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.

 

 

 

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

What is A Shirt Dress?

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Buy this in store or online at http://Fashion-Crossroads-Inc.shoptiques.com

One of the big trends in dresses this year is the shirt dress. Although it can take a few forms, a shirt dress is an elongated shirt.

My favorite version of this style is the button down,  like the one pictured to the left.  What makes these little beauties wonderful, is you can open them up and wear them as a long vest or keep them buttoned and wear them as a dress.  The versatility of style gives you more bang for your buck.

The high low hemlines (shorter in front and longer in back) are still popular, giving these dresses some interest at the bottom.  It’s trendy right now to wear a “shoe boot” style shoe with dresses.  I’m not fond of the heaviness of an actual shoe boot with a dress, but there are many styles of open toed sandals that mimic the look of a shoe boot without feeling so bulky and weighty on the foot.  The one the model is wearing in the picture above is a good example of this.  We have similar styles in the store that accomplish this same look, like the ones pictured here from Yellowbox.  Don’t hesitate to wear suede in the summer.img_3345

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Buy this in store or online at http://Fashion-Crossroads-Inc.shoptiques.com

The other style of shirt dress is a pullover style.  Again, it looks like an elongated collared shirt, but it doesn’t open up with buttons and thereby can’t be worn as a vest.

This style is usually offered as a mini dress, making it harder for everyone to wear.  If you don’t feel comfortable wearing a short dress, don’t hesitate to add skinny ankle jeans or even leggings with this style.  It will still look just as cute.

Again, you will want to pair this style of shirt dress with a “shoe boot” sandal to keep it really trendy.  Otherwise, a great flip flop and hat could make this the perfect summer run around town look.   It would also be a wonderful vacation item, as you could use it as a dress and swimming suit cover up.

It’s snowing here today, but writing about these dresses makes me long for warm summer days.  I know they are just around the corner!  Give one of these styles a try this year.  I think you will love how you look!

How To Wear A Poncho

One of the funnest things about fall is the opportunity to exchange a coat for a poncho.  Because these little wonders come in many different forms, I thought it would be helpful to begin with a definition.  A poncho, in the most traditional sense, is a blanket with a slit in the top for your head.  Their purpose is to keep the body warm and protect it from the rain.  They have been worn by Native American peoples of the Andes for centuries.

Fashion has taken the idea of a traditional poncho and expanded upon it.  Often times, wraps (a garment made from blanket or sweater material that you simply wrap around your shoulders) are also called ponchos, even though they are really not.  A true poncho will require that you pull it over your head to wear it.  Also, modern day ponchos sometimes have sewn in sleeves or snaps that you can use to create a sleeve.  These are helpful because they keep the poncho in place on your body, preventing it from sliding around.

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Ponchos looks great worn over a collared shirt, as they usually have a round neck or v-neck design that pairs well with a collar.  Because they are usually flowing and loose, they look best paired with skinny jeans or pants.  I also really like them worn with skinny jeans tucked into tall boots, as this style produces a slim leg to balance out the extra fabric of the poncho.  It is fun to wear them with an outerwear scarf and hat; ponchos just seem to lend themselves to that cozy, sit on your front porch on a cold day with a blanket and warm beverage kind of feeling.

The major downside to a poncho is that it doesn’t work very well worn under a coat in the same way a normal sweater would.  As a result, they can really only be worn on days when its cool but not cold.  For those of you in warmer areas, a poncho might be the only coat you need all season.  For us here in Wyoming, we have about a two month window in the fall when we can wear one.  Despite their limited use, however, they can be worn during this season each year, so they are a worthwhile investment.

Since we are firmly in poncho season here in Wyoming, I wanted to encourage my blog readers to try out this fun style this fall.  You will feel fashionable and trendy with one on – I guarantee it!

A Brand You Can Get Behind – Sympli

One of my great pleasures as a women’s clothing store co-owner is the ability to choose the brands that our stores carry.  We always look for quality and value, but it is a special treat when the companies we choose also have a mission that lines up with our own – to empower women.  Sympli is just such a company:

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This picture shows how Sympli can work for women of different sizes and body types. They have the latest fashion trends in classic year round pieces that work for casual or dressy wear.

“Thirteen years ago, Jan Stimpson, the owner/designer, [ of Sympli] found herself frustrated with the narrow ideals propagated by the fashion industry and this dissatisfaction gave rise to a vision: create an innovative line of clothing  that will celebrate the diversity of the feminine figure.  Thus, Sympli was born: a collection of high-quality, basics that uses a “fit formula” (including snug, relaxed and tunic) to complement and enhance all body types.  Thus allowing women of all shapes and sizes to achieve a similar look.  Today, the line has evolved to include exciting novelty pieces that allow women to flawlessly mix and match over 300 designs and 30 colors to build entire wardrobes catered to their unique sense of style. Working mothers from our community make up the majority of our workforce; working to their own schedules, they manage fluctuating workloads, whilst maintaining strong family Lives. They inspire us.”

