Fashion Wisdom: Is it Worth the Price Tag? 5 Ways to Tell|
As I scan the racks, I spot it – the perfect piece to wear to my upcoming interview. The color is to die for, the details a perfectly fitting for my quirky side and its feels so soft. It’s almost fate and then, as I always do, I check the price tag.
Everything comes to a screeching halt.
It’s way over my budget.
I could forgo my soy-iced coffees for a month and I could potentially live off of ramen for a couple of weeks…
We’ve all been there: willing to make sacrifices for that perfect shirt, pants, skirt, shoes etc. However, is it really all worth it? Before I start increasing my sodium intake by 1000%, and feeling the crush that the lack of caffeine brings, I always mentally go through a checklist to make sure I’m not going to be paying too much for that coveted work wear piece.
Five Ways to Tell If It’s Worth the Price Tag
Knowing the Brand
A brand sometimes is just a label thrown across the back of the garment to identify where it came from.
Working in a retail environment has shown me there can be more to what “the brand” is than just that. Brands develop their voice– and the more productive ones cultivate an experience in their store that they want their customers to take part in. They release seasonal collections that capture consumers and trying to create or foster a relationship already formed.
Knowing the brand or store you love is essential in the knowledge of the price of the items in the store. Let’s face it: everything will be marked up beyond the price of manufacture because the brand or store is a business and needs money to run the company. However, if you know the brand stands behind its clothing and will offer you some type of guarantee-for instance, that if a defective hole or rip develops that you can exchange it for a new one– is not only ease of mind but easier on your wallet in the long run. Whether you invest in (and take advantage of) guarantees that a brand can provide are telltale sign of how much you are really spending on your workwear. Knowing that the Cole Haan brand uses Nike Air in their shoes means that while their price is higher than shoes that don’t invest in this feature, you also benefit from added comfort during wear.
Read up on the company you love shopping. And explore blogs to flag you for potential upcoming sales and just talking to the retail associates at the store can offer you more benefits than you can imagine.
Type of Fabric
“Silk, Rayon, Polyester, Cotton, and Model” are terms that just scrape the surface with respect to the types of fabrics that clothing is made from. The type of fabric should be a big indicator of the price of the garment.
Fabric type should be one of the first things you check when evaluating an item, because it will tell you about the quality of the material (not to mention how you will care for the article of clothing). This information can usually be found on the bottom inside tags of the clothing or on the backside of the main tag. Silk feels light and drapes well on the body, but it requires the care of a dry cleaner. Cotton can range from heavy to light weight and machine-washed at home; however, the material isn’t in low supply. Polyester is inexpensive in manufacture, can tear easily, and doesn’t wick heat well in summer.
Knowing what textile makes up the item helps weigh the price and true value of the clothing. If you are going to have to go to the dry cleaners every week for the silk top or it being a simple cotton dress that you could potentially find reduced somewhere else, are factors that should be in your consideration before you swipe that card.
I consider Stacy London and Clinton Kelly to be triumphant heroes in breaking down an outfit and translating it across the individual’s wardrobe. That blazer that’s the holy grail for your professional wardrobe and could possibly break your bank, can it be worn with other things? Will it go with your trusty go-to pencil skirt? Or can it go well with pieces that you may wear after hours? If the piece can be worn with a variety of outfits, you know it won’t just be worn once and then rest in the back of your closet where things never see the light of day. Conversely, if it’s a piece that looks amazing but won’t match anything you own, its translated versatility is minimal and it stands a higher chance of living in the back of the closet forever.
Cost Per Wear
This is the perfect equation that goes hand in hand with the translated versatility. The Cost-Per-Wear ratio helps to show the value of the item and the true cost of the item you may be about to purchase.
The formula for cost-per-wear is: the total cost of the item divided by the number of days you estimate wearing it. Let’s say if this pair of slacks you just picked up is $100.00 and you predict that you will wear them about 75 times in the next two years. So it will cost you about $1.33 every time you wear the pants. However, let’s say you see a blouse that would go well underneath your tailored blazer– and it’s on sale for $20.00. You may wear the shirt about 3 times until it relegated to the back of your wardrobe. For the blouse, the cost-per-wear jumps to about $6.67, which is a lot more in comparison to the slacks that may be more expensive now. Calculating the cost-per-wear can show easily if you are paying too much right now and may show a truly valuable staple in your professional ensemble.
How it fits
At this point, I’ve mentally gone through all of the aforementioned steps– and I think I’ve made the decision to sacrifice some things in my daily routine to get this piece. Yet, I’ve forgotten the most important factor: how it fits.
We’ve all seen an ill-fitting blazer, too-long pants and a blouse that is just too “blousey” (we can’t define it, but we know it when we see it). Trying on the item before you buy it is essential in knowing if you need to get it tailored or if it just doesn’t suit your figure. Adding in the extra costs of a tailor or just purchasing it anyway can put you in the negative a few more dollars than expected if you come to the conclusion that it just doesn’t fit.
Sabel Harris is a recent graduate of at George Mason University with a degree in history. The passion hasn’t stopped with fashion (rhyme, intended), which stemmed from her internship with CollegeFashionista as a style guru and an editorial intern, formerly acting as editor-in-chief for Her Campus George Mason and contributing as a style advisor for Dormify; however, the fire of social media is fueling her interests even more. Even though she is a busy-bee (check out her USA TODAY Educate pieces), feel free to contact her firstname.lastname@example.org or by sending her sweet tweets.