The other day I wore one of my favorite shirts....it's a cream colored tank with lots of ruffles. I bought it at J.Crew for a ridiculous price for a tank top...I'll admit it. I wear it a lot because it is a great layering piece...under my cardigans, of course. But how do you justify a $48 tank top? (Tim, if you are reading this it cost "like $20 dollars"). The answer is simple....I figure out the cost per wearing to justify my purchases.
I used to buy more clothes at lower prices. What I realized is that the quality of those clothes often meant that I was actually spending more because the clothes didn't last as long. I then shifted to buying higher quality clothes that last longer, but that very often means paying higher prices...and sometimes the sticker shock is just too much to bear.
As I was marveling at my cost per wearing on my $48 tank top the other day (which at this point, cost me pennies), it reminded me of a shopping trip I took several years ago with my friend Lynne. I had "won" (aka, paid for it at a silent auction) a private shopping experience at my favorite store, Ann Taylor. I got to bring 2 friends to the store once it closed, they served us wine and cheese & crackers, and we had a personal shopper who selected outfits for us to try on. It. Was. Awesome!
We had a pre-meeting with the personal shopper about a week before our night out so that she could assess our styles, sizes, etc. When we arrived for our big night, our dressing rooms were filled with outfits to try on. I was giddy. That is until I tried on a shirt that was too small and I couldn't get it off. We have all been there...you know that moment when you realize the shirt is just not going to come off with regular methods. You start by trying to contort your body like Houdini to get your arms out somehow. Then you breathe deep and try again the conventional way. Still no luck. Then you start to sweat. You get frantic and don't care if you rip the shirt or dislocate your shoulder...you just want it off you. And then usually you can figure out a way to get it off. Well, I realized my shirt was just not coming off without assistance. I had to ask my friend Lynne to come into my dressing room and take it off.
So, here I am with my upper body exposed....flab hanging, bra showing, arms in the air with the shirt covering my head...and Lynne has to come in and pull the shirt off me. And it didn't come off easy...there was some tugging involved. So embarrassing. We had worked together for years and were good friends but we had never been this "intimate" before. This could have been a work-friend relationship ender but instead it was a recognition that I had a friend for life.
She went back to her dressing room and came out wearing an adorable pair of capris and a ribbon belt. Adorable. She looked cute and she loved them both. BUT the capris were $78 and the belt was $14 for a thin piece of ribbon. She kept saying "I can't buy capris for $78!" I had to admit...the price was silly, especially knowing you could go to Old Navy and get a similar pair for $29. I told her about my dollar cost averaging theory and after another glass of wine she said "You know what? I AM going to get the capris AND the belt!"
To this day, we talk about the $78 capris and if she is wearing them enough to lower that cost per wearing. I think she could get her price down even further with some real focus and commitment but overall she has done pretty well with them. So, the next time you are making a clothing or accessory purchase, follow my simple rules:
1. No matter what the cost of the item, you MUST love, love, love what you buy. If it "will do" or "it's kinda cute" don't waste your money on it. You won't wear it in the long run.
2. Buy a mix of bargains and better quality clothing. You can't live on either alone. I find some of the cutest shoes and jewelry at Target and I mix them up with my J. Crew finds and voila! adorable, affordable outfits.
3. When you do spend the money on a piece, it's easier to justify the price when you employ the cost per wearing and you get the price down to mere cents! That is after you tell your husband "No, that's not new...."
Lynne, I hope you are unpacking those $78 capris now and getting them ready for spring!
A few other updates:
The Kangaroo Pouch Challenge - well, I did manage to lose 2 pounds in the last two weeks...but it hasn't progressed much beyond that. I still haven't been able to get up earlier in the morning but I have found other times to fit exercise into my day. I am now walking 3-4 times a week for an hour so that is good! And my clothes do feel a little loser, even with a minute amount of weight loss. For all my friends on weight watchers, keep up the great work!! You guys are doing great!!
The Train - I had yet another interesting interaction. An older man sat with me last week. Immediately I was repulsed. First, he was breathing heavy...through his nose. Yuck. The breath coming out through his nose smelled like pickles. (insert gag here). Then he kept "adjusting" himself and then squirming in his seat. I began to get nervous he had crabs or something. He was clearly "itchy" and uncomfortable. It was almost too much for me to handle. While I conducted silent conversations with him in my head, he continued to adjust and squirm. Just as I was getting up my nerve to say "Is there a problem?" he got up and left. This is to all the people on the train....Cut. It. Out. What is wrong with you people? Stop ripping newspapers and stuffing them in your pockets. Stop touching yourself in public. Brush your teeth. Stop breathing through your nose. Holy Crazyness....Stop it, stop it, stop it!!