The Secret to Dressing Well

{By Caitlin Muir}

Amortize.
Get familiar with this word as it is going to be your new best friend.
If Ke$ha is your fashion icon, you can quit reading right now. I won’t be offended. If Audrey Hepburn or Catherine, Dutchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton) are who you want to emulate, you’re going to love this.
Amortizing in fashion is dividing the cost of the item by the number of times you wear it. Memorize that math, ladies. You’re going to be using it from now on.
Let’s try a real life math problem:
While Mallory was shopping with friends, she came across a crisp white Ralph Lauren shirt that fit her perfectly. She didn’t blink when she paid $100 for it. She knew it was worth it. She wore it 50 times in the next 365 days and managed to keep it crisp and perfectly white.

Shannon was on a budget so she went to Forever 21. She bought a white shirt for a job interview. It didn’t fit well but it would just have to do. She paid $25 for it. She wore it to the job interview, spilled coffee down the front, and ended up throwing it away. 

Who got the best deal?

Instant gratification logic would tell you that Shannon did pretty well for herself. She paid 25% of what Mallory did. But she only wore the shirt once. And it didn’t even fit her that well. Her total cost was $25 per wear.
Mallory wore her shirt 50 times in the next year. She only paid $2 per wear, got a classic item, and probably looked chic.
I’d say Mallory got the better deal. While it can be hard to find perfect white shirts (or to keep them perfectly white over a year), you get the idea. Quality costs money but quality also lasts longer.
Amortizing your closet forces you to buy pieces you love. Instead of just buying something because you are bored (and who hasn’t done that?), you make an informed decision based on your needs. The look you are trying to portray to the world.
The one instance where you have to throw this advice completely out the door is bridesmaids dresses.
Unfortunately, you’ll probably have to pay the big bucks to buy a dress you’ll just wear once. That’s just how it is. I recently bought a bridesmaids dress that I’ll be taking to the tailor right after the ceremony. For the price I paid, I need to redeem it!
If you are a bride, please take the concept of amortizing to heart. Your bridesmaids will love you if you pick out dresses that they’ll want to wear again. I can say this as a serial bridesmaid. Until David’s Bridal comes up with a frequent Bridesmaid reward card, please pick pieces that are classy and modern.
When you amortize your closet, you’ll be saving money in the long term.
Find a label with a look that works for you. Make sure that the fit flatters you. Buy not only for the look but for your body build as well. There are multiple books that talk about buying for your body build. Find one that you like because you’ll be referring to it time and time again.
Using the body build method, I’ve learned that Gap cuts their clothes in a way that doesn’t really work for my body build. And I’m between sizes at Banana Republic. But Calvin Klein fits me like a million bucks. It’s too bad that Calvin designs clothes for women who are in a few tax brackets higher than my own. But lucky for me, the CK Outlet is just a few miles away from my house. Knowing what fits and what brands work for me means that I can save time. I’m not spending my weekends scouring the malls. I can go to the store I want when there’s a sale.
I’m willing to buy fewer clothes for more money if the clothes fit me and make me look (and feel) beautiful.
And in my book, that’s smart.
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