Renee Butler
October 04, 2013 1:00 pm

It happens every year. New designs start hitting the stores for fall and before you know it, that money you saved by hitting up farmers markets instead of grocery stores and eating salads all summer long goes kaput.

What is a girl to do?

The truth is splurging can be a great thing, if it falls within your budget. While no piece of clothing or pair of shoes is worth getting in debt over, some pieces are worth more than others. Figuring that out, especially when met with an item that makes you lose your breath, isn’t easy – especially in the moment. So, rather than drop your savings on an impulse buy, spend a few seconds to figure out how much that item is really worth.

INVESTMENTS IN CLOTHING

In the great battle between saving or splurging, math is truly a girl’s true best friend.

Think about how much you have to spend. In other words, if you budget $100 a month for buying new clothing and you are looking at a piece that costs $75 and you are only going to wear it twice a month (slinky date night dress, I am looking at you!) then you should probably save your hard-earned money. But, if you are looking at a new pair of pants for work in the season’s hottest new color (let’s say cobalt or oxblood), they will go with everything in your closet, you can wear them once a week all season, and they cost $100 – splurge! It is a better investment.

Yes. Investment.

THE TRUE VALUE OF A BLAZER

Start by figuring out how many times you are going to wear or use the piece. For instance, you will wear a black blazer far more often than a sequin mini, unless of course you are a club promoter – but I digress.

Basically, you need to think about how an item fits into your lifestyle. It’s like this: If you wear suits to work, blazers have multiple purposes – they can be a nice way to mix up the work wardrobe and also serve as a light jacket for going out in the evening – but if you work from home as a computer programmer you simply would not have as many places to wear one. In other words, the best purchases are those you can wear in a variety of ways.

A GIRL ONLY NEEDS SO MANY LITTLE BLACK DRESSES

Likewise, think about whether you have another piece that fills the same need, and how many. After all, a girl only needs so many black dresses, versatile as they may be. If the piece you are considering is just an accent piece, let’s say a scarf, and you already have a dozen, you probably don’t need that lovely one in your hand. If the price is low and you can afford it, by all means jump – but otherwise, if you have several items to fill the same purpose, why not drop your cash on something with a little more mileage?

Remember: it is a matter of how often you will ACTUALLY use the piece.

COST PER WEAR

It comes down to cost per wear: the lower the cost per wear, the higher the value to you.

If you wear the piece once a week for three months, you would get roughly 12 wears. If you spend $100 for the pants, it effectively costs you $8.33 each time you wear them. Compare that to a dress you only wear twice which you spent $75 for. The cost per wear is $37.50. That dress doesn’t have nearly the same value as the pants.

A QUESTION OF QUALITY

You also need to figure out whether the piece at which you are looking is of a high enough quality to last. For instance, you may be able to pick up a clutch for $10 at a discount retailer but you might only get two or three uses out of it before a seam tears or the strap breaks. In comparison, a quality clutch from a high-end retailer may cost $200 but you can carry it twice a week for the next year (or possibly two if you get a neutral color). The second clutch has a higher upfront cost but it has a far greater value.

CONCLUSION

When you spend your money on things that have a high value to you, you save money in the long run and have more variety because the things in your closet are items you will actually wear, use and love.

And who said math isn’t fun?

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