Being in the fashion industry, I have always been bothered by the constant references to “costly apparel” in the BOM and its link to pride and the downfall of nations. It’s bothersome because I love and appreciate beautifully made, well designed clothing, and this type of clothing usually does not come cheap. I am not saying that I have a lot of expensive clothes in my close–I really don’t–too many student loans. But I do long to spend my money:
-supporting fair and honest garment industry business,
-valuing truly skilled labor and talented artists,
-investing in well made clothing that lasts in our “throw away” culture.
Is this so wrong? So what exactly is the definition of “costly apparel”?
In one of my fashion classes in college, we were assigned to do an inventory of all our clothing. We had to write down a description of each item, when we bought it, what it cost, cost of care (dry clean vs. washable) and the number of times worn. Then, with all this information, we had to figure out the cost per wear of each piece. Depending on the size of your closet and how full your dressers are, this could be an overwhelming task. For me it definitely was. But what I learned from it has shaped my view of fashion and purchasing expensive clothes.
The most expensive piece of clothing in my closet (a beautiful wool and cashmere winter coat from a small boutique in Paris) cost me less per wear than many of my other articles of clothing which were all purchased on sale (back when I thought I was the queen discount shopper). Eight years later, I still wear this coat every winter and the cost per wear is probably in the pennies now. It is my only dress coat. It is still in great condition and I will probably end up passing it down to my daughter when I die or when it no longer fits me. It seems to me, this coat, though costly, cannot be put into the “costly apparel” category (though Aaron Brown’s never worn Jimi Hendrix “flying eyeball” tie might find a comfortable place there).
I would also love to know how much GA’s spend on their suits– because if anyone in the world should spend money on a really good suit (based on the study set forth above) they should.