Closet 101 Style

Cost Per Wear Review: Dress Edition

Continuing on my cost per wear series, I thought I’d write about one of the types of clothing which I particularly utilize a lot of during the summer months – dresses. I love dresses and will totally take a dress over a top + skirt any day. I just think they’re so much easier…pop it on and you have your whole outfit! Plus I don’t think anything can beat a trapeze dress for comfort.

So, I took a look at my wardrobe and pulled out some of my most – and least worn pieces. Here we go!

Dresses 1

Lowest (best) cost per wear: Equipment, Gap, Zara dresses. I wear these types of simple shift and shirt dresses in cotton and silk several times a week at least, especially in spring/summer and early fall (the perks of living in the California!).  Because of this, dresses have to be machine washable (for my Equipment silk ones, I just wash on delicate cycle and then air dry), and comfortable to wear all day with no confining zippers, etc.

Simple, machine washable dresses in easy fabrics means that I usually end up going with less expensive brands without a lot of adornments and fancy fabrics – but of course I wear them the most! My cost per wear on some of my Gap dresses are well under $1 by now.

Medium cost per wear: Diane von Furstenberg dresses. I love DvF dresses because they generally fit me pretty well and even full priced, they aren’t so bad, but better yet – if you’re patient, you can usually find them on sale or at least on some kind of Friends and Family discount. More often than not they are my go to for wedding dresses, more formal events where coworkers are involved, etc. I also have a few more casual DvF dresses (love their maxis), but they’re pretty expensive for random impulse purchases.

For some of my “go to” DvF dresses (like the Zarita), my cost per wear is running around ~$25 or so by now.

Dresses 2

Worst cost per wear: Isabel Toledo, Balenciaga, Prada, etc (basically all high end designer) dresses. It’s painful for me to admit this because I absolutely adore a really gorgeous fancy party dress, but all of my really nice ones from pricier labels have the absolute worst cost per wear. I pretty much only wear them to formal events, and if the dress is light colored, ones where the likelihood of being hit by a sloshed drink are slim (aka the more boring events…kidding!). Some of them aren’t work appropriate at all…or they’re almost work appropriate except for a huge armhole, or a daring back slit, etc. Because of these factors, and their initial high price, my high end designer dresses have the worst cost per wear.

I suppose the lesson would be that I should start buying more versatile designer dresses from brands like Akris, Loro Piana (or to not buy them at all). But to me there are few purchases more giddy-inducing than a really gorgeous dress. Even if I don’t find myself wearing it that often…just seeing one of my favorite dresses in my closet cheers me up. So I’m not sweating the cost per wear too much…though I think I’m all set on fancy dresses for now!

What are your best and worst dresses, from a cost per wear perspective?

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  • Felicia
    August 18, 2015 at 11:20 am

    I have a thing with Alice & Olivia dresses. They are not super expensive, but they have the highest cost per wear in my wardrobe because they are very unpractical to wear to work except for certain work party.

    I love wearing shift dress for work and Maxi on the weekend and I have ton of those in my closet and I wear them atleast 4 times a week if not more. There is this maxi from H&M years ago that I love it so much I got two of them in different colour and bring it with me when I go to Asia for traveling. I think their Cost per Wear is now under a dime since I wear it so often

  • Shannyn
    August 18, 2015 at 11:25 am

    Congrats on your baby boy! I am curious about your method for machine washing your silk Equipment dresses and then air drying. Does it affect sizing and do you just steam it before wearing? It would save me a lot of money if I can use your method instead of dry cleaning!

  • Oonagh
    August 18, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    I don’t worry about any work dresses, because I wear them so many times. Dressy, non-work appropriate stuff is always going to have the highest cost-per-wear, but that’s just the way it is.

  • irene
    August 18, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    I love COS. Now I don’t love everything from COS but I’ve found a nice set of black or navy dresses that survive in heat/humidity for work as well as vacation. I wash almost all of them on delicate and hang dry, and don’t have to touch an iron! Since I got all of them for 50-75% off, the cost per wear is <$1 by now.

  • TC
    August 19, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    I don’t even bother with cost-per-wear when it comes to fancy designer dresses. I think of them as works of art hanging in my closet and enjoy them as such. I have a $10,000 Prada dress that I’ve worn once, but boy was it ever a special occasion; totally worth it in my eyes. Sometimes you just have to look past the price tag (within reason — no need to go into debt or anything).

    • Katherine
      August 24, 2015 at 5:43 pm

      I’d love to see that dress! You have great taste so I’m sure it is to die for!

  • Coco
    August 26, 2015 at 5:21 am

    Please share how you dry clean your dresses at home! It would really help with my dry cleaning bills!

  • C
    August 30, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    I’d also like to hear how you get wrinkles out after air drying!