What Is Cost Per Wear and Why Should I Care?

cost per wearI’ve been in this business my whole life.  When I was three, I was here at the store sleeping under racks while my parent’s worked late into the night re-modelling.  I started working at the store when I was thirteen, and worked my way up the chain from the stock room to now being co-owner.  Over the years, much has changed in the clothing industry.  One of the most significant changes is the “throw away” clothing epidemic.  Does the word “epidemic” hit you as too harsh?  I’m not sure it is, and let me explain why.

I have customers tell me stories about how their mothers and grandmothers shopped at our store when having at least one “good” dress was expected.  It was their Sunday best, and they knew they would have to spend a little more, but that dress would have them looking their best when they wanted to “put on the dog,” so to speak.  The ideology was that when you wanted to look your best, you never settled for inexpensive or poorly made clothing.

Those generations calculated the value of an item of clothing on cost per wear.  This term provides you with the amount of money it costs you each time you wear the item, and it is a great tool for demonstrating why it isn’t always better to buy inexpensive clothing that you know you will have to replace in a year or less.   For example, let’s say you spend $60 on a blouse that is from a good brand that has a reputation for quality.  Any quality item of clothing will last you at least 3 years if you care for it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  If you wear it 2 times per month and expect it to last 3 years, then the cost per wear is $2.50.  Here is how I came to that number: 2 wears a month X 12 months in a year = 24 wears in a year.  If the top lasts for three years, you will have 72 wears.   $60 divided by 72 wears = 81 cents per wear.  Now, conversely, let’s say you spend $20 on a top that is cheaply made that will likely only last about 6 months if you wash it in cold water and hang it to dry.  Using the same formula, that top will cost you $1.67 per wear (12 wears in 6 months / $20 divided by 12 = $1.67).  So you can see that it actually costs you more to wear the cheaply made top than the more expensive one.

There is a false perception that when you spend more money on clothing, you are just paying for the name brand.  The reason certain brands cost more is because they have earned a reputation for quality.  That reputation comes from a consistent use of better quality fabrics and better construction.  These two together translate into clothing that stands the test of time.

I was fortunate to watch how this mindset transformed one of my employees.  When she first came to work for us, she was in her late twenties and had completely bought into the throw away clothing mentality.  She told us, “I never spend a lot on clothes, and I don’t expect them to last.  When they fall apart, I don’t feel badly because I didn’t spend that much to buy them in the first place.”  Over time, she began buying our brands.  She started to see how better quality fabrics and construction really do make a difference in the way an item looks and feels on the body and in how it holds up to repeated washing and drying.  Being financially savvy, she also started to see that she was actually spending less money on clothes by buying better quality.  It was the cost per wear epiphany.  After working for us for the last several years, she has come to understand that there is a reason some clothing is more expensive and that that expense is not arbitrary but directly tied to quality.

Our grandmothers knew what they were doing.  They understood that a good dress made them look their best because it fit properly and had quality workmanship.  They also knew that spending a little more was necessary to accomplish this end.  Have some fun calculating the cost per wear on some pieces in your closet.  It is really eye opening.  It is also a great buying tool.

 

 

 

Travel Like A Boss!

Mom and I just returned from a market trip to Dallas, Texas.  Hopefully, you have already checked out my blog post on our Treska Warehouse tour.  If not, do it now so you can learn all about how a Treska necklace is made from start to finish!

Today’s post is on a different topic, however.  I want you, our precious customers and loyal readers, to know that we absolutely, positively, believe in the lines we sell at Fashion Crossroads.  How much, you ask?  So much that we wear them and use them when we travel!  You all know that we women take our very favorite things with us when we go on trips.  The ho-hums in our closets never see the inside of our suitcases and travel bags.  Oh no, only the coziest, cutest and most comfortable items get that special privilege.  For me and my mom and our trip to Dallas, those favorite things were Sympli and Vera Bradley.  Let me tell you why.

IMG_4216Sympli is the most wonderful line (not kidding) that I have ever worn.  It looks amazing because it has a fabulous fit, and it is oh so comfortable to wear.  Because you can pack it without worrying about wrinkles and because the line is so well thought out, you can literally grab two bottoms and three tops and have a whole week worth of outfits.  For example, I brought my Sympli leggings and mini skirt (I always wear these together) and my capris for my bottoms as well as a white pair of jeans.  Then I threw in my sleeveless Cascade Top (see picture above), my cold shoulder Nu Urban top, my Go To Tank Tunic and my favorite Sympli jacket.  These 7 pieces saw me through 5 days and took me from seminars, to show room floor, to dinner out on the town.

