This week I gave a talk to my Newbury WI group about how I became a stylist, what I do, and how the sustainable element of my business came about.
Despite the heat, it was a wonderful and receptive audience and at the end I took questions. One lady asked me, "What's the oldest thing you've got in the wardrobe?". I really had to think. And then I remembered my gold coat.....
This John Rocha coat is older than my children, and I clearly remember buying it from Debenhams in Newbury the year we first ran the Queens Hotel, 1997. This coat comes out every year, and every year I have occasion to wear it. I still love wearing it, and it's in remarkably good condition, despite being 22 years old! Because the style is a very classic cut, it has stood the test of time in terms of shape too, and it's in a colour that suits me. I love this coat, and I don't see me needing to get rid of it any time soon!
The reason I wanted to tell you about the longevity of my coat is to share the principle of cost per wear.
Cost per wear means analysing your purchase by dividing the original cost by the number of times you wear it. So, for example, if you shell out £100 on a pair of jeans but wear them 100 times, your cost per wear is £1. If you shell out £100 on a dress for a wedding but wear it once, the cost per wear is £100. The lower the cost per wear value, the better because you're really making that initial investment work for you, and enjoying wearing what you buy.
So, when you've got items in your wardrobe that truly stand the test of time, and come out again and again, the cost per wear is likely to be really low. I can't remember exactly how much I paid for the coat originally, but let's assume it was around £90. If I were to think about how many times I have worn this coat, let's assume I've worn it 20 times a year for the last 22 years, so on 440 occasions. My cost per wear? 20p.
When we think about cost per wear, it's not so much about the initial cost of an item, but the value you'll get from it over time. So, it stands to reason, that the longer you can keep a well loved item, the more value you'll get from it over time.
So, how can you find these well loved treasures that pay you back year after year? Here's a few tips on getting the best cost per wear from your purchases:
1. Look for something you love. If you don't love it, you won't wear it or treasure it. Be really clear on what floats your boat, then you're far more likely to love it for longer.
2. Choose something in a shape that flatters you and a colour that compliments your tones, because if you feel it suits you, you're more likely to enjoy wearing it, and more likely to keep it.
3. Opt for classic shapes and styles that don't necessarily follow the current fashion - that way it won't feel dated.
4. Buy something that is of an excellent quality, in a fabric that will stand the test of time.
5. Care for your treasure - replace buttons, deal with marks and stains, check for tears etc.
If you'd like to know how to get more love out of what you currently own in the wardrobe, how to find some items that stand the test of time, and how to explore the delights of finding new treasures second hand, then join us on a voyage of discovery in your wardrobe! The doors of Sustainable Style Studio are opening soon, and you can spend the next 3 months with me online nailing your style, putting new outfits together, and being very clear on what is 'treasure' to you in your wardrobe.