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!

Behind The Scenes: Treska

After being a women’s clothing store manager and owner for eighteen years, I was so excited to get to see the behind the scenes process of one of my favorite jewelry vendors – Treska.  On a recent buying trip to Dallas, Texas, my mom and I had the opportunity to tour Treska’s warehouse and get an up close perspective on the jewelry making process.  We also got to shop straight from the warehouse shelves – we were like two kids in a candy store!

The process Treska goes through to design their jewelry is meticulous and time consuming.  First they begin with inspiration.  I found this inspiration board outside the bathroom (probably because that is the place everyone would see it multiple times a day).  It was such a great example of how an idea blooms into something tangible.  Take a close look at the items included on the board.    IMG_4192You can see how it represents themes, colors and textures for a group of jewelry. This particular design is playing off earthy wood textures and the soft tans and pinks in sea shells.  What a beautiful combination that represents the soft pinks and neutrals so popular in fashion right now.   It also appears this group might have some feather accents as well.  Won’t it be fun to see the finished jewelry that arises from this inspiration board?

Even more fun than the board was meeting Treska’s chief designer.  She was a Bohemain mama, dressed in colorful cottons and a graphic tank and seemed right at home in a jewelry design office.  IMG_4207She took the time to show us some of the pieces they were currently working on and how every necklace begins in a box as a conglomeration of colors and textures that are then formed into a unique necklace.  IMG_4210

While we were in the design room, we also got to see a Treska employee doing appoxy on some pieces.  This process requires hand painting metal pieces with a cue tip to create a patina look.  As you can see in the picture, each one is done by hand.  IMG_4206

Once a design is finalized, two master copies are made.  One is then sent to China where Treska has their necklaces assembled.  A production sample is sent back, approved by Treska, and then that sample is used by the Chinese to make the individual necklaces which are then shipped to the United States.  It’s quite a lengthy process requiring Treska’s designers to work ahead.  While we were there, they were working on Spring 2018.

Outside the air conditioned design room, the warehouse sprawled.  There were rows and rows of shelves with boxes of beads and bobbles.  Readers,  I am telling you, there were hundreds of thousands of beads.  It was mind boggling.

As we made our way back, we came to more shelves with completed necklaces available for sale.  This is where all the fun began!  Up and down the isles we wandered, grabbing necklaces, earrings, and a few bracelets of beautiful Treska jewelry.  IMG_4194

In the end, we came home with a whole bag full of Treska priced with a special discount just for you!  It is out and on the floor, so you will want to hurry in to get the best selection! IMG_4258

Purse Fetish? Let Me Count The Ways!

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I love handbags!  If you think about it, a purse is a girl’s best friend.  What else do you have with you wherever you go that can always be counted on to have everything you need right when you need it?   A quick inventory of my purse demonstrates my point. Wallet, hand gel, brush, hair spray, makeup, Tylenol, allergy medicine, planner, tissue, sunglasses…no wonder my kids and husband are always asking me to produce what they need out of my magic bag.

I’m an organization freak, so my handbag either needs to have compartments or I use various small bags to keep everything handy.  I love it when my handbags have a key finder (long cord attached to the side of your purse that attaches to your keys), since keys are notorious for hiding so well you have to take everything out to find them.  A key finder allows you to just find the cord and then run your hand along it until, eureka, your keys are at the end.  Ingenious.

Another essential for me (and every other woman I know) is a handy cell phone pocket so you can get to your phone before it stops ringing.  Since my world is on my phone, I need to be able to find it…FAST!

Aside from those few necessities, I choose a handbag based upon what makes my heart sing.  If I am going to carry it every where I go for at least six months at a time,  I want to love looking at it.  I move in phases between carrying neutral purses that go with everything to carrying a handbag that is truly eye catching and makes a statement.  My go to statement purse is Anuschka.

My mom and I discovered this brand exactly the way every woman should discover a purse…we saw another woman carrying one, and after we had oohed and awed over it, asked her the name of the brand.  We have been selling these little beauties ever since. And when I say selling, let me just tell you that we have already sold 30 this year.  At an average price of $150 to $400 in a town of 55,000, that is no small accomplishment.  But the reason they sell so well is because they are truly the perfect combination of beauty and function.

Let me explain.  First of all, they are hand painted with beautiful designs in everything from landscapes and florals, to abstracts and nature.  After 12 to 18 months of use, a print is retired. Once this happens, it is never used again.  At this point, your handbag becomes wearable art. No one will ever be able to get your specific handbag again. Second, the leather is second to none.  It just gets softer and softer over time, making you want to hug it just to appreciate the utterly smooth lusciousness.  No kidding.  But my favorite thing about Anuschka is the attention to detail on the inside of the purse.  These handbags have the most well thought out insides of any purse line I have used or seen. The pockets are well placed and appropriately sized, making them utterly useful.  Often, Anuschka will add built in wallets and divider pockets that appeal to type A personalities like mine.  And, especially in their larger bags, they throw in little extras like coordinating make up bags and sun-glass cases.

