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Will I Wear It? How to Analyze a Potential New Purchase

A couple weeks ago, Janice at The Vivienne Files answered an "I love it but will I wear it?" question from readers about a green velvet paisley skirt from Boden. "Do you think that I could wear this skirt enough to justify buying it?" And Janice responded "Well, yes, I do!" and showed a variety of lovely styling options to wear this skirt from early fall through the dead of winter, creating a neat little capsule wardrobe around the skirt...demonstrating that the accompanying pieces to wear this skirt do exist in the marketplace. Of course, one would certainly want to do a similar exercise using the items they already own to see if the potential new item can be styled multiple ways. (Knowing that an item could be worn if 28 more pieces were purchased with it is not very helpful, but Janice uses new items for illustrative purchases. I absolutely don't interpret it as her suggesting "buy this skirt and an entire wardrobe to go with it!")

Source: Bodenusa.com

This post got me thinking...when we are considering a new item for purchase, it definitely makes sense to determine whether you could style it in various ways with your current pieces, either because you value mix-and-match opportunities in your closet or you want to wear it across a range of weather/temperatures.


But the analysis really shouldn't end there. After all, the larger your wardrobe, the easier it is to put together outfits with just about any item that is in your basic range of preferred colors and silhouettes. Even with this velvet skirt that has a color scheme that isn't the most represented in my wardrobe, I could probably put together a dozen different outfits without trying too hard. At this point, asking yourself if you could wear it will often result in a resounding "Yes!"...and the larger your wardrobe already is, the more often you will answer "Yes," growing your wardrobe out of control.


I offered a comment on the post, which I am repeating below.


In Janice’s capsule, the skirt is a brilliant and gorgeous print that binds the wardrobe together. But for deciding whether to add the skirt to one’s own wardrobe…for me it’s a tricky decision balancing the emotion and practicality. What helps me with this decision is thinking not just “Would I (theoretically) wear this skirt?” because the answer to that is so often “Well yes, of course, I love it and it’s my style and I can thinking of a dozen ways to wear it!”…which doesn’t capture the reality that the number of days in a year is limited to 365/366 so we have to consider opportunity to wear as well as willingness/desire to wear.
I might start with: How often would I be willing to wear this bold and distinctive skirt? Once a week? Once every two weeks? Once a month? Etc. Then calculate how many times that is in the year (based on what months of the year you would wear the skirt). Then multiply by how many years to get a ballpark number of wears. What’s the estimate of your best-case cost per wear? (I say “best-case” because I think we tend to overestimate how often we’ll wear something and there are a lot of ways that a skirt you think you’d wear for 5 years doesn’t make it that long, including lifestyle changes, weight changes, lack of durability.) Is that reasonable to you? If not, then it’s probably a no.
But if it passes the first test, then: if I’m wearing this skirt every two weeks (or whatever), what items will I *not* be wearing the X times I wear the skirt this year? Because your new garment, however beloved and however many ways you can imagine wearing it, is in direct competition with the clothes you already own (and are hopefully wanting to put through their paces and rack up a good number of wears with). But also: will this skirt make me wear some of my other items more? For example, if you had a bright pink sweater and a dark green blouse and a yellow top that you are prioritizing to wear this winter, the skirt could increase your wears of those items. It’s a balancing act.
For me personally, I have a pretty full closet and am committed to 30+ wears and a cost per wear of $1 or less, so it’s hard for something like this $180 skirt to make the cut. Others may accept a much higher cost per wear in general or for special statement pieces they love.
I just wanted to add a bit of focus on the different between “would wear” and “will wear” because it’s so easy to fall in love with a gorgeous print and all the possibilities while forgetting the rest of one’s closet! Ask me how I know. ;)

I think it's extremely easy to talk yourself into buying something because you can make it fit (physically and stylistically) into your closet when you consider the item in isolation. It's when you think about the limited opportunities for wearing a type of thing...a sweater or a fancy dress or a pair of tall riding boots or a velvet paisley skirt...and the other things that you won't be wearing if you wear the new item that the full reality of the decision becomes apparent. I know math isn't everyone's favorite thing, but if you run the numbers (and they are simple ones), I think you might be surprised!


