear it).
The next most expensive area is shoes. I like shoes, I love high heels, but they aren’t practical, they aren’t always comfortable. I am actively looking for an opportunity to wear my purple platforms again. My most worn shoes are boots, sneakers, and loafers. Flat, comfortable and nice and easy to walk in. I also think that the combination of the pandemic and moving to a very small town really nixed most of my heel wearing opportunities. I used to wear heels to the office, and I totally could, some do, but I always feel awkward when I do here.
I’ve also started to feel weird about open-toe shoes in the office, I haven’t figured out what that is yet.
The overall takeaway that I have from the past year is an idea that I had heard before on Christina Mychas’s YouTube channel. She talks a lot in her decluttering, minimal wardrobe videos about your ideal self, and how we may buy clothing or anything really, that fits this idea of an ideal self that we have. I think that I have realized that my ideal self, wears blazers, heels, and had this idea from the movies and TV shows and fashion magazines about what people wore to the office. And I think that some people do have those kinds of jobs, but so far I have not. My office is very casual, more casual than I dress for the office, and especially casual when we are travelling into the communities we serve. And that’s fine, but I have bought heels, dress pants, and blazers thinking that I would be wearing them all the time and I am most definitely not.
This is one of the most interesting sections to me, there is this page called “other graphs” and these are four of the graphs included. There are closet breakdowns of what brand you have purchased and what year you purchased them AND wear breakdowns of how often you have worn the items from each brand and year and I think that it is so interesting. For example the column labelled “Gift” is mostly jewelry that has been given to me by my family over the years that I don’t know the brand of, or there isn’t really a brand. I also am fascinated by the fact that I only have 25 items from Joe Fresh, but I have worn those 25 items 422 times, which is a lot. And the wear breakdown for L.L. Bean is basically exclusively my winter puffer coat, Marks is exclusively the one belt I own that I wear nearly everyday because all of my pants are too big at the waist, Beis is my one work tote that I am obsessed with and Doc Martins is my one pair of 1460s that I only bought in September. So it’s super interesting how my most worn brands can actually just be one single item that I am just completely obsessed with.
All in all, I reached a point last year where I just wanted data about my life. Where my money was going, how often was I drinking, how well was I keeping up with my habits, and yes, how often was I wearing my clothes. That is where this came in, and yeah following Becca on Instagram may have been an influencing factor, in both buying this spreadsheet and wanting data. But I think that having more information about my life that is data-informed because while statistics is up to interpretation, data never lies.
I am absolutely going to keep this up, it was so interesting and I think that it is helpful from a sustainability practice, to actually wear the clothes you buy.
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