Believe me, this is a purse to have a fetish over.  Just ask any Anuschka purse owner you know.

Lace Up Detailing

One of the hottest new summer trends is the addition of lace elements on tops and dresses that add interest and detail to the neck, back and front.  My favorite part of this trend is its freshness.  While exposed shoulders have been around for a few seasons in various forms, lace embellishments are new for this season.

One of the most important benefits to this trend is that these simple lace designs draw the eye upward and keep it focused near your face.  When you have one of these tops on, no one will be looking at your legs or feet!  Additionally, the trend adds a feminine touch that is delicate and beautiful.  It is almost like adding jewelry to your top.  The lace details act in much the same way a lovely necklace adds interest and focuses the eye.

If you find the neck or back to be too plunging, you can always use fashion tape from Hollywood Fashion to secure the neckline to your skin so it will stay in place.  We carry this line of fashion emergency fixers at Fashion Crossroads.

Just remember ladies, this season is all about showing some skin.  Whether you are bearing your shoulders in a cold shoulder top, showing skin with cut outs, or drawing the eye upward with lace detailing, you are highlighting the area around your face and neck and keeping beautiful you at the forefront and center!  That, my dears, is the WHOLE point of fashion!  Happy shopping!

How Old Is Too Old To Wear A Romper?

One of the most common questions I get is the “Am I too old to wear a….?”  Let’s face it ladies, one of the most challenging things about fashion is figuring out how to stay trendy without dressing in an age inappropriate way.  Let me just say at the beginning of this blog that I flat out reject the idea that if you are wearing current trends and are past forty, you are dressing too young.  I don’t believe the problem lies in whether you wear the latest trends; I believe the issue is in how you wear them.

Let me explain.  Each trend will have an edgy side and a more conservative side.  Take the two pictures at the top of this blog as an example.  On the left is a romper that I would wear, and I am 45.  I wouldn’t wear the one on the right, however.  That choice doesn’t come from which I think is cuter because I love them both.  I would choose the one on the left because it is a toned down version of the romper trend.  It has a tank style top that is bra friendly; it has an adjustable draw string waist with a blousy top that will hide figure flaws; it is in a beefier fabric which is less flimsy; and it has slightly longer shorts because of the crochet detailing on the bottom.  My post forty legs just can’t do short shorts.  If I wanted to add another conservative element, I could put a white button up cardigan or denim jacket over my arms for coverage.

The floral romper on the right would perhaps be better suited for a woman in her twenties or even thirties.  With the chiffon fabric and shorter shorts, it will require nice legs.  The addition of the cold shoulder element further limits this romper because the more edgy trends you combine in one outfit, the younger the look becomes.  In other words, its okay to wear a romper if you are over forty.  It might not be the best idea to wear a chiffon romper with little flowers and cold shoulders that require you to wear a bandeaux as a bra.  Do you get my drift?

I use this same logic when I am considering any trend.  Is there a way I can wear the trend while still keeping the look conservative enough to be appropriate?  I can tell you that I have rarely skipped a trend altogether.  Only two “um…not only no but hell no” trends come to mind: short shorts and mini dresses.

So if you are like me and over forty but still want to dress in the latest trends, don’t despair.  You can stay fashionable and stylish well into your sixties and seventies.  The key is keeping it classy!

What Is A Waffle Top?

One of the big trends this season is the waffle top.  It took be a bit by surprise because here in Wyoming, waffle tops are something we wear in the winter and not the summer. We call them thermals.  But, the powers that be in the style world have decided to fly in the face of tradition and saturate the market with waffle tops for spring!

The descriptor “waffle top” refers to the fabric.  It’s a bit hard to see the texture of these tops in the pictures above, but if you were able to zoom in, you would see that they have raised, nubby fabric.  If you have ever bought a thermal tee to keep warm, you can compare the fabric to that.  Of course, the spring waffle tops are not as heavy as what you might expect from a typical thermal top, so you can still wear them without getting hot.

The benefit to textured fabric is that the more body a fabric has, the less likely it is to lay against your figure and expose all of your lumps and bumps.  Heavier fabrics are more figure flattering that lighter weight ones.  Texture also helps draw the eye away from figure problems like muffin tops.  This is because the sheer weight of heavier fabrics pulls them downward, creating a better drape.

The nature of the waffle fabric lends these tops to pair best with jeans or casual bottoms.  Wearing them to work would be like wearing your thermal to work.  I’m guessing your boss might frown on that.  But, for a casual weekend, these tops make a great, trendy choice.

The two tops pictured above are available on our online store.  If you want to know more about other important spring and summer trends, check out my blog post 5 Key Summer Trends.