The Real Cost of Clothing
I spend a lot of time talking to people about clothes, and explaining that your clothes are an investment in yourself and your image. Why should you invest in your image? According to a landmark study by Albert Mehrabian, 93% of our communication is non-verbal – and 55% of that is based on what we look like – so before we’ve even opened our mouths, we’re being judged.
Think about what three main things you’d like your image to tell people about yourself. Responsible? Creative? Dynamic? Knowledgeable? Current? Motivated? Reliable? Efficient? Professional? I could go on, but if you’re trying to look any of these things, cheap clothes, ill-fitting clothes, worn-out clothes, dated fashions, and poor personal grooming really affect how you are perceived. People make assumptions on how able you are to do a job, how successful (and rich) you are, your level of education, your political views, even the newspaper you read and the car you drive as well as a myriad of other judgments based entirely on your look and demeanor. Your image speaks volumes, without you saying a word.
Companies spend vast sums of money on their own image in their advertising. The people they employ need to be the human face of the company, but your image must be congruent with that of the companies. So, logically, you’d want to make a great impression and look like the kind of person any company would feel happy to pay top-dollar for. You need to be your own marketing manager, and a marketing manager understands about correctly packaging the product for its target audience.
Why do people spend hundreds of dollars on an outfit they’re going to wear once or twice (eg for a wedding or special occasion), yet can’t bring themselves to spend the same money on a great pair of well-fitting, good quality trousers that they’ll probably wear 2-3 times per week for a couple of years to work? Does this make financial sense? Instead, they buy cheap clothing that wears badly, sags, gets shiny patches, pills and doesn’t fit properly – what does this say about themselves? I wear cheap clothing so you can pay me badly, not promote me or give me pay rises (above and beyond CPI increases)? You spend more time at work than anywhere else, then the majority of your clothing budget should be invested in work clothes (not party outfits I’m sorry to say).
We often hear about cost-per-wear and to see if an item will be a good investment (it needs to match other items in your wardrobe so you can wear it with a variety of other pieces you already own), there is a simple equation:
Let’s use a $240 pair of dark (navy or black – depending on your best colours) trousers in our example:
- First, divide the cost of the trousers by the number of garments in your wardrobe that can be worn with it. Let’s say that I have 6 shirts, and 2 jackets that go with the trousers. (ie: $240/8 = $30)
- The $240 trousers have now been reduced to a cost of $30
- Next, divide the new cost of $30 by the number of times the trousers will be worn per year (say 2 times per week for 40 weeks) (ie: $30/80 = 37 cents)
- The $240 trousers have now been further reduced to a cost 37 cents
The last step is to divide the new cost of 37 cents by the number of years the trousers will be worn (ie: $0.37/2 = 18 cents)
Final Result: A $240 pair of trousers has been reduced to a cost of 18 cents per wear over a 2 year period. (By the way, a cheap pair of trousers would probably have had to have been replaced at least once or twice in the same time, and you wouldn’t have felt as good wearing them as you would your investment trousers).
You are treated in the manner that you are perceived, so if you invest in yourself, maintain good grooming and choose your clothing wisely so that it reflects those traits that you want other to believe about you, your chances of success in both business and pleasure will be greatly enhanced. When you feel great in your clothes, and the clothes you wear every-day, not just on special occasions, your confidence will improve and others will be more appreciative of your worth.
© Imogen Lamport 2010
Reprint This Article
If you would like to reprint this article, please feel free ensuring you credit Imogen Lamport as author, include my webs address www.bespokeimage.com.au and email to let me know where you are publishing it.