The true cost of a garment - Fargeporten

The true cost of a garment

Multi-coloured wardrobe showcase, for sale, closeup view

Using the CPW method of calculating the real worth of a piece of clothing

This is not an article about sustainable fashion. Slow fashion and sustainable manufacturing of clothing is important, but what I'm talking about here is the cost related to personal economy.

True story: A woman shopping for a dress for a special occasion.

She has been invited to a garden party and will have a chance to meet the Norwegian royal family. She is beside herself with excitement (if you knew how royal loyal we Norwegians are, you would totally get this), and feels the occasion calls for a special dress. 

Armed with her colour fan and enthusiasm she trawls the stores, leaving no clothing rack unturned in her quest for a party dress befitting such a once in a lifetime occasion. 

Hours later, she returns home, with a dress, and NOK 2500,- less on the bank account.

The dress was fabulous, the garden party simply marvelous (and yes, she got to shake hands with HRH Harald, the king of Norway, and managed to stutter a few unintelligent, incoherent sounds in the process, which HRH graciously overlooked). 

The dress? Worn that one time plus one other time (Christmas party, no royal family attending, but lots of fun and definitely more relaxed etiquette).

Also true story: Same woman, shopping for a sweater for work.

Needing a business casual, warmish sweater, she wants a change from her usual black, black, black wardrobe and opts for a silver grey relaxed fit sweater from the Norwegian LEIK knitwear (this one if you're curious), who has a good selection of high quality timeless clothing in merino wool. The sweater is thin enough to layer, the style is versatile and it can be combined with almost any of the other items in her wardrobe. 

The sweater costs NOK 1980,- She has worn this sweater at least twice a week since she bought it, almost six months ago. And it still looks nice, it has worn well even after being laundered quite a lot of times.

I will now calculate the true cost of these garments, using the CPW formula.

What is CPW?

CPW is Cost Per Wear, the price of the garment divided by the number of times you will use it during a year.

how to calculate Cpw - COST per wear

Cost Per Wear:

Price divided by number of times you will use it during a year equals the true cost. 


Using the CPW formula, the party dress has a CPW of NOK 1250,-, since it has been worn twice.

The sweater has been worn approximately twice a week for six months, roughly 48 times. Cost Per Wear is less than NOK 40,- 

Let everyday clothing get a larger chunk of your clothing budget. 

When shopping for clothes, consider the Cost Per Wear of the garment. Don't think that because it's just for everyday use, it shouldn't cost much.

Better quality clothes usually hold up better with laundering and wear. 

If you wear jeans almost every day, let it be good quality jeans that sit right and wear well. If you're a sweater girl, like me, invest in top quality, timeless sweaters in neutral colours.

I'm not saying that I shouldn't have bought the expensive dress. But of the two purchases, the sweater was by far the best investment, at least in terms of how much wear I have gotten out of it. 

And I doubt that I will ever go to enough parties to bring the CPW of that fancy dress down much further. And if I should ever get the chance to go to a Royal Garden Party again, I'd wear the same dress. 

I doubt if the King would hold it against me.

Jorunn Hernes

Jorunn knows exactly how hard it is to make the most of your colour tone when real life gets in the way. But she has a few tricks up her sleeve, and is eager to share them with you. Minimalism, mindfulness and simplicity are also on her list of interests.

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