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When it came down to packing, both mom and I chose Vera Bradley travel gear even though we each have other options.  My mom took her Vera rolling carry on in black. She was able to push it through the airport with ease due to the four wheeled bottom.  I was able to lift it above my head to put it into the carry on luggage rack without breaking my back!  Yeah for me!

I took my Vera Grand Traveler soft sided bag, my Vera tote and my Vera cross body cell phone purse. You can see some of these items in the picture below.  The tote bag worked to hold my book, spare cell phone battery, headphones, files, Kind bar, and iPad while I was on the plane without being too bulky to fit under the seat in front of me.  The cell phone purse was perfect to sling across my body to keep my cell phone, driver’s license and credit cards handy and within reach while I was going through security and waiting to board the plane.  When it was time to get on the plane, I just took my cell phone purse off and put it inside the tote, and I didn’t have to get in a fight with the gate agent about having too many carry-ons.  Inside my Grand Traveler bag was the Vera hanging organizer that I could simply hang up on the back of the bathroom door and reach all my cosmetics easily without cluttering up the bathroom counter.  I also had my Vera jewelry organizer which kept my earrings and necklaces and bracelets in separate compartments (I love organization, especially when I travel). Then, while I was at market, the Vera tote worked perfectly as a brief case.  I have to say, I really do love these products.  IMG_4230

When I convince my customers to buy a product we sell based upon my recommendation, I take that very seriously.  Know that before I will tell you it is a wonderful product, I have put it though the test of my own life.  If we sell it, we believe in it!  We have just marked down a special rack of discontinued styles and colors of Sympli to 30% off.  (Mark downs in this line never happen so grab them while the gettin’ is good).  We also have several patterns of Vera Bradley that are 25% off, and we are expecting our new fall arrivals from Painted Medallions and Falling Flowers any day!

Happy travels, and don’t forget your Sympli and Vera Bradley!

Not All Cold Shoulder Tops Were Created Equal!

I have found my go-to cold shoulder top, and I’m so excited about it,  I wanted to share it with you!  Sympli has added a new top to their line called the Nu-glimpse top, and it is the perfect cold shoulder top!

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Nuglimpse Top By Sympli available in store or online 

Why so perfect, you ask?  Well, let me tell you!  As I have watched a myriad of women try on various shoulder exposing tops at the store, I have noticed that not all cold shoulder tops are created equal.  Some are too big in the shoulder, causing them to fit poorly on the arm or droop. Some make it impossible to wear a bra which means fiddling with a strapless bra or bandeaux (just kill me now).  Some show so much shoulder, women feel a bit naked and too exposed.  This is why I love this top from Sympli!  It has shoulder cut outs that are the perfect size, giving you the cold shoulder look, but in a way that any woman can wear.  I also love that this top does not show your bra, eliminating the hassle that so many cold shoulder tops pose. Best yet, it has a slight a-line cut so it doesn’t show any extra weight you may be carrying at the waist.

What is also amazing about the Nuglimpse top is that you get all of the other wonderful features of Sympli – no wrinkles, no fading and no stretching out.  This top will look this black and this great 5 years from now.  With Sympli, you just wash in cold water and hang to dry.  It dries wrinkle free, and you are off and running! The use of 12 oz weight fabric instead of 9 oz weight, means that the fabric drapes rather than clings to your body.  It really does look amazing on.  The fact that it is the number one selling line in our 5,000 square foot store is a testament to this.

There is the issue of price, however.  Sympli is not inexpensive.  This top retails for $124, but when you calculate cost per wear, it really is a great value.  If you just wore this top 1 time a week for a year, you would only be spending $2.58 per wear.  Given the fabric’s longevity, you will have this top for much longer than a year so the cost per wear goes down the longer you own the top.  Considering the fact that it is black, it will work back into your wardrobe easily.  Given that it is a mid-hip length hemline that pairs with any bottom, the styling opportunities are endless! That $124 doesn’t seem so costly now, does it?  That is the magic of cost per wear! Spending more on a really great item ends up costing you less than spending less and having to replace the item in six months because it has pilled, lost its shape or shrunk.  And as always, Fashion Crossroads offers a great layaway program too!