Having sold this line now for a little over a year, I can tell you they have achieved their goal.  Sympli is a line that flatters any figure from size 2 to 20 and beyond.  They have recently added Sympli Grand which offers plus sizes as well.  The travel knit fabric used to make their clothing is 12 oz, 3 oz heavier than other companies who use the same fabric.  You can feel the difference when you take an item off the rack.  The weight of the fabric helps it flow and drape rather than cling.  It also means the tunic styles are not billowy but rather fit in the right places while allowing extra room in the places most women carry their weight.

Once women try this product on, they are hooked.  We carry a large selection of Sympli but the company also offers the ability to customize their line, choosing snug or relaxed fits and customize-able necklines and sleeve lengths.  This gives the customer the ability to choose the elements of their tops and bottoms that flatter them in a huge array of colors that compliment their complexion.

Sympli comes in an amazing array of beautiful colors

Sympli comes in an amazing array of beautiful colors

I’ve also been impressed by the longevity of the product.  We have customers that have had Sympli pieces for 8 years and the black is the same black as the brand new pieces in our store.  Best yet, care is a breeze.  Wash your Sympli by itself or with other Sympli pieces inside out in cold water and hang it to dry.  They dry quickly and without wrinkles or stiffness.

Perhaps what makes Sympli special is that it is designed by women for women.  No one knows our bodies better than us, and no one feels the frustration more than us when styles seem to cater to the young and thin.  I especially love the fact that Sympli employs women who hand sew the product in their homes.  You can count on quality workmanship with this product as well as have the satisfaction of knowing you are supporting a company that supports women.

This week we are celebrating Sympli at Fashion Crossroads.  All week long, anyone who tries this product on or purchases it, will be registered to win a FREE Sympli item to be given away on Saturday.  We will also have our Sympli representative in the store Thursday night for our Trunk Show and Friday and Saturday.  Charlotte has been with the company for over ten years and knows the line inside and out.  She is excellent at being able to suggest styles that will flatter any body type. We will be taking special orders Thursday through Saturday.

Don’t live in Casper?  No problem.  You can also purchase Sympli on our online store at http://Fashion-Crossroads-Inc.shoptiques.com.  Any online orders taken this week will also be entered to win the free item.  You can get more information about our Trunk Show happening this Thursday night at https://www.facebook.com/FashionCrossroads/events. The Trunk Show is a great time to come in and learn about the line while you enjoy wine and appetizers and hanging out with other women who love fashion!

How To Care For More Expensive Clothing

One of the most important things we do in our stores is help our customers find the perfect clothing lines that will suit their fashion needs and lifestyle.  I make it a point to end the sale with a few tips on how they can care for their purchase so it will last.  One of the things I find myself saying over and over again is beware of the dryer.  The simple and unfortunate truth is the dryer is not your friend when it comes to better clothing.  8565ae51df46aafe2310f73f1f940591

The high heat of a clothing dryer is the culprit in many a washing disaster.  Heat will fade your dark colors, shrivel your rayon and cotton, melt your embellishments and twist your lace.  The problem is, we all like the convenience of being able to wash and dry our clothing.  If that describes you, follow these simple tips to help keep your clothing looking its best.

1. Turn your dark colors inside out.  Washing your dark clothing with a quarter cup of vinegar will prevent color running.  Drying your dark items inside out will help prolong your color.  To preserve your black the best, try hanging the item to dry and then putting it in the dryer for a short 5 to 10 minute cycle to release wrinkles and soften the fabric.

2.  Turn your embellishments inside out.  If you have sequins, beads, stones, grommets, etc. on any of your clothing, you will want to turn the garment inside out so the embellishments do not rub on other clothing.  This friction causes your embellishments to loosen as well as damages the other items in the dryer.

3.  Invest in a large lingerie bag.  Wash and dry all your more delicate fabrics in a mesh lingerie bag to prevent them from rubbing your other clothing and causing pilling.

4.  For most sweaters you will want to wash them in a delicate cycle (or hand wash) and lay them flat to dry.  You can put them in a short drying cycle to soften if they feel stiff.

5.  Never dry your bras.  I’m sure I am not the only one who has taken out a knotted mess when I forgot to remove my bra before throwing my clothing into the washing machine or dryer.  Always wash your bras in a lingerie bag that prevents twisting and hang them to dry.  They will fit you much better and last much longer if you do this.

When in doubt, wash your clothing on delicate in cold water and hang to dry.  Your better fabrics will love you for the extra care and reward you with a long life and many years of great style.

Necklines and Hemlines are Key

Necklines and Hemlines Are Key
One of the big mistakes women make in trying to stay young is wearing necklines and hemlines that are too revealing. Dressing past 40 should be about flattering your figure. Choose balance. If you are wearing a skinny jean with a boot, don’t wear a tight fitting top too. Choose instead to “balance” the figure revealing jean with a top that has a bit more volume. If you are wearing leggings, make sure your “uh hums” are covered by more than just an inch of fabric. Tunics should come to the middle of your thigh in the front and the back. If you have great legs, show them off with a skirt that comes to the top of your knee, not the middle of your thigh. The point is, you can still show off your figure, just not all at once.