PPW — Price Per Wearing

My friend and colleague Teri Agins recently wrote in her fashion advice column for the Wall Street Journal that men should: “Always consider the cost per wearing, which will help you to rationalize $350 eyeglass frames, a $900 leather jacket and $200 premium jeans—items that you wear all the time.”

It’s true for women, too. The other day, my thriftique buddy Kate from Auh20 was telling me about her partner Alexandra’s 80/20 theory from business that she uses for her closet — roughly, that 80 percent of your outfits come from 20 percent of your pieces (kinda makes sense, no?) and that got me to thinking about PPW — Price Per Wearing.

PPW is the equation that I always have used to justify expensive purchases. Hell, what am I talking about?! Just about ANY purchase, truth be told. Some things you wear so many places, so often and with so many other things, that the PPW can go into the negative and actually cost you NOTHING! That’s right…. And this tactic of shopping rationale is right up there with me telling my husband, “but look how much money I’m saving by buying this ‘fill-in-the-blank’ for ‘sale-amount-price.'” Gets him, every time.

 The Wrap-ture or Rap-shoe, coming to an End of the World near YOU

The sandals above, $59.99 from Strawberry’s and bought earlier this season, are a bit harder to walk in than some of my other summer shoes, so their PPW is only down to about $10 -$20 right now. Although I have a pair of flats I had made out of a pair of wedgies that broke that seemed expensive a month ago at $45 and that are actually now veering into a negative number for their PPW….

The summer shopper tote above is thrifted, natch, with a handle that had to be resewn. Maybe it cost $15 total…Great summer find. Its PPW is probably at about $1-$2 now…. The skin bags on either side will have the lowest PPW of all, especially the one on the left. I got those from James, the bag guy, who sells on the street near me and have carried the one until it’s nearly bald. PPW? Practically NOTHING.

The trick is to be creative, buy pieces that mix in with the rest of your wardrobe, perhaps finish a look you’ve started, but good basics that will keep on going. That will ensure a low PPW equation.

And, more important, a PPW that will keep dropping towards the negatives.