So, that’s my product review of Sympli’s Nuglimpse top.  It is my favorite cold shoulder top in my own wardrobe, so I am unashamedly recommending it to you!

Making Rose Quartz Work In Your Wardrobe

With Pantone’s announcement of Rose Quartz as the color of the year, you may be wondering how to wear such a soft and gentle shade of pink.  I am dark haired and look much better in bolder colors.  As a result, I usually avoid pastels.  What I love about this shade of pink, however, is how well it pairs with darker shades like brown and olive green as well as with creams and whites.  

  
When pairing Rose Quartz with olive green, it is essential that you stay consistent with either warm or cool tones.  Rose Quartz it usually a slightly warm color, so you will also want to choose a color of olive that is also slightly warm.  Avoid strongly warm greens that have a predominate yellow undertone.  The other fantastic aspect of putting Rose Quartz and olive green together is that the pink adds a feminine aspect to the more masculine olive green, especially in utilitarian or military themed items.  Military continues to be a strong trend in spring so you should see plenty of military vests, tanks, and light jackets out there.  Try putting a Rose Quartz tank under them!

Rose Quartz is also beautiful with creams, khakis and browns.  Apply the same advice of matching the level of warmth, and you can’t go wrong with any of these colors.   You can also pair Rose Quartz with its counterpart color of the year Serentity blue.  This feels less earthy to me than the other choices, but remains a viable option.  What I’ve done here is to put an ice blue blouse under the Rose Quartz sueded vest and then pop the two with with a Serentity blue purse.    It’s a nice combination with both soft and strong elements.  

  So have fun this season exploring these new colors.  You may just find your new favorite ! 

Key Trends for Fall 2016

  
Of the many trends I noticed dominating styles at market this fall, the most consistent were fringe, suede, southwestern motifs, military jackets, plaid shirts and the color merlot.  You can see all of these trends reflected in the picture above and the way you can combine them for smart fall style this season.  The key accessory is the floppy hat and beanie.  

1. Suede and Fringe

Suede and (faux suede) was everywhere at market.  Often combined with fringe, suede and the seventies are a strong influence in fall fashion for 2016.  Look for suede especially in vests, dresses and on handbags.  I saw everything from saddle brown and light tan classic suede colors to blush pinks and merlots.  Embrace this trend as a child of the seventies by combining fringe and denim, headbands and bohemian tops and dresses.  Wear a floppy leather look or sueded hat with these styles for a modern version of this seventie look.  Avoid head to toe fringe to keep the look fresh.  Pair fringe with other sueded pieces but restrict the fring to one clothing item or accessory.  

2.  Southwestern Motifs

Southwestern prints are still dominating fall like they did for spring.  Find them combined with fringe, in sweaters and on tops, and, of course, on handbags.  Take this sweater as an example.   With its southwestern diamond print in merlot and grey and its fringe bottom, it combines several key tends in one style.  

 Look for grey to be the new neutral for fall and give black a run for its money as the go to basic.  Additionally, grey looks amazing paired with melot which is the color of the year from Pantone.  

Military Jackets:

Seperating itself distinctly from the previous two trends, military is the utilitarian trend of the season and is expressed in one key piece – the military jacket.  I saw some companies combining southwest motifs with miliary which was a unique twist, but military jackets are a key piece that you will want to have in your wardrobe.  Don’t feel you must have the trend represented by a army green jacket.  I saw very cute styles in black, grey and tan as well.  A great military jacket paired with a beat up boyfriend jean and lace up boots is a killer look for a casual outfit.       
Plaid Shirts:

Plaid is officially a key trend.  You will need to buy yourself a cute plaid shirt to pair with boyfriend jeans this season.  Wear a benie and puffy vest with this look for a fun casual look for a cold day.  The strongest plaid trends is reds or burhandy plaids, but I also saw lots of black and white versions as well.  Keep it cool by wearing your plaid shirt tied around your waist for a fall day when its not too cold.  Again, wear this look with lace up shoe boots.    

