‘Pay Per Wear’; a Fashion Strategy for Business Owners


‘Pay Per Wear’; a Fashion Strategy for Business Owners

Generally, when we buy clothing for our business wear, we don’t buy with a specific strategy in mind.

We are usually driven by the needs of the moment, perhaps a new shirt to replace one that is worn out or damaged or even a more formal outfit for a specific business function. This, of course, does make sense, you need something for business, you buy it. When it comes to deciding on what to buy, we are more often than not motivated by price, and this can be where we come unstuck.

Just as we buy garments based on the needs of the moment, we also choose a price based on our perception of cost at that particular point of time. Depending on the cash in our business we may view a $150 shirt as either cheap or expensive. However, there is another way to assess whether any piece of clothing will be a worthwhile investment (and in my opinion, we should look at our clothing as an investment).

I suggest asking yourself a very simple question, “How often will I wear that particular piece?” Because the reality is, that depending on how much we pay for an item, determining the value we will get out of it is on par with other business purchases that we might make, simply to determine value.

Choosing a garment based on the number of times you will wear it is called ‘pay per wear’. 

Basically, we need to work out how often we will wear an item over its lifetime and divide the purchase price by this figure to get your ‘pay per wear’ figure. This tends to highlight the perceived value we get from lower cost (and lower quality) items as opposed to the actual value we get from higher quality (and by association, higher cost) items.   

Imagine you see a stunning blue blazer in a store that costs $2,500.00, and you put it on, and it fits like a glove. The only other blazer you have at home is a little baggy around the shoulders, the hem is a little too long for your height, and you haven’t worn it as often as you thought because you just don’t feel that confident wearing it. So, you don’t wear it; it’s reached its use by date.

So, the new blazer is $2,500.00, a considerable investment but if you are wearing it three times a week for 45 weeks of the year and assuming that it should last and be in style for seven years because it is high quality, over the life of the jacket you will wear it approximately 135 times. The price of the blazer, when looking at it from a ‘pay per wear’ price is $18.00 per wear.  

Now, that is value, if you think about the way you will feel when wearing the blazer, the impact it will have on your professional image and brand and the length of time you get to wear it. If you bought a cheap $250 blazer you would have to replace it in a couple of years, the attention to detail (which affects the overall look) would be much less appealing plus there is more likelihood of fallen hems, holes, fading and/ or pilling (small balls of fabric on the surface), which will occur in the first year. Consider, how many times will you wear it and feel your best in it?

I know we all find particular pieces that are relatively cheap and last for a long time, retaining their look and fabric feel, but from my experience, this is a rarity. By thinking about your clothing purchases from a ‘pay per wear’ point of view, we tend to appreciate quality purchases much more.

I use this approach of ‘pay per wear’ with every garment I choose for my business attire, and I base my buying decisions on the following factors:

1. The quality of the fabric.

2. How well the garment fits me.

3. The quality of finishings including buttons, hems and pockets.

4. Quality of design and whether it is a style that will last more than one season, most preferably at least a few years.

Think value for money when purchasing every garment for your business wardrobe. Buying cheaper items that don’t last as long or look their best after a short amount of time is simply false economy. It pays to have fewer garments that speak volumes in terms of quality. Your personal brand and professional image will thank you for it. And you’ll be surprised by just how many people notice the quality of the clothing you wear and comment on it.

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