Sep 27, 2010

Cross Dressing Economics. Fashion Week Edition

Recently I was coursing the aisles and pawing the racks at a nearby Bloomingdales with a charming female companion who can afford to do more than just the coursing and pawing at Bloomingdales. In between patting myself on the back for resisting an unnecessary acquisition and acute pangs of regret for not resisting it I spoke a little about how I keep my shopping under control by painstakingly keeping track of purchases.

You see, I maintain a spreadsheet with garments classified by type, vendor, description, full retail price and actual price paid. Furthermore, I count the number of uses I get from each garment to arrive at a Cost per Wear (CPW) number that should, in the long term, help me optimize on future purchases. All very logical of course, and very much in keeping with my practice of over-engineering the protective rationales that keep my life perched barely on the rails. I hope too, at some deluded level, that this document will keep somebody in a well funded Gender Studies program busy for a post grad year or two sometime in the future.

My friend tut-tutted:

“Oh, no, no, never. That simply isn’t done. It’s just not on you know.”

Very English, my friend.

In any event, she opined that this was a distinctly male habit, and at complete odds with my appearance. We then went to Nordstrom’s to look at shoes and get past the slightly awkward moment. The moment passed. But now while she is not looking, I thought I would share some numbers with you.

The chart below (click to enlarge) contains all clothing on I had on display over the course of my week at SCC: shoes, hose, skirts, dresses, tops and outerwear, minus all the belts, bags and bling
. As to the rest of the garments not on display, well some things a lady simply does not share.

I dressed Monday to Saturday, largely in items purchased late spring and summer that I had not worn before other than trying on for fit, and so my CPW numbers are not so low as they will get with time and multiple outings. Still, even with the newness of most of the modeled pieces, I think I deserve a Girl Scout Bargain Hunting merit badge.

The summary findings are these. It costs me $100 to present fully. Again this is the one time expense, from top to toe. My fully amortized cost (Lifetime Aggregate CPW) for complete ensembles ranged from a high of $100 for an outfit featuring one of my rare full retail purchases, (a snazzy Rachel Rachel Roy off the shoulder tunic), to a shockingly low $37 for the dramatic cocktail dress look I poured myself into for the final gala dinner. These numbers have nowhere to go but down as long as the universe is expanding and not doing something else unexpected.

The data further confirms a sense I have had that my blouse assortment is not broad enough. I had to repeat a top once in the week. Tut-tuts again.

There is a seemingly outsized cost contribution from shoes and hosiery in my typical ensemble (see Fig. 2). Almost 40% of a typical outfit investment clings to my toes. Allow me to make a case for this seemingly lavish and unfair distribution: The toes are worth it dear friends. They will tell you so in no uncertain terms after a few hours in poorly made and poor fitting shoes. As to my average $18.00 hosiery costs, well, nothing makes a so-so skirt look good, and nothing makes a terrific skirt look va-va-voom faster than quality legwear. The reverse effect is true too. Beyond that, the comfort provided by well made nylons adds immeasurably to your enjoyment of a long day dressed.

At the end of that long day, somebody should want to rip the pantyhose off of you, and that somebody should not be you. So there.

As to the rest of the ensembles, many of them are pictured in prior posts. Scroll away, or site search on SCC for more. Their average discount from retail is 70% (not counting hosiery). Being this mercenary on price has allowed me to shop in places that on the surface look a little pricey for the part-time gal on a budget. With this, the overall quality and effect of my appearances is better than it has been, or might be. Civilians and fellow travelers alike were generous enough in their complements to let me know that I am zeroing in on my style sweet spot nicely. Even without the kind words though, you know it yourself when things are correct. Suddenly, you are walking like you mean it. You just feel good. This feeling is worth the investment of time, care and the few dollars you can spare to get it.

Getting that feeling, and keeping it under control too is something to aim for. If you do not need a spreadsheet to achieve that effect, I bow in your general direction. Just now, I must sign off and go update mine with a couple of blouse purchases I made this past weekend in order to resolve the imbalance issue raised by the numbers.

Ah, the things we do in the service of science and beauty.

And you my dear. What do you do to keep the purse and closet both stuffed?


Maggie May said...

This was a very amusing read. An economics major's crossdressing wet dream.

Couture Carrie said...

Oh I wish I could keep both purse and closet stuffed... alas, only the latter is quite full at the moment!


Claire L Hallam said...

Oh Petra, but tell me are you a Keynesian crossdresser? or do you veer towards free market transvestism? Either way I'm sure you're the economic sense of course.

Petra Bellejambes said...

Thanks Maggie!

Carrie, I imagine your closet doors groan and that even when the purse is a little light, it looks like a million bucks :)

Claire: Yes, rather a Keynesian, and not a johnny-come-lately neo-Keynesian, but a true believer. And, no there isn't a single voodoo believing clown-hat over at the University of Chicago that could center a back zipped skirt on a breeze-free day. Charlatans, the lot of them.

Peace ...

Tights Lover said...

Oh my I love it! Tell me, do you use straight-line depreciation, or some kind of accelerated method? This accounting geek needs to know more!

Kidding aside, I think you're doing the wise thing. On one hand, when there are two 'yous' to shop for, things can get out of hand quite quickly, financially. On the other hand, if you try to be too know what can happen. An extra added benefit of your approach is that you avoid the problem of buying things, throwing them into the back of your closet and then forgetting they're there (something I've been known to do). It probably also helps you track what styles work for you and which don't.

Now...I expect those month-end financial statements in a week ;-).

Petra Bellejambes said...

TL - given that all the garments are rather curvy, I opted for straight line depreciation.

I might be more aggressive in this matter, but have shied away from seeking the advice of my accountant. She is rather conservative, and wears a size 0. Galling. Really.

My monthly financials are well reflected in periodic peaks in GDP figures reliably reported by the US Dept. of Commerce.

Cheers! - P

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