Early in my career, I landed a job at PR firm in downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue. My office was steps away from incredible city attractions and tons of shopping. I was also making what I thought at the time was a lot of money for a young single gal. Did I save it and invest? Nope – I indulged in shopping trips during my lunch breaks and after work. Ahh – being young and naive and the tough lessons we learn.
After one of my lunchtime shopping trips a coworker asked to see what I bought. I excitedly showed her a funky off the shoulder brightly colored sweater and the most expensive pair of jeans I had ever purchased. All of my jeans in the past had been from the sale rack at the Gap, but these were a pair of Hudson jeans for $100. I felt like a new person in these jeans – legs elongated and butt lifted! Not that a 24-year-old really needs much help with a perky butt.
My coworker asked how much I paid for each item and then told me to immediately return the sweater, but to keep the jeans. I was stumped and a little annoyed. That is until she educated me about the PPW…or Price Per Wear theory.
That acronym changed my entire shopping mindset. The PPW forces you to think about how often you might wear something in relation to the price. For instance, the Hudson jeans I bought for $100 are an item I would likely wear 100 times over the next year, making the PPW approximately $1.00 per wear. That’s a pretty good investment, especially considering you likely keep and wear a great pair of jeans for year, which I did with this pair.
On the contrary, the brightly colored off the shoulder sweater I bought for $50, I would likely wear twice over the next year, making the PPW approximately $25. Not such a great deal. And, it was a trendy style that I’d probably abandon after a year. Thank goodness I kept the receipt!
The PPW is why you should invest in high quality staples like a great winter coat you’ll wear for a number of seasons, well made leather riding boots, jeans that fit your body like a glove or anything cashmere. That doesn’t mean you should go hog wild and spend a boatload of money on these items. Definitely look for the best deal on the highest quality items you can find.
For instance, about 10 years ago I stumbled upon an incredible red Tahari calf length trench coat. Originally $500, it was on sale for $100. Buying that coat was one of my smartest purchases. It is well made, classic, classy and every year, I wear it a minimum of 30 times. If you do the math – 10 years x 30 wears per year = approximately 33 cents per wear! And, the coat is still in mint condition, so I will continue to wear it.
On the other hand, PPW is also why I will never spend much on things like a trendy cold shoulder shirt, jeans with tears in them, pleather leggings (which seem to be all the rage
this Fall), over the knee boots or leopard booties. These are the items I scour the racks for at TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack and wait until they go on clearance for $10 – $20.
At a recent Nordstrom Rack Clear the Rack sale, I found a pair of pleather leggings for $11. I bought them and for that price, I won’t feel bad if I only wear them twice, which is probably what will happen.
I also wanted to try out the over the knee boot trend, but paying $150 for a pair is a joke. Luckily I found a pair on clearance at Target for $19.99 at the end of the season last year. I’ve worn them twice and might wear the twice more this year.
PPW is also one of the reasons I will ever buy my daughters a pair of Uggs, like the ones I see lots of other girls her age wearing. That’s a PPW nightmare! But more on kids items and PPW in another post.
As you’re charging full force ahead (pun intended!) with holiday shopping, you’ll likely find an item or two for yourself. Keep the PPW theory in the back of your head before you purchase any pieces of clothing, shoes or jewelry. The one exception to the PPW rule would be a wedding dress!
I will always be grateful to my old colleague for educating me about PPW. So simple, yet so impactful!