Details Make the Difference

I love clothes. I love the artistic nature of design – how the combination of different fabrics, textures, colors, and other design elements come together to create something beautiful. As a detail person, I notice the small things. As a store owner and buyer for fifteen years, I’ve come to realize that the details are often the difference between a cheaply made product and a quality product.

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Take as an example this beautiful crochet inset on a tunic from Multiples. It adds a handcrafted element to an otherwise ordinary tunic, creating an ethnic feel that helps separate it from less expensive competitors. It is a beautiful detail that will look delicate and pretty on a woman’s arm.

If you examine the picture closely, you can see that the crochet is weighty and not flimsy. Yet another element of quality, the sheer thickness of this crochet makes it clear that corners were not cut in adding this detail.
These types of added design elements divide out the ordinary from the unique. You either won’t find them on less expensive labels, or, when you do, they will seem cheap and mass produced.

The next time you are wandering through your favorite specialty store or boutique, stop to appreciate the details on the clothing you find. They truly are a work of art.

Dressing Your Body Shape Part III – The Individual Shapes

This article recently appeared in Live Well Wyoming

If you’ve read my last two articles, you know your body shape and a little more about how to use the illusion of color and shape to your advantage.  Now it is time to discuss how to dress each shape.

If you are a Straight/Rectangle body type, your top goals are to add length to your torso, hide a large rib cage, create the illusion of a waist, and draw the eye to your legs.  Dresses that fit the shoulders and fall loosely to right above the knee are a great choice.  Add tights and slim boots to emphasize the legs for fall.  A deep v neck will elongate your neckline.  Avoid belts and choose items that suggest a waist but don’t emphasize one.  Other good choices are a longer jacket with a short skirt or a loose fitting jacket with straight legged pants.

For the Pear/Spoon body type, you will want to draw attention to your upper torso, add width to your shoulders to balance wider hips, hint at your waist without cinching it, and de-emphasize your lower body.  Empire waist tops and dresses are a great choice for you.  Choose necklines that are wide like the boat or cowl because they will add balance to your hips.  Choose flared skirts rather than straight.  Other good choices for you are ¾ length jackets over shorter skirts as well as tops that hit just below the waist rather than at the hips.  Choose darker colors for the bottom.  Avoid belts or emphasized waists unless you have an open jacket over the top.  Use accessories to draw attention upward.

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The top goals for the Hourglass body type are to emphasize your waist and curves as well as to avoid oversized clothing.  Choose fitted styles with darts or defined waists.  Wrap dresses are your friend because they show off your waist and bust.  Choose top styles that allow room for a generous bust and blouse your tops to help provide balance.  Mid rise pants are more flattering on a larger rear than those that hit at the waist.  Just be sure to wear a shaper to avoid the muffin top that mid rise bottoms often create.

Inverted Triangle body types should draw attention to their hips and legs, work to slim their shoulders and de-emphasize the upper torso.  Low slung waists or loosely draped belts are a great choice for you.  Deep v neck or round necks will slim your shoulder area.  Shorter hemlines or straight pant legs will draw attention to your legs.  A longer jacket with a short skirt is also flattering on this figure as it serves to elongate the upper torso.  This is a great body type for leggings and longer tunics.

For the Oval/Round body type, the top goals are to elongate the neck, downplay the middle while elongating the upper torso and drawing attention to the legs.  Try loose fitting jackets or tops over slim legged pants or narrow skirts.  Choosing tops and bottoms of the same color with a jacket over the top that is a different color will elongate your torso and draw attention away from your middle.  Make sure the monochromatic portion is darker than the over jacket or top.

The Diamond body type should draw attention to a spot above the waist, add width to the shoulders, and draw attention away from the hips and thighs.  This is another body type that works well with empire waists.  Wider necklines and cap sleeves will make the shoulders appear wider and balance out the hip area.  Flared skirts allow room for full thighs.  Tunic tops over slim legged pants also work well for this figure type, especially when they are the same color.  Hemlines that fall just below the knee are also good for this figure type.  Avoid tops that hit at the hips or outfits that emphasize your waist.

The key fashion trends for this season are still focused on elongated tops, sweaters and jackets over slim legged pants.  This is good news for almost every body type on this list.  If you have wider thighs or calves, just choose a straight leg style rather than a slim leg style.  You will still accomplish the same look.  Choosing the right clothing takes a little practice but is a skill that can be mastered.