But even without doing the math, you can take a stab at whether a potential purchase is adding something new to your wardrobe. Considering the Boden skirt (which is really pretty!), I grabbed the five main colors in the skirt...well, the navy neutral plus 4 accent colors...and looked in my own wardrobe to see whether I already have skirts that cover this range of colors. And I quickly found these four skirts that together are already doing the job of the Boden skirt! (I just realized that I left out the blue from the Boden skirt in my photo, but it's there in my navy pleated skirt, so that's covered too.) Plus I can actually cover several additional colors with these skirts as well, including black, brown, teal, olive/sage, maroon/burgundy, and lime. So in my case, the Boden skirt would be an expensive substitute for skirts I already own that I like, that fit, that I enjoy wearing, and that cost me nothing!

Blush rabbit sweater + grey pants - Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
The skirts that I'll be wearing instead of the Boden velvet paisley skirt this fall/winter with cost = $0
OOTD 1/2/2019 - With dark green & navy
OOTD 2/5/2020 - With maroon, brown & salmon

Do you look at your wardrobe in terms of how many opportunities you have to wear items? Or in terms of cost per wear? Do you ever ask yourself whether the item is adding something new to your wardrobe? Or what won't you wear if you buy this new item? Do you think "what won't I wear" could be helpful for you as a step in analyzing a potential purchase?


Blogs I link up with are listed here.

14 comments

14 comentarios


carolbenton
08 oct 2022

Sally - you're so right about analyzing a potential purchase with regards to how often you would realistically wear the piece and comparing it to items you already have in your closet. I've been guilty of making impulse purchases that I later regretted.

Thank you for sharing this post in the Talent-Sharing Tuesdays Link-Up 36.

Carol

www.scribblingboomer.com

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
08 oct 2022
Contestando a

It feels very wasteful when you realize you've just duplicated something you already own because you forgot about your closet when shopping - been there, done that, donated the T-shirt (which was itself a duplicate). Glad that this post resonated with you, Carol!

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Joanne
Joanne
06 oct 2022

I am awful at limiting myself when it comes to new purchases. I think this is a great way to evaluate any new pieces!

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
07 oct 2022
Contestando a

Thanks, Joanne! I hope this gives you another angle to consider when making those purchasing decisions. I know I personally get caught up in the excitement and possibility of the new and forget about the things already in my closet!

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Shelbee On The Edge
Shelbee On The Edge
03 oct 2022

Sally, I really appreciate this post as I am trying to really cut down my wardrobe pieces. I definitely get stuck in the “would wear” trap and end up with a whole bunch of things that I never wear. I have such a large wardrobe right now that, like you, I could easily style any one item in probably 100 different ways with what I have, making that not a very good gauge for deciding on a purchase! I will remember these tips and questions when shopping in the future!


Shelbee

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
03 oct 2022
Contestando a

My wardrobe is also on the large side, so I understand where you're coming from. With a lot of clothes and a creative mind, you could make enough outfits to last a whole village of people a lifetime, no doubt! It's interesting to consider that some guidelines that work well when building up a wardrobe (like wear 3+ ways with existing pieces) don't work as well when you're wardrobe is already built up!

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Nancy's Fashion
Nancy's Fashion
03 oct 2022

I am just starting to learn to think of at least 3 outfits where I can wear a new item on! Haha, never to old right?

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
03 oct 2022
Contestando a

Never too old, Nancy, NEVER TOO OLD! :D

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bijoubeadboutique
bijoubeadboutique
02 oct 2022

I love this analysis, Sally! (And yes, I am a math person. :D) Excellent question in regard to “what will I not be wearing if I buy this skirt?“ I am currently doing another closet purge to rid myself of items that I’ve tried (during the search for my style) and don’t really suit me. I’m also trying to add pieces in colors I love, but have been hard to find. Then I hope to adopt a similar system to yours as to how to mix and match, and frequency of wears. I know a lot of fashionistas have large wardrobes - which is especially helpful in regard to the various fashion challenges. But I don’t like the idea of…

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sallyinstpaul
sallyinstpaul
03 oct 2022
Contestando a

I think the storage space question is an interesting one, Michelle. Those "once in a blue moon" items probably aren't worth it in a lot of cases! It's great that you've narrowed in on your style to the point that you can start passing on items that don't suit you. And I hear you about large wardrobes and fashion challenges - though creating outfits for challenges from a more limited working wardrobe is also valuable in showing how to interpret things into your own wardrobe's